River Conditions in January
For the Animas River; the month of January usually is just marginal…however, thanks to the warmer days we have been having lately, it may shape up to be a bit better than that. We have had a few weeks of temps reaching up to the 40s, so get out if you get a chance. Subsurface will be where most of the fish will be caught, but look for an afternoon midge hatch after the water has warmed up for a possibility of catching some fish on a dry. Don’t ever rule out streamers on the Animas as well, just slow up your retrieve quite a bit. You may actually not want to have any retrieve with a streamer and let it dead drift or swing slowly through the current. Strikes will be subtle, so your hook set should be the same. If this warming trend continues, also anticipate the river to be off color. Streamers and big dark nymphs will be key in this off color water.
For the San Juan River, the month of January is great…but without the crowds of the warmer months. Closer to Navajo Dam, the majority of fish will be caught subsurface. However, downstream of Texas hole has been seeing it’s fair share of fish feeding on the surface. Most of the dry fly activity can be had from Baetis bend to the end of the quality waters at the gravel pit takeout. The fishing in January on the San Juan tends to be great as any other month. Just prepare for the cold and dress accordingly. Having a good pair of fishing gloves cannot be understated on the colder days. However, days in the mid to high 40s will be had in the next few days and weeks.
Insects and Natural Food Sources
Midges of course! This is winter after all. The Animas will fish well with midge patterns and bead head nymphs. Large stonefly nymphs will be in the water column. Don’t forget that the Animas also has a large sculpin population, so don’t forget your streamers.
The San Juan will be fishing similarly with midge dries, nymphs, and emergers. Beatis will also be out in the lower stretches of the quality waters. Look for the dry fly action to start about noon and last until sunset. Make sure to have a few leech and annelid patterns as well.
Recommended Fly Patterns
Animas: Midges 16-20; Large prince nymphs. Olive and Black in color. Jujubee Midges and green Disco midges have been working well. Bead head nymphs such as dark Copper Johns, Flashback Pheasant Tails, Deep Caddis Pupa, and Hares Ears in sizes 16-20. Olive, yellow, and white streamers are also a must with wooly buggers, wool head sculpins, Barrs Slumpbuster, and Kiwi Muddlers.
San Juan River: BWO’s Sz.20-24; Juju baetis, WD-40s, Brown RS-2s, CDC Comparaduns. Midges Sz.18-26; Root Beer Midge, Discos, Red Brassie, Flash Midge Pupa, Griffith Gnats, and Midge Larva in grey, red, and olive. Brown, Olive, and White bunny leaches or buggers of the same color. Finally, Orange and tan annelids and San Juan Worms in size 16 to 20.