Mid April 2018
"John Wayne slept here—and he loved it." That used to be the sign on the marquee of The Silver Spur Motel, on the north end of Durango, Colorado for about as long as I can remember—until developers came in and bulldozed the place down not long ago. Apparently, someone had the wherewithal and insight to at least preserve the sign, and it now resides just south of Moab, Utah at a place called Hole 'N The Rock. Postcards of the iconic signage are available online for the low-low price of $6.95— however, I'm not so sure if "The Duke" who had an affinity for room #5 while filming his classics, True Grit, The Sons of Katie Elder, and How The West Was Won, would approve. Anyway, every time I think of that sign I am reminded of Lee Wulff's visits to Abe's Motel sometime around the early '70s. There are some old photographs of Abe, Lee, and a couple other gentlemen, one of who I believe is Jack Samson the outdoor writer and former editor of Field and Stream Magazine, that show them all standing in front of rooms 1 through 7, looking at Lee Wulff's fly choice. Now, I've never been all that superstitious, but from time to time when things get tough for me on the San Juan, or when my casting stroke seems to go to hell, I check the occupancy on those rooms and visit the vacant ones, trying to pick up a little Lee Wulff mojo to get me back on track. Since no one around here can still remember exactly which room he stayed in, I've had to try them all, with admittedly mixed results, but room # 4 seems to summon the best vibe of The Wulff. Perhaps there's really nothing to all this perceived psychosynthesis, perhaps it's "all just in your head," as they say, but I've fished long enough to know that confidence is a key component to success in fly fishing and I'm willing to try just about anything that I feel will give me an edge. Go ahead and laugh at me at if you want, but just remember I'm not the one who panics when they realize they left their lucky fishing shirt or hat at home.
Aside from all that, if you're coming to the San Juan this week expect some warmer weather, and bring the sunscreen. We will have some wind on most days, but it will be manageable—not like the crazy stuff we saw over the past couple of weeks. The flows are still at 600 cfs and are likely to stay that way for a little while longer, until the Animas gets going with runoff, which should happen shortly with the warmer weather on the way. Once that happens, the BOR is likely to dial the flow back here, but it won't hurt the fishing any, actually it will probably only make it better. The visibility has improved somewhat—in my estimation—and I would say it's somewhere around two to two-and-a half- feet, so you can actually sight fish in some areas. Small midges in size 24 and 26 on 6x tippet are still the rule here, with a mixture of baetis nymphs and emergers in the lower sections of the river. There is midge activity pretty much all day, with the most active time being from around 11:00 till 4:00. If you enjoy fishing dries to rising fish— size 24 fore and afts and Morgan's midges on 7x tippet, are your tickets, unless the wind come up and puts the fish down. If you want to continue fishing dries in the wind go to some bigger terrestrial patterns like ant and hoppers—6x for the ants and 5x for the hoppers. There are also still a few baetis coming off in the afternoons in the lower river, especially when there is cloud cover—size 22 and 24 Comparaduns and Parachute Adams will do the trick. Hope you can make it out this week to enjoy some great spring weather and great fishing. If you would like to book a guide or need more information, give us a call at 505-632-2194—or, you can always just decide to go it alone and book yourself into room #4.