Looking for NM San Juan River suggestions

stlskyline

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St. Louis, MO
Looking into fishing the San Juan for the first time. We would probably fly into Durango, CO, coming from St. Louis,MO And renting a car for the drive. Any suggestions on time of year/ season/ water levels/ quality of fishing, ( I do understand we are taking bout the future, so can always change) have searched some and it looks like there can be a decent crowd and with everyone getting out. Im assuming if hiring a guide it would be suggested to bring waders/rods? Would you suggest sending stuff out ahead of time or flying with gear? Seen some say they have gear etc. how many days would you suggest and possibly places to stay? Have seen a few that you can do packages of food/ stay /guide. Wading on our own could be possible, but with limited time and type of fishery would use a guide on 1st trip. Wife and i don’t need fancy, she would say clean. What are your suggestions takes, need any feed back on MO/AR( Taneycomo/White River tips hit me up. Thanks Chris
 

gbslade

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We’ve fished the San Juan for quite a few years. Always stay in Durango. Lately been using an AirBnB called Bucking Mule Studio. Very nice. Walking distance to downtown restaurants.

We fish with Southwest Anglers: https://flyfishingsanjuan.com. JB is great. Duranglers, in Durango is also popular.

We fish in September. As a tailwater, the San Juan fishes well most seasons. Weather is generally good in September and October.

I would suggest 2-3 days of fishing. It’s a long way to go for less.

It’s a fabulous fishery. Enjoy your trip.
 

el jefe

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Accommodations at the river are generally going to be rustic. Abe's is popular, but it's indoor camping, and I don't know if it has reopened yet from its pandemic closure. There are few dining options at the river. Soaring Eagle is reputed to be nice and provides food, and it's at the upper end of the lodging options at the river. Durango is a fair distance from the San Juan; Farmington (marginally closer than Durango), Aztec, and Bloomfield are closer. Of those three cities, the best lodging and dining options are going to be in Farmington, but it's the furthest away of the three. I don't like the road between Aztec and the river, but that only effects you if you stay in Aztec or Durango. From Farmington you will go through Bloomfield, a better road. It's not that the road from Aztec is bad by Western standards, but I am familiar with New Mexico drivers, and that road has some blind rises and narrow spots. Durango will be your nicest option of the four cities, much more quaint and more mountainous, but you need to go through Aztec and the less preferable road to get there. By the way, if you stay in Aztec of Bloomfield, it is easy to get to Farmington or Durango for dining and entertainment options. Bloomfield is closer to Farmington, and Aztec is closer to Durango.

Another option is to fly into Albuquerque to rent a car. It may be much cheaper, as you have Southwest running between St. Louis and Albuquerque. It's about 3 hours to the San Juan from Albuquerque. For folks from the Midwest, that can seem like a long time, but we'll do that to fish or ski for the day out here. We don't do it all the time, but it's not unusual. Wide open spaces and little traffic mean you cover a lot of ground in a short time. We're just used to it; everything is so far apart out here.

Being a tailwater with controlled flows, runoff isn't a worry; however, usually in May the BLM runs a spring flush to send water downstream to the Navajo Nation and other water users. At that time, the water can be deadly to wade. It only lasts a few weeks at most, but be aware. You really want the river at between 250cfs and 1,000cfs. Above 1,000cfs and it starts limiting you're wading in some areas. That may not be a big deal if you're not real familiar with the river, but it makes reaching some of my favorite spots untenable. You'll still have plenty of options to wade even at 1,000cfs. Check with the local fly shops for best access options. I would recommend Abe's, Float 'n' Fish, and Fishheads, which are pretty much the only fly shops there, and all offer guiding services, as well. Check Abe's website at www.sanjuanriver.com for flow and other information. If necessary, call the fly shops and ask them about the timing of the spring flush, and expected flows and duration.

The standard San Juan rod is a 9' 5-weight. The fish are big. You can get by with a 4-weight (and I often do and I like light rods), but it can get windy in that canyon, especially in the spring and during summer thunderstorm season (beware of afternoon lightning late June-mid-August), so a fast 5- or even 6-weight isn't a bad play in those conditions. Flies are going to be very small. There is a pretty reliable midge hatch

Realize that the river is a bottom release tailwater, so even if it's 100* out, you are standing in 38* water and your feet will get numb if you don't move around. Resist the temptation to layer on socks and cutting off your circulation. Sometimes more socks equals colder feet. Your hands will also get cold from netting and releasing fish.
 

mcnerney

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Ihad heard that with covid pandemic the state or park has the river restricted to local residents, so check on the status of that before getting too far into your planning.

Call Abe's motel and fly shop they will know what the situation is currently, scroll to the bottom of this link for their number: https://www.sanjuanriver.com/the-san-juan-river
 
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silver creek

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Here's another recent SJ thread.

 

kevind62

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Cottonwood Campground is now open to non-resident by online reservation only. I was planning a trip last week when these crazy people said I could work from home. I wish these folks would quit throwing money at me and leave me alone so I can go fishing. :p
 
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