Winter: we are in the heart of it now. With the holiday season behind us, many have organized and hung up their rods and waders. Spending hours at the tying vice, working to fill up the boxes for spring; a fair amount of fisherman have opted to keep warm indoors in anticipation of warmer days. The thought of heading to the river now for some…well it isn’t even a thought. The truth is that a lot of fisherman are not out on the water right now.
…and this is good news!
How is it good? Well it is good news for those of us who are still out fishing. Prime spots on the San Juan River are eerily devoid of other fisherman, leaving plenty of fishy water open with room to breathe. Not to mention the San Juan is still fishing great with dries. Thanks to the bottom release dam, the water is still the same temp as it was this summer. If you manage to get out, look for fish to be moving into the shallows around midday; they will be feeding ferociously on top on midge adults and midge clusters. If the dry fly action dies down, tie on a leech pattern. Dead drift it, swing it, or strip it. It doesn’t seem to matter how you fish it; they want it.
Keep the leeches on hand as the lake should turn over within the next few weeks, clouding up the river. Don’t be discouraged by the turn over; lots of food will be churned up and the fish can go in to a feeding frenzy. Dark buggers and leech patterns will be a great option to swing and strip through likely holding water. If you want to drift some nymphs in off color water, eggs and the venerable San Juan Worm will find you some fish.
January can be a tough month to be on any of our other local freestone rivers however. Historically, the first few weeks of January are the coldest of the year. Fish will be seeking the slowest, deepest, but warmest sections of the river to hold. While they will be feeding, they won’t move far for a bite. Fish can be had on the Animas and other local rivers, but you will be working for a tug. The best best is to hit the water towards the end of the month once we have seen a few warmer days in a row. You will know these days are good days to be on the water because you won’t be catching mostly ice.
If you have any questions on a specific river; please call the shop for more info. 970-385-4081
The end of the High Country season has come. Plan for next year by checking out our guide to fly fishing the high country.
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