February 10, 2019
It's been a long, cold winter here and judging by the extended weather report, it would appear the groundhog has seen his shadow. So goes my hopes for an early spring. I've been cherry-picking what few warmer days we've had to do my fishing, thankfully, there's been just enough to keep me from completely cracking up. I'm just glad February is our shortest month, although it would be fine by me if we could just skip it altogether. Outside of free chocolate on Valentine's Day and low prices on mattresses on President's Day, who really needs it? The silver lining so far has been the San Juan Basin snowpack, that now stands at 102 per-cent of normal. We've got a ways to go yet before it peaks in mid-April, but we're already in much better shape than we were at this time last year. Let's pray the trend continues. On that note, the preliminary forecast from the BOR is that we won't see a high water, spring release on the Juan this year since they're going to need all that snow-melt to help fill the lake back up. Other than possibly a couple days at 2,000 cfs to clean up some sediment in the river bed, you'll most likely be able to wade, and fish, the San Juan to your heart's content. That comes as great news—I've got a lot of time to make up for the days I missed this winter. In other news, a cat named Fluffy was found frozen in Montana this past week and brought back to life, which is really no big news if you really stop to think about it. I; too, have been frozen in Montana a couple of times and brought back to life, although alcohol was involved in the unthawing process, so maybe that doesn't count. There is; however, a 71 year old man crossing the Atlantic in a barrel, as we speak, and I can't top that. Having too much free time on your hands can be a dangerous thing, let's keep our fingers crossed for some warmer weather real soon.
The flow here is currently at 280 cfs and the visibility is anywhere from a foot to possibly two-and-a-half feet, depending on which section of the river you fish, the murkier water being closer to the dam and clearing as you move further downstream. There are some options to actually sight fish in shallower water in the lower sections of the river. I've been fishing streamers, exclusively, over the past few weeks with good results. My best producers have been smaller (size 12) bunny leeches in white and olive. I've tried larger patterns and different colors and picked up a few fish here and there, but the smaller white and olive leeches seem to work with more consistency. An 8 or 9 foot leader tapered down to 3x on a floating line with a weight about 16 inches above my fly seems to work best. I tight-line it through the current on a swing, with a slow retrieve at the end, or fish the frog water pools with a very slow retrieve. The olive color seems to work better in the slow stuff. It's work adjusting the weight and switching out the flies to match the type of water you're fishing and you need to move around quite a bit to keep finding fish, but it's very effective once you dial it in. Nymphing has been effective as well. The ticket still seems to be using a bigger, brighter attractor pattern as a top fly (red larva, o.j., firecracker, or egg pattern) and dropping off a typical San Juan smaller midge or baetis pattern. Overall, the fishing has been consistently good. There are a lot of stockers in certain parts of the river right now, which bodes well for a lot of action, but if bigger is better in your book, you'll need to move on and try different water, there lots of good fish out there too—you just gotta find them. I haven't seen enough rising fish to pique my interest to change over to dries, just yet, and most of the rising fish I have seen are the little guys that have been rising in the late afternoon, so I'm gonna stick with what has been working for me until I see a noticeable change. Hope you can join us soon on the water. If you need more info or need to book a guided trip, give us a call.
P.S. you can now buy your annual New Mexico State Parks day-use pass online on the Park's website—it takes at least a week to ten days to arrive via snail mail, so plan accordingly.