20 hours to the San Juan…..

October 14, 2008

Frenzy, Reports, San Juan River

Dave called me a couple weeks ago asking if I would fly down to Houston and help him pick up a car that he bought and drive it back. Like all of us good husbands do I asked my wife if it would be ok, knowing that it would be a long drive back and take a day or two, and she said yes. That night I was talking with Dave and going over the plans and I mentioned that the famous San Juan River in New Mexico is right on the way home and we should stop to fish it. Obviously I didn’t have to do any arm twisting because he was previously hoping that there would be some type of fishable water we could hit along the way. The drive home is about 1500 miles and takes a good 24 to 26 hours. We landed in Houston on Thursday at 1pm and left the dealership when all said and done at about 4pm. We planned to drive straight to Bloomfield New Mexico, which is the nearest city to the River and is an 18 hour drive. We drove all night switching off allowing each one of us to get a little sleep. We drove through San Antonio to El Paso and then up through Albuquerque and on to Bloomfield. Including 2 hours that we pulled over to sleep, over all we spent 20 hours in the car that night and into the morning.

If you have ever seen pictures of the river or read about it you know that it has about 15,000 fish per mile and there is only about an 4 to 5 mile stretch of the river that has the excellent fishing. So you can probably imagine how many people are stacked up along the banks to fish. Dave and I are similar in that we would rather fish in some remote area with no one around to avoid the crowds but there was no way we were going to pass up the San Juan. As we pulled over the top of the dam and looked down sure enough there were anglers lined up. At first, even though we knew it would be like that, we were a little shocked and mad that we would be fighting for a spot. As we drove along the river we stopped at the first fly shop we saw to get our licenses along with a little direction on where to go and what to use. They guy inside wasn’t the main dude that works there and was telling us that he fishes with cheese and worms and then proceeded to tell us his secret spot. I kind of laughed inside and asked him if he fly fished, at that point he looked at me with this face of confusion and I said to myself “damn what did we get ourselves into?”. The guy did convince us to buy some sandwiches, which were delicious by the way, and after we eat we got geared up and went to the first spot we could find.

There were about 8 other cars parked there so after pulling in we found a trail that led to the river and we started on our way. It was only about a 5 minute walk and when we got to the river we really didn’t see anyone. As we made our way around a corner of a bend “BOOM” sure enough there were 20 guys and 5 boats. Dave and I asked ourselves what would Dr. Gillespie do in this situation. We stood there for few minutes looking at the water and seeing if there were any bugs on the water and what kind of conditions we were dealing with so we could decide what to use. As we looked around we noticed right in front of us there were fish sipping bugs off the top and as we analyzed the situation closer we could tell that we walked right into about 100 fish just rolling all in a feeding frenzy. There is no way to describe how amazing it was. We walked right into the river and into a spot that no one was fishing and where the fish were going crazy. These weren’t just your average 15 to 18 inchers; we were looking at 20 to 22 inch Rainbows. We proceeded to put on some of the smallest flies because we saw that they were taking about a size grey 22 PMD “baetis”.

“Imagine this a grey color”

The first fish Dave caught was a 22 inch Rainbow and we couldn’t help but laugh about how crazy it was and how big these fish were. That day we landed about 10, had on 15 and missed even more. Needless to say it was absolutely unbelievable what we experienced. The only way I think I can explain it is by having someone imagine the best dry fly action they have ever seen and times it by 10 and that is what we had.

We were so tired when we got done that we crashed pretty much after we got a bite to eat and got in our room at our hotel. We woke up the next day planning on fishing for a few hours and then to head out for the final 8 hours home. We stopped at a different spot on the river to try somewhere new but it was a little slow so we went back to the same spot from the day before and sure enough when we arrived the fish we rolling more so than the day before. We proceeded to land about 25 fish that day and didn’t get off the river until 5pm. I guess when you get into them like we did it is too hard to leave. The whole ride home we couldn’t stop laughing at how insanely big the fish were and how many we caught.

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One Response to “20 hours to the San Juan…..”

  1. Travis & Liz Says:

    That is awesome! I guess we should give New Mexico back to Mexico because now there is one good thing about the state. But really I am so jealous that you guys got to fish that amazing river. I have been wanting to get down there for years!!! So Dave was it really that good of a deal on your truck or did you just want another sweet vacation where you slay the slimers?


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