August 5, 2018
Old friends, good company. I've recently had more company than I am generally accustomed to—friends that I haven't seen or spoken to in the last twenty or thirty years who were at one time as close as brothers to me. I like to think that the reason I don't get a lot of visitors, is due to the fact that I now live in place that is at least three hours away from any major airport or interstate highway, but it probably has more to do with the fact I feel I have found my niche in life and I'm very comfortable with my surroundings and don't feel the need to travel very much anymore, myself. This place where I now live is not a place where people are "just passing through" and decide that they'll just drop in and pay you a visit, it takes a fair degree of effort just to get here and the last eighteen miles of two-lane blacktop which are pockmarked with more potholes than you can shake a stick at, act as deterrent enough to give the casual visitor second thoughts about making the trip in the first place. It's something that the few folks that make up this small community, view as both a blessing and a curse. If someone comes to see you here, it's because they really wanted to see you, they're not just dropping by because it was convenient.
When you see someone that you haven't spoken with for over twenty years there's always that initial period where you tiptoe on quiet cat's paws around sensitive subjects—things like bad relationships, lost loved ones, etc. generally aren't subjects that are broached at the initial outset and don't usually come up until a couple nights later— over cocktails, once certain parameters are established and a certain trust level is reestablished. The awkwardness is fleeting among the best of old friends and it's not long until you've fallen back into that old routine of friendship that seems as comfortable of slipping on your favorite pair of old worn out jeans. It happens all on its own and it's not something you really have to work at. One of the things this has all taught me is that I am truly blessed—blessed to have folks that still care enough about me to make the arduous trip across the country to see their old pal who lives out in the middle of nowhere in the high desert like a hermit, pursuing his dream of chasing trout. I sometimes forget in the process of doing it, that this trout-bum thing can occasionally be a lonely business, that twenty years can pass before you like a cloud passing before the sun, that the familiar voice or laughter from dear friends is restorative to the soul, that our days on this earth are not infinite as I once believed in my youth, that we are the sum of moments, many of them made memorable because of good friends. These visits remind me of why I choose live here, living the good life, chasing the trout or the elk, and always, I am left with the feeling that I have garnered from them, an appreciation of my blessed surroundings more than my friends will ever know.
Well, on with the fishing report. At present, we have flows just around the 850 cfs mark, and very clear water conditions. I stress the "at present" part because as we speak the Animas River is dropping and the combined flow of the Animas and the San Juan is barely holding over the minimum requirement of 500 cfs down to Lake Powell. That means we could possibly see a bump in the flow in the San Juan in the coming days, if we don't get rain—which isn't in the forecast, until actually later in the week. That said, don't be surprised if you see the river go up here in a couple of days, only to be adjusted back down later in the week, if it rains. Anyway, the river has been fishing really well lately, and even I, who poo-poos these higher flows, am embracing the new normal and adapting and catching plenty of fish. The trick it seems, is to find 'em— once you do—they're plenty willing to eat. So, like I mentioned last week, unless you've been fishing here a lot in the last week or so, be prepared to do a little reconnaissance work on your next outing, especially so, if we see another water level change. You gotta get out there and find where these fish are holding in good numbers, after that, things aren't really that hard. As far as fly choices— midge larva and pupa patterns in the mornings in the upper river and black and olive emergers in the afternoon. Throw in some mayfly imitations like rootbeers, foamwings, and RS2s from the Texas Hole and downriver. 6x fluorocarbon will serve your needs best. Yes, there is plenty of dry fly action and I have been sticking with the big stuff like ants, PMXs, and Dead Chickens and getting plenty of eats from fish holding in shallow water. I'm sure hoppers will work too, I just haven't experimented with any yet, because I can't seem to find a reason to change when what I am doing is working. During the midge hatches Fore and Afts on 7x will work great, but I'm partial to keep throwing the bigger stuff throughout the summer months, even if it may mean a few less fish, and the dead chicken has, so far, served my needs when there are actual risers. I just switch back and forth on the PMX and the ants, before and after the hatch. There have been a few BWOs on some days in the lower river, but not in any big numbers. We're expecting some overcast conditions later in the week and that could kick off that hatch down low. As usual in summer, there's plenty of people fishing the Juan, especially on the weekends, but I've managed to fish pretty much anywhere I wanted, when I've fished on the weekdays. It helps if you're not afraid to do a little walking and wading, besides, I've been able to find a lot of new fish in new places in my travels. If you're not into fish, move—they're out there and they're hungry right now. Hope you get a chance to make it out this week. If you need to book a guided trip or need more info, give us a call at 505-632-2194.