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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