March 3, 2019
In an effort to escape the mundane of delivering the boring drivel of the everyday, I have decided to make a new, concerted effort to class this report up a bit and am announcing that I will now be composing them whilst dressed like Humphrey Bogart in Beat The Devil, complete with silk ascot and matching robe, and slippers. As with all writers, there comes a time when you must re-invent yourself in order to stay relevant to your audience. The hope here is that perhaps I can channel my inner Bogie and start dishing out one liners like, "The problem with the world that everyone is a few drinks behind, " or, "A hot dog at the game beats roast beef at the Ritz," and keep everyone captivated enough to get to the end of this thing. When the material gets a little repetitive and boring, I figure it can't hurt to mix things up a bit and try something new—we'll see how it goes. As fair warning, just know that I have a plethora, a virtual arsenal; if you will, of other inchoate, random ideas and theories up my sleeve, should this one fail. To put it another way, you ain't seen the last of me, just yet.
So dear readers, let us discuss the here and now of San Juan fly fishing, beginning with conditions. At present the flow here is 293 cfs and most likely will remain in that range until much later in the Spring—say mid or early May is my best guess. The water clarity, that had been improving, has taken a bit of a downturn recently, with the visibility dropping from about three feet down to about a foot to a foot-and-a-half. That's not totally uncommon here throughout the winter and spring as the thermocline on the lake is subjected to temperature changes generated by the weather. Outside of decreasing your sight fishing opportunities and placing limitations on your dry fly activity, it hasn't been significant enough to affect the fishing much. In an effort to distill things down to their simplest terms I would rate the fishing here as fair or average, right now. That said, it's still better than most places where you can fish and it's probably ten to fifteen degrees warmer, so you got that going for you. As far as hatches go, this past week they were pretty sparse with a few midges here and there and an occasional baetis or two showing up downriver, but nothing to really write home about, however, I did manage to catch a few fish on dry flies, but this was really localized in certain areas, certain days, and certain times of the day. Still, it did wonders for my winter damaged psyche. I just wouldn't drive here from any great distance expecting great dry fly fishing, just yet. The more consistent fishing has been the nymphing, using the usual assortment of small midge patterns in the upper river and baetis nymph imitations in the lower sections. To sum it all up, the fish seem to be off of the junk diet of bigger, brighter worm and egg patterns and back on the small bugs. There is a lot of emerger activity going on throughout the larger part of the day, so I would focus a lot of effort on fishing patterns like crystal flash, ju-jus, RS2s, and foamwings. If you come you'll see what I mean by all the dimples from fish feeding in the surface film from around 11:00 till about 4:00 every day. The streamer fishing wasn't as good for me this past week as it was a few weeks earlier, although I don't know if it's entirely fair to say that it's off right now, because I got sidetracked a day or two with fishing dries and didn't devote a whole lot of time to it, which is what you have to do if you want to fish streamers. If I was gonna try it this week and I probably will, I would stick to the smaller stuff like size 12 bunny leeches in white and olive, just because that's what worked here all winter. As a small aside and attempt at shameless self-promotion, there was an article featured just this week on Flyfisherman Magazine's website written by yours truly about the 60th anniversary of Abe's Fly Shop that can be accessed through the following link: Abe's Anniversary Hope you can make it out this week. If you would like more information or would like to book a guided trip, give us a call at 505-632-2194.
Watercolor by Tim Oliver Photos Courtesy of Abe Chavez