Monday, January 19, 2015

January 17, 2015 - Day 2 of the San Juan River

Day two started later than we wanted. The canyon was fogged in and chilly, and the sun doesn't come up until 7:30, so we weren't in too much of a hurry. We dressed and were down at the Cable Hole parking lot (closest to the dam) at 7:45am. As we rigged, we were visited by a BLM Ranger. We shot the shit with him for almost 45 minutes - we never did see another fisherman. That was very weird.

We soon were headed down a 60 degree "goat trail" headed for the orange buoys (which is the furthest you can go up). We had pre-rigged, so headed to the main channel and started throwing into some beautiful water - with no luck. Having got some intel from Darren the night before, we knew where we were headed and would work our way down.

But we got no hits to start - and that was depressing. Finally I was working a channel that separated the main channel and a side 4 acre piece of slack water and I hit a nice fish on the sjw. After landing it, it was even nicer than I thought - he was probably a 19-20 inch rainbow all colored up.

Notice the sjw fly hanging in all the photos? Yes, you can thank Steffan, my trusty cameraman.
Steffan and I worked the area over, catching a few hear and there. Some were bigger than others - but most were on the smaller 16-17 inch size. Every time we looked up after about 9am there would be someone else in the area fishing. We also started getting very popular with the boot lickers - at one point, Steffan had over 11 fish literally swimming next to his legs. No matter where you went they followed. Some of these fish had to be close to 20 inches, at one point I kicked my feet to make the water dirty and then used my net to scoop up an 18 inch rainbow - who btw, could care less since there was no hook in his jaw.

The water on the San Juan was pretty disgusting. It always had a greenish/blue tint and smelled horribly. And the rock snot was everywhere - you couldn't avoid it - it covered everything high and low. The water levels were lower than normal, and I think it allowed the ugly side to show. You can get lost in the undergrowth trying to get to/from the river. Many times we have to bushwhack our way through the bushes just to get through. The rock snot was surprisingly not slippery.

This is the view of the surroundings, lots of sage brush, oil riggers and rock formations. The river was weird, it often had rocks in the water that were worn down to have "slots" were you'd be walking and all of a sudden it would just drop down into a slot the water had carved and then your next step was up out of the slot.

I did manage to do pretty well in the spot Darren told us about - I caught 5 fish on micro midges at the tail of the flat, but 4 were 14 inches and the other was maybe 16 inches - just couldn't hook the big ones.

We left around lunch time and headed back to the room for lunch "chips and beer" and then tried a couple other holes. The water was bigger in some and completely flat in others. We didn't have a whole lot of luck the rest of the day - so we decided to head back to the Texas Hole.

When we got there, the was a mass exodus of anglers coming out, but everyone was holed up in the main channel. The weather, which had sucked all day, suddenly got windier and much colder and we decided not to change back into our gear and just chatted with a couple of guys from Arizona - who only caught a few fish as well - but weirdly, they were all browns.

We ended Day 2 the same way we ended Day 1 - at the Sports Mens for food and beer, back to the room for beer and then I passed out. The days here kick your ass, we were exhausted.

Day 3 was not much to talk about - the weather was in the teens in the AM and there was a thick layer of frost on everything. We decided we would just get started on the drive home at about 7am. On the way out, there were 4 trucks in the Cable Hole.

The ride home was uneventful, but while driving through Salida we decided to stop and fish the Ark. The Arkansas river was flow ice cold, no ice on the water, and clear as gin - I've never seen that river look so clean. But, we couldn't find a single fish, and we wrapped it up and headed home.

We made decent time home - I think we got back around 3:30 and watched some of the Packers/Seahawks game - just in time for the onside kick.
Great trip, thanks Steffan, I appreciate you driving and getting me out and fishing to a new spot - sorry we didn't have better luck.

January 16, 2015 - Day 1/2 on the San Juan

With my wife away for the long weekend, Steffan and I decided to do a guys fishing trip to the San Juan River in New Mexico. I have been gone the last two weeks traveling for work, and I landed at 7:30pm on Thursday (missing my wife and kids - who flew out at 6pm). Steffan crashed at my house that night to make the trip a little shorter for him. 4:45am came quickly and we were on the road at 5am.
The ride was in darkness down 25 until about Walsenburg, were the sun started peaking to our left hand side. We decided to do the 25 corridor route on the way down and the 285 route home.
We saw lots of mountains, too many to name, but took some pics.
A random small hick town, I forgot the name, but here we stopped for a train and a photo.

At one point, we hit a weather inversion, where it looked like we were heading into a cloud. The temp dropped from 24 degrees to about 7 degrees and all the trees were coated with this cool layer of frost/ice. Made for a cool scene as we whizzed by.

This, I believe is the top of Wolf Creek Pass - headed down the other side.

Chimney Rock, also known as Fister Rock (don't ask).

After about 8 hours, which included 2 quick gas/coffee stops and hitting a small lodge in Pagosa Springs for breakfast, we finally hit the top of the dam - looking down on the San Juan River.

At around 2pm, we stopped at Abe's, got licenses and flies, and headed up to Texas Hole. Texas Hole is one of the biggest areas to fish, as it is just below the "braids". After gearing up and heading to the river, we stumbled quickly upon 2 (or more) rainbows shacked up in the braids in a nice bend pool. We soon tied up and Steffan hooked and landed a nice rainbow, I hooked and almost landed (popped off in the fast water) a slightly smaller fish.

We moved out to the main channel. We fished our way around the skinny water and up towards the dam (still a 1/2 mile away). The water was very off color, I guess the lake had turned over and was dumping shit into the river. Also, the flows had been dropped to 307 cfs - so the fishing could be tough. I did manage to catch a few fish, including the below in the faster water - on a size 24 black midge.

I worked up some more and caught a few in a bend pool that had to be 6 feet deep, but I couldn't see more than 12 inches. All were rainbows and all were healthy, but no longer than 16 inches (most were in the 14 inch range). We worked our way up and down, not catching a whole lot. I did manage to find a rock that had a bunch of fingerlings in the 6 inch range that were eager to try and hit a sjw.

The light was starting to shrink, so we headed back to the main pool at the Texas Hole - crossed the river and dropped in across from the parking side where 8 anglers had camped out. The far bank of the pool was all sand and easy to wade. After standing there for a few seconds we started noticing about 30 feet out there was a pod of a couple hundred fish literally finning and slurping up midge dries off the surface. Steffan quickly changed to a dry and I worked a couple of tiny midges with no weight. We each caught a bunch of fish. The temp was drastically decreasing and we wrapped it up. The fish in that pool were mainly 12 inches to 14 inches long, but they fought hard and were very fun.

We wrapped it up and headed back to the motel. About 6:30 we decided to go find some food. We went over to the Sports Mens Bar/Food and were informed that we needed to order food because they were closing in 10 minutes.

Yup, the town roles up at 7pm. We ordered a ton of food, had a few beers and they closed the place around us. We left around 7:30 and back to the room. I drank a ton of beers and passed out, Steffan tied flies and I snored the rest of the night.

Day 2 would start early.