- Jay Walden
August 15, 2021
Added value. One of the great hidden benefits of living alone is that you can have anything you want for breakfast and you're not going to hear a judgmental peep about it. Just the other morning it was leftover Chinese followed with chocolate chip cookies. Exquisite. No judgement, no protestations from the peanut gallery. Just me, General Tso, and the cookies, and gastronomical bliss. But, of course, as with all other facets of life, bachelorhood comes with its own set of drawbacks, mainly that you've gotta do all the other tasks completely by yourself, no matter how mundane or crappy. There's simply no one else around to pawn the menial stuff you hate, off on; albeit, you can do them at your own pace, you just have to let your conscience be your guide. Warning: there will be times when you'll have to embarrass yourself into simply taking out the trash. Anyway, a friend of mine recently had a disagreement with his wife of thirty years, just as he was leaving to come here for a fishing trip. After a few days that he allotted for a "cooling down" period he decided enough time had passed and that he had better call and check in to survey the state of his matrimonial bliss. The way he related the story to me was that she hung up on him—twice, something he said that hadn't happened in all their years of marriage. He went on to fish a few more days, so I guess he figured the situation wasn't dire enough to warrant his immediate return, to patch things up. I'm sure after thirty years, he's got a better idea about his wife's personality and limits than I could ever advise him about. On his way out of town he stopped by to say goodbye and let me know he'd see me on his next trip out, at which I suggested could be as early as the following day, but he seemed pretty self-assured everything was going to work out. It's been a week now, and I haven't heard anything from him, so I guess he was either right, or there's a body buried in a shallow grave behind his house. I guess we'll know when the dry fly fishing gets good around here again.
Speaking of which, that's been a bit of a struggle for me lately. Remember back in July when I told you that the water would probably go up to 700, then 800, and then 900 cfs. and the fishing might get a little tougher? Well, turns out I was right, but my timing was just a little off. Who knew it was going to rain here every day in July? Definitely not me. But here we are today at 933 cfs. So, I've always had this love/hate relationship with the month of August on the San Juan. Technically, it's still summer but for some reason it doesn't fish like it did back in May, June, and July. Maybe, it's just because the fishing is just so good during those months, it's not a fair comparison, but in my mind, the weather is still pretty much the same, so it ought to be. I've heard my fair of fishermen refer to it as the Dog Days of August fishing. I refer to it as, "The days of Whine and Roses," manly because the weather is still rosy, but I distinctly remember the month-long whine from all the guides that the fishing was tough. If I had to pin it on any one particular set of circumstances, I guess I would have to lay it at the feet of the fact that it's typically the month that you see the Animas River dip to some all-time lows which results in flows here that reach or surpass the 900 cfs level, which doesn't lend itself to great dry-fly fishing, in my opinion. That, and perhaps the fact that the river has just seen its highest level of anglers for three solid months in a row and these fish are just tired of our nonsense. Whatever the reason may be, there just always seems to be those few weeks of August, generally around the middle of the month where the fish go on summer vacation from my terrestrial patterns and the midge hatches get sparse to non-existent for a few weeks. Enter, the nymph fisherman (hold for applause). I think if you really want to catch fish for the next couple weeks, you're better off nymph fishing. Even that is probably going to be a little bit tougher for a few days until these fish settle down from that recent push to 933 cfs. As far as what to use, my emphasis would be on annelids, midge larva and pupa patterns. Hell, maybe even throw an old fashioned huevo in there for good measure. And go ugly early in the lead department—most of the fish I am seeing are holding tight toward the bottom and aren't moving a lot for food, mainly because there's a lot coming by at 933 cfs. While I'm on the topic of seeing fish, I've noticed that the water isn't what I would call murky, but it isn't quite clear with these recent water changes, especially anywhere below the Kiddie Hole. All that rain we received in July dumped a lot of silt into several sections and every time the water goes up, well, you can guess what happens. Maybe after a few days of this higher flow, things may self-correct a bit, at least I hope so. The conditions improve as you move upstream, but things still aren't the gin clear conditions they were back when the water was at 500 cfs. All in all, things could be worse. If you come here, you'll still catch fish, maybe just not as many of them right now as you're used to, and maybe not in the fashion of your choosing. You'll still be in a beautiful place, with beautiful weather, and catching big, healthy trout. And what could be better than that, except perhaps, leftover Chinese food and chocolate chip cookies?