Chasing Wild Browns in the high desert during the noonday sun. Not Easy!

Slow start to the day arrived on the stream around eleven am, late for us, high desert elevation around seven thousand feet, air temperature very pleasant around seventy Fahrenheit. Water temperature still cool but warmer than the last time we were there.

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This steam works well on hopper dropper combos during the summer when the grasshoppers are out and about. So far this year, we have not seen many hoppers, but still, I decided to give it a go—nice grasshopper with long spindly legs with a size twenty zebra midge underneath. Marc was stripping green-purple leeches.

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The water was pretty low and very clear, stealth was the name of the game, long casts way up into deeper moving water was the order of the day. My first cast missed a brown who took my hopper but missed. Marc was further down, about an hour later we meet up, he had two small wild browns on his belt, me nothing, a fat goose egg!!!

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We decided to go upstream for the rest of the day. Marc tends to fish faster than I do, so we did not see much of each other. However, when I did catch him up, I was about to pass him when he called me over, said there was a nice brown out in the open feeding on the surface about every three minutes. Sure enough, he was there. I did one perfect cast, by luck rather than skill, landed the hopper three feet above him directly in line with a green and black size eighteen nymph trailing about twenty inches underneath. I watched as my hopper went right over his head, nothing, not a flick, watching as my nymph literally hit him on the head. I was thinking about how to recast over to him when he just slowly swam up into the head of the water under a tree on the other side of the bank. Perfect for Marc to have a go. Several casts later nothing, then Marc hooked a branch and lost his fly. That was that. Just as we were leaving that run, Marc looked down, and there was a nice black woolly bugger stuck in a bush right in front of him. Nice swop out. As the Aussies would say, Fair dinkum mate!!!

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After fruitless hours of no hits and not seeing any rises, I was thinking of changing tactics when in a slightly deeper pool, I had a flash nice brown, ok I am going to hunt you down bro! Thirty minutes later, time to change tactics and give this guy a rest.

Sitting away from the run and watching the water, I decided I was going to put on a small beaded copper john about 10 inches under a very small indicator, followed by a size 20 nymph that was red, blue, silver with a slight hackle another twelve inches down on a size six tippet, light and stealthy. Remember, this water is shallow and not moving too fast! Casting up into the faster moving headwater and getting a perfect drift, time, and again nothing. I was starting to think of moving on when he took the nymph, nice fat brown, jumped into the air ran way came back skating on the surface. Shouting to Marc, who was on the next run-up, Got the bugger!!! Reach back for the net, bringing him in across the shallow water dip the net and bam he shook the hook and was gone! At least Marc saw it, not a catch but close no cigar!

Most of you will know this, but I tend to get stuck in a rut when fly fishing on times. You have to mix it up. The point in Hand, stripping flies and dead drifts. Two different techniques, but you can mix the two together.

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I was having no luck on dead drifts; Ok, I hear you; he must have had drag on his flies!!! Not the case. I am pretty good with this presentation, as I have done it many times successfully.

 Towards the end of the day, I started stripping my indicator along the top water. Not too fast to cause a ripple from the indicator but defiantly fast enough to move the flies underneath through the water column. You can adjust the speed to see what works best, but having the flies under an indicator hanging at different depths then moving them it helps you keep the flies at different levels rather than just stripping without an indicator which will be at one level depending on the size and weight of your flies. I had the other hookups using this method.

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We can always learn however. I was fishing with a guide at Lees Ferry AZ last year dead drifting nymphs, my guide came over and said you have some drag on your flies. I looked but did not think so; she re-rigged me with two indicators about eighteen inches apart and told me to recast. I did, and immediately I could see a slight drag on one, it took a while but pretty soon I had them moving in tandem I had eliminated the slight drag I could not see. You live and learn!

The rest of the day was a lot of casting and looking for signs of life. Marc ended up with four landed wild browns. I hooked up another three, but they were soon gone as soon as they took the fly. Never the less a beautiful day in the mountains out chasing wild elusive brown trout in the high desert.

 

Marc is an expert fly fisherman and knows his stuff, I generally muddle along, but there are days and streams when you need the perfect alignment to catch these spooky fish. I always like to remind myself on days like this, it is a badge of honor when you catch these guys, and it is earnt not given!

Golden Trout of Arizona. Gila!!

The Golden trout of Arizona, Gila Trout. Ken Wade and I had another successful trip up into the high desert of Arizona using Black Woolly buggers with a size 20 black & silver nymph.

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For me each run was different, some I had more success letting the flies drop to the bottom then a slow strip back in other runs it was a slow dead drift under an indicator with the bottom fly just off the bottom. It was one or the other so if no luck with the indicator i went to stripping the flies and visa versa. On one cast i ended up with two Gilas on, how cool is that and lucky!! Both flies worked well.

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Ken on the other hand was using a 7 ft 6 ” Bamboo fly rod and mainly hi sticking with a cotton ball as an indicator with nymph under that in the shallow water, then also striping flies in deeper runs.

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After catching many fish i had just ordered a really colorful red and blue with silver sparkle size 20 nymph that looked so fishy.

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Perfect time to try, not one fish did I catch with that fly that day!!! But they look great in my fly box! I know another occasion will present itself and they will do well!!!

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Small trout great fun.

 

It is all about the size! Size matters she says!! what do we care? It is what it is!! However, when it comes to trout on a fly rod, now that is a serious matter! We all see the trophy pictures, the big guys in all their glory!!! I have posted a few with pride; we know how hard they are to catch!

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The other day I was out in the wilds with my trusty fly fishing pal Marc, trekking all over and chasing elusive fish in the noonday sun. We were late as we had a blow out on the rocky trail. Now in this day and age, changing a Tire is supposed to be easy, Right??? Well, Marc and I found out that NASCAR will not be calling us to join their pit crew any time soon!!!! Much head-scratching and wondering if the emergency roadside assistance numbers work out in the middle of nowhere, we finally changed it!!! Time had gone by, and the temperatures where rising the sun was high. Onward and forward!

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Back to size matters, we fished hard and walked and walked chasing those bloody trout, which I think were mostly having their high noon siesta!!! We soon split up as I had hooked a decent brown down deep on a green olive with slight hackles small size 20 nymph. Why that color?? I had tried everything in my box to no avail!!! So what the hell. Anyway I digress, I saw this brown briefly as I played him a beautiful deep brown, silver splash of color then snap he was gone. Since I knew he was there, it was time to hunker down come up with a game plan, go stealth, throw the book, different flies, depths, drifts he was having none of this! Finally, Zero, he was long gone, and so was Marc.

Now I had caught a few rainbows, a couple that looked like hybrids, beautiful colors but I did not photo as I was after the man who I felt for sure was just down the next cast!!!! Eventually, I caught up to Marc, who told me he landed a good solid 18″ brown from one of my favorite runs to fish. I had caught many small wild browns out of this pool, but never the man!!! Great, let me see the photo??? I forgot my phone, and you did not answer my calls out of the wilds, my net man, you let me down, dude!!!!! Now I know how Goose felt back in the day!

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We both trudged off going higher up the stream, beautiful day, but temperatures were rising. We caught a fair few small rainbows and Marc a few nice browns!! I have to say that Marc usually pulls a good size brown out of these streams; he is the Brown master!!! I am his net man an honor I have to say!!!

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It gets dark up here this time of year around 7-30 pm, and when I say dark, I mean dark!! This is wild country, and you need to be back at your truck before dark as who knows what comes out to play!!!

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Around six, we decided to head back and fish a few favorite runs on the way down. At this point, I had still not caught any browns. Marc hung back and fished some higher runs. I leaped frog some runs to a run I knew held browns—a couple of casts a few more rainbows, no luck on the brown. I moved into the middle of the run put on a hopper with a trailing nymph red in color, hoping to catch a late-rising feeder. Second drift down at the end of the drift, I slowly raised my fly and Bang fish on, small wild brown so happy, happy, happy, which brings me back to size, who cares? I had just caught a beautiful wild brown trout in the wilds of the high country of Arizona USA!!! Fly Fishing with my buddy Marc. Yea, it does not get any better than that, until  the big One.

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Fly Fishing the San Juan River New Mexico in February 2020

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Over twenty-four Guides from Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona get together for a fly-fishing bonanza once a year, for fun and to exchange stories and fly-fishing experiences.

I was lucky enough to be invited to this gathering. My friend Dave and I arrived at Twelve lunchtime after leaving Phoenix at Five am! The guys from Arizona all arrived at the same time we all launched our boats for a late float down the river. Many of the other guides had arrived earlier, some launching their boats and other wading the Braids and further up the river to the dam.

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The weather was bright and warm, with water flow around three hundred and eighty cubic feet per second, water was clear to murky. As it turned out that day, the river did not want to give up its gold, with fishing for all concerned difficult. Some caught up to five fish others nothing, myself at the end of the day on a late run decided to put on a chartreuse-colored egg. I remembered from one of my previous trips on this particular stretch late in the day it had been effective! Bingo one nice small brown trout on one drift thru!!! At least I was not skunked!!!

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That evening we all met up at the lodge for dinner and great conversation. Long day, I think everyone was tired, so we all left and hit the beds relatively early—the plan to be launching on Texas hole no later than eight am.

The next day we all split up again some in boats others wading. The weather was beautiful bright, and clear. Again, we all worked hard with much the same results, a very mixed bag. However, one bright spot for us on the top end of Texas hole was to watch a guy wading in very shallow water across from us land what was reported to be a Thirty-Seven-inch brown!!!! It took him a while to bring in.

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All I can say was that he had a big net, and this fish-filled it out; it was so thick it was a real pig. There were plenty of people around all taking photos, so it was well documented! The fish happily swam away from the madding crowd. Back to the boat, it was a difficult day with the same results as the day before. I landed four fish for over ten hours of fishing all rainbows. Back at dinner all the same results as the previous day, except for Brittany from Colorado. She killed it!!! Rumer was around thirty fish for the day.

So, you can imagine all these guys at the dinner table!!! Questions, question?? What fly worked for you??? It turns out Brittany had tied her particular fly. After much humor, she gave in and showed the fly to all. We all took photos!!! That night in my room, three guys were trying to create the new fly, they did not have the exact color materials, but they came close. I am sorry to say I am sworn to secrecy and will not divulge the fly pattern!!!

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Now the next day, we were expecting a storm to come in late in the day, we awoke to some cloud cover forming and a drop in temperature. Dave and I were the first boat in Texas hole, so we rowed up to the left side dropped anchor just down from the strong flow running in from the braids. Great piece of water, very fishy!!! I left on my rig from the night before to see what would happen. I had on a size twenty-four chocolate emerger with my chartreuse egg below that. I rigged my flies with the weights below the bottom fly to get down deep in the flowing water. My leader was at least ten-foot-deep to the bottom fly, as where I was casting the water was deep.

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A few drifts in my indicator disappeared, nice rainbow on!! A few fish more, and I said to Dave, who is just getting back into Fly tying, to give me one of the new creations that he was trying to make of the super-secret fly!! He will be the first to admit it was a bit motley to be kind, but to me, it looked fishy!!!!

A few drifts later, we were high fiving each other laughing that a new fly tier has been created, it worked, nice rainbow on!!!!! No stopping him now!!!

Karma is a strange bedfellow, for at that moment the hatch turned on there were trout rising all over the place. Dave took a seine net ran thru the water, we looked at the bug life, the net had tiny black larvae which were floating on the surface, Tiny!!!!

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We decided to put on Big Hoppers, the bigger, the better to be able to see, as there was so much current turbulence and shadows flitting over the surface in the sun out of sun. Then rain and wind and more rain coming down it would be hard to see any fly. I put on a black bling midge size twenty-four, ten inches behind the hopper. Looked just like the larva we saw in the seine net! Dave put of a size twenty-four RS 2 emerger Black about eighteen inches behind his hopper.

The river gave back to us as we just hit gold. The strikes were swift, we both caught rainbows one after the other, but both missed a lot of strikes, they were very sneaky, all the trout we caught were just hooked in the upper lip. The hatch stayed all day, and we decided not to move as it was hitting on all cylinders. Your all going to think we were on good drugs as we stopped counting after thirty plus fish each!!! No kidding, it was wild. We fished there all day; towards the end, my arm was starting to ache I had thrown so many casts from eight in the morning to after five in the afternoon with no breaks to speak of.

The San Juan at its best Dry fly fishing that you dream about. A few bigger rainbows even inhaled the big Hoppers. They hit them hard, taking well into their mouth. We saw plenty of trout coming vertically out of the water into the air at least two feet before splashing back in.

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On the odd occasion seeing a big old boat surface, you know when you see a big back and hump as the fish slurps the surface only to disappear into the depths again. There were some big boys prowling out there!!!!

What a day! Later on, we found that most everyone had a great day no matter where they were on the river. One of our friends landed a twenty-eight-inch brown after a long epic battle. After two days of throwing the book at them with little success, the fly gods felt for us, and we were rewarded with epic Dry fly fishing. The next day we were leaving; it was snowing and cold; a few of the guides stayed to fish on. Till the next trip we may be better equipped with new found knowledge, but I know the San Juan river will as usual, throw us a few curve balls going forward. That is the beauty of Fly Fishing the unknown and slowly gaining experience.

 

San Juan river New Mexico, Fly Fishing in January 2020

Got the call from the boys, there is a small window of time this weekend in between storms do you want to float the San Juan? Do Birds Fly, do Bears Shiiiii!!!!! In the woods, sign me up!!!

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Matt and Chris Arizona Fly Fishing Guides, Dave, Steve and me the old boy!!! Out the door at four am Friday morning, the plan to rendezvous somewhere along the trip with the other truck and guys. You know what they say all good plan for mice and men! Well the other guys ran into a snow storm which slowed them down so it was every truck for itself.

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 Dave and I pressed on ahead now the pathfinders. We hit the New Mexico border only to find they have some strange animals in that there bad lands, prehistoric vistas which blows the mind with the vastness and who knew what roamed the lands!!

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Eventually we arrive around two in the afternoon to gale force winds, snow flurries and nineteen degrees Fahrenheit temps. Jump out the truck sniff the air, the question do we go or not Goose!!! One look at each other and into our waders pull on many layers and rod up. Just at this point the others turn up and off we go. The plan to fish the Braids as it is too late to put the boats in.

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If you have not fished the San Juan the Braids are just up from the famous Texas hole which can only be waded too shallow for boats.

It was bitterly cold with numb hands and no fingers to feel, we all spread out and every man for himself. All the guys caught three to five fish each, except for the old guy I was skunked that afternoon. As the light faded and the ducks winged their way in for a good night rest, we all headed back to the trucks talking about what worked and what did not. In my case a stick of dynamite, might have been better use!!! We disturbed a deer and her fawn on the trail both as cold as us!!

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We stayed at Fish Heads San Juan River Lodge where our meals awaited us. After all the talk and food back to the rooms for hot showers then headed into the war room where Matt was tying Flies that he figured would work well the next day. Orders in, off to bed dreaming about that big elusive brown that was just waiting for my fly!

Next day loaded up and we had the boats in the water by eight am, which on a normal day would be very late as the crowds are always big on this river. However, this time of year it is pretty quiet. On arrival we were the first two boats in the water with a few wading fly guys already in the water along the edges of Texas Hole.

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We anchored up trying various flies with little success, a fish here and there but not much action. After several hours we started to drift down, this river is all catch and release using oars only on the boats, no motors so it is very peaceful. We all fished different flies under indicators, some nymphs, leeches, emerges, eggs of every color and just about every color and combo under the sun. All of us had success at different times of the day with shouts of encouragements and fantastic esprit de corps!!

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Around two in the afternoon we pulled the boats up on a bank and had a great lunch, smoked salmon, jerky, salads plus so much more. Once sated back into the boats to drift the afternoon away. We all caught plenty of fighting Wild rainbows with some beautiful colored up browns. The drift to the take out point is about six miles so it is a leisurely float with mild rapids and the odd rock to avoid here and there.

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Fly Fishing with five friends for a day is very special, also have two fly fishing guides with us was invaluable as you learn so much from them. Matt Traynor who guides all over Arizona and Chris Wilson who guides at Lees Ferry. I highly recommend you book them if you are fishing in these areas!!

Both were so generous in their time and knowledge I certainly learnt from them. Many times, just watching how they approached the water, how they cast, and most importantly for me, watching how they mended their lines for that perfect drift. That is one of the most important aspects of fly fishing. Note that they were not our guides, just good friends fishing along sides us enjoying their time on the water.

As dusk approached, we landed at the take out point loading the boats on the trailers as quickly as we could as dinner awaited us.

 One thing to remember, is to get your New Mexico fishing license, pay your five-dollar park ticket to park and pinch your flies you are using as it is barbless and the game wardens are there and they police strictly.

Hot shower and sweet dreams not wet dreams!!

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Next day rinse and repeat, except this time Steve caught a monster Rainbow early in the day. Then in the afternoon Matt hooked into a big one. We were further down but we heard the drama, Matt was in the boat in shallow water when the fish took his fly. In water I had fished hard for a while with no luck!!! The fish took off down river so Matt jumped out running and stumbling along the shallow water trying to keep it under control. Shouting for someone to bring a net as he had a bloody big one on!! More shouts, water splashing laughter then hoots as they final landed this prize into the net. Sound carry so easily on water so we lived the moment vicariously!!!

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So much fun, so many moments, so much to reflect on, such as Matt with his beard and Russian looking fur cap that immediately became the butt of Russian lore!! Ivan the great, you get the drift!

 Our when one of our guys who shall remain nameless, had a stomach malfunction and had to hit the head urgently, just as we were walking into the fly shop to discuss leaving the boats in storage. Full of manly men and he shouts out as Ivan the Russian is walking into the store, he needs to hit the POTTY!!!!

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Potty what the Fuccccccccc!!!!

Ivan was sheepishly looking the other way at that point!

I have never seen a guy get out of all his padded clothing and full waders in that time frame, I think it should become an Olympic sport as there was so much grunting, cursing, stretching, panting all the while with such concentration!! Epic to watch!!! And the explosion what an encore!!!!

If you get a bunch of guys to share rooms and gas it very affordable, plus there are plenty of places to wade so if you do not have access to a boat don’t be deterred. Fish the Braids up and also fish down river plenty of walkable wading areas to be reached.Attachment

Up early Monday and head home looking forward to the next trip.

 I am blessed to have such friends. Fly Fishing what an adventure

 

Fly fishing road warriors to the San Juan New Mexico

Getting up at three-thirty am to eventually arrive on the river at three pm New Mexico time. We had to meet up, load up the truck and drift boat, and off we all went. Matt and Steve, who are Arizona Fly Fishing guides and very accomplished fly fishers, If you want to be a better fly fisher, go with better guys, and you will improve vastly, just like in golf! Steve, an airline pilot who has the craziest Move recollection and Me just an old dude!

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The afternoon was bright and calm, with no wind, hallelujah!!!! Four guys in a drift boat does not work, so we dumped Steve the guide off on the left bank of Texas hole. The three amigos just dropped anchor up from him. As usual, there were plenty of guys in the water at the head of the hole.

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We became like choreographed casters, one on each end of the boat with Matt in the middle, casting into the faster-moving water. We worked well together with no tangled lines on the backcast!

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We did not have a lot of time before dark, so we stayed where we were and fished away. Matt and Steve 2 have plenty of local knowledge, which became more and more important as the trip went along. Steve 2 was a catching machine off the bank landing about a dozen nice Rainbows, while Matt landed close to the same amount, with the odd brown thrown in. Steve 1 and I landed a few fish. Steve 2 was fishing a size 22 brown, and gray Beatus fly with great success, while Matt was using tiny size 22 red-colored annelid flies. Also of note is the fact that we changed from a size 20 to size 22 which made all the difference.The strikes at the Juan can be very subtle, and you have to be very aware of any slight movement, I lost at least six fish that afternoon due to late strikes or feeling the fish on for a second before they throw the fly. Using such small flies does not give you a lot of room for error. Certainly, a great learning experience for me!

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At dark off to a restaurant for steak and beers, then back to rooms where Matt and Steve 2 started tying new flies for the next day, based on what they thought would be current due to conditions. I went and had a shower dreaming of bigger fish!!

The next day up early and first boat on the Texas hole, of course again, guys were wading at the head of the hole covering one of the best spots. This time Steve 2 meet some old friends of his who had their own drift boat, so he saddled up with them for the day. We all fished the hole for about four hours roughly with some success. We all changed up flies trying all kinds of mixes. Matt and Steve 2 did very well with Steve 1 and I bringing up the rear again, due to less experience. On occasions like this, you have to watch and learn, the subtle mini mends in the line, the correct drift in the right seems all so very important. I have to say that Matt and Steve 2 were very generous with their time and knowledge on this trip, and we’re always looking to help you and point out things that maybe you were not thinking about. A huge thank you to those guys!!

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Later in the day, we started the drift downriver, stopping along the way to get off the boats and wade different areas. On one stop, Matt, Steve 1, and I were on the left side of the river while Steve 2 and his friends were on the right side. On our side the trout were feeding on the surface as well as deeper down, we put on a variety of dry flies with no success and again with wet flies’ same result very frustrating!! On the other side, the guys were catching a lot of trout. Matt even used the same flies as Steve 2, who was killing it, the same flies on our side no go. Time to move on, we spend the rest of the day drifting down, catching the odd fish here and there very pleasant!

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Of course, Steve 1 catches a very small last-minute trout at the landing area, only to get ribbed that he was holding us all up due to this huge fight he was having with this monster trout as we all wanted to get the boats out of the water. No mercy in this group!!!

Off to dinner and beers, tough life, but someone has to do it!!

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The last day we were going to wade the braids, which is the area up above Texas hole that you cannot drift in a boat. It is all catch and releases up to the dam with great fishing to be had. The plan was to leave at the latest one pm as we had a long drive back.

We all fished various parts of the stream with Matt and Steve 2 doing well. Steve 1 caught fish but has this strange way of talking to fish in a strong Chinese accent when he is fighting the fish. I think his brain was addled from too much sun exposure. Steve 2 has the same habit, but at least he speaks in English to them!!!

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I think I had my most significant learning curve that day; I had fished this one long run from early on missing about six fish just getting off the hook with late strikes and whatnot. Pretty frustrating, then the run went dead. I fished up and down, no luck. Later Matt came down, and on his second cast caught a nice brown trout, I shouted up to him what was he using? He told me a small pink egg with an annelid fly underneath. He asked, what was I using? I said a large red egg with an annelid underneath. He came over and said I needed to change up, the larger red eggs work good in the morning, but when the sun gets higher, you need to change to a smaller pink egg for this run and time of day. We changed up my rig, and off he went.

My first six casts after that I had good strikes missing the fish, then bang nice rainbow on!! This was the same run that I had fished hard the previous hour or so with no luck. It just goes to show what experience brings to the table. So, my friends, when you can fish with experienced fly fishers, watch and learn, put all in the memory banks and down the road, it will bear fruit!!!!

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Leaving the river on a high note, we loaded up and became road warriors again!! We talked about all kinds of topics, interests listen to some podcast, went over the trip, and before we knew it, we were home. For me, around ten-thirty pm, happy as a clam, although I think at this point, Matt’s eyes were popping out of his head!!!

Fly Fishing the San Juan River in New Mexico

 

Fly Fishing the San Juan River New Mexico.

The day started at four am, left Phoenix at five am. According to google maps, it would be a seven-hour fifteen-minute drive. However, with gas stops and towing a drift boat and with a rendezvous to meet our other friends who also were towing a drift boat, we hit the river around three in the afternoon, taking into account losing an hour due to the time difference.

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Once at the river, we had to launch the two boats, then drive both trucks down to the parking lot at the end of a six-mile drift, then drive one truck back. Time was ticking. We launched at Texas hole, which is the first pool of the drift. This hole is the catch and release barbless area of the river. You can fish higher up to the dam and of course, below the take out point.

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We fished the Texas hole with all the guys catching a few nice fish except me I was skunked that day. Fishing was slow, and there was a lot of weed drifting down in the water, and just about every cast covered your flies in green weed, which was a pain to take off the flies. I think this for sure slowed down the fishing.

I was fishing with three friends, one being Matt Traynor, a fly-fishing guide licensed in Arizona, a true expert who has fished the San Juan numerous occasions and is very knowledgeable. Trust me, he has the patience of Job! as we were continually harassing him for which fly now!!!!

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He brought along his brand-new drift boat, also Dave Geruais, who brought his boat. Dave and I fished together, Matt, along with his friend Steve fished in their boat. Both drift boats are Willie boats, great boats very shallow draft with excellent stability. As time was moving along, we decided to take off and drift the river so that Dave could get some firsthand experience rowing down and through some small rapids. Also, he was getting to know and try not to hit the rocks that jutted out in just the right place to ding your boat. There was not much time for fishing as we had to get down to the take out spot before dark. We did cast here and there, but before we knew it, it was dark, and we still had a ways to go.

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Now the fun started, Dave asked me to give him directions as he was rowing with his back to the downside of the river. Took a while for us to understand my right was his left, etc. understanding I had never been on this river, it was now pitch dark. As I peered into the gloom trying to figure where the river went, I said to him I think this river goes to the right; he glanced over his shoulder and said no, it goes left, but we must keep right. What???? Are you sure? Then down in the gloom, a bright light turned on with a voice saying follow the light. Is that Matt? Or a pirate luring us to our doom! As they say, follow the yellow brick road in our case, the light.

If you were above the river around eight-thirty that night, you probably thought there was a drug bust going on. Lights were turning on and off shouted instructions that got lost in the night. Me to Dave watch that rock coming up on the right, Dave to me your right or my right??? Never mind, we just hit it, try not to fall out! Dave had a headlight I had a headlight the guys had headlights, and we still hit a few rocks, but we missed more than we hit so all good. Eventually, we made the landing. The Eagle has landed pitch black, is that the ramp??

Loaded up the boats and then had dinner around ten-thirty that night, off to bed.

Up at five am, looking forward to the whole day on the water, we were the first boats on Texas hole as it was just getting light, but not the first people on the river. There were two guys waist-deep in the headwaters that feed the Texas hole, they stayed there all day and killed it. The rumor was they were Russian. They must have been as they had ice running through their veins because that water is cold, and they were there for at least eight hours. They must have caught well over fifty fish between them that day. It seemed to me they were high sticking indicators in very fast-moving water and hitting the edges as the water flowed into the deeper pool. Very impressive, as we were on the other side of them in deeper water.

Matt and Steve caught some fish along with Dave, and I did not. The wind was picking up and gusting pretty strong along with the weeds making it a little difficult. After about four hours, we decided to head downstream; we drifted through the Texas hole and past the first rapid. At this point, we tied up the boats on either side of the rapids. We got out and waded alongside the deeper water. I hooked a nice rainbow that jumped out of the water, gave me the finger and spat my fly out!

The wind was now howling with white caps coming back up the river towards us; Matt was looking worried. There was still about five miles to row down, but the wind was now almost gale force; it would be next to impossible to row down. We huddled up, and all decide that the best we could do would be to walk the boats back up the rapids alongside the banks and eventually get to the deeper water and row back up to Texas hole where we could get the boats out.

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The forecast turned out to be twenty-seven mile per hour winds with gusts up to who knew!!! Whitecaps galore!!!

Now Dave started rowing with Matt in his boat just behind us. We were all rowing against the down current that was strong. Having done a lot of ocean sail racing, I knew the wind was now our friend. I stood up on our bow, opened my jacked, and spread my arms like a spinnaker sail, and the race was on!!! We took off; Matt was looking on in his top of the line brand new Willies boat that had every gadget known to man on it. Except for a sail, who knew! We won the sailing regatta that day on the San Juan. Unfortunately for us, there was no cup this time at the end of the race!!!

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So now what to do? There was still plenty of time so back to the hole, and yes, those Russians were still there, catching machines. In fact, on closer inspection, I think they were some sort of new Soviet fishing inventions, some kind of robotics being tested. Fish on, Fish On, Fish Bloody On!!!!! Give it a rest go home mate!!! Never did find out what flies they were using; I think they were also robotic flies that chased the trout down!! Honest, that makes a lot of sense!!!

We struggled on, Matt did better and so did Steve, Dave caught a couple and also lost a huge brown; Dave to me fish on, Dave it’s really big – get the net!! I jumped up the fish came over to my side of the boat, all golden brown and huge, I started to reach down with the net, and the fish just rolled over and dove deep, snap gone!!! A Beast for sure.

We all fished on; at this point, I was getting desperate! I had tried all kinds of flies, and yes, I know, you have to use tiny flies on the San Juan. I was using flies at this point that were so small I could hardly see to put them on my 6 x tippets. I was using cheater glasses 2.75 and magnifiers over those that were four times magnification!!!! So small we were!!! Still no fish, for the hell of it, I put on a green weenie and bang my first and only rainbow of the day!!!! It was now around five-thirty, and we were all so windblown that we all decided to head in. Loaded the boats and off for food and a couple of beers!!!

At the restaurant, we ordered our food, and I asked what beers do you have? Sorry, it is Sunday, and we do not sell alcohol! Now to a Welshman that is fighting words, no beer!!! Seriously!!! Yep!! Well, so be it! Soda water is not so bad!

Matt saved the day; these Arizonan guides are nothing but resourceful!! To be clear, Matt was not guiding us in Mexico; it was his time off, and by the look on his face when he saw me casting, I could tell he was truly happy he was not guiding me!!!

Matt said, let’s get some ice cream at the shop. Great idea, as we entered, I saw a woman buying beers over the counter, What? I asked the guy behind the counter; we can buy beer here on a Sunday??? Yep, of course, so ice cream and beer it was!!! Well, I passed on the ice cream! A few beers later, a hot shower, and I was gonzo asleep in ten nanoseconds!!!

The next morning, we were the first people on the water. Matt was staying another day, so he launched his boat while Dave and I waded the top of the fast-moving water into Texas hole. Matt and Steve did well in their boat, moving around the hole. There were plenty of boats on Texas hole with a lot of guys wading all along the river; it was pretty busy.

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Dave and I both caught a couple of nice fish with the highlight for me one nice brown, not huge, but fat and heavy that took me a while to bring to the net. At around ten, we bagged it and packed up for home.

Matt sent me an update on their fishing on Monday after we left. They fished Texas hole, catching four or five fish then drifted down to the take out point, catching a few more. It was windy but not as strong as on Sunday. On Tuesday they hit Texas hole in the morning fishing the top end plus drifting around, in the faster water at the head of Texas hole. They did catch four or five fish with a few more added before they left around ten thirty.

Matt did find out when he talked to a local guide that the lake above that feeds the San Juan was just starting to turn over, so that would account for the extra weeds and slight color to the water. General consensus is that after about another week or so the river will return to normal and will be excellent fishing again.

 Till the next time, may there be no wind and no weeds!!!!