winter fly fishing

The Upper San Juan
The upper Juan flows down from the Continental Divide and heads south through Pagosa Springs Colorado. South of Pagosa the river tumbles for 12 miles through the incredible Mesa Canyon before flowing into the mellow valley made up of wide canyon walls and ranch land. Another 20 plus miles down river the upper Juan grinds to a halt in Navajo Reservoir.

Public access for wade fishing can be found through Pagosa Springs. Most of the water located north and south of Pagosa is private, so float fishing is the best way to experience this river.

San Juan (Pagosa Springs)
The upper Juan, as we call it, is like a mini Green River. Big spring and early summer hatches make for fat fish and fun fishing. There is a float season in June, but fantastic wade fishing at other times. The fish respond to large and small fly patterns depending on the conditions and season.

Upper San Juan (near Pagosa Springs) Guide Report, Flows and Hatches

The Upper Juan typically gets low and very cold with marginal fishing opportunities in the winter. From time to time you will find open water in town and a maybe a willing fish. Before it ices and becomes snowed over a few fish will grab eggs, worms, midges, BWOs and buggers.

Predictions and forecast
The upper Juan is very low and iced over. We will not see increased flows till early spring.

Random link: Pagosa Springs Web Cam

Fall can be great, as long as flows are stable and not muddied by late season monsoon rains. Like the Piedra, it is very easy to muddy with wet weather. When it has been clear plenty of fish are being fooled by short nymph rigs, hoppers and streamers.

Upper San Juan
Pagosa Springs & Downstream
Fall flow range: 150-1800+ CFS
Winter flow range: 60-250 CFS
Spring flow range: 300-4000+ CFS
Summer flow range: 180-450 CFS

Creeks and Headwaters
all flow range: 30-1200+ CFS
Winter: Cold, ice and snowed over
Spring flow range: 200-2000+ CFS
Summer flow range: 45-180 CFS

Upper San Juan float trips
This incredible freestone river has a short float fishing window due to the narrow river bed and quick run-off. The Juan is know for a killer stone fly hatch that usually is under way the first couple weeks of June. Prime time for sure, so book a float trip with AvA early because the demand is high for this wilderness-like float trip.
Guide trips for the upper San Juan are available as soon as we have increased flows. Book now for late April, May and June.

Upper San Juan Hatches
Upper San Juan hatches include: Stoneflies, salmon flies, caddis, BWOs, PMDs, tricos and midges. Hoppers, ants and other terrestrials are also important during the summer months.
  • Winter Months: Midges, BWOs (cold winter fishery)
  • March/April/May: Stone fly nymphs, BWOs, caddis and sculpins
  • June: Salmon flies, golden stones, caddis, sculpins
  • July: PMDs, caddis, hoppers and sculpins
  • August: PMDs, tricos and hoppers
  • September: hoppers, BWOs and hoppers
  • October: BWOs and sculpins

Insects and food in the system: Stone flies, golden stones, stones, Caddis pupa (both cased and free) caddis larva, midge larva and pupa, mayfly nymphs, snails, eggs, worms and sculpins.

Fly patterns
Upper Juan
Attractor patters, stones, hoppers, Miller Moths and caddis. Bead-head nymphs are also important. Flies like copper Johns and prince nymphs. Keep a few small bugs in the box too, some times these trout can be tricky.