May 8, 2014

San Juan Chronicles: All in One Day

It was never my intention to write a post about this day...

In fact quite the opposite...

Deer crossing just downstream of the Beaver Dam

It was just supposed to be a group of guys on a one day run and gun to the honey hole and enjoy some fishing. 

The day comes and as you can already guess things don't all go as planned. This is not stuff you can just make up.

I was invited to go along on this trip by a friend (Justin). The remaining group consists of an acquaintance (Robb), an unknown (Kyle) and of course a newbie (Tim).

Out of bed at 3am...meet the group at 4am...Of course the Newbie guy is late to the meeting spot and his buddy has to call him to wake him up. There was talk of leaving him behind but as it turns out Newbie was the contributor of lunch. Turned out to only be a small delay as Newbie lived pretty close to the meeting spot. A little gear shuffling and we were on our way.

The local Wildlife

The drive ahead of us is about 3 hours in normal conditions. Yes, you already guessed that conditions were anything but normal. Started out normal until we hit the continental divide. Are those snow flurries? Two miles later we found ourselves in a whiteout trying to maintain a 25 mph and keep the truck in-between the lines which at this point cannot be seen. This continued for about 50 miles.

Finally upon getting through the whiteout we reached the town of Farmington. Pretty close to our destination and a good spot to get some breakfast. While slurping diner coffee and discussing plans it was realized that Newbie has no wading boots. Seems to have been some confusion about the role of the stockingfoot part of the waders. Not a big deal because our next stop is the town of Navajo Dam which pretty much exists on the traffic of fisherman and with three local fly shops we should be able to get some boots for Newbie.

We reach Navajo Dam and stopped at the local Fly Shop / Diner / Hotel otherwise known as Fisheads. Newbie got some rental boots. At this point of the journey it is now my turn to contribute to the delay of this day. Realizing the night before that my fishing license had expired I attempted to renew on-line. Of course technical difficulties kept this from happening. Again Fisheads to the rescue.

While at the fly shop we inquired for the current conditions. ut oh! More bad news! This is a tailwater and as far back as the beginning of 2014 the water flow has remained unchanged...until this day! Of course! Us river veterans know that after days, weeks, months of no change the last thing you want to do is show up on the day it changes. Needless to say the fishing proved to be tough.

G. Loomis Pro4x 5106-4 Switch Rod
I was the first to catch a fish and swung a nice one out of a tail out. Big and chunky Bow but even he seemed to be having an off day according to the lackluster fight he put up. I didn't touch another fish until later that afternoon.

Justin's first on his new Sage One 4116
Justin (the friend) stuck a couple fish including this nice one. It was the inaugural catch on his new Sage One 4116 switch rod and his first Two Hand catch.

Robb scored a few fish
Tim (Newbie) and Kyle are down river out of sight. Later that day there seemed to be some concern as to what happened to these two guys. Come to find out Newbie took a dunk. With water temp in the 30's and air temp not much warmer Tim did the smart thing and got out of his waders and wet clothes to dry. I understand Kyle stumbled upon Tim sun bathing in his birthday suit on a boulder. Never know what you'll find on the stream. Advice to the Newbie...check out our Layering section...No more cotton under your waders.

The Sun had made its way to low in the sky and despite a "never quit" attitude I think we all agreed without hesitation that the time to give up and head home had arrived. The walk back to the truck that almost became a sprint was strong evidence that river had won on this day. I'm not sure of the total fish count but I am sure that the grand total was still less than the average good day for one angler...far less!

Normally on my way home from this river I drive thru a KFC grab some chicken tenders and chow on them while I proceed homeward. The group had a different
plan. Blake's LotaBurger! I admit I was excited to to have some burger grease dripping from my chin after the long day it had become. I have a general restaurant rule that you order your item the way it comes and making menu adjustments might not work out in your favor. I almost was chuckling while Justin was ordering his burger but three hours later and I had nothing to laugh about. My burger was still reminding me why I don't stop there on my way home.

Twenty hours, 400+ miles and two fish and a Blake's burger later 

I finally made it back home!


You've been there before...we have all done this!

  • Hit a snow storm on the way!
  • Newbie has no wading boots!
  • Who's got Lunch?
  • Where did they go? I don't know but he's got the keys to the truck!
  • I can't believe the fishing is this bad...Its never like this...



Despite the uncountable highs and lows I would do it all over again tomorrow. Minus the Burger!

Do you you have stories like this one? We would like to hear your "All in One Day" story.





Gorge Fly Shop Internet Sales Manager | Product Specialist


"Fly Fish the World with Us"


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