October 27, 2019
I'm sorry, but if you're looking for the worst weather of the year so far, those days have already been reserved for my days off. Wow, snow on Monday with a high of 40 and 22 mph winds? A high of 35 on Wednesday with a low of 7 degrees? I keep checking the weather report to see if perhaps something is wrong, if maybe I mistakenly typed in Fargo, ND or something, but each time I check it, it only seems to get worse, so I'm gonna leave it alone and just stick my head out the door tomorrow morning and see what we've got. If turns out that this weather forecast is accurate, I'm just going to shut the door and go back inside like Punxsutawney Phil. Maybe hole up next to the fire like Baby Doe Tabor in her miner's shack at the Matchless Mine, writing in her 2,000 diaries and letters, my legs and feet wrapped in burlap sacks against the cold, living on stale bread and suet. That, or celebrate Sylvia Plath's birthday by sticking my head in the oven. And while we're on the subject here, what's up with all this wind we've been having in October? Dang wind, messin' up my dry fly fishin'. The only upshot of the whole thing is that maybe I'll finally be forced to get some real writing done. I used to fish in all kinds of weather, but as I get older, I'm finding that I'm less and less inclined to go out in the real bad stuff, much like when your other priorities change with aging and you'd prefer a really good ham sandwich and a nap to a love affair. Except for maybe Liv Tyler—I'd probably make an exception for Liv Tyler. Anyway, you're probably getting the picture here that the fishing conditions for the first part of the week aren't going to be all that conducive and comfortable for outdoor sports, which is a real bummer, because the fishing has been really good, as of late.
And so it goes. At present, we have flows of 500 cfs and very clear water conditions. Good hatches of midges and baetis with rising fish throughout the majority of the day. Now, that said, we've got a weird little deal coming up this Tuesday when the BOR is supposed to drop the flow to around 300 cfs for about seven days to do some kind of study on some endangered fish downstream. Don't panic and start heading for the turnstiles—it's not going to be that big of a deal, in my opinion. You'll still be able to get a drift boat downstream, there'll just be a few more rocks exposed than when the water was at 500. And yes, some fish will probably relocate to some different spots from where you fished last week, but at 300 cfs, they shouldn't be too hard to find. There will be a little more frog water in some areas, but as a dry fly fisherman, that can often work to your advantage, making fish easier to spot and more likely to see your fly in shallower water. For the nymph fishermen, there'll still be plenty of riffles and runs with enough current for good drifts. Besides, this is only temporary and will take place at a time when there will be far fewer fishermen on the water than what you have experienced in the past few weeks—so if it had to be done, at least it's happening at a better time than when it was really busy here—whether it was planned that way or not. Well, enough about that, it'll be alright, trust me. You'll have the same number of fish and all, they'll just be a little more concentrated, which should actually make things easier. After this we should be back to around 500 cfs for the rest of the winter. As far as flies go, I've been fishing some big ant patterns in the shallows before the hatches kick off, then switching to size 24 midges or baetis patterns (depending on which is more prevalent on the water at the time) for my dry fly choices. Last week I saw BWOs on the water as far upriver as the Cable Hole with lots of reports of even better hatches the further you moved downstream. Some of these fish are getting a little picky, especially if you're fishing in areas that have received a lot of pressure lately, so I'd recommend 7x for your tippet size for the small dries. As far as nymph choices go, red and cream larva in size 22 earlier in the day with a black midge pupa as a dropper in size 24—baetis patterns like a small PT or rootbeer for the lower river. Around 10:00 you'll start to see some fish moving up in the water column and it's time to go to a pupa/emerger combo set up, say maybe a monomidge or bling with a crystal flash or scintilla as a dropper—chocolate foamwing, CDC RS2, or a fluff baetis as you dropper if you're fishing from the Texas Hole or further downriver. Later, you'll start seeing the adults on the surface and you can switch to your dry patterns and then once that ends, go back to the emergers right up until dark. From now until sometime in early spring, you're going to start seeing fewer and fewer fellow fishermen on the river, as October is typically our busiest month here. There's still plenty of good fishing to be had here on the Juan, right up until the lake turns over which typically happens sometime between Christmas and New Year's. Yeah, we're gonna have a few crappy days of weather this week with below normal temperatures, but we've got quite a few days left where the highs will be in the 50's with lots of sunshine and that's plenty comfortable as long as you put on an extra layer and the fishing is going to be good enough that you won't pay that much attention to a little cooler weather anyway. If you would like more info or would like to book a guide, give us a call at 505-632-2194.