San Juan River Winter Fishing Report – Winter Fishing at the San Juan River
The hatches on the San Juan River have been heavy. The midges are small (size 24 and 26) and consistently hatching every morning and afternoon. The BWO hatch is still coming off below T-Hole. Start looking for them around noon.
Foam wings and Johnny flash are working great below T-hole, gray has been best. Try midge larvae (olive, gray, black and brown) 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. 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 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 on the San Juan River the bites will be lighter and you will have to fish shallow rigs to avoid the bottom of the river.
Streamers are working at night. Make sure you fish streamers with hooks close to the end of the fly as the fish short strike streamers often.
Hopefully you will be as lucky as our Orvis endorsed professional guide Marcus and land a rainbow through a hook eye that is already set. Every fish story has a beginning. This fish story may change over time but the picture says it all. Our San Juan River guides are still taking anglers out. The weather has been chilly but the wind is mild. The temperatures are varied from the low 20s to the low 40s daily, typical winter fishing day on the San Juan River.
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.
All this goes out the door when fishing streamers. Get them on the bottom and fish 1X fluorocarbon.
Happy fishing anglers. I hope our fishing report helps you catch fish. Thanks for reading the San Juan River Winter Fishing Report