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San Juan River on a Spring Day and 4000cfs

The April day opened gloriously as we entered the San Juan River Valley after three hours of hard driving from Albuquerque, in the dark, in a prius with four guys. Ouch.

As soon as we got geared up and saw the river, I knew we had made the right choice to hire a guide and float. The river’s normal landmarks were underwater and the color was pea soup—a thin soup with about 18-24 inches of clarity, but pea soup with algae floating around nonetheless.

We were ready and rigged when the guides arrived, Bubba and Brian subcontracting for Jude Duran, so our boats launched first to beat the dozen or so others queued at the ramp. What a beautiful morning.

Lee Evans' San Juan catch

The guide put us on wonderfully BIG flies—16, 14 colorful orange worms with flash, white chenille, red annelids—the old fashioned San Juan Worm! Within about five minutes my brother-in-law hooked, fought and lost a brightly colored big rainbow in a midriver riffle—we were destined for a good day! The guide tested our casting, and I guess we passed. We started “banging the banks” off of deep established banks with deep nymph rigs and plenty of bait and consistently picked up fish. My Dad and brother were in the other boat upstream but not too far off to hear some whooping from them as well.

All was right in the world.

Jason caught the most fish of several outings to the San Juan, I caught into double digits, Dad caught the largest (a nice 22" hen that put up a whooping good fight) and my novice brother didn't get skunked. After floating, we went up to cable hole. Again, we would have not waded across but for the guide leading us in thigh deep water across underwater sandbars we couldn't see. Below cable but above ESPN somewhere I hit my stride about 4:30 with four nice fish in a dozen casts. Great day. We left the river at 5pm for Mexican food at El Bruno's in Cuba and a short trip home filled with fun stories and razing. A magical day we almost talked ourselves out of—carpe diem baby!

submitted by Greg Evans

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Last updated on 11 Jun, 2011