February 24, 2019
February— wow, will this wretched month ever end? I feel as if I have become stuck inside some torturous, weather- time warp where every day is some kind of cruel, Groundhog Day joke. This morning, as I write this, the Weather Channel app on my phone says it feels like 8 degrees outside and there are 5 foot icicles hanging from my roof and snow on the ground to back it up, and we're still six days away from March, if you count today. I think the only people that are enjoying this are my big, hairy beast of a dog, Johnny Ringo, who prefers lying outside on the ice and snow to the comfort of a warm house, Ringo and ski resort owners. Okay, February, now you've had your fun, it's time to move on and give March a chance. The best you can do is look for the silver lining in all this, the silver lining of wonderful, glorious snow that has been falling in the San Juan mountains that will eventually melt and turn to water, and fill up our reservoir. Luckily, there's been plenty of that—the current snow-pack level is 128% of normal, which is 229% of last year's total at this time and we have another four day snow/rain event on the way towards the end of next week. The snow-pack doesn't peak until mid-April, but it appears we are well on our way to get our lake refilled to carry us through another fishing season, so that's the good news.
As for the here and now, here's the latest on San Juan fishing. The current flow is at 284 cfs which is right where it's been pretty much all winter. The news is that the water clarity has taken a turn for the worse in the last few days, although it hasn't affected the fishing to any measurable degree. Outside of eliminating any sight fishing opportunities and probably any dry fly action for awhile, which is a bit of a bummer since we just getting there with about three feet of visibility, you'll still catch fish here. As far as the reason, my guess is that the lake has turned over again, combined with some murky low-level runoff from all the rain and snow we've been having. Based on the current low level of visibility out there, I wouldn't plan on seeing any dramatic improvements in that department, any time real soon. One thing that may help could be switching the release gate back over to the power plant side from the spillway side, which is supposed to happen in a few weeks, provided all the work is completed on the plant, that is currently shut down for repairs. We're at the mercy of the construction crew on that one, so we'll see. In the meantime, it's business as usual with the tried and true methods of fishing less than pristine conditions where water clarity is concerned, meaning streamers and nymphing tactics that involve using a bigger, brighter lead fly as an attractor, as in red larva, o.j.s, princess nymphs, eggs, etc. With the streamers, my experience, as of late, has been smaller is better (size 12) in olive and white. Things are still good out there in the catching department, so don't be discouraged on that front, it's just that you've got a few more limitations on how you can accomplish that, and given the choice— I always prefer fishing clear water. Into every life, a little rain (or snow) must fall. At least this week, you'll be able to do your fishing in temperatures that will be in the forties, which is a blessing compared to the past couple of weeks. Take heart, friends and neighbors, Spring is on the way. Hope you can join us this week for some time on the water. If you would like more information or would like to book a guide, give us a call at 505-632-2194.