As I sat down to write this report, I checked the calendar for the date, and then double-checked to make sure I was reading it correctly. The calendar says January, but I just came inside from the outdoors where I was wearing shorts! In some places that may not be a big deal, but in northern New Mexico, at almost 6000 feet elevation, it is something – absolutely gorgeous weather! We have had an extended period of warm, calm days coupled with excellent fishing! The extended forecast is showing a couple days of winter coming up this weekend, then back to sunshine!
Good midge hatches have been coming off in the Quality Waters section of the San Juan and the trout are gobbling them up. However, the water is dirty from lake turnover, so brightly colored flies or flies with a bit of flash or a bead-head are what you need to attract consistent strikes.
In the mornings we have been using RED. That’s right, capital “RED” midge larva. The best two-fly combos have been: a large red larvae, size 18 or 20, trailed by a small bead-head larvae in size 24 or 26, or an egg pattern, pink or orange, trailed by a red larvae, or a white bunny leech trailed by a red larvae. We are dead drifting these combos under a strike indicator, and if using a leech, stripping it back at the end of the drift.
The pattern changes a little bit in the afternoons. Even though the red flies are still catching lots of fish, a grey emerger fished under a red larvae, is more productive. Grey fluff baetis and grey foam wings in size 20 and 22 have been great.
Another pattern that is working well, at all times of the day, is stripping leeches. A weighted white bunny leech stripped upstream and through dead water has fooled many a big trout. If the fish are ignoring the white leech, switch to grey, black, or a black wooly bugger. It only takes a few casts to determine if they want a leech or not, and when you find the right color, you will get strikes regularly.
Many strikes have been subtle, so watch your indicator carefully for the slightest twitch, wiggle, or change in speed. Even leech bites have been less than arm wrenching, feeling more like a bit of moss on the line.
As we move into February, I anticipate continued good fishing, mild weather, and lots of fun on the World Famous San Juan River.