October 20, 2019
The James Gang Rides Again. After a tumultuous year with muddy water, murky water, high flows, and to top things off—a plague of mosquitoes to rival the Amazon Rain Forest, we're finally back to clear water and reasonable, predictable flows, with good, consistent fishing, just as the season winds to an end. Well, better later, than not at all. And better to go out with a bang than a whimper, as they say. So, I plan to make the most of it—get out there as much as I can before the ice starts freezing in the guides and my fingers turn into useless clubs in the cold, no longer capable of re-tying size 24 midges onto my tippet. The Comeback Kid, I plan to reestablish my relevance among the fish of the San Juan like Nixon's reemergence to power with that speech in Miami in '68. They're not gonna have Ol' Jay and Dick to kick around anymore. No siree Bob, it's on now, I've got a bunch of pent-up fish demand and a lot of making up to do. There will be no quarter given or prisoners taken—you have been warned—this is my shot across your bow, all you rainbow and brown trout! Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! Sorry, I got myself a little worked up there. Anyway, as I was saying, there's nothing quite like feeling you were robbed, to motivate a man to vengeance, and after dealing with the weirdest conditions I can ever recall this past year, I'm ready to get out there and claim my just rewards in the form of some great dry fly fishing—the kind I know the San Juan River can deliver when she's at her best.
So here's what we got ladies and gents of the fly fishing world—flows of approximately 500 cfs, with clear water conditions and hatches (although, not epic, but good) of midges and baetis. The fishing here has been good here for the past few weeks with the improved water conditions and I suspect things will stay that way right up until the lake turns over, later in the winter. So, whether you prefer nymphing, fishing dries, or tossing streamers, it's all good right now—in fact, the best it's been all year, in my humble opinion. Unfortunately, this weather is gonna only hold out so long, and the clock is ticking so you better get 'er done while you still can. As far as fly choices go, nothing much has changed during the past couple of weeks—it's still the same small midge patterns in the upper river, with a mix of baetis and midges in the lower section. And yes, there are some rising fish out there, probably more than there has been all year. Along those same lines and for what it's worth, I went out a couple of afternoons this past week and brought up a a good number of fish to some foam ants and dead chickens, most of which, were not rising fish. Imagine that, sight fishing to fish in shallow water all afternoon and never using a fly smaller than size 12 on 5x tippet, in mid-October. Now, I don't know how long this is gonna last, because normally this kinda thing is over by now, but this has been anything but a normal year, so I'm gonna push it to the limit until these fish get picky and start refusing the big stuff—could happen any day now, but it sure worked last week. Anyway, I think you're in for a treat no matter what kind of fishing you like to do, for the rest of October. Now, that said—come early November, the BOR plans to drop the flow here to around 300 or 250 cfs. for a couple of weeks for some kind of squawfish study, or other such nonsense. That may change the fishing dynamic a bit—not so much from a wader's perspective (it probably will only make the fishing better on that front) but more so from a boating aspect. That's gonna be some skinny water out there for a drift boat. The float from Texas Hole to Crusher Hole will still be do-able, but you're gonna scrub some gravel in a spot or two on your way down—the bigger issue will be the number of spots you will be able to anchor up that are holding fish and don't have another boat parked in it already. Fortunately, this will take place when there's less traffic on the water, so it may not be too much of a big deal. I just know that the guides don't care for it much. Anyway, I'm not sure on the exact dates just yet, but I'll look into it and get back with you next week. In the meantime, I hope you can make it out soon and if you need any info give us a call at 505-632-2194.