- Jay Walden
April 14, 2019
Lordy, this is another tough one to write—maybe tougher than last week's. The water here is still very murky, however—however, folks are starting to catch some fish. The hard part is how to square all this in a report that's supposed to tell you whether you should come here and fish right now or not. After much deliberation and consternation, I've decided that the best thing I can do is to describe the conditions as accurately as I can and leave that decision up to you, the reader. So here we go. After weeks of bantering around scientific postulations about water releases from this gate or that gate and how one or the other would affect the water clarity, it finally happened, but the end result was that it didn't improve the water clarity at all. In fact, that water that was released into the power plant side of the dam, which is higher in the lake's water column, turned out to be just as dirty as the water that was coming out of the spillway—so dirty, that it clogged the screens on the power plant release and had to be shut down and diverted, once again. It is now being released from a 30 inch pipe located between the two other releases, and as you should well expect, that water is dirty as well. Turns out, there is no magic panacea for fixing this anomaly and the water in the lake, no matter where it released from, is dirty, and that is what we are stuck with for awhile.
So what's the visibility out there? About a couple inches, right now. That said, the fishing has picked up and folks are catching some fish. So, if you are planning your annual Spring pilgrimage to the San Juan in the not so distant future and you're still on the fence about making the trip, let me put it to you this way. If your expectations are the clear water, sight fishing conditions you've experienced here in the past or tossing dry flies to rising trout, you're not going to find that. If, however, you're looking for a get-away out into the fresh air and sunshine, and put a few fish in the old net, or just knock back a few with the boys, and you're not turned off by murky water, then, by all means, come. Just know that you'll have to work for your fish and you're going to be nymphing and fishing streamers to fish you can't see. It's your call and it all boils down to what your tolerances are and how bad you want to fish. Given that, some streams to the north are still locked up by snow and ice and others are either in run-off or headed that way any day now, so your choices are narrowing by the moment.
Now, on to the next question. When is it going to clear up? Well, that's a tough one. You see, no one can remember if and when this happened before, so despite the fact that everyone you talk to has their own idea or theory, it's actually more like that Brexit thing where no one has a clue what they're talking about. It just is what it is right now. While we're on the topic, I might as well throw in my two cents and say it's probably not going to be anytime real soon, since we still have a lot of run-off that has to flow into the lake. In the meantime, if you're here, what should you fish? Bright egg patterns in red and pink, red larva (size 22 and larger), OJs, disco midges, princess nymphs, desert storms, and small bunny leeches in white, olive, and black. Since you can't see fish, concentrate on thalwegs, current seams, and tailouts—basically where you've caught fish in the past, or if you're new here, where you would expect to find fish in any other river when you're reading the water. All in all, if we had at least another foot of visibility, the fishing would, no doubt, improve dramatically. I'm just not sure when that's going to happen, so if you choose to wait this thing out, you're just going to have to keep checking back every week.
You can still fish it in the meantime and you'll catch some fish, maybe even the fish of a lifetime— like the picture of the one a client of ours was holding yesterday, but the choice is up to you. If you would like more information or would like to book a guided trip, give us a call at 505-632-2194.