Sunday, July 31, 2011

Southwest Colorado

After driving past the Rio Grande, The S. Fork of the Rio, The Upper San Juan, The Piedra, The Los Pinos and The Animas, I figured I might get some time on the water. 
But this wasn't a fishing trip as it was a trip to attend the funeral of my wife's Grandfather.  Her Grandfather fished in his younger days and spent many days in La Plata Canyon both fishing and gold panning.  Tomorrow is his funeral and as I sat in the rain on the banks of the Dolores yesterday and on the rocks of some feeder creek in La Plata Canyon today, I realized that this blog isn't just a way to tell you guys where I am and what I have been up to in the fishing world, but it serves as a journal to me, to you and to my kids.  Many times the ones we love leave us and they leave us with many questions.  We know what they liked to do in life but the pictures leave us wanting more.  There are stories that go along with the  pictures.  I guess that is why we all like to blog.  To tell just more than the stories. To have more to go with the pictures. 

With that I'll share with you what I have been up to in Southwest Colorado.  

The first trip was up the canyon to the Upper Dolores.  There was  a feeder creek that I found a few years ago that held some really nice fish.  As I suited up, the rain clouds started to build.  After a short hike, the rain started coming down.  And it didn't stop.  I caught a few fish, but it was coming down so hard that I had trouble seeing my fly and it was soaked no matter how much floatant I put on it.  I waited it out and it was socked in. I sat on the bank of the main Dolores eyeing good looking pockets on the other side, but feared that the river might rise quickly and I wouldn't be able to get back across.  I headed back down the canyon and figured I was done for the day.  I stopped one more time.  The West Fork of The Dolores was clear and it wasn't raining.  I stopped to fish.  It started raining again.  I hooked a few fish and headed back home.  The following day I wanted to hit the Animas River in Durango.  I could just imagine the fish eating PMD emergers.  I questioned all that rain falling the previous evening.  
As I arrived in Durango, I got my first glimpse of the river.  It looked the color of a terra cotta pot.  No fishing here.  My back up plan was La Plata Canyon.  I had hoped it was clear. It was and I had a spot in mind that I knew was public and wasn't too far from the road turned bad and I could still get to it without leaving part of my car on the road.   I had a great time even before I stumbled upon that feeder creek.  Just for fun, I figured I'd see if there were any fish in it.  There were.  And they were all Cutthroats.  What followed was one of the best times on the water ever.  Not because they were huge fish, but because I had fun.  I felt as if I found this secret place no one else knew of.   And the Cutthroats were willing and they were beautiful.  This what it was all about.  As I sat there I wondered how I could share my story.  
The following pictures tell the story better than any of my words could ever do.  

A shuck from the W. Fork of the Dolores River

The La Plata River in La Plata Canyon

Rigging up

There was a bunch of pocket water, perfect for dries.

One of my favorite rods, a G 803/3

First one of the day.

The Fluttering Caddis worked great to start with.

This is awesome!

A dropper worked on this fish.  Some would miss the dry several times.  Once I added the dropper, I got him.

Up next was the Juanna Be Hopper Juan in size 12.  This was  the perfect fly for this stream.  Just the right size, floated well and easy to see. 

The type of water I was fishing.  
Thinking of putting a dropper on.

See that soft pocket along that bank.  A small Brookie missed my dry about 4 times.  So I put on a dropper.

It worked.  I hooked him, but he got off.  

More brookies showed up after the first few cutthroats. 
The Juanna Be was the hot fly.  
I stumbled upon this feeder creek and decided to see if anything was in it.  

First cast on first pool and hooked up with this fine Colorado River Cutt.

I figured small flies for small fish, but luckily, these weren't small fish. 

They were beautiful.

The Parachute worked great in this water.  I went through a few though.

One of the best pools.  

Can you spot the fish in the picture?  It's just a bit lower than dead center.

I wanted to hook one on a regular sized Hopper Juan.  I missed a few fish since they couldn't take it down.  

This was my last pool I fished and this guy had no problem taking it down.  The end to a great day.


  1. Awesome Photos, and some serenity,

  2. Beautiful fish from some beautiful water. Well done!

  3. Nice report Juan... and the Sage Click caught my eye. What's the verdict and which model do you fish?

    Hope you're well.


  4. Charlie and Sanders, Thanks! I was lucky to find this little gem. I had never seen it before and figured it wouldn't hold much if any. It was stacked with healthy fish! And I only fished the lower 1/8th of a mile or so. I need to see what lies up higher.

  5. Andy,

    This model is a Click II. So far I love it. I rarely use a drag in this small stuff and the lightweight reel works great on the light flyrod. I wouldn't put any other reel on a light rod. It's perfect for this type of set up and this type of water and fish. Simple.

  6. A truly beautiful area with more water than most people realize. I loved the photos...

  7. Juan, stellar report! I used to drive Hummer tours up La Plata canyon and I never stopped to fish the water. I regret that very much now. I did spend a lot of time on Lightner Creek and Junction Creek, but my all time favorite is Hermosa Creek. I consider you very fortunate to spend some time in the San Juans. I sure do miss it greatly!!! Your post comes at impecible timing, too. Our family has also seen some loss in the past week, both friends and family. Please keep the memories coming, not so much for me, but for those kiddos who will look back one day and want to emmulate the person their dad is. I know I look back every day and wish I could pair the still photos with the man I call Dad but all I have is memories.

    As a side note, put that fluttering caddis on video when you get a chance. I need more Hopper Juan Productions!!!

  8. P.S. Where did the Grandfather-in-law live?

    P.P.S. I just purchased my first pack of 2499spbl hooks in size #10... Those are expensive little buggers!!! JuannaBe's on deck at the Man Cave.

  9. Scott- He lived in Dolores, Bloomfield, NM, Hesperus CO, & Cortez.
    Take a look on my Vimeo page. I think I have the caddis up there, tied by the creator of it, Ben Furmisky.
    The 2499 SPBLs are hell-spensive! I tie them on Regular dry fly hooks also, so do not fear. I also like using the Widows Web for the wing and I make sure to treat them with some waterproofing stuff for sure. It helps them stay dry longer.

  10. Hesperus is a great little place. I learned to ski there, too.

    How does that waterproofing stuff work. I am totally drawing a blank on the name of it, too.

  11. I used to use Water Shed. Good stuff. I wasn't able to get my hands on more, so I ordered some Loon Hydrostop and it seems to work great as well. I use it on all dry flies and I consider it a must on the tying bench.

  12. Nice report Juan. Glad you got to visit some great water. My condolences on the loss of your wife's Grandfather.

  13. Nice photos, Juan. You didn't go to the Conejos River? Man, you gotta check that beat out. It's the cat's meow. Be sure and check it out next time your in the neighborhood.