Thanks to a buddy’s wedding, last week I was able to re-visit my old stomping grounds in the Southwest where I used to be guide. The first morning we wet a line in the San Juan river in northern New Mexico. This river probably has more 17-24″ trout per mile than any other river in the country. This tailwater fishery flows through high desert terrain at about 48 degrees all year. Size 20-26 midge and baetis nymphs are the ticket and there are some pools and flats where a tiny midge dry or sparkle dun will fool a few trout. It’s amazing to see all these huge trout swim around your heels as you wade. My buddy Dave, former co-owner of watermaster kickboats, and I managed a handful of beautiful, 14-20″ rainbows on size 22 midge larvae and pupa patterns in the morning then switched to small baetis nymph in the afternoon. I was using a nymph I tied with duck flank that I colored brown on the back, the wing case black, and left the underside natural (cream). Four very large, fiesty rainbows fell for this pattern in the last hour of fishing before we had to rush back to make it to the reheasal dinner.
The next day we managed a few hours on the Animas River right in Durango, CO. This large river had been very good to us in the past, giving up good numbers of very strong 18-20″ rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout. We both caught a bunch of small rainbows. Then, right before we had to leave, Dave caught a very nice rainbow in one of our “go to” holes. Here it is