Fishing Conditions in December
Winter is coming…and for us it is already here. Snow has been flying and the temps have been dropping. The holiday season is in full swing and it is a great time to get out on the water. Now granted, fishing access is limited this time of year; but due to the low temps, large swaths of river can be had all to the adventurous fisherman. Just remember to dress in extra warm layers and get some good gloves. Might we recommend the Simms Windstopper Foldover Mitt.
Currently, the best option for getting into some fish is the San Juan river below Navajo dam. Since this is a tailwater, the fishing is always good…if not great. Again, make sure to layer up. If you want the river to yourself, December is the time to fish and in the past few days, streamer fishing has been great.
The Animas, Rio Grand, and upper San Juan are also viable options this time of year. Look for warmer, sunnier days. As the water warms, the fish will become more active so look for a warming trend. Currently it is very cold and fishing can be difficult. With colder water, Trout will seek the deepest part of the river and will rarely move for anything but the most easily accessible meal. They are attempting to conserve their energy. More weight is your friend.
Insects and Natural Food Sources
San Juan – Midges of course! Midge pupa, larva, and adults. Annelids, aquatic worms, eggs, leeches, BWOs.
Animas, Piedra River, and Upper San Juan, Rio Grande – MIDGES! BWO nymphs, sculpins, crayfish, stonefly nymphs. (Fish are going to be seeking deeper water this time of year, so use more weight!)
Los Pinos River – Winter flows. Fishing will be close to impossible
Recommended Fly Patterns
San Juan River: Midges Sz.18-26; colors in Olive, Black, White, Tan, and Red. Red Brassie, Mercury Midge, Big Mac, Disco Midge, Griffith Gnats, and Zebra Midges, CDC Midge Emerger, . 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, Tan, 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. A great set up for this time of year is a small bunny leach trailed by a red annelid.
Animas, Rio Grande, and other SW CO rivers: Midges size 16-20 in green or black; Stuck in the Shuck Midge, Parachute Midge, Disco Midge, Thread Midge, and Griffiths Gnat. Small Mayfly nymphs in sizes 18-22; Brown RS-2s, Two Bit Hooker, Pheasant Tails, Micro Mayfly. Wooly Buggers, Woolhead Sculpin, Autumn Splendor, Near Nuff Crayfish, Near Nuff Sculpin, Josh’s Ziwi in sizes 2-10. Green or black caddis larva and cased caddis nymphs, Hares Ear Nymph, Graphic Caddis, sz. 12-18.
We will be arriving around Dec. 20th is fishing an option? Have to be in Vegas the 22nd. What flys will be effective. Have never fished the west .
At this time of year the 2 fishing options are the Animas and San Juan Rivers. The Animas is a freestone river that runs right though Durango and the San Juan is a famous tailwater below Navajo Dam, which is a one hour drive from Durango. If it is not to cold the Animas can fish well with basic nymphs like Hairs Ear, Prince and Pheasant tail. The San Juan is one of the best winter fisheries in the west and can fish well any day or the year. Here we also expect to fish sub-surface at this time of year with small nymphs like midge larva and pupa. We are here at the shop to help any way we can sand do have guides available.
Happy Holidays, Tom Knopick
Thinking of doing some winter fishing your way around Feb,12. What areas are still good for this time of year?