I got back from my trip a couple weeks ago and am finally getting around to posting a report. My plans ended up changing some, going a couple weeks later (Feb 22-Mar 3) and flying to and from Denver instead of Phoenix, so I ended up hitting some rivers in Colorado and didn't get to AZ at all.
After arriving in Denver and getting the rental car (Ford Fiesta... not exactly the ideal fishing for fishing or going over mountain passes in winter, but I did like the 40+ mpg!), I headed down to Pueblo and fished the Arkansas tailwater for an afternoon and the next morning... skunked, and the river was full of fishermen.
Then it was off to northern New Mexico to hit the Rio Grande and Red River. I got there in time to hike down to the Red River, but apparently not in time to find any fish. The hike in and out was pretty nice, and the campground was empty. Here's the nice view from the trailhead:
The next morning I got up early and hiked down the La Junta trail to the confluence of the Rio Grande and Red, and fished most of the morning on the Rio. It was nice and cold (15 deg when I left the car) and there wasn't much going on... still skunked. The river was beautiful, and I had it all to myself.
The Red was a bit more cooperative that afternoon... finally not skunked anymore! I landed a couple, and had one nice one take off back towards the Rio and broke me off.
Next up was a few days on the San Juan. After a few days of tough fishing, it was nice to be on a river with a bit more "cooperative" fish. I probably landed 20 on the first day - most of them were cookie-cutter 14" rainbows. the water was still off-color (though having never been there before, I had nothing to compare it to). It was a bit odd that most of the midge larvae that I had tied to prepare for this trip ended up being smaller than necessary because off the off-color water. I spent most of the first day fishing at the access upstream of the campground.
On day 2 of the San Juan I had to try the Texas Hole area... wow was it crowded, even in February:
The main channel upstream from the hole (I'm sure it has a name, but I can't remember) was surprising uncrowded and gave up the two biggest fish I found on the San Juan.
After 3 days on the San Juan, I headed up to Durango, CO... seems like a really nice town, and a beautiful area. Duranglers was certainly an impressive shop with very helpful guys. Unfortunately, a rain/snow storm came through in the evening and may have hurt the fishing when i hit the Animas the next morning (or at least that's my excuse). Here's one nice little rainbow that ate a little caddis nymph I had tied in preparation for the trip:
From Durango, I headed over to eastern Utah to visit Canyonlands National Park... no fishing, but beautiful anyway! The scenery was spectacular:
Then, after hearing all the reports of a snowstorm coming with me still needing to get back over the mountains to get back to Denver (and driving a tiny little car, not a 4-wheel drive truck or something smarter), I headed back east. This did give me one more afternoon to get revenge on the Arkansas. A cold front sure made the river less busy than it was when I was there the weekend before... I guess the temperature hanging in the high-teens instead of the mid-50's keeps most people at home. After not seeing a single rising fish a week earlier, they were rising all over this time. Wow are there impressive fish in that river, but icing up ever few casts slowed down the catching. Here is an 18" brown that ate a #20 midge dry:
Overall it was a great trip despite some slow fishing at times, and made it tough to come back to (very) frozen northern MN. It will probably be at least 6 weeks before we have any good open-water fishing for resident trout around here. Thanks to everyone that responded to my questions - you live in a great area and I'm jealous of your long fishing season!