Endorphins, those small peptide hormones released by our body that bind and interact with receptors in our brains creating pleasure or a sense of satisfaction. Scientific study has shown that in addition to consuming such foods as chocolate or hot peppers, or engaging in vigorous exercise, listening to music, and participating in activities we enjoy, the mere thought of partaking in any of these actions can produce similar effects. While I'm not a doctor, I assume this explains; at least in part, why I'm always happy when I'm fishing or on my way somewhere to go fishing. It all starts with the packing and preparation stage, which normally is a dreaded task if you are traveling anywhere, for anything other than personal enjoyment. I used to travel a lot for business in my previous career, and I can't ever remember a feeling of euphoria while packing a suit and a pair or dress shoes in my bag, like I do when I stow away those waders and wading boots before I hit the road toward some river. Then there's the actual trip itself, hours of what should be mind-numbing driving, magically converted to endorphin-releasing eager anticipation, like a kid on Christmas Eve. Of course, there's always the water along the way—whether it's an irrigation ditch, a farm pond, a creek you could easily step across, or some big rambling river, my eyes are automatically drawn to it, my head on a swivel attracted toward liquid, like the needle of a compass pointing to magnetic North. Sometimes I'll see a dimple of a rising fish; most often, not, but it never stops me from looking, always looking—it is an act that comes as natural as breathing for me, and I doubt I could stop it, even if I tried.
I suppose I'll be doing a little more of this than usual, in the month to come. My home water, here on the San Juan is presently running around 4,400 cfs and will increase to 4,800 on Monday, then 5,000 cfs on Wednesday. I'm mainly a wade fisherman and unless I can catch one of my guide friends on one of their rare days off and in the mood to row me around all day, there's not a whole lot of options here when the water is that high. Hopefully, one of them will eventually volunteer, because asking is a whole lot like running into your doctor in the checkout line at the grocery store, lifting up your shirt and soliciting an opinion on some annoying rash you've recently developed—it's just not proper etiquette. In the meantime, just know that if you decide to come out during this high water episode, the fishing can be quite good. Once the water reaches these higher levels, the fish tend to push out of the stronger currents and congregate in numbers towards the banks and eddies, and a higher concentration of fish in a smaller area makes for easier fishing. You'll also get a chance to access some new water in the side channels by boat that just wouldn't be possible during normal flows. The key to all this is that you are going to need a boat and at 5,000 cfs it pays to have someone that's familiar with this river, on the oars. Add in the fact that these fish tend to get a little quirky about where they hold during this time, and that all translates down to booking a guide that's done this a time or two. Bear in mind that the demand for boats will be at a premium during this time, so if you're thinking about fishing the San Juan during high water, call ahead and book a guide. Outside of that, if you want to wade fish you're just going to have to wait until the water starts to go down sometime around the end of June or early July, which is great time to be here with fantastic weather, and big, healthy, strong fish that haven't seen a fly in a long time. Other than telling you that the guides are boating a lot of fish right now and that the fishing will probably only get better once the flow peaks at 5,000 cfs and stays there a while, there's really not much I can add for a fishing report, so unless something dramatic happens to change all that, I most likely won't update this every week like I have in the past. If you are a wade fisherman, take heart, I will do my best to keep you apprised of the release schedule, once the water begins to drop. For the time being, I'll be looking for that endorphin rush of planning, packing, travel, and fishing new water; that is, until one of my good friends volunteers their boat for the day. If you have any questions or would like to book a guide, give us a call at 505-632-2194.