NFR San Juan River 4/18


New Member
On my first trip to the famous San Juan, it more than lived up to it's reputation. My first stop for a license, cold drink and advice was at Abe's about 2 in the afternoon. Nice, genuinely helpful people, things are looking up already. Back up river to the pullout suggested, rigged up with 6X, the two no. 26 flies, indicator and single 8 shot. This spot called Texas hole I came to find out was THE popular access and put in. It didn't take 15 minutes before the first fat 17" rainbow was to hand. That afternoon I wandered around the braids just upriver of the named hole and had consistent action from browns and rainbows to 20". 20/20 is not ambitious here. I fished tiny nymphs on a 10' 4wt the whole time but fish could be caught on dries or streamers if desired. This place is a fish factory.

I'd arranged to fish the next day from a drift boat with Ryan McRorie from headsupflyfishing in Durango. This turned out to have extra advantages. We put in at the same access (Texas hole) and were into fish straight away. The first fish was a football rainbow, maybe 5 lbs. The action, like the day before, was constant rainbows and browns, even bigger than the day before as we were fishing more deep water. Ryan knows the river and bugs, put us on fish and was great company. The sky looked promising for dries that morning, but the wind was constant 20+ all day, so we nymphed only, if I told you how many fish I hooked you'd think I was lying.

The extra advantage mentioned above was the realization that Durango was close enough to stay there and "commute" to the San Jaun. The drive takes less than an hour over good, scenic roads with not much traffic. You can stay out at the San Juan but Durango is a fantastic mountain town with a great vibe, offering just about anything, tons of places to eat and drink and range of lodging from modest to upscale. Plus the Animas river right in town is not half bad either, It looked a little high and off color but I caught 4 nice fish on my way to the airport saturday.

The number of people fishing the San Juan obviously increased as the weekend approached. I was impressed at how friendly everyone was. Can't remember fishing anywhere this crowded and still relaxed, closer to Denver the "etiquette" wouldn't do at all, maybe it's just there's so many fish no one can be bothered.

Scott Salzer

previously micro brew
Those 26's are a real pain to tie on. We stopped at Texas hole but it was a zoo and we elected for much less crowded places. Some of the braided water was great, for the small stuff and dries. Cable Hole was less much crowded when we were there. Best fly for me was one I found in the felt sole of my wading shoe.

Depending on your route, a stop at Chaco Canyon is a must do.
Great report. Love the small fly light tippet action. Grew up in Colorado Springs and the Durango area is the one area I didn't get a chance to fish. Need to get down that way.


Active Member
Fished the San Juan years ago about the same time of year. It certainly was amazing the number of fish brought to hand. We also had an epic hatch that day and it was amazing to look down river for quite a ways and see all the fish rising. Caught mostly bows with a few browns and did get a 20 on a 20 with a dry fly.

I LOVE the Juan. It's the first place I ever fly fished. I'm looking into buying property in NM for when I retire (which is like 45 years down the road). Texas Hole can be a lot of fun at night with streamers. I got a hit one time that snapped my 1X tippet like peanut brittle. Thanks for the report


Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater
Nice report.
I'm glad I fished it years ago when I still had the ability to see a size 26 and tie it on. ;)
Very fun place to fish for sure.