June 16, 2019
Attention ladies and gentlemen, the captain has turned off the fasten seat-belt sign, and you are now free to move about the cabin. After many months of being dealt only "twigs and seeds," in the fishing department, as we used to say back in the day, we are finally back into the near normal as far as water conditions go, so now maybe I can start catching some fish and become a productive member of society again. It's been a long rocky road here, since back in the winter—strange days, indeed. Yesterday, I finally caught a few fish on dry flies and this morning I checked USGS website that says the flow on the San Juan is now at 499 cfs and it has done wonders for my otherwise, precarious mental state— time to turn the music up to 11 and "Laissez les bons temps rouler," as the say down in Ol' Nawlins. The fishing community here is breathing a collective sigh of relief.
Despite the fact that I did not experience the stellar fishing that I have been accustomed to in years past, as the water was dropping this week, and despite the fact that the clarity issue is still less than perfect, given what we've been through in the past few months, I'm not gonna complain much. So the plan here, according to the BOR is to keep the water level around 500 cfs for awhile, which should provide for some stability to the fishing. We'll see how that goes, it's going to be one of those cases where you just have to trust what the government tells you and hope for the best, since it appears to me that the lake is pretty full and there looks to be a lot of snow left up there in the high country, still; but then, what do I know. Anyway, the river should begin to fish far better than it has for months, barring no more of the weird happenstances we've experienced this year, I'm thinking the only thing left that Mother Nature could throw at us, would be that it would start raining frogs one day.
So here's my State of the Union on the San Juan. When I left the river around noon yesterday the flow as still around 1,200 cfs and the water clarity was around maybe a foot to ten inches. Now clarity, just as beauty, apparently is in the eye of the beholder, because if you talk to other folks they're probably gonna give you some different stats. But I'm basing mine on being able to see fish, which besides being able to see a deep hole in the river and not step into it and drown, it's the only reason you should care about it in the first place. So anyway, I had a difficult time seeing fish in water that was anything less than a foot deep and then only about a rod length away. Sure, you can make out the outline of a big boulder three feet down, but to actually make a good visual on a fish at that depth was tough. For a sight fisherman, this poses a challenge, as we have all thrown those repeated casts to big fish, only to discover we have been fishing to a rock for the past ten minutes—it happens, and those are ten minutes of your life that you're never gonna get back. So I haven't seen the river today to see if it looks any different, I suppose not too much, but I do expect some fish to start moving back into the shallower stuff any day now, where you can have some sight fishing opportunities. Maybe someday soon it'll just magically turn crystal clear again, if it hasn't already since last night. Aside from all that, I have a good degree of confidence that is going to fish much better than it has for months. For the first couple of days at this new level I would probably fish the same stuff that been working during high water until these fish get back on the small bugs, which won't take long. That means some annelid and red larva patterns, stuff that they have been gorging themselves on for the past few weeks, maybe use a small San Juan midge or baetis pattern as your dropper, see how that goes. As for dries, I don't know when these fish will start to rise again like Lazarus and I'm not gonna sit around to wait and see so I'm going right after them with some big foam ants, PMXs, and hopper patterns and just target the ones I see in the shallows. By the way, there's a bunch of Cicadas around here this year, so it will be interesting to see if that becomes part of the dry fly mix, going forward. Pardner, it feels good to be back in the saddle again, go ahead and open that gate. If you would like more information or need to book a trip, give us a call at 505-632-2194.