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Me and my dad did a day of fishing on the San Juan just before Christmas,well, I did anyway. When we woke up on the fishing day we awoke to about 4-5 inches of fresh snow. It was enough to make him want to take it easy but it wasn’t stopping me. The water just below the dam is pretty much a constant 45 or so degrees anyway so snow on the ground isn’t going to make a difference.

There are two good fly shops there and they all had the same information about what would work and how to fish it. I have never fished this river I have only heard about how great it was year round. In fact I have read that there are two places in the world where you will find the best winter trout fishing action; one is the San Juan River and the other area is New Zealand. They say the San Juan is so because of the constant water temp. It allows for massive generation of food.

From the moment I stepped foot in that river it was constant action. Once you figure out the depth to run it was game on!

The first five or so I caught were not very large but I hooked into two real nice fish after that but I failed to land them. They put up a great fight though and I got a close enough look at them to see that they were big. Not long after that I landed a really nice sized rainbow. I am not used to catching fish this big as a general rule since I am mostly fishing small wilderness streams where the fish are 8-12″ on average. It had been a long time since I have seen a really large rainbow, not just in length but girth as well.

The action after that was intense, around 10 AM the fish were slow rising every where you looked. A quick look in the slower moving water exposed what they were feeding on. It was an easy match, the fly shops did not let me down. It was fish after fish after fish. None of them were quite as large as the one below but they were all very close so I was pleased. Another thing I thought that was really neat was when I was working my way up the flats I would go through some shallow pools and I would have a group of anywhere from 10-20 fish following me up river. They were literally on the heels of my boots waiting for me to kick up food for them. It was pretty amazing. I took a video but you cannot really see the fish so I won’t bother posting.

Towards the end of the day I moved down out of the flats into what they call the “Texas Hole.” I tried with no luck using the previous fly patterns at any depth so I changed up the rig to run a small salmon egg and a San Juan Worm. After two drifts I hooked on to something big. It ripped my line faster than anything else that day. I fought it for about 2-3 minutes then lost it. I never saw it but it would have been the largest fish of the day without a doubt.

Oh well, next time…

San Juan Rainbow

San Juan River

It’s cold, no doubt about that but the Rio Grande is still flowing very nicely.

Up here where I live on the Pecos the river is frozen up. I don’t think we will see any action there until March/April. So, you go to the Rio Grande! If I was closer I would be going to the San Juan but that is another couple/few hours tacked on to my already hour and a half long drive.

This was my first trip to the Rio Grande up North. I lived in Albuquerque NM for about a year and the RG flows through the center of the city. Pilar NM is the place I went. This only about 20 or so miles out of Espanola and it’s the intersection that takes you up to the end of the Taos Box at the Taos Junction Bridge.

As you wind up the gorge the river is on the left the whole time and there are great looking spots all over the place. Deciding exactly where to step in was hard. I took the advice of an old friend and went all the way to the bridge and attempted to hike up into the box.

That didn’t go so well. After the attempt I decided to just work my way down from the bridge hitting the slow pools and the spots just above the riffles. I did this routine changing fly combinations every thirty minutes or so because I was getting zero action. After 3 hours I was a couple miles down from the bridge and getting very frustrated.

I had made the decision that this pool I was in would be the last one. I lined that pool from one side to the other, played it just above a nice wide riffle and worked it below the riffle without a single bite. I had plenty of snags so I know I was nymphing deep enough.

I decide to call it there and walked back up river to the slow moving pool section. I was making practice casts as I walked up the current and threw a long shooting cast ahead of me as I broke through the last of the riffle and then I was it; an odd movement on the strike indicator. I thought “nah.” it had to be a snag. So I cast on the same line again and it does the same thing. Could it be? I cast one more time and it twitched and boom! it goes under. I set the hook and there it is, a beautiful 11 inch Rainbow.

I landed it, got the hook out and sent it back into the river. That was three and a half hours in the making and I was very satisfied with the catch. It’s funny how something so simple after preparing for a day and fishing for half the day can feel so rewarding.

It is though, It just is…

First off let me say a big thanks to Doug. That was an awesome ride. We both know it didn’t end too well but it is not your fault My pig of a bike had issues. I personally think it was the clutch catching on the handguard then coupled with hot engine did it in.

I knew I was pushing the limits of the DR.

So anyway, it starts out well. A nice cruise up to our first attempt at hitting some single track. Those hopes were dashed instantly by a gate.

So we move on.

Soon enough Doug finds the good stuff. Switchback after switchback after switchback. I am loving this though!

And some straightaways.

We don’t have much room for error in a lot of places.

We are handling business though. Well, Doug is handling it a lot quicker than me. Soon enough though I catch up and nature left us a gift!

Good thing someone packs a hatchet. It  was the only thing that came through for me today (Effin Clutch).

And a quick 30-45 minutes later, viola! We both did our fair share of that job.

This is our well deserved break at the bottom. That water in the creek was nice and cold.

Now we have to make the decision; the easy way out or the hard way out?

Whatever, the hardway! That was not a good decision for me.

Not too bad in the beginning, we even had some nice flat rolling sections. What you won’t see pictures of is after this section as I was trying to manipulate an uphill switch back I got caught on a rock which spun out and dropped my bike. Not too bad though. I had to take the Right side Handguard off because it was jamming the brake but everything else looked good to go.

I think I made it up another 100 yrds of some of the harder stuff on the trail when all of a sudden bike no workey. I had it in gear but it wasn’t moving. Now I think we are at least 2 miles if not farther up this trail and about a mile from the end. Doug checks my clutch adjustment and notices it is a bit tight. After the adjustment still no go. This clutch is smoke checked.

We let it cool for about 20 minutes and I can get it to grab ever so slightly but it is enough to get the bike up about 100 more feet to another switch back which allows me to turn the bike around. After that it was a long coast home.

Hey, I made it all the way to Cochiti Golf Course which I think was quite a feat considering the effort we put out on trail.

There is my ride, finally. I was done…

A Crazy day…

awoke, it was cold, it was raining. I packed up the bike took me a quick PTA and topped it off nicely with some Old Spice High Endurance.

It took all of a mile for me to realize the gear I had was not adequate for this June winter storm that rolled in on me. The 10 mile ride to Angel Fire was brutal. I could go maybe two minutes a hop then I would have to stop and thaw the digits.

All I wanted was a nice big breakfast to make up for the pitiful beef jerky dinner I had the night before. I stopped at the first place I saw open and promptly setup camp. They didn’t know but I knew that I was about to make that place home for a couple hours.

Breakfast was good and got the scoop on sporting good shops in town and headed to Mountain Sports to get some winter supplies. A hundred bucks later I was much better equipped.

Off to FR76!

It looked unassuming. Low clouds, weak drizzle. I knew I would be having some quality time in the mud which I don’t hate.

As I gained some altitude I noticed something white in the grass, ya, snow. The snow got thicker and was still falling on me ever so slightly.

About 12 miles in got the 25 mile pass was when I started thinking about a flat or another clogged jet episode. I wouldn’t die but it would have sucked. My feet were soaked and beyond pain into the numb and even with my new waterproof/windproof (ya right) gloves I was still having to stop every 5 miles is so to regain feeling. I remember at one point I was literally running in place on my pegs while motoring down the road.

I didn’t have a track for this road and signage stopped a while back. However, I did have that free NM topo map uploaded into the Garmin 60 csx and it let me know I was doing ok.

So finally I round a curve which I suspect is the area I got stopped at coming from the other side about 3 weeks ago. It is the spot so I know it is all downhill from here. The only obstacle in my way was a couple of Elk. They stopped for a photo op then hightailed.

(Now look at the pic in my first post)

So that’s basically it, sipapu for a BLT and then slabbbed it home on the high road to Taos. Not the greatest adventure but it taught me a few things:

  1. People really still use guard dogs
  2. GE has some splainin to do
  3. Never under estimate the Rockies in June
  4. Truchas takes their Graffiti very seriously
  5. Waterproof gloves, waterproof gloves….

So it was planned and it happened, not without hitches though.

The first leg over the mountains on FR 83 then down an old jeep trail into San Pablo almost ended in me being eaten alive by a pack of guard dogs. Luckily the lady who owned the land in which I ended up on came out of the house and was happy to let me through her gate.

She was nice, and honest as she told me to watch myself as her dogs circled an took individual sorties at my ankles.

Anyway, I got through and hit mostly dead ends on my planned route. Oh well, still saw some nice scenery and plenty of wildlife.

So after a late start and much exploring I ended up at Coyote State Park at around 8PM and got the tent setup just in time for the rain.

Note to self: never, ever, forget the thermarest again…

After a quick dinner of beef jerky and Jack Daniels I slept, kind of, I mostly slept in between intervals of rolling over all the rocks under the tent.

I had to be a semi-contortionist to get all parts of my body on smooth ground…