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  • Jay Walden

November 17, 2019

When in doubt—always mend up, you'll be right most of the time. I know that sometimes I tend to go off topic with this report thing. Just know that I always start with the best of intentions, there's no malice intended here. My heart is in the right place. So for those of you who think that you've been shortchanged in the past, because you really came here looking for fishing advice—I submit my opening sentence as a peace offering. It's just that some mornings I wake up and my mind is more like that junk drawer that everyone has that's full of lots of useless things like stripped out screws, bits of string, dull pencils, loose change, flashlights that no longer work, batteries that may or may no longer be any good, and dried up super-glue tubes—which is a bad starting point. Maybe if I spent more of my time watching Marie Kondo YouTube videos, we'd all be a little better off. But, there's some indispensable things things in that drawer, too, if you're willing to go rooting around in there to find them, like the tape measure and that screwdriver that converts from a Phillips to a flat head. Sometimes, you gotta take the good with the bad. For the past few days, I had the idea of starting this article out about the absurdity and the evolution of the chicken wing as a major food source in America, so just be happy you've been spared from that, at least, temporarily. Anyway, I started writing these articles years ago because every time I wanted to go fishing somewhere else, all I could find on other fly shop's websites were fishing reports that were at least six months old. So, hopefully, from time to time, you've found something in the junk drawer here that you could use. I don't claim to know it all, I try my best, and at sometime or another we all went to our first rodeo, after which point, we could say, “This ain’t my first rodeo.”

That said, here she goes. The fishing here is good. How's that for an opener, huh? The water level as of today is at 324 cfs and the visibility is not exactly perfect, but still very good. The dry fly fishing, in my opinion, is the best that it's been all year. The weather has been outstanding for November. The crowds that we normally witness in October are virtually non-existent. Now, on Tuesday of this week, the BOR plans to raise the water level back to around 500 cfs and will probably keep it in that range throughout the winter. Okay, here's the deal with all that, as I see it. Right now there's a lot of exposed, dried up rock snot (didymo) due to the lower water levels we've had for the past few weeks. There's also a lot of dead and dying moss that has built up in the back eddies and structure in the river because of these much slower currents at 300 cfs. So, on Tuesday when this extra 200 cfs starts flowing over and through all this stuff, there's gonna be a lot of crap in the water. That's kinda bad news if you plan on fishing this Tuesday. The good news is that this is not a permanent thing and should only really affect the one day. Unfortunately, that is one of my days off, but hey, I wouldn't expect anything different, given my luck. By Wednesday there may be a little residual stuff floating around, but more than likely most of this junk will have been washed far downriver. As far as how the bugs are going to react for a while with the increased flow, it remains to be seen. These BWO hatches we've been seeing while the water level was at 300 cfs were as about as prolific as you could expect on any river you could think of. Outside of Tuesday, they may come right back, or it could take a few days. Other than that, this river needs a good cleanup from all this moss and didymo and you won't have to clean your flies so often, so the nymphing and streamer fishing should see a definite improvement on that front and at 500 cfs you're going to have a lot more water that will hold fish, which will come as welcome news if you've been fishing here a lot lately. As far as flies go, nothing is likely to change from what we've been fishing for the past few weeks which has been the standard small midges in 24 and 26 for the upper river and a strong emphasis on baetis patterns for the lower river. For your midges, go small and dark, like blings, mono midges for pupa and crystal flash and scintillas for your emergers. Midge dries should include fore and afts, adult midge, and Griffith's gnats. Baetis patterns—rootbeers, fluff baetis, RS2s, and foamwings. Dries—olive bodied comparaduns in 22 and 24, and Adams patterns. Finally, it might be a good idea to try some larva and San Juan worm patterns for the first few days after the flow increase since a lot of the larva and annelids in the river get kicked up with the higher flow and these fish tend to key in on them while they're plentiful. Hope you can get out soon. If you would like more info or need to book a guide, give us a call at 505-632-2194.

Jay's Fishing Reports

Books by
Jay Walden
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Jay's Fishing Report  

To our faithful fishing report readers, 

Here's a way to get your rainbow trout fix 'til you are able to hit the San Juan again-- available online only

Check each style out--there are a variety of colors, fabrics & sizes to enjoy.

Special thanks to designer & artist, Matt Zudweg 

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As a small aside and attempt at shameless self-promotion, there was an article featured  on Flyfisherman Magazine's website written by yours truly about the 60th anniversary of Abe's Fly Shop that can be accessed through the following link: Abe's Anniversary. Hope you can make it out this week. If you would like more information or would like to book a guided trip, give us a call at 505-632-2194. 

Abe's Fly Shop Turns 60 -

Watercolor by Tim Oliver                                          Photos Courtesy of Abe Chavez


Jay's Past Reports:  

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