- Jay Walden
March 10, 2019
March, there's a lot going on, right? You've got your "March Madness," the time change thing, first day of Spring, Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick's Day, The Ides of March (beware), National Pi Day, Spring Break, Girl Scouts selling cookies, National Celery Month, Multiple Personality Day (March 5th and my personal favorite), and Roger's Birthday (Roger works in our shop—Happy Birthday Roger!) It's almost too much too handle—try to throw a fishing trip in there and it's almost a mind freak. But you deserve to go somewhere, after all, you've been holed up all winter dealing with snow, ice, and colder than normal temperatures. But, where? You don't want to go just to be going, although it feels good just to be out of the house—you want to go somewhere where you're gonna catch fish. I'm caught in what I refer to as "the pinch," right now, where it's still just a little too cold for my tastes to head north and I'm left here dealing with the recent crisis at home, where the lake turned over and the water clarity took a nosedive. Now, I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but I've made a pledge on here before to tell it like it is, both bad and good. I'm not doing you any favors if I sugar coat or try to put lipstick on a pig in a fishing report. It is what it is. I get asked a lot when the best time to fish the San Juan is and my standard answer is, "Anytime, the only two times the fishing is tough is if, and when, the lake turns over and the water becomes real murky, and if, and when, there is a high release of water in late Spring, during run-off." Well, unfortunately, sometime early this past week, for whatever reason know only to Mother Nature and really smart scientists that study this stuff, our lake turned over in a bad way and the visibility in the river went from about 18 inches to a real thick pea soup, mixed with mud, color. It's a real bummer, man. What does that do to the quality of the fishing? Well, I'm glad you asked—as one might expect, it makes it more difficult. Oh, you'll still catch some fish if you come, don't get me wrong, but it ain't gonna be the same old easy business like it is when the water is much clearer here and they're jumping in the net. I'm just sayin' so you know. That said, if you're here you're gonna have to fish and there are a few things you can do to up your odds.
First and foremost, go bigger and brighter if you're nymphing. Big red lava (size 18) princess nymphs, egg patterns, rainbow warriors and other flies of that ilk as your top fly—desert storms, disco midges (something with a little flash) as a dropper, or go up a size to a (24 or even a 22 on your midges) something like a Midgemaster or a Big Mac. Anywhere from the Texas Hole and below, RS2s, chocolate foam wings, and root beers would be a good choice for a dropper. Don't overlook streamers—one of my favorite dirty water rigs on the San Juan is a size 12 white bunny leech with a size 18 red larva or a brightly colored egg tied about 14 to 16 inches behind. Olive leeches are another option. Since you're not going to be able to see fish, concentrate on thalwegs and current seams, and tail-outs, the places where food is being funneled to the fish. Check and clean your flies often. Don't waste your time in the slower stuff or frog water, unless you are slow stripping streamers. All in all, it's gonna be a little tough out there for awhile, so come mentally prepared and I think it's safe to say that the dry fly fishing is going to be on hold for awhile. As far as that possible reprieve of switching the release gate back over to the power plant side and maybe drawing a little cleaner water, I have it from a pretty good source that the construction on the valves has been completed, but there will now be some work on the tunnels and the water will have to remain shut off on that side until possibly mid or late April, so don't get your hopes up too soon. Anyway, if you gotta fish, you gotta fish and any day on the water beats a day on the couch at home. Stop in and see us if you make it out. If you need more info or would like to book a guided trip, give us a call at 505-632-2194.