March is here, the baetis are starting to hatch and the river is clearing up. Spring is coming! The fishing has been excellent! Lots of midge activity. With no one on the river this time of year the few folks who are here are loving it! We have had lots of questions about the 300cfs flows. The river hasn’t fished this well in a long time. The fish are eating great and all reports from boats and wade anglers have been excellent! Good luck to all the Fisheads out there. Chris
The midge hatch have been big and consistently hatching every afternoon. The BWO hatches have been getting heavier, starting below T-Hole. Start looking for them around noon. Foam wings and Johnny flash are working great below T-hole even with the stained water conditions. Try midge larvae (red, pink or orange) in the morning, fished with an attractor like a leech or an egg pattern. The afternoon has been good with fish looking for baetis below Texas Hole. Chocolate, olive or gray have been best. The water is off color so flash on the flies is helpful. As always a large part of your success will be your in ability to move around to where the hatches are coming off the best. Fish near the dam in the morning for the best midging waters, the midge hatch is strong all day long. I have been doing well with a black larvae or pupa to a gray or olive larvae. Around 12:30 the baetis are hatching, anywhere from lower Texas hole down to the end of bait water. Watch out for moss on your flies, you have to keep them clean. The winds can be tough on us. The fish are still eating well in the afternoons but you can have some trouble getting a good drift. It is best to shorten up your length between the strike indicator and your weight and add some weight. This will help you get a better drift and see the indicator move when the fish takes. With lower flows the bites will be lighter and you will have to fish shallow rigs to avoid the bottom of the river. Trout are spawning in the river; lots of fish up and down the river are finding eggs to eat. An egg with a red or orange larvae as a trailer will work well. With the off color water streamer fishing is at its best. Make sure you fish streamers with hooks close to the end of the fly as the fish short strike streamers often.
Orvis-Endorsed guides nearby:
Fisheads of the San Juan
Water flow: 300 cfs
Visibility: 24 inches and clearing
Water temperature at mid-day: 42 Degrees F
Water condition: Moderately Turbid
Best time of day to fish: All day long, light dry fly fishing from 12:00pm to 5:00pm
Best stretch: The whole quality water section is fishing well! Most of the fish are in the deeper runs and will be for the winter.
Best access point: Texas Hole parking lot
Fly fishing hatches in order of importance:
Midges are hatching all day long. At the moment they are small, midge pupa and larvae, size 22 to 24, olive, gray, black, chocolate, cream and of course red have been my best. The hatch is strongest from 10:30 to 2:00. The midges are clustering so try fishing a cluster to a single dry midge. Black has been best. Try fishing BWO’s from 1:00pm to about 5:00pm. The hatch is best on cloudy days. Dark or light gray, brown and olive have been the best colors in a size 20 and 22. Both dry and wet patterns. Bunny leeches and woolly buggers are working well either dead drifted or stripping them. Black, olive or cream have been best. There are lots of fish spawning so try egg patterns and red or orange larvae
Fish species: Rainbow and Brown trout
Fishing season: Year Round
Nearest airport: Albuquerque, NM (2.5 hr) or Durango, La Plata Airport, CO (40 min) or Farmington, NM (40 min)
Recommended fly fishing leader: 9 Foot Leader
Recommended fly fishing tippet: 5X Tippet
Best fly fishing rod: 10′ 5 Weight Fly Rod
Techniques & Tips
Fish fluorocarbon tippets at the end of your mono-filament leader when nymph fishing. 5X to the first fly and 6X to the dropper. This will produce more strikes as the fish can’t see the fluorocarbon. Fishing 22 to 24 midges in the slower waters has been great, Fish light weight (a number 6 or smaller) with your strike indicator 2 or 3 feet above the weight. You don’t want to be on the bottom when you are midge fishing. We are finding lots of Baetis, especially on cloudy afternoons. Baetis live in fast water so look for them in the riffles at the top of holes and at the bottom of holes in the tail out. Fish are eating gray, olive and brown nymphs in these places , it just depends on the day so have them all. You may have the chance to see fish on top during this time. A parachute Adams or comparadun should do the job. The may flies are green and are about size 22. Use dark colored wings as the fish are turning away from white wings. If you can’t see this try a marker fly about 12 inches above the Baetis. You should fish mono-filament tippets when fishing on the surface as fluorocarbon sinks. Change back to midges when the fish stop eating your may flies. Try some bunny leaches if all else fails. Dead drift them like the rest of your nymphs. Fish are eating them for moss! They will shake the drifting moss to get the bugs out. Eggs and orange or red larvae are working well.