How I Passed the Great San Juan

I was ready to flyfish on the great San Juan River of New Mexico (as I did for several days in 2001) but passed on this opportunity because…

1/ The name of my blog is Rivertop Rambles rather than Tailwater Hawgs.

2/ The San Juan River gets packed with anglers chasing 20-inch rainbows feeding on pinhead midges. The upper Pecos has small wild browns that rise to big flies in the pocketwater, and its canyons weed out all the guys with saltwater rods and bait containers.

3/ If I’m lucky I’ll be able to fish the San Juan River again (constant water temps and solid flows all year round) 10 years from now, but a 70 year-old angler of the upper Pecos had better have a bud like Pecos Pete.

4/ With my limited time and opportunity this season, the drive time to the Pecos was a shorter haul than the road to Farmington and the world-class fishery. There was more time to fish, camp, and do nothing in the mountains.

5/ The national forests of New Mexico, including the Pecos Wilderness, were open to the public this month. A year ago, my fishing/hiking plans were snuffed because of fire danger. If the summer rains had failed to come this month, the San Juan River might’ve blessed my humble approach.

6/ Ah, the Rio Mora enters the Pecos near Terrero, and once you get past the unfortunate free-camping ghetto near its mouth, the Mora is a lovely mountain stream with wild browns and possibly even cutthroats way up at the head. I caught numerous pretty browns on the Mora. As for the San Juan, you’re pretty much stuck with just a couple miles of awesome fishing.

7/ I could save my artificial San Juan Worms and midge pupa for another occasion on some spring creek back home. The Pecos trout would rise to my scruffy Pale Morning Duns and actually prefer the yellow-dubbed specimens. I remember the San Juan behemoths keying in on only the orange-dubbed bodies. Damn those well-fed spoilers!

8/ As I said, the name of this place is Rivertop Rambles. “Tailwater Hawgs” could be the name of a post somewhere down the road.

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About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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