November 8, 2020
Truth be known, I always wanted to be a Country Music Star. Not necessarily a superstar like Waylon, or Willie, just big-time enough to maybe have my own bus, a couple of hot-chick, backup singers, and be able to hang out with the boys in my band after the show. Sort of Fred Eaglesmith, Whitey Morgan, Colter Wall, or Ryan Bingham kinda big-time. Unfortunately, as fate would have it, I never learned how to play a musical instrument and I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, which are minimum requirements for such a line of employment, or so I am told, and so I just ended up being a fishmonger, slinging out these stories week to week, which really ain't that bad a gig, if you can get it. Still, I miss the life out there on road. If life gives you lemons, best open up a lemonade stand. Now lately, I have taken up to fishing the dry fly, making the most out of the wonderful fall weather we have had this past week and to take away the lugubrious thoughts of my missed opportunity to see my name up there on the marquee lights. It's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll, anyway—which would probably leave me little time to fish.
So, this last week was a great week, especially for dry fly fishermen on the San Juan. There was nice warm weather, perfect flows and clarity, very little wind, and excellent midge hatches every day—lots of midge clusters coming down for hours and gulping trout. Happy fish and happy fishermen, and fisherwomen. I even got to bust out the old size 10 dead chicken and fool a few fish. Well, as they say down in Texas, "Things is fixin' to change." This Monday the weather is gonna take a turn for the worse, with the lows down in the teens at night, a high of 39 degrees and snow. The rest of the week doesn't look to be much better with the highs in the 40s, but then again, we are approaching mid-November. Now, I don't have confirmation on this yet, but I also heard that the water level is going to be dropped to somewhere around the 300 cfs range which won't really affect the fishing much, unless you happen to own a boat. I don't suspect any of this will have much effect on the bug activity and we'll probably continue to see the midges and the baetis still come off, although the hatches may be starting a little later with the cooler weather causing the water to warm up a bit later in the day. The big thing I'm worried about is the lake turning over and the river getting murky once we get the cold temperatures for an extended time. Generally, this doesn't happen till sometime between Christmas and New Year, but last year, if I remember correctly, it occurred the week before Thanksgiving, so who knows? My advice is to get out there and fish all you can now, just in case. As far as flies go, I've been using a size 24 adult midge in black or grey in the early and late stage of the midge hatch when the fish are picking off singles. In the middle part, when the hatch is heavy, I go to a size 22 Bloody Butcher and I've been fishing them all on 7x tippet. You might be able to get by on 6x during the heavy part of the hatch when the fish are less wary, but that requires re-rigging, and although it only takes a minute, I don't want to waste a second when there are fish rising right in front of me. There have been some BWOs on the water around 1:30 or so, even in the upper river, but the hatch only lasts for a half an hour to 45 minutes up there, so I haven't bothered switching flies, because it is also during the time the midge hatch is at its peak. I imagine the baetis hatch is a bit more prolific downstream, so if you're fishing down there, you might want to bring along some size 22 olive bodied comparaduns or parachute Adams patterns. For nymphing, I'd stick with a midge pupa and emerger combo for the larger part of the day, or rootbeers, RS2s, and foamwings on the lower river. All in all, the fishing has been pretty solid for the last couple of weeks. Despite being a tailwater where you think things stay a little more predictable, and generally they do, weather and water changes occasionally do make a difference on fish and bug activity, so we'll have to see what happens next week—it's all part of figuring out the puzzle and keeps this river interesting. Worst case scenario, you're still fishing a world class trout stream, so things can't be all that bad. Take care, hope to see you on the water.