Yellow leaves swirl in a circle and then are carried away on the wind. Last night it was in the twenties here— if there was ever any doubt about the rapid change of seasons, that fact seems to dispel the notion. Outside, the light is different and the changing angle of the sun illuminates the landscape in softer tones and longer shadows. The days of summer, and now fall; seem altogether, to fade too fast like water that is spilled upon the ground and cannot be gathered up again. Perhaps as a writer, my sensibilities are too easily given over to bouts of nostalgia, but I always see this time of year as a marker or milepost that another year of my life has passed too quickly, with the upshot that I must make more of my allotted time on this earth. With that thought, I pledge to spend more of my days afield or astream, in pursuit of the pleasures that seem to give my life more meaning, despite how hedonistic that may sound to the casual observer. "Do it while you still can," a small voice cries out inside of me, while visions of my gray-haired self showing my neighbor my new walk-in bathtub and my library of large print books with the same beaming sense of pride I possessed over that shiny Chevelle 396 in the drive-in parking lot, at age seventeen, dance through my head. There are no fish rising in the graveyard—I must get it done.
Despite your motivation for fishing the San Juan, it's a good time to be on the water here. To begin with, the scenery is fantastic with the fall colors at their peak. The mornings and evenings have that crisp snap of coolness that send you looking for that extra layer of fleece you may have packed away this past spring, only to shed it mid-day under bluebird skies and bright, warm sunshine. Sparkling clear water at a moderate flow of 500 cfs where trout fin and await their next meal, reward patient anglers in a surrounding that could adorn a canvas. And there are fish, lots of them. And, yes of course, there are other fishermen—although there is still plenty of water to cover, especially if you are willing to stray a little farther from the parking lot than the average Joe. As far as the crowds go, this coming week will likely be the last week of the majority of most folks visiting the Juan, until next spring. Sure, if the weather stays nice through mid-November there's going to be some fishermen, but not in the numbers we see here in October. That said, the fishing has been good lately with decent hatches of both midges and baetis offering some respectable fishing on dries. For the nymphing game, it's been the standard small San Juan patterns of mono-midges, bling midges, red larva, and emerger patterns like crystal flash and ju-jus—the smaller the better. From Texas Hole and below, baetis patterns like RS2s, foam wings, Johnny flash, and rootbeers are working well. I'm liking fore and afts in size 24 for the midge dries and dead chickens in size 10 or 12 for midge clusters, and olive and mahogany bodied comparaduns in size 24 and 22 when there are BWO adults on the water. To address another issue, there are a good number of small stockers in the river right now, an unfortunate but necessary evil, if you want to have fish to catch in coming years. The survival rate of these little guys is better than that of larger, stocked fish, so the upside is that by next spring; given the growth rate of trout in this river, there is going to be a banner year of catchable, sizable fish. It seems a small price to pay, and in the meantime, there are plenty of big fish out there, especially in areas where a stocking truck can't easily back in to. All rivers have their cycles and ours is no different— overall the San Juan is still hard to beat for numbers and size of fish. Hope you can make it out for some great fall weather and fishing. If you would like more information or need to book a guided trip, give us a call at 505-632-2194.