River Conditions in February
Most of our local rivers are under ice and snow, however the Animas has started to clear up considerably. Fishing can be slow, but a string of warmer days in the high 30’s will cause the fishing to pick up. Don’t rule out a midge hatch to bring some fish to the surface…but don’t count on it either. This time of year, getting creative can yield positive results. Show the fish something they can’t resist; but show it to them slowly and with weight. This can also be a great time of year to fish streamers; and bigger usually is better, just not faster.
Like pretty much any month, February on the San Juan is still awesome. Less crowds but lots of fish. Standard tailwater techniques are the suggested techniques; but again, don’t be afraid to get creative. The San Juan has a large amount of leeches (and small rainbows) that get chowed on in the winter months so don’t be afraid to throw some meaty stuff. Bring a few cold ones, look for Midge and Baetis hatches in the afternoon, and anticipate a relaxing day on the water.
Insects and Natural Food Sources
February is still midge time, albeit not too small for the Animas. Average size midge on the Animas is about an 18, but will range anywhere from 16-20. Cased Caddis, BWO, PMD, and stoneflies nymphs all work great as a point fly on a 2 fly rig. Oh, and of course meaty streamers.
As the San Juan is a tailwater: midge larva, midge pupa, midge, emergers, and midge dries; usually in sizes 18-26 in February. Other food sources to be aware of are Baetis nymphs and dries, eggs, annelids, aquatic worms, and leeches.
Recommended Fly Patterns
Animas: Midges Sz. 16-20: Green, black, and tan in color. Brassies, Discos, and Sprout Midges if they are eating on top. Green or black caddis larva and cased caddis nymphs sz. 12-18. Dark stonefly nymphs sz. 10-14 such as a 20 Incher Stone or Prince Nymph. Dark mayfly nymphs such as a Juju Baetis, Tungsten Micro Mayfly, RS-2, and Pheasant Tails in sz. 16-20. Streamers: anything that is big, meaty, and has lots of action in the water. Meat Whistle, Hare Sculpin, Magnum Super Bugger, or anything tied with a Sculpin Helmet.
San Juan River: BWO’s Sz.18-22; Two Bit Hooker, Juju baetis, WD-40s, Phesant Tail, RS-2s, CDC Comparaduns. Midges Sz.18-26; Black Beautys, Red Brassie, Big Mac, Griffith Gnats, and Zebra Midges. Brown, Olive, and White bunny leaches or buggers of the same color. Tan chamois Leeches size 16. Red annelids Sz. 20-22. San Juan Worms, Sz. 16-20 in tan or pink. Egg patterns, Sz. 16 in orange, pink, and cherise.