San Juan River High Flow 2016

San Juan River Fishing Report & News

San Juan River High FlowsThere is a lot of stigma concerning the high flow that we on the San Juan River will be experiencing here in the next few weeks. We at Fisheads would like to help clear the air and hopefully shed some light on the subject. Wading the river during this time can be a challenge, it is important to note that the rise in the water completely changes the game. Spots that were accessible regularly are no longer accessible during high water, but this opens up a lot of places that were completely dry and are now wade ready.

The high water on the San Juan River puts all of the fish in new grounds where they are now intermingled with terrestrials so you’ll find bigger fish during this time as well – fish eating rodents, larger insects that aren’t normally found in the water, carp that have been displaced, etc. The fish are extremely active during this time making fishing a wonderful experience.

That being said, our San Juan River guides absolutely love to fish high water! The water is moving and the fish are active – so do not let the thought of 5,000 cfs frighten you. During the ramp up the water can be quite murky the farther you move away from the dam, but that only lasts about 3-4 days. If you want to go out and fish while the water is rising – we highly recommend that you fish as close to the dam as possible and don’t forget to book a guide to ensure that you get the best experience!

Here is what we know so far – direct from the Bureau of Reclamation:



April 18, 2016

The April update to the most probable forecast for the April – July modified unregulated inflow volume to Navajo Reservoir is 515,000 acre-feet, a decrease of 15,000 acre-feet since the last forecast. This is 70% of the 30 year average. Snowpack above Navajo is currently 80% of average. Navajo reservoir current content is 1,475,000 acre-feet, which is 87% full (78% of active storage). Current reservoir elevation is 6069.5 feet.

As per the 2016 Interim Operations at Navajo Reservoir, releases will be made to target the San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program’s (SJRIP) recommended base flows of between 500 cfs and 1,000 cfs through the critical habitat area.  The target base flow is calculated as the weekly average of gaged flows throughout the critical habitat area.  The reservoir will be operated to target an end of year storage level between 6050 feet and 6063 feet.  Water over this target will be made available for a spring peak release.

The most probable forecast results in spring peak release beginning in mid-May with a short 3-day ramp up to 5,000 cfs, 31 days at 5,000 cfs, followed by a 2-week ramp back down to the base release.  The shape and timing of the hydrograph may change and will be coordinated with the SJRIP to balance recovery program benefits with potential flood control and operational safety.  During spring operations, releases from the Navajo Unit will be made in an attempt to match the peak timing of the Animas River to maximize the peak at the San Juan at Four Corners gage while remaining below the US Army Corps of Engineers safe channel capacity of 5,000 cfs between Navajo and the confluence with the Animas in Farmington, and 12,000 cfs downstream of Farmington.

Projected spring operations will be updated with revisions to the forecast and are highly dependent on tributary flows throughout the San Juan River Basin. If you have any questions, please contact Susan Behery at 970-385-6560 or [email protected].

If you would like to contact us regarding any questions or inquiries concerning the high flow, how the river will fish during these conditions, or for booking information please give us a call at (505) 634-0463.

Tight lines,


San Juan River NM Water Flow CFS