May 18, 2021
Sorry, but we gotta keep this brief, the dry fly fishing appears to have finally turned on here and I need to spend as much time as possible on the water, instead of in front of a keyboard. So, in this particular report you'll be spared all the superfluous hyperbole that you are normally treated to here, something I sure, that several of you will be forever grateful for. After months of my lamenting about the lack of rising fish and the lack of fish populating the familiar haunts of the past (there is no whining allowed in fly fishing) just last week, they finally showed back up—like magic. Don't ask me why, that's not really the important thing here, the important thing is that they are there, and they appear to be hungry. I couldn't be happier. For the longest time this late winter and early spring, I was beginning to think I was losing it, wandering around looking for fish where I had always seen them before—" Looking for love in all the wrong places", as the old song goes, just like back in the Urban Cowboy days when everyone thought that buying a belt with a big silver buckle and a cowboy hat and some boots made them a real cowboy. Anyway, now these fish have showed back up to places you can get a crack at them with some dry flies or at least sight fish to them with nymphs. Fat, happy, and healthy fish. After years of trying my best to study fish behavior and trying to get into their tiny little brains, I have finally come to the conclusion that fish are just going to do what fish are going to do and there is nothing you can do about it—the result has been liberating and I feel like a great burden has finally been lifted from my shoulders.
Okay, the flows here have remained low, in the just below 400 cfs range. I think that we're likely to stay at that level for at least the next month or so, until the runoff from Colorado dissipates and the Animas River drops, it shouldn't take too long—last week I made a trip through the Southern San Juans and the snowpack is definitely low for this time of year. The water clarity here, in my opinion, has improved substantially. Yes, there is still the presence of algae and didymo, but there seems to be less of it breaking loose and in the upper water column. Still, it pays to check and clean your flies often. As far as hatches go, outside of yesterday, which was an overcast day, they haven't been really prolific. I think yesterday was one of the better hatches I have seen in a long while, with a great mix of both midges and BWOs in the lower river for hours. However, a little goes a long way; apparently, and on most days, you'll see fish start feeding in the upper water column around 11 o'clock and this can last into later into the afternoon. Granted, most of these appear to be emerger rises, but I have been doing quite well on a size 24 Morgan's midge, fished on top. That is, when the wind cooperates. The past few days, the wind has at least been intermittent—when it's calm, the fish rise—when the wind starts, you'll see them drop back down in the water column. The good news is that they are still feeding and if you're not into standing around waiting for the wind to stop, I'm sure you could do well on a midge pupa/emerger combo nymph rig, all day long. I have been able to pull a few fish up on larger terrestrial patterns lately, but it's not exactly what I would call on fire yet. I still hold out hope that that'll come around a little later. Keep in mind there are still a lot of baetis nymphs that are active in the areas of Texas Hole and below—RS2s, small pheasant tails, rootbeers, and gray and chocolate foam wings should be good fly choices in any of those areas. Also, right now I'm using 6x for everything, even the size 24 and 26 dries and the fish don't seem to mind. Overall, I think the fishing has improved dramatically over the past few weeks. Hope you can get out soon and check it out.