- Jay Walden
August 26, 2018
"It feels like fall today, Jay," my friend said during our recent morning together on the river. And he was right—it did "feel" like fall. Later that night, as I stood in my kitchen having one of my world famous margaritas (oh yeah, I can back that one up with hard empirical evidence) I started thinking a little deeper about my friend's statement and what constitutes that so called feeling of fall, and why as humans we recognize this particular seasonal shift more readily than others. Now wait a minute you say—while having a margarita? Sure, where else do you think all this stuff comes from, other than in the kitchen, standing there fixing dinner with Johnny Ringo, ruminating on my agave nectar inspired thoughts, that's where all these little compositions tend to spring to life. Anyway, while I stood there rolling around these Jalisco fueled notions and musings in my noggin, I was struck with the cognition— that the recognition of an autumnal transformation of season tends to go a little deeper than just nonchalantly noticing that a few leaves on a certain tree are changing color. This "feel" , if you will, is something more deep-seated and broad, immersed somewhere profoundly in our DNA, some primeval reckoning; that like other animals— is a whisper, to prepare us for what is to come. Like a bear gearing up for winter with hyperhagia, a bird's flight south, or the rush of testosterone of a bull elk spurring his procreation inclinations, we begin to hear that prehistoric drumbeat in that inmost part of our being—it feels like fall. Perhaps the reason it is more profound and more recognizable to us today, has to do with the fact that those of our ancestors that failed to heed its clarion call and drag more mastodon meat back to the cave, were soon weeded from the gene pool. Whatever the case, that feeling when the angle of the sun begins to change and softens the light on the canyon walls and the mid-day sky takes on that brilliant, azure hue, seen only as summer begins to fade— when the morning and evening air develop that crisp coolness known only at this particular time of year, there is a stirring in my bones unlike any other season. Conceivably, my brain is hardwired that way and that is why I love it so, that visceral, instinctual, ingrained reaction to the change of this specific season—perhaps I cannot help myself and that is why I feel more of a need to immerse myself into the nature of it as I grow older. That need to be on the water or among the yellowing aspens in the elk- woods of fall is possibly only a sense that time is passing and I have come to the realization that I am not immortal.
If you're looking to enjoy some beautiful weather and surroundings, and catch some trout, then look no farther than the San Juan. The water is in great shape, with fantastic visibility, and the fishing has been outstanding. Over the last couple of days the flow here was dropped down to the 800 cfs range, due to rain in the area, and will likely stay in that range throughout the greater part of this week. With school starting back and a lot of summer vacations coming to an end, the number of angers has fallen off considerably, so it's been a real joy to fish the river lately. Outside of this weekend and the Labor Day crowd that is likely to follow, I can't think of a better time to fish this river. So if you're headed this way soon, you've still got a few weeks left until these fish start getting picky and start ignoring terrestrial patterns, so make the most of it. Other than that, it's small midge patterns like Blings, mono- midges, larva patterns, and then emergers later in the afternoon for nymphing choices. Downriver, RS2s, foamwings, and Rootbeers, should be in your offerings. As far as hatches go it's mostly midges starting around 10:00 or 11:00 am and lasting for a few hours, then again, later in the evening. There have been some BWOs in the lower river, but not in significant numbers, although we are getting closer to the time when these hatches will become more consistent and prolific, especially on overcast, cooler days. With the water clarity being what it is right now, 6x fluorocarbon is highly recommended and if you are fishing small midge or BWO dries, I would suggest a 7x tippet. 6x for the bigger terrestrials and midge clusters will work fine, since the fish don't seem to be as picky as when they are eating a single midge at a time. Late in the week, or early next week, if it continues to stay dry here, we could possibly see the water get bumped back up to 900 cfs, but it won't affect the fishing any. Hope you can make it out soon. If you would like to book a guided trip, or need more info, give us a call at 505-632-2194.