River Conditions in October
October is here, and for us it is a time to slow down. A time to take inventory from the past busy season. A time to catch our breath, maybe even head to far away waters for a chance at some steel. October is a good time to be in Durango, especially if you are a fisherman. With the summer crowds having dissipated back to their states of residence, the rubber hatch far gone from the river, and shorter days ahead; it is easy to remember why we are blessed to live in such a great place.
At the time of writing this, the San Juan is sitting at 262 CFS…a little low for this time of year. Strangely enough, the Animas is sitting at a whopping 922 cfs coming down from 1800 a week ago…a little high for this time of year. This has been making for interesting fishing indeed! While the San Juan has been fishing constantly fantastic the past month and continues to do so; our free flowing watersheads such as the Animas, Upper San Juan, and Piedra have been tough. Due to lots of rain that showed up the past few months, our rivers have been pretty consistently blown out. HOWEVER, that is all currently changing. With all rivers now coming down and cooler temps keeping some of the moisture up high in snow form; streamer fishing is so on!
Because of constantly fluctuating flows this past month, the fish have been more apt to hunker down and wait it out. Now with flows stabilizing and the water clearing up, fish are becoming more opportunistic. The winter is coming and browns are on the move getting ready for their yearly spawn. Big nasty steamers are going to be what brings the big boys in. Bring your desire for violent and adrenaline inducing strikes. 6 and 7 wt rods are recommended. Also thanks to the fluctuating flows, it is possible to see a pretty sizable BWO or Midge hatch on the Animas. When this happens, you will know it…almost every fish will be hitting the surface with predicable consistency. This is a great time to be on the water.
PLEASE NOTE Browns have a tough enough time spawning on their own without worrying about fisherman. Please, we would ask that you leave any and all actively spawning fish alone. They are more interested in propagating their species than eating. It is very fascinating to watch fish that are on the redds, but please keep walking and refrain from fishing to them. It will truly assist in the future of the fisheries.
A final note: this is the time of year where strange things happen. Kokanee Salmon are running out of the local reservoirs and into the rivers. Pike and Bass can be active during the warmer days. And the high country may produce some of the best and most beautiful days of the year. Stop in the shop for more information on “uncommon” fall fly fishing adventures.
Insects and Natural Food Sources
San Juan – Midges of course! Midge pupa, larva, and adults. Annelids, aquatic worms, eggs, leeches, BWOs, and baitfish in the lower reaches.
Animas – Sculpins, Fingerling Rainbow Trout, Crayfish, BWOs, Midges, Salmonfly Nymphs, Aquatic worms.
Piedra River & Williams Creek – BWO’s, Midges, Stonefly nymphs, Sculpin and baitfish, Aquatic worms. (Fish are going to be seeking deeper water this time of year, so use more weight!)
Los Pinos River – (Below Dam) Midges, BWOs, Scuds, Baitfish & Leeches. (Flows have been dropped to winter flows and this will be a tough fishery until spring.)
Dolores River Above Reservoir, Los Pinos Above Reservoir – BWOs, Midges, mayfly nymphs, caddis nymphs, aquatic nymphs, streamers (basically anything….fished really deep with lots of lead)
Dolores River (Below Dam) – Midges, BWO’s, Flows are really low so fish are very skittish.
High Country Lakes and Streams – Streamers, nymphs, attractor dries, mice. (With each day, it is getting colder and tougher to fish up high…also, wear hunter orange this time of year).
Recommended Fly Patterns
San Juan River: Midges Sz.18-26; colors in Green, Black, White and Red. Red Brassie, Mercury Midge, Big Mac, Disco Midge, Griffith Gnats, and Zebra Midges. Olive and tan scuds sizes 14-18. BWO’s Sz.18-22; Brown Foam RS-2, Micro Mayfly, Two Bit Hooker, Juju baetis, WD-40s, Pheasant Tail, CDC Comparaduns, BWO Biot Emerger. Brown, Olive, and White bunny leaches or buggers of the same color. Red annelids Sz. 20-22. San Juan Worms, Sz. 16-20 in tan, pink, or red. Egg patterns, Sz. 16 in Oregon Cheese (yellow), pink, and cherise.
Animas, Rio Grande, and SW CO rivers: This is streamer time. Make sure your bugs are big, meaty, and in the following colors: Olive, Yellow, Brown, Orange, and white (Black in murky water). Wooly Buggers, Woolhead Sculpin, Autumn Splendor, Near Nuff Crayfish, Near Nuff Sculpin, Josh’s Ziwi in sizes 2-10. BWO’s in sizes 18-22; Brown RS-2s, Two Bit Hooker, Pheasant Tails, Micro Mayfly, BWO Comparadun, Parachute BWO. Midges size 16-20 in green or black; Disco Midge, Thread Midge, and Griffiths Gnat. Green or black caddis larva and cased caddis nymphs, Hares Ear Nymph, Graphic Caddis, sz. 12-18. After a rain: Dark red and tan San Juan Worms and Stonefly nymphs such as a Pat’s rubberlegs.
For the high country streams and lakes if you go; Olive or Brown Wooly Buggers size 6-12, Most any bead head nymph in size 14-18, Yellow Stimulators size 12-16, Elk Hair Caddis 16-18, Royal Wulffs 16-18. Mouse patterns in size 2-6.