Mid May 2018
You gotta be a little concerned about a man that can be entertained by simply staring at water. There used to be a time in my life when I got all bent out of shape if I went out and didn't catch every fish in the river. Now, I find myself at peace on those days when the fishing isn't so good and I'm satiated by merely being on the water, watching the flow of liquid life, the movement and behavior of the fish below its surface, enticed by the flight of an osprey, or the behavior of a red-winged blackbird. Maybe I'm just getting older, maybe I've already caught enough fish in my life and the pursuit and "just being out there" bears more importance than getting all wrapped around the axle over the numbers game. Perhaps I have just gone soft in the head as noted by my now epic struggles to master those resealable plastic bags of shredded cheese, nuts, and other perishable items from the grocery store that never zip back into place like they are supposed to—or my hostile engagements and encounters with that little do-dad on your gravel guards that's supposed to attach to your bootlace and keep them in place, the one that serves better as a magnet for your fly-line to get trapped in. Whatever the case, there's a certain sense of peace that comes with my newfound freedom from the compulsion to compete with myself— a harmonious uplifting from not beating myself up inside if I didn't have a forty fish day. I'm sure if it is age induced, there will no doubt come a time when I will be content just to have both feet on the floor when the sun comes up in the morning. Then again, maybe I'm just "full of it," as I don't really have too many of those "off' days, and were they more commonplace and frequent, I might begin to feel a little differently about the whole matter. Let's hope it never comes to that—in the meantime, I plan to enjoy my release from that mental warfare I used to go through on those few and far between days, and leave it at that—content just to stare at moving water on the not so good ones.
This past week on the San Juan was sort of a roller-coaster ride of mixed water levels and weather that made for some great, and then, not so great, fishing—at least that's how I experienced it. Monday was a stellar day on dry flies and I went out Tuesday expecting more of the same, only to be met with murky conditions in the upper river that left me doing a lot of walking, struggling to spot fish, and looking for rises that never came. Normally, reductions in the flows here don't translate to decreases in the visibility, but that wasn't the case on Tuesday—go figure. Anyway, the clarity soon bounced back and the fishing picked up only to be thwarted again on Friday and Saturday by heavy afternoon winds that left the few fishermen that were brave or foolish enough to battle the elements, flogging the water like Lash LaRue in King of the Bullwhip. For now, it looks like the weather, the flows, the fish, and the clarity will most likely provide consistent fishing for the coming week. At present, we are just under 400 cfs with the visibility around two feet and clearing. I expect to see more fish in the shallows—since there will be more shallows—offering more opportunities to sight fish with some terrestrial patterns, as well as, nymphs. We will continue to see some winds in the afternoon, but not the crazy stuff we saw this weekend, still you'll be better served to start a little earlier in the day, as the mornings have been relatively calm. For dries, if you are seeing rising fish, use fore and afts in size 24. If you want to try and bring up some fish that are holding in the shallows, we're coming into that time of year where they will respond to ants and hoppers. As far as nymphing goes, midge larva and pupa patterns in the earlier part of the day, and emerger patterns from mid-day to late afternoon for anything above the Texas Hole, seems to be the ticket. Three "must have" flies are cream larva, bling midges, and crystal flash midges. From Texas Hole and below, rootbeers, grey and olive RS2s, and chocolate foam wings appear to be the best producers. Since the Animas has now kicked into runoff, the water level has been dropped here and is likely to stay in the lower range of 400 to 300 cfs range for a few weeks. Once the runoff starts to wane, expect to see the levels on the San Juan get bumped back up into the 700 cfs range, or higher. My past experience is that this river fishes best on dry flies up to about 600 to 650 cfs, after that, anything over 700 cfs lends itself to outstanding nymphing and streamer fishing. It should be an interesting year with no high water release in the spring and a long term summer forecast of dry and hot conditions in the Southwest. We'll see what happens. If you would like to book a guide or need more information, give us a call at 505-632-2194.