Let 2018 Be Your Big Fish Year – January Fishing Report

24 January 2018
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24 January 2018, Comments: 0

Let 2018 Be Your Big Fish Year – January Fishing Report

2017 has passed into the records of history.  Now is the time to look forward to what 2018 will bring!  A lot of us have set goals and resolutions for our fishing this year.  We hope you have too!  We are already planning our fishing trips for 2018 and some of us have some great destinations on the calendar.

We have had a strange winter so far, starting off very mild it has kicked into the cold season with nights flirting with 0 degrees.  Ice in the guides are a staple of early mornings on the water and gloves are a necessity.  Even with these cold temps at night, the daytime highs are still rising above freezing, which means in the heat of the day, fishing is on.

The San Juan is our staple this time of year for those who want to wet a line.  We have made it through the worst of the lake turnover, and while clarity is still off, fishing has been quite good.  The go-to rig in January is often a leech/annelid combo, but don’t discount streamers and dries either.  Not many folks think to strip their favorite bugger or baitfish pattern through likely holding water on the San Juan, but that is often a wrong assumption.  Streamer fishing isn’t the numbers game that fishing a nymph rig is, but it often produces higher quality fish…and often they are angry brown trout.

Of course, the Animas is also in play on warmer days.  Deep running nymph rigs are a must this time of year as water temps can dip down to the low 30’s, and fish are not moving far to eat.  Caddis, mayfly, and midge nymphs should be your first choice, but more important than fly selection is weight choice.  Often the difference between success and failure is one split shot.

If you plan on getting out on the water with us this winter, don’t forget our Winter Guide Special.  $350 for the best of the day fishing, wade or float, for 1 or 2 anglers.  This is a great way to break up the winter doldrums.  Make sure you stop by the shop or give us a call if you plan on getting out on the water at all, we would love to help you out.

You can also check out our frequently updated river reports page for the most up to date information.

River Reports:

San Juan River Quality Waters – The Quality Waters, like stated above, are seeing some lake turn over effect.  Bigger bugs, larger, tippet, and maybe even some movement.  Hey it never hurts to give your bugs a little action every now and then.  Now is a great time to swing a streamer or leech through some likely holes.

Don’t forget, until April of 2018, there will be closures of the river from Simon Point to Crusher Hole.  A temporary boat take out will be located at Munoz day use area.

Animas – Midday has seen some incredible fishing on the Animas as of late.  Nymph rigs fished deep are hooking most trout.  With the Animas as well as any winter trout fishing, if you catch one fish; don’t move.  Trout will stack up in the winter.  Finding a fish or two indicates that you have found a good spot with good depth and cover for wintering fish.  The great thing about the Animas is that it provides a great midday fishing option when we need to break up the monotony of the winter routine.

San Juan River In Colorado – You probably knew that the banks of the San Juan in Pagosa Springs are littered with hot springs.  You probably also knew that these thermal hot springs flow into the San Juan and provide hot water for the main flow in the dead of winter.  You probably also knew that because of this, trout will sit below these hot springs in the deeper holes (hey trout like to pamper themselves in geo-thermal pools too), and chow on whatever floats by.  I am glad you knew this already.

Rio Grande – This is not the best time to fish the Rio, mainly because it is covered in ice.  If you can find open water, drop a heavy nymph rig in.  Otherwise, wait until warmer late winter temps.

Piedra – Much like the Rio, the Piedra is mostly inaccessible.  What is accessible is either on private or covered in ice.  If you do have the opportunity to fish the Piedra.  Find the deepest, darkest holes and drop in your heaviest nymphs.

Upper Dolores – Again, mostly ice by now.  Fish open water with lots of weight or wait until spring.

Los Pinos – Below Vallecito:  The lower Pine is very low and clear right now, but flows have been bumped up.  Fish will still be very skittish, but it doesn’t hurt to try.  Ok it does hurt because you will most likely get refused and that hurts your ego.

Above Vallecito: Snow and ice will make this trek very difficult.  Most of the river will be frozen over.

Creeks and the High Country – Covered in snow and ice.

Local Lakes – If you like ice fishing, local lakes will be frozen enough in the next few weeks to cut a hole and drop a line.

Andy McKinley
Andy manages Duranglers Flies and Supplies online store and web content. When he is not plugging away in the basement of Duranglers, he can be found in the shop talking weird flies, throwing spey casts for few fish, eating pizza, drinking coffee, painting, and raising a family in Southwest Colorado.

His fly fishing writings have been published on blogs such as the Daily Drake and Simms Wading Room.

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