- Jay Walden
October 10th, 2021
"Receipt failed to print. Please see cashier inside." Yeah, right, like you're actually going to walk in there, stand in line, and ask the cashier for your gas receipt, which would totally defeat the whole purpose of paying at the pump in the first place. That one seems to happen so often to me anymore, that's it's become more of an expectation than a disappointment. Honestly, I don't know why I even continue to bother pressing the "Print Receipt" button, but I do. Sometimes I think it just for some kind of twisted satisfaction— that self-confirmation of being right about my lack of trust of gas pump receipt printers—that, "Ah-ha! see, I knew it," moment. Some warped sense of a delusional quasi-reality where the disappoint of the receipt not printing is offset by the joy of being correct that it would fail to do so—as if the two were diametrically opposed forces existing in the cosmos of the universe, in the first place. My Schrodinger's cat of gas pump printers. It's the compilation of the small victories in life that make us the winners that we are, I'll take them where I can get them.
Anyway, if you're planning on fishing the San Juan in the near future, disappointment isn't likely to be one of the issues you'll have to deal with. We've been waiting a while here for the stars to align, enduring weeks of higher flows and less than stellar, water clarity issues. Finally, it has happened—500 cfs flows and gin clear water, and hatches, once again. The San Juan as it should be. Now, I'm not smart enough to know how flow rates affect bug activity, but I have fished this river enough to know that I see a lot more activity at 500 cfs than I do at 950 to 1,000 cfs. My assumption is that it's all tied to water temperature, something that I do know affects bug activity, and when you dump a lot of extra cold water that is drawn from deep within the lake—well, maybe the bugs don't feel so frisky anymore. And it just goes without saying that you're going to have more rising fish if you've got clearer water and the fish can see the bugs better. At any rate, let's just say that the fishing has improved dramatically over what it was a couple weeks ago. At least for me, it has. There are midges coming off and rising fish as early as 10:00 am (sorry that's about as early as I can make it on the water with my not being much of a morning person and all) but I've talked to other fishermen who have told me that there's not a lot of heads up before that. The other good news is that the hatches are lasting throughout the larger part of the day. Typically, my days have gone as follows: 10:00 am a few fish rising to individual midges, walk around and go from fish to fish with a size 26 adult midge (they'll eat smaller, if you want to go there) 11:30 bug activity picks up and rising picks up, and you can upsize to a size 24, around 1:00 you'll start seeing clusters and you can now supersize to a size 22 cluster (I like Bloody Butchers for this) by 3:00 the clusters start to wane and you repeat the process in reverse, going to a size 24 then 26, or smaller. I've caught fish like this up until 6:00 if the wind doesn't become an issue. 7x tippet is a must for the dries. There has also been reports of some good BWO hatches from the Texas Hole to the lower river, especially on overcast days, but I haven't been able to tear myself away from these good midge hatches yet to experience it firsthand. I know that a lot of folks are slightly critical that my reports are slanted mainly toward the dry fly-fishing aspect of this river and that is a fair argument. Slightly critical might actually be an understatement. However, the bug activity I'm describing here is relative to both nymphing and fishing dries. I would have to say that right now the conditions and the number of rising fish are more favorable to dries, which is exactly the opposite of where we were two weeks ago where the reverse was true. Still, you're gonna catch plenty of fish if you decide to stay with nymphing. My advice there would be to focus on the emerger stage of your bugs throughout the larger part of the day. Maybe pupa and larva very early or late in the evening, but stuff like scintilla midges, crystal flash, and ju-jus in dark colors, as small as size 26 when the bugs become active. Anywhere from Texas Hole and below I would add some baetis into the mix with RS2's, fluff baetis, and gray and chocolate foam wings in size 24 and possibly 22. I would strongly suggest 6x fluorocarbon, given the water clarity right now. Whatever the method you choose, you really can't go wrong right now, in my opinion the fishing is about as good as it's been all year, not to mention you've got some incredible scenery to do it in with the beautiful backdrop of the fall colors along the river. We are expected to see some wind in the earlier part of this week which could add a wrinkle to the dry fly fishing but that should level off by Wednesday after the weather front moves through. Hope you can take advantage of the good fishing before winter is upon us.