February 23, 2020
Alrighty, then. What are these white flakes falling from the sky outside my window this morning? And who ordered them? Well, at least it's Sunday and tomorrow we can mark another week of winter off the calendar. Lately, the weather here has been like spinning a roulette wheel, you just never know where it's gonna end up, one day you'd swear it was Spring and the next day it's snowing. Put all your money on black. Tomorrow's forecast calls for winds at 28 mph with gusts to over 50, and Tuesday the high is 41 degrees. Other than that, the rest of the week looks favorable to decent fishing. Basically all you need to know if you're planning a trip here, is don't come here on a Monday or Tuesday, those are my days off and you can always bet the weather is gonna suck—put it all on black, I say. Well, at least Tuesday is National Pancake Day, so we can all take a little consolation in that. A veritable Movable Feast if you are located anywhere near your local IHOP. Now, this is not to be confused with Pancake Day of the Christian tradition, which is also referred to as Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday and is the last day of feasting before Lent and takes place exactly 47 days before Easter Sunday. If you're really smart, you can celebrate both and have all you can eat pancakes, twice this month. Unfortunately, I will have to abstain this year as I am presently working on my beach body, trying to slim down into my Speedo for an upcoming fishing trip in the salt. I'm already on a juice cleanse that involves the juice of the blue agave plant along with the juice of lime, all courtesy of Jose Cuervo. That's right brothers and sisters, I'll be trying for the Grand Slam down there (not the one from Denny's) so you pray for your good brother Jay, you pray real hard that he'll stick a fish or two, or three. I feel that we know each other well enough by now that I can count on your support. Worst case scenario, I'll garner some new material for my new book, Across the River and Into the Trees, which details my limited casting abilities and pretty much describes where all my most expensive flies always end up.
Anyway, the fishing here on the San Juan ain't been too shabby for winter. The water clarity has been worlds better than last winter and the visibility remains at around two feet or so. Flows are presently around 400 cfs and likely to stay in that range for the remainder of winter—plenty enough for a drift boat and shallow enough in some places to create some good sight fishing opportunities. For fly choices, you can't go wrong with red and cream midge larva and the usual plethora of small, San Juan midge pupa patterns like a bling or monomidge in 24 or 26 for your earlier in the day selection. Around 11:00 when the water starts to warm a bit, you'll start to see fish working higher in the water column and it's time to add in some emergers like a scintilla, crystal flash, or ju-ju emerger. There has also been some decent dry fly activity from about 11:00 till 3:00 with most fish rising to single, adult midges and I've done well on a size 24 gray adult pattern. I have also managed to pull up a few fish, believe it or not, on a size 12 Chernobyl ant. Now, first of all know that every fish in the river isn't gonna eat this ghastly thing, and most likely, you're wasting your time targeting those fish that are already rising, eating one tiny midge at at time—those fish are too cued in to one thing and one thing only. I've had better success with this by just covering likely water—the shallow, faster or moderate speed stuff where a fish can get a decent look at the fly. For what it's worth, you'll probably have to make a lot of casts and work a good bit of water, but you won't have to worry too much about a take from a dink—most of your eats will be from good fish. I'll admit that this type of fishing ain't for those namby pamby, cucumber water drinkin' types, but it sure is rewarding when you see a big head come out of nowhere and engulf a big foam dry fly. It's big-boy fishing at it's best. On another front, I have started to see a few BWOs showing up later in the afternoon on some days and I imagine this will only improve as we move into March and April, if this year is anything like years past on this river. This also tells me that those baetis nymphs are becoming more active, so adding something along the lines of a rootbeer or a RS2 to your repertoire might be a good idea, especially if you are gonna fish anywhere in the lower river, where these bugs are more commonly seen. So, there's all that and then there's streamers too, if that's your bag. I've been hearing pretty good reports of decent streamer fishing, more so, in the earlier and later part of the day when the fish aren't focused so much on the increased midge activity and smaller white, olive, and black leech patterns seem to work best. So there you have it—watch the weather, pick the best days possible that fit into your schedule and you'll have yourself some good winter fishing on the San Juan. Hope you can make it out soon. If you would like more information or need to book a guide trip, give us a call at 505-632-2194.