- Jay Walden
Mid March 2018
It was in the spring of that year that I first saw them, late April or early May, I think. Last year I took to writing such memorable fishing events down on a calendar I keep on my fridge, so I could refer back to them on future dates—important stuff like hatch dates, first hopper sightings, ant falls, the dates when big fish moved up out of the deep waters of certain lakes, into the tributaries. It was a grand and brilliant plan, and I had a calendar loaded with useful, top secret information to use as a guide, then January came and a new year, and a new calendar, and I mistakenly tossed it into the trash— apparently because nothing memorable happened in December, so I forgot about all the other months where I had written down all the really important details. I would have crawled into the dumpster and searched through the loads of trash—coffee grounds, eggshells, old pork chop bones, you name it; but the trash man picks up on Tuesday and I didn't think of it until Wednesday. Now every Tuesday morning when I hear the trash truck, I am filled with mixed emotions of anger and remorse. Anyway, that year in April or May there was anomaly unlike any I had ever seen before, or witnessed since. As I walked into one of my favorite places on the river, there they were—big fish, probably numbering in the hundreds, that hadn't been there, only the day before. To this day, I can't explain how or why it happened and I've never seen it since, although I continually look and hope— but there they were— big as life, just lying and cruising around in the shallow, slack water of a flat I have since named The Bay of Pigs that stretched out over a hundred yards. If had just been the appearance of fish, it still would have been a pretty big deal; but these fish were easy to catch on big dry flies. All you had to do was pick the biggest in the bunch, toss a size 10 Schroeder's Hopper or Chernobyl Ant about two or three feet in front of them and watch them cruise over to it, and just inhale the thing. If I had dreamed this, it couldn't have been any better. This whole thing went on for about three weeks and I never told another soul about it, except for one fishing buddy that I made to swear to secrecy on his mother's grave and only allowed him to fish there when I was with him. Then one day I showed up, and just as miraculously as they had appeared, all those fish were gone and I haven't seen the likes of them in years. My friend has since moved far away, just like those fish, but he still calls every two weeks during spring and summer to see if those fish have ever come back. So far on this year's calendar all I have written down is an eye doctor checkup on the fourteenth, the deadline to file my taxes and the deadlines for big game applications in Colorado and New Mexico— oh yeah, and there's a note on December 31st to not throw the calendar away. I hope by the time I get to that date that there's a lot of better stuff worth saving.
If you're looking for a place to do some Spring Break fishing, you might want to write the San Juan on your calendar for this week. Outside of a little wind on every day except Monday and Tuesday; which is really hard to believe because those are my days off and that never happens, the weather is going to be great for mid-March. As far as water conditions go, the flows are around 350 cfs and the water clarity is about two feet or thereabouts. There have been some good midge hatches from 11:00 till 3:00 with some noses up and the lower river is seeing some good predictable BWO activity that you could set your watch to at 2:45 that lasts for about an hour. All Arizonians please note that we have a thing here each year called Daylight Savings Time, so the hatch will now take place promptly at 1:45 pm. Anyway, the fishing has been good lately and if you're one of those nympher guys—fear not, you'll catch plenty of fish on the standard San Juan small midge stuff, larva, pupa, and emergers in 24 and 26 and baetis patterns, RS2s, rootbeers, pheasant tails and the like in sizes 24 and 22 for the lower river. The entire river is now open along with the new and improved boat ramp at Crusher Hole. If you are looking to fish any of the water from Simon Canyon down to Last Chance, you'll need to access it from the Highway 511 side since the road beyond Cottonwood Campground is still closed due to reseeding taking place in that area, from the stream improvement project this past winter. Expect some company on the water from now until early April—apparently there is something going on called Spring Break where some lucky people don't have to work for a week or two, during this time of year—or so I am being told by numerous fortunate people that are showing up at the shop for fishing licenses and equipment. Hope you can make it out. If you would like to book a guided trip or need more information, give us a call at 505-632-2194.