"Well, I'll be damned. " Those were the words of John Dillinger, as he was surrounded by Tucson lawmen after being forced from his hideout in the Hotel Congress by an accidental fire that started in the basement and spread to the third floor, where he was staying. I had the same reaction the other day when I looked at the calendar and noticed that the first day of Spring (this past Tuesday) had already come and gone. Seems Dillinger and his men were laying low in the Southwest after robbing a string of banks in the Midwest and Dakotas. Everything was going well until the fire broke out and a couple of his men tipped the firefighters twelve bucks to retrieve their luggage from the third floor. Turns out, twelve bucks in those days translates to about two hundred and sixteen dollars in today's money, which is a pretty generous tip if you're trying to fly under the radar. Anyway, the tip aroused the firemen's suspicion and one of them remembered the gang member's mug shot from a detective magazine. In a matter of a few days, the whole group was rounded up. "Well, I'll be damned."
So the fact that Spring had officially arrived without my lack of preparedness to formally usher it in, caught me a little off guard, but it did start me thinking about some important, early season fishing rituals that I need to start preparing for, before; they too, sneak up on me—like the caddis hatch on the Arkansas, warm enough weather to fish the Taylor, and the arrival of some big fish in the feeder creeks on some lakes just over the border. And then of course, there's the San Juan (my home water) and fish that begin to respond to big dry flies. Funny how you can spend all winter waiting around on things like this to happen, only to find they've snuck up on you. I guess, it's as good problem as any, to have.
Here on the San Juan this week, we'll have the typical mix of spring weather, which means sunshine, probably a day of rain, temperatures near seventy by the weekend, and; of course, some wind. The flows are around 350 cfs and the water clarity is about two feet. The fishing has been good, with some decent midge hatches from around 11:00 till about 4:00 and some BWOs showing up downriver in the afternoon. Nymphing with the typical small midge patterns like red and cream larva, bling and mono-midges, and crystal flash and ju-jus has been very effective. As a general rule, the larva and pupa patterns have been working better in the earlier part of the day and the emergers in the early afternoon until late afternoon when the water warms and the bugs become more active. Add in some baetis patterns like rootbeers, Johnny flash, W-d 40's and the like, if you plan to fish the lower quality water. I like Morgan's midges and fore and afts in size 24 for the midge dries, CDC olive body comparaduns and cut-wing baetis in size 22 and 24 for BWO imitations. 6x tippet for the nymphs and 7x for the dries will put you into more fish. The wind can be a spoiler on some days for the dry fly fishing and usually comes up in the afternoon just as the hatch seems to get going, so bring along some weights and indicators if you want to keep fishing for the full day. There are a few people fishing out there, so don't expect complete solitude. Warm weather in spring brings folks out of the woodwork, myself included. Hope you can make it out this week to give it a go. If you would like more information or need to book a guide trip, give us a call at 505-632-2194.