October 7, 2018
The Ghost of the Upper Flats. Since we are approaching Halloween, I thought I'd entertain you with a good old fashioned ghost story. While this isn't one of those spooky Stephen King type things, where a car gets a diabolical mind of it's own and starts running over everybody, or an annoying headless horseman that clomps through the streets just being a nuisance to the general public, or even that old Hollywood standard, where some chain-rattling guy in some Antebellum mansion won't ever let the occupants get a good night's sleep because he's so self-centered and wants everyone to know how he was wronged over one-hundred years ago—which only goes to show that some people can never let some things go. No, it's not one of those, but it's a ghost story; nonetheless, just not one you can use to scare the grandchildren, if they don't eat all of their vegetables. So, there's this old dude that always fishes the Upper Flats, he's always there no matter what day I go—fishes streamers most of the time, although I've occasionally seen him throw dries along the north bank, across the river from the Big Island, if there's a really good midge hatch. Thing is, this guy appears out of nowhere from the willows, where's there's no path or trail leading in or out, fishes, and then he's gone, and you never see him leave—you just look up later and he's gone like some disappearing specter, some wisp of smoke dispersed by the wind, leaving you wondering if you've ever seen him at all. In all the years I've fished up there and encountered him, I've never been able to get close enough to to even make eye contact because he's always on the move away from people, but this past year, I've had two different people ask me what's up with this guy, since they actually got close enough to speak, only to be ignored like they didn't exist. Now that I think of it, all ghosts seem to be grumpy about one thing or another, or have some axe to grind with the rest of humanity, so the passive-aggressive, anti-social behavior displayed by this one, all seems to make a little more sense now. Anyway, someday when; not if, I go, I hope it's in the Upper Flats (just tip over with the fish of a lifetime from a massive, painless heart-attack that I never saw coming would be my preference) so I too can haunt the Upper Flats—as long as that doesn't violate fly- fishermen ghost protocol by having two ghosts in the same general fishing area—which I hope isn't an issue, because I would hate to be relegated to being stuck in the Texas Hole for all of eternity. If that happens, I tell you right now, I'm gonna be hard to deal with, and folks that fish down there in the late evening hours, sure ain't gonna like it none. It's certainly not the kinda thing you want showing up in some Chamber of Commerce brochure, and would probably put a damper on the tourist trade, so let's pray there's no restrictions on the number of ghosts you can have in one certain area, just like real people right now.
That said, ghosts or no ghosts, there's a lot of people on the San Juan—even on the weekdays. Good fishing, great weather, and low water conditions on many other rivers have all combined to make the Juan a very popular fishing destination and that's likely to continue for at least a few more weeks. Fortunately, this river is so varied and has so much public access, it can handle a lot of pressure, and due to the number of fish here, you don't need the entire river to catch fish. So, as for the conditions, we are presently experiencing flows around 600 cfs with very clear water conditions. I would expect the flows to stay in the 600 to 500 cfs range for the next week or so, especially since we are expecting rain over the next three days. I simply love the river at this level—you can wade about anywhere you want to go and the river has more character, and varied places to fish, and I think (for some reason unknown to me) the hatches are better, and now— that is just hard to beat in anyone's book. Anyway, it's a good thing and the river's fishing great right now and you're going to love it—just trust me on this one. As far as flies go, small larva and pupa patterns in the earlier hours, in the upper river, are the way to go (24s and 26s) then mixing in some emerger patterns like ju-jus and crystal flash midges around 10:00 am when you start seeing fish become active in the surface film—which will last throughout the majority of the afternoon. The midge hatches have been good and only getting better and my progression on dries has been Morgan's midges, early, then on to Fore and Afts, switching to midge clusters during the height of the hatch, then back to the small individual midge patterns, later in the afternoon. Downriver, it's all about the the baetis nymph—rootbeers, fluff baetis, RS2s, and foamwings, will all catch fish. During the earlier part of the week we should see some good cloud cover and cooler weather, so I would expect to see some adult BWO activity from the Texas Hole and below, starting around 1:00 or 2:00, so have some olive bodied comparaduns in size 24 and 22 ready to go, or parachute Adams if you prefer those. Due to increased fishing pressure and clear water conditions 6x fluorocarbon for the nymphs and 7x tippet for the small dries are a must right now, if you want to catch fish. Hope you can make it this week to to check it all out. If you need to book a guide or need more info, give us a call at 505-632-2194.