San Juan River
The San Juan River features some of the best fly fishing in the United States, attarcting anglers from all over world. The upper section of the San Juan (often known as the 'Quality Waters' is regulated by the New Mexico Dept. of Game and Fish in that trout can only be caught and released. This ensures both the quantity and quality of trout in this upper section of the river.
The rainbow & brown trout on the fabulous San Juan River are healthy, growing at a phenomenal rate in an ideal environment.
The average water temperature— 42°-45°— is cold & makes trout consistently hefty with an amazing year 'round food chain of aquatic insects on which to feed.
Nymphing is great through out the year, with dries most consistent in late summer and early fall. Fishing terrestrials is also captivating in summer & fall.
To fish the famed San Juan, we recommend an 8 1/2 -9 foot fly rod with 5- or 6-weight floating line, breathable chest waders, wading belt, wading staff and felt sole wading boots.
Staying hydrated & wearing sunscreen is recommended everyday of the year. In winter, dress warmly, in layers to remove as the day heats up.
To reach the San Juan River/ Navajo Lake, most clients fly to Albuquerque, NM and rent a car for the 3+ hour drive, or take a shuttle flight into Farmington, NM just 40 minutes away.
Most clients book guided float &/or wade trips in advance with "Born n' Raised on the San Juan River", Inc. Fly Fishing Guide Service particularly during their initial visits to the San Juan. "Born n' Raised", Inc. has been guiding flyfishermen from all over the world for 30+ years.
Spring: An angler can be successful on various patterns: midges (with sporadic dry fly action), annelids, chironomids, eggs and streamers. The wind can occasionally rear up this time of year but overall temperatures are comfortable for a properly equipped fisherman--especially when a late spring snow fall tries to edge in on the river. The Bureau of Reclamation may increase flows during spring and possibly get to levels that are dangerous to wade--always good to check in with our fly shop -or- the BOR website. During high flows it is best to fish only safe access areas (perhaps side channels) or BEST to fish with a guide from a drift boat. Spring flows can also bring a little discoloration to the San Juan caused by silt &/or by lake turnover. Spring is still a favored time to fish with the rainbows tendency to spawn thru out the year (due to consistent water temperatures), so the river can still be very productive during discolored water--just adapt your techniques to the conditions.
Summer: Make sure that you bring sunscreen (perhaps long sleeves for sun protection), polarized glasses and bug spray. A favorite is the "large black ant hatch", which fishers seek out especially after refreshing summer/ monsoon rain(s). So thick at times, one could experience phenomenal dry fly fishing for large trout using ant patterns. There are thunderstorms during the summer which bring lightning--take precautions when lightning is in the area. Fishing patterns of summer include midges, annelids, scuds, terrestrials, caddis, leeches and baetis. Hot summer days can reach high 90's but still pack rain gear especially in the late summer. Stay hydrated-- you'll need it!
Autumn: An absolute favorite time for many fishers; plus, can be a busy time on the river with folks seeking the traditional time of year for brown trout spawn action! Roe patterns can be used year round but makes sense with the spawning action. The gorgeous cottonwood leaves change to a brilliant shades of yellow - a popular time for photos, for sure. Guide trip are truly enjoyable all year, but most colorful in the fall. Late summer/ early fall continues with regular fishing patterns of summer with fish feeding aggressively on midges, annelids, scuds, terrestrials (that's a blast!), leeches and baetis. Wading is done by most anglers, however, be cautious year round, as the river bottom is not even --steer your footing from deep lime green pockets. Don't forget the rain gear & an extra layer in late fall.
Winter: Many locals actually prefer winter fishing as there are fewer 'fair weather' fishermen. Trout & insect activity continue during the winter months due to water temperature remain constant throughout the year. Bows & Browns may congregate in slower water during winter months reacting to changes in food availability. With 6200 elevation along the river banks, snow storms are usually short in duration during the winter months as the sun generally comes out soon after a snow storm helping travelers. Fishing the San Juan River during the winter may be a little different than other seasons, but by adapting to the conditions you can be successful. Traditional patterns as listed in other seasons are, of course, productive, and don't forget to strip in streamers & leech patterns.
Fishing Seasons on the San Juan
San Juan River Flow Levels