July 20, 2010

Trout Fishing on the San Juan River!

Armed with my new fly rod and plenty of spunk, I headed north earlier this week to fish the crystal trout waters of the Upper San Juan River located in the Northwest part of New Mexico, near Farmington. 

I arrived at Cottonwood Campgound early Sunday, set up the trailer and soon my good friend Ken Samuelson joined for the fun.  Ken has fly fished for many years and volunteered to come up and help me get started with this new sport.

We took a drive up this beautiful River and stopped here just across from the campground where we look upstream towards the dam, and the "Quality Trout Waters" an area of catch & release only where the prime big ones hang out!

As we climb the Navajo Lake Dam, we get a nice view down-river of much of the prized waters.  If you look closely you may even see a fisherman or two way down there! 

The view from atop the dam is quite spectacular, looking across the expansive Lake, which provides summer recreation, and fishing for bass and salmon later in the year.

Monday morning we're off to the local tackle shop to get the necessary flies for this River.  Stunned by the numerous choices, and thanks to excellent help from David and the other seasoned folks at Abe's we get set up with the proper combination of the tiny critters that mimic those the trout feed on.

If you think the're small lying next to this dime, try feeding 3lb test line through that tiny eye, and tying a clinch knot on the water in a brisk breeze!

One of Ken's friends that has fished the river for years suggested we start at the Texas or Kiddie Hole area.  Taking a look at the Texas Hole,
we decide that the water is a bit deep for getting me started, and move up to the Kiddie Hole (more appropriate for a beginner like me!).

As we're wading out to start fishing we notice numerous nice trout at our feet, following us as we stirr the bottom kicking up larvae for an easy meal (of course it's not legal to fish right behind you). 

We start to work an area to the less crowded part of the "hole" Ken gets the first catch, a beautiful 15 inch Rainbow!

Struggling with learning to cast, minimizing tangles, and tying on these tiny lures, it was well into the morning before I land my first fish, rather small but at least got him to the net.  This area only allows single barbless hooks, so many fish get off before they ever are close to the net.

By the second day, Ken & I are both more successful, finishing up his stay late Tuesday with many fish on and about half actually netted & released.  I continued to fish a couple more days, and witnessed some largter fish caught by a clouple of fellows from Montana with the help of master river guide Andy Kim, but that's another story!

On my way back from the San Juan, I spent a night at Bill Evans Lake (about 25 miles from the cabin at Rafter D) where I caught my first New Mexico largemouth bass, about a 2-1/2 pounder!