Navajo 2017 Spring Releases on the San Juan River

24 April 2017
Comments: 5
24 April 2017, Comments: 5

Navajo 2017 Spring Releases on the San Juan River

San Juan River Guided fly fishing

The 2017 Spring release schedule is out for the San Juan River below Navajo dam.  With these higher flows on the Juan, fishing will get pretty awesome.  Check our the official statement, then a few of our notes below…


April 21, 2017

“The Bureau of Reclamation has scheduled this year’s spring peak release from Navajo Reservoir. Reclamation will begin to increase the release on Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017 at 7:00 AM. The ramp-up to 5,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) may take up to 16 days, as increases will be made based on river conditions and coordination with local agencies.  A notice will be sent out prior to each release increase on the way to 5,000 cfs.  The release is scheduled to remain at 5,000 cfs for up to 35 days, or until the spring runoff on the Animas River is complete. If the ramp-up duration takes 16 days and all 35 days at peak are utilized, the release will begin decreasing on Friday, June 23rd at approximately 7:00 AM, reaching 500 cfs on Thursday, July 6th, where it will remain until further notice.

The shape and timing of the hydrograph have been coordinated with the San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program to balance Recovery Program benefits with flood control and operational safety. During spring operations, releases from the Navajo Unit will be made in an attempt to remain at or below the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers safe channel capacity of 5,000 cfs between Navajo Reservoir and the confluence with the Animas River in Farmington, and 12,000 cfs downstream of Farmington.  The release may be changed or reduced if the precipitation forecast shows a risk of exceeding safe channel capacity in the San Juan River.

Areas in the immediate vicinity of the river channel may be unstable and dangerous. Please use extra caution near the river channel and protect or remove any valuable property in these areas.”

So what does this all mean?

The ramp would most likely occur in stages. We they will likely get to 3000 cfs quickly, where it will hold it a few days.  Then 3500 for a few days, 4000 for several days, 4500, for a few days, etc.  The higher flow it reaches, the longer they will probably hold the flow to let it work.  You can expect the flows to be held consistent over weekends.  With the ramp up starting May 3rd and looking like this for the first 3 days:

May 3: 1500
May 4: 2200
May 5: 3200

Then holding over the weekend. Further changes will be coordinated with local agencies but you can expect increases of about 400 CFS every other day.

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.

5 responses on “Navajo 2017 Spring Releases on the San Juan River

  1. Matthew says:

    I will be in Durango mid May. I am new to fly fishing and was planning on fishing the San Juan. What does the high flows do to the fishing?

    • Hey Matthew,

      The high flows on the San Juan can at times make the fishing actually better. Historically they flows were kept at 5000 cfs all summer, and the fish do adapt to higher flows. At 5000, most of the fish will also be pushed close to the banks so they are easier to catch by wade anglers.

      Let us know if we can help you out with your trip!


      • Matthew says:

        Thanks for the response! I was worried the high flows may make wading not possible. I will be coming by the shop for supplies and to say hello. I appreciate your blog updates on Facebook.

  2. Sam says:

    How do you think this will effect the fishing this weekend with the sudden increase? Have any success with streamers around now?

    • Hey Sam,

      You should certainly be using streamers! This past weekend it did not affect the fishing as much as the flows were only bumped from 500 to 1000, but on Wednesday they will be bumped again to 1500 and will be increased to 3200 by this coming weekend, so fishing will be a little tough for a week or two. Once the flows settle at 5000, fishing will pick up again.


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