Hot Winter Fisheries
It's winter and for most anglers, the rods are tucked safely away in the closet until the Spring Thaw. Read this article at your own peril. What follows is a selection of my favorite Western winter fisheries I find myself visiting each cold season. Included are some classics, along with a few piscatorial gems you may never have read about. Two of the least-known winter angling hotspots (Culebra Creek and the Rio Peqasco) are private and require guide services. Few anglers have ever even heard of these small but productive year-round fisheries, and that's a major part of their appeal. So get out the maps and figure out a way to visit one of these hallowed haunts of mine.
San Juan River, New Mexico
Colorful high-desert canyon walls line this cold, wide river, one of the premier trout streams in America. The tailwater is full of heavy trout and focused anglers. It's a popular winter destination, with an armada of watercraft and decked-out fly fishers fighting over three and a half miles of regulated water.
Tight line on the San Juan
Not to worry, the river is so profound, so fecund, that all you need is your very own 50-yard radius and you'll be casting to a day's worth of fish. In your staked-out territory, you can cast to long glides, backwater flats, runs, deep pools, channels, riffles, and lots of unremarkable, hard-to-figure water.
Don't fret, thar's fish down there. The odds are good you will hook up with an 18-inch-plus trout, maybe longer, but the odds are lesser, even for seasoned vets, that you will land the fish.
San Juan trout are broad-shouldered and use their strength to take out line and make your reel scream. Many experts rate this tailrace as the number-one trout hotspot in America. Combine the austere beauty of the painted high desert with the consistently prolific population of big trout and insect activity and this a guaranteed winter wonderland.
Article © Mark D. Willliams, 2000.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication