San Juan River

Growing up in Utah, I knew of the San Juan as a major tributary to Lake Powell. The San Juan arm of the lake holds huge numbers of Striped Bass. The river is much more famed as a year round tailwater in Northern New Mexico.

Denton and I planned a trip and left at midnight for a sunrise arrival. Some 80 miles into our 490 mile drive we hit snow and iced up roads. They never let up until we pulled up to the famous “Texas Hole” parking lot. Its the journey we go for and this will for sure be a memorable part.

We got straight to work on the coldest weekend of the year. The river was still beautiful and I couldn’t wait to get to the water.
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Temps the first day were 16 with some heavy wind. We were prepared for the cold but battling ice in the guides got old. Fishing was fast and furious for small fish but Denton caught a nice Brown on a good drift and on a San Juan worm. It was fitting catching a fish on a San Juan worm on the first day of the trip.
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The sun left the canyon early in the afternoon and with it went the small amount of warmth we had. The motel was basic at Abes but good enough for us. We tied some flies to replace the ones we lost.
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Day two was -6*. We were crazy to do it but we braved the cold and hit the water. Immediately there was ice in the guides and the reels froze up.
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Once the sun was on the water things warmed up and we fished an area for bigger fish. It produced some good ones.
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After a good morning on the water we hopped in the car and headed back to town for lunch. If you’re ever in New Mexico you need to try the green chilies. One of my favorite meals with them is an opened faced green chile cheeseburger with beer battered fries. They did it right at the Juan.
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We fished for a few hours after lunch and then called it a night. It was good to feel cold again, fun to catch fish, and nice to mark another place off the list. Denton is always good company and has really come a long way in the nine short months he’s fly fished. I’m not a great teacher, I pretty much just put a fly rod in his hand and said, “go!”. He’s totally self taught. While on the Juan I exclusively fished a new Scott S4 i’m reviewing. It’s an impressive fly rod and I look forward to fishing it on stillwaters this spring.
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11 Responses to “San Juan River”

  1. Denton Says:

    Sweet Report Man! I Cant Wait Too Get Back!

  2. Kyle Says:

    We’ll have to plan another trip!

  3. mike doughty Says:

    the san juan is where i cut my teeth. i was stationed in new mexico for 7 years so we used to fish it on a regular basis. we always stayed at abe’s. awesome times.

  4. Brian Says:

    Great post Kyle!

  5. Kyle Says:

    Mike, I had no idea! Thanks really cool.

    Thanks Brian!

  6. Kirk Says:

    Sheesh Kyle, that looks cold! It seems that I have been following you around recently. While you were chasing chukar in the West Desert I was drifting midges on the Lower Provo. The week after you went to the San Juan my wife and I were there and we had a blast (I hate to tell you this, but the temps were in the upper 40’s!) We caught some nice bows, but didn’t see hide nor hair of a brown – congrats to Denton! I’m with you, it was fun to finally fish such a famous river. So where to next?

  7. Kyle Says:

    Thanks for the comment Kirk. Heading to Pyramid in April, no wait, March, then when you try to follow me there we can fish it together in April!

  8. Paul Freeman Says:

    Nice Pics. I was there over New Years and it was so cold. Lows close to zero all three days. Nice browns. I did not catch one brown while I was there, first time that has happened to me in over 10 years. Great pictures and report.

  9. Kyle Says:

    Thanks Paul! Always good to hear from you.

  10. David Cooper Says:

    Man the ice on the reel, the most annoying thing is when your reel seizes up! I bet you were cleaning your guides all day long. I’ve always wanted to fish the San Juan. Great post!

  11. Kyle Says:

    Thanks Dave! Yeah it was a pain, we do some crazy things to be able to fish 12 months a year. I’m ready for warmer temps though!

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