I wonder how many miles I have walked staring down at the dirt, looking at elk tracks; staring, while my mind goes through hundreds of machinations of their behavior or intent, as if those hoof-prints might unlock some great dark secret of the Wapiti, like the Great Oracle of Delphi. I attempt to ponder their thoughts—thoughts of why they may have passed either this way or that, while all the while not really knowing if they are truly capable of thought as I know it, which; when I really think about it now, may just be a big exercise in futility. I can't recall a single time that there was an elk standing where those tracks may have seemed to end, and perhaps, there may have been times that I have walked right by and missed them because I was too busy looking at the ground, yet I still do it— I can't seem to help myself. I find myself doing the same thing with fish, and water I know to hold fish— staring at the movements of both animate and inanimate objects, playing over scenarios in my mind of just exactly what is transpiring beneath the liquid barrier that separates our different worlds, ascribing thoughts to creatures with a brain the size of a pea. I am never sure if this accreditation of anthropomorphic qualities to the species I seek to outwit, leads to my decided advantage, but I like to think it does. Perhaps, it is only akin to that warm and fuzzy feeling I get when my dog looks at me with that loving look, when really all he is thinking about, is bacon. Still, old habits are hard to break and I'll probably keep doing it, until someone offers me hard scientific evidence of its frivolousness, reading water like some haruspex from Ancient Rome.
If you are planning a trip to the San Juan in the near future, here's what you can expect. First, the flows are around 500 cfs and the water visibility condition is very clear. The midge hatches have been increasingly better with each day as we head into the fall season here and there have been BWOs on the water in the lower sections of the river. In the upper stretches of the river, standard San Juan midge patterns like mono-midges, blings, zebras, and crystal flash in sizes 24 to 26 have been the most productive. During the midge hatch that has been occurring around mid-day till early afternoon, effective dries have been fore and afts and small Griffith's gnat patterns, along with dead chickens when there are clusters present. Downstream, you should mix in some baetis patterns like rootbeers, RS2s, and grey and chocolate foamwings. If there are BWO adults on the water, small olive comparaduns and parachute Adams patterns are the way to go. In addition, the streamer fishing has been quite good lately with smaller bunny leeches in black, and especially olive, working well when fished on a dead drift, just off the bottom, under an indicator. The mornings and evenings have been noticeably cooler with warm afternoons and the fall colors here are spectacular right now. Expect some company, it's our busy season here, but there's still plenty of great water to cover where you won't be elbow to elbow with other fishermen, especially if you're willing to walk a little distance from the parking areas. For the die-hards, there has been another hatch of midges in the late afternoon with fish rising right up until dark that can offer some rewarding dry fly fishing if you are willing to stick it out and extend your fishing day. It's a beautiful and rewarding time to be on the Juan right now and if you're thinking about coming, give us a call soon—guides and rooms are booking up fast.