January 12, 2020
I think that sometimes we overcomplicate this fishing thing. There's a tendency sometimes when we're out there on the water and maybe things are going a bit slow, to overthink it, assigning anthropomorphic tendencies to our quarry that has a brain the size of a pea. We're spending our precious time wondering what this or that fish is thinking, trying to get inside the mind of the fish, when actually the only thing going on in there is possibly, eat or get eaten. Maybe it's really that simple. Why, just the other day I saw a photo of an orangutan in Borneo, fishing with a spear he had fashioned. I mean, how hard could this really be? Yet, one can occasionally get drawn down the rabbit hole, spending countless hours watching the latest YouTube videos of new fly fishing techniques for trout, not to mention the myriad of magazine articles featuring the "new" way to set up a nymph rig, the newfangled way to tie age old fly patterns with the latest, state-of-the-art materials available to mankind, or the myriad of cutting edge, indicators (which is just another fancy way to say bobber) that keep flooding the market. Yep, just put a picture of someone holding a big fish on the cover, and we're captivated, reading for hours. Sometimes we're pathetic— the lot of us, we fly fishermen. Perhaps if we spent more time worrying about getting the basics of the sport down pat, like a drag- free drift or a proper dry fly presentation, rather than the minutiae of whether we have the correct arrangement of molecules to make our fly line the slickest and, thus, farthest casting, we'd all be catching more fish. Come on folks, these fish are from Navajo Dam, not Roswell, New Mexico—they have no alien superpowers. I know, I know, sometimes I can get on a rant and I don't mean to poo-poo every technical innovation that's come down the pike since Izaak Walton's first cane pole, because there have been some that have improved the sport dramatically, but there has to be a tipping point where we have ventured into the realm of the absurd, with diminishing returns. And— I'm spent.
So, how are we doing here on the Juan? Well, not to bad, actually. We've been having some pretty good fishing so far this winter. The water clarity is not bad, with visibility of slightly over a foot, or so. Still good enough that you can actually catch some fish on dry flies right in the middle of winter—I'll take it. And the flows here have been pretty stable around the 500 cfs range (presently 457 cfs) and are likely to stay that way for awhile. As a bonus, this week we are going to see some highs in the 40s, to almost 50 degrees, which is a welcome sight. As far as fly choices go, it's the usual San Juan itty-bitty midge stuff with a strong emphasis on the larval stage of the bug, namely red in color. That, and egg patterns. The more productive part of the day seems to be around 11:00 till around 3:00 or 3:30 and I think that's probably tied to water temperature, which in turn, relates to increased bug activity, and as a result, fish activity. With the warming trend, this week that window may open a little sooner in the day. Here I go trying to get into the mind of the fish again, but there you have it. As far as streamer fishing goes, I would say it's about average. Now that's based on my personal experience and skill set, which has been scrutinized on here before, ad nauseam. Your mileage may vary and I have no doubt that anyone that goes out there with a streamer with only an inkling of knowledge of how to fish these damn things, will catch fish. My limited advice would be to keep your choices small, in colors of olive, white, and black—in that order. Now, overall I would say that the quality of fishing here is about as good as you could expect for January—you're probably not going to knock 'em dead like you're used to in July, but you'll probably make a pretty good showing for yourself, should you decide to come. This is a pretty dang good trout river that fishes better at certain times of the year than others, you'd be hard pressed to find anything in comparison for the next couple of months. If you would like more information or need to book a guide, give us a call at 505-632-2194.