If you ever get a chance to fish the San Juan river below Navajo Dam, DO IT!!!!!
To make your trip even more fun take some friends or make new friends and take them with you.
Last Friday Dang Old King, Masterofthetry, RioGrandeMan and I tripped down for a weekend of chasing the trouts of New Mexico
It is a seven hour drive from Denver to Navajo Dam. Plug the Ipod into the aux jack, sit back and rock the world as it whips by through tinted windows.
I recommend staying at Abe’s Motel should you make this journey. A serious, no frills place to stay warm and dry after an 11 hour session up to your butt in 40 degree water catching 20” trout. Warning: Abe’s is NO FRILLS, if you want plates, a micro wave, coffee maker etc. ask for them and they will be there. Don’t ask and they won’t.
After unloading the gear, we walked down to the river to chuck some mouses and stretch our legs. Darkness and unfamiliarity with the water proved to be too much to hope for any luck with the fishes. I couldn’t tell if I was casting into 2” of water or 2’ (we didn’t wader up).
Back at the Motel it was time to celebrate our arrival and pending trout-a-thon by consuming mass quantities of mind altering beverages.
After a poor nights sleep it was coffee up, wolf down a spicy green chile burrito and off to the river.
The parking area for the upper holes is about 100’ above and about a quarter mile hike in to get to the river.
The trail starts out switch backing down from the lot but soon enters the swamp of death, where thick stands of Tamarisk try to rip your rod from your hands and you walk through a maze of sometimes knee deep, stinking black water.
Eventually, you reach the river and are greeted with a series of islands. You have to pick your way along the shallow ridges, being careful not to step into a deep hole as visibility was about 3’.
Finally you get to the main channel and it’s on like Donkey Gong. The holes near the dam are called ESPN Hole, Catch & Release, and The Cable Hole.
A disturbing aspect of this river is the abundance of Didymo AKA Rock Snot. The slime is disgusting, fouls your flies and suffocates the river bottom of much of the native organisms the trout feed on. Midges of course will live in just about anything and are the main course food source for these trout. I couldn’t help but think what a great diverse bug life must have been there before the Didymo infestation.
The water in these holes was anywhere from ankle deep to over your chest deep, with intermittent runs and riffles. It seemed like this day the fish preferred the deep runs between ridges. You could stand on a ridge in waist deep water and cast to either side of you into deep runs.