Cold nights and mornings, and warm sunny days. While the mid-west and eastern section of the country is locked into below normal temperatures and snow, much of the west remains warmer than usual and dry. The result for the San Juan has been an increase of fishermen taking advantage of the great weather and time off for the holidays. There's nothing like your fly line freezing in your guides and icy fingers that won't work to tie knots, to keep folks inside and off the water; but so far this winter, we've experienced nothing like that. Looking forward at the next couple of week's weather report, it looks like this warm and dry weather trend will continue, so if you haven't made it out yet, you might want to start making your plans. You can expect a little more company than during a normal January, but not the crowds we were seeing for the past couple weeks, when a lot of people had time off from work for the holidays.
Here's what you can expect as far as water conditions and fishing goes. To begin with, the flows are just slightly under 400 cfs and are likely to remain at that level for quite a while, which makes for good wading accessibility and plenty enough water for the boats. As far as water clarity goes, the lake has turned over and the water is what I would classify as "murky" with the visibility down to less than a foot, rendering the dry fly fishing a nonexistent entity, much to my chagrin. That said, it's a nymphing and streamer game right now on the Juan. A lot of people are asking me how long these poor visibility conditions will persist and my answer is I don't really know— I've seen them dramatically improve in a matter of a few weeks on some years and last all winter up until late spring/early summer on others. Bear in mind, it just started, so I wouldn't expect any changes, any time soon. Anyway, the good news is that you can still catch fish here, even if you can't see them. This is the time to bust out the bigger, brighter stuff, like size 18 red larva, O.J.s, egg patterns, and flashy princess, disco, and desert storm, nymphs. Or, if you're a streamer aficionado, bunny leeches and buggers in black, olive, tan, and white. Dead drifting and rolling them along the bottom, especially off the shelves and drop-offs can be especially effective. I also suggest a big, bright trailer like a red larva or egg pattern, placed about fourteen inches, or so, behind your streamer. I; of course, would prefer to be tossing dry flies to rising fish in crystal clear water, but when conditions dictate otherwise, you gotta do what you gotta do, to catch fish.
As I mentioned in my last report, there is a stream restoration project underway and the area from Simon Canyon down to Crusher Hole is closed to both boat and foot traffic. The boat take out while this work is being performed, is now located at the Munoz Day Use Area. There will be heavy equipment operating in the river on most of these days, so the water below that area will be downright muddy and basically unfishable for about four days each week. As a basic rule, just concentrate your efforts from Munoz up to the BOR area below the dam, and you'll be fine—there's plenty enough water and fish to cover, to keep you busy for days. If you would like to book a guide or need more information, give us a call at 505-632-2194.