San Juan, New Mexico [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: San Juan, New Mexico

03-23-2007, 07:44 AM
I think there's wide agreeement the San Juan river is in a major decline. Locals seem to blame the oil companies (for silt), and there's a lot of blame going around. My own perception is that there are waay too many people flogging the 3.5 mile stretch of 'quality' waters. There's no doubt that the numbers and condition of the fish are decimated compared to even 5 years ago.
Would anybody here have an objerctive view of what's happening and why?

I ask because I'll be in the area next week and find that I can't motivate myself to even bring along a fly rod.

Colorado Cajun
03-23-2007, 11:35 AM
I've nerver fished where you are talking about. I have a friend who travels there on business and has fished it a couple of times recently and said it is very good with some nice fish. It may be on the decline but I don't think that you would make a negative impact by fishing it while you were there. Bring the rod!

03-26-2007, 08:31 AM
Bring a fly rod. You are correct about the amount of people on the water, I think the quaility of the experience is affected by that. There are still a lot of fish in the water and large fish. The silting is primarily happening from the Kiddy Pool downstream. You can fish above the Kiddy Pool and not encounter too much silt - remember this is a midge water and midges are partial to silt. I will be heading up there next month. Good fishing.

03-29-2007, 10:18 AM
That is a shame to hear Josko. I fished there ten years ago, and watched a buddy reel a fish in, pause for a moment, bend down, and scoop another fish up with one hand. There were a lot of fish in that river.

Colorado Cajun
03-29-2007, 04:16 PM
From the looks of your post Josko, you are there this week. Give us a report when you return.

I looked up the reports online yesterday for a friend going out that way this weekend. It looks like the water is off color and the fishing is sloooow right now.

04-02-2007, 10:33 AM
I did go, and was a bit disappointed. If I'd never been there before, I would have thought of it as a nice place, albeit overcrowded, but noting the difference in fish quantity, size, and health between '97, when I started fishing the San Juan, and now, is truly worriesome. I know the locals 'blame' recent sediment culverts for degrading habitat, but IMHO, the prime cause is the incessant parade of anglers. Virtually every caught fish is disfigured from hooks, handling and hook removal; many also sport a white fungus, probably due to handling during release. Hooked fish have also learned to swim up to the engler in expectation of a release.
I walked off the water slightly disgusted with the farce that popularity has made of this once spectacular river. Getting chastised for not having a rubber-mesh net didn't help, as did watching anglers obviously snagging fish on the flats.
I would not recommend the San Juan as a destination fishery while it's in this state. All that said, I saw two diptera hatches - the hour preceding each hatch had (for me) good action on midge larvae.

On the other hand, I also had a chance to get into the Valles Caldera (aka Baca ranch) as a guest on a friend's day pass. This was probably the most beautiful and spectacular day of trout fishing I've ever had, complete with elk by the river, near-solitude on bautiful high-altitude meadow streams, picky but not overly educated trout, and to cap it all, a near-whiteout snowsquall near the end of the day. Words fail me when I try to describe the experience, but it will be with me for the rest of my life.
For more info, check

04-02-2007, 04:23 PM
Valles Caldera sounds awesome. The SJ on the other hand... not my cup of tea.