- Jay Walden
January 5, 2020
I'm thinking that January just might be my least favorite month. First of all, it's typically the coldest, then there's that annoyance of the water clarity here which kinda goes hand in hand with the temperature thing, and of course there's those short days; although, technically, they are getting longer, if only minutely. Now, of course there's February, which probably runs a close second only because it's a shorter month and usually by mid-month, you'll start to get a few days where the daytime highs are a little more tolerable or at least there's a chance of that, anyway. February probably gets a bad rap just because of where it happens to have fallen on the calendar, being the unfortunate, third month of winter, where everyone's fed up by now and out of their grumpiness, is looking for someone to blame. But, at least by mid-month or so, most folks are starting to see the light at the tunnel, which is more than you can say for January, where everything just looks like gloom and doom. Anyway, you're probably starting to get the picture by now. There's really not a lot that you can do about it all, unless you're one of those fortunate souls that can snowbird off to some tropical island, chasing bonefish, tarpon, and permit—leaving the rest of us to, in the words of LBJ, "Hump up like a jackass in a hail-storm, and take it." Lest one lapse into a languid miasma of the season, there's always the invocation of the "two drink minimum" rule, something I have instituted as of late around here, hearkening back to the old college beach bar days, as a mechanism for coping. At least there's that, as long as my liver can hold out until spring finally arrives. I suppose I could use my time more productively, working on my next big American novel, A Farewell to Arms, about a guy who accidentally falls into a wood-chipper, based loosely on a Ernest Hemingway story and a Coen brother's movie. It's either that or just spend all my time staring out the window with the heat cranked up, wondering when the neighbor's gonna take those damned Christmas lights down? Sheesh, I need to start fishing more.
Okay, here we go. The water level here is presently at 462 cfs, having dropped from 568 cfs only a few days ago. This doesn't seem to have affected the quality of the fishing one iota from where it was previously, and outside of the possible need to conserve water until we get a better handle on where the snowpack is headed for the rest of this winter, I couldn't really guesstimate the reason for the change. Anyway, it all seems to be a moot point to discuss unless it alters the fishing, so we'll leave it at that. I imagine we'll stay somewhere in this 500 cfs range through the biggest part of winter unless it suddenly stops snowing in the San Juan basin. So, the water clarity—that's about a foot or so on the visibility scale with no real perceptible change from a few weeks ago, despite our recent spate of colder weather. That's a good sign. The best case scenario is for it to stay at least where it's at until it starts clearing later in the spring. That said, the fishing had been pretty good by winter standards. There's still some dry fly activity out there during the middle part of the day with midge patterns and even some midge cluster action that lasts for an hour to an hour-and-a-half. Not bad, for January. The nymphing has been the more consistent route to go, with the old, larva and pupa stuff earlier in the day and adding emergers a little later when the water warms and the bugs and the fish become more active. Red larva and O.J.s seem to be the biggest producers and a lot of folks are getting good results on egg patterns, if that's your thing. The streamer fishing has been okay, especially with smaller bunny leeches, although I haven't heard any reports of "lights out" streamer fishing, but that's typically how it goes here in winter. You'll get a few fish, but they're likely to be good ones when you do. So, overall, things are pretty good on the San Juan. The weather could be a little better, but at least for the first part of the week we've got some highs in the upper 30s to nearly 40 degrees with very little wind, which ain't that bad. I guess if you want to fish in the middle of winter you couldn't do much better than here right now. Hope you can make it out soon. If you would like to book a guide or need more info, give us a call at 505-632-2194.