Part 2 - The fishing part
On our last trip to Durango, we took a float trip with Animas Valley Anglers on the upper San Juan above Navajo Dam. Amy and I both had a blast on that trip, and we caught a good number of quality fish and saw some amazing scenery. So, prior to this trip I called up Will Blanchard, owner of AVA, and he said that he thinks we may as well complete the San Juan float by doing the quality water below the dam. I agreed, and we made arrangements to go on a Monday in order to avoid the typical weekend masses that flock to this world famous tailwater for large trout.
Weather the first two days of our trip was not very favorable for a float, thankfully the conditions changed by the morning of the float. Will picked us up at the hotel, and we made the one hour drive to the tailwater. After getting my one day license for $17, we drove on over to the launch point. While sitting there gearing up the shuttle guys came by and told us that there were at least ten boats currently fishing in the quality water section. The quality water is four miles long, and basically the boats just follow a rotation routine so that everybody has a chance to fish all the good runs. Upon hearing about the quantity of people on the water, Will and I just looked at each other. Will, knowing that I am not a fan of crowds, recommended that we try something a little different. You see, he also doesn't like crowds, and we really wanted to avoid them if possible.
Will's proposal was that we shift gears and float the lower tailwater. The only catch was that the lower tailwater was typically a later season float, and he had not done it since sometime back in the fall. Not only that, but the shuttle guys had told us that they had not ran a shuttle down there in months either. So, it was a little bit of a gamble, but Will thought he could put us on some quality fish. Also, this lower float was 14 miles compared to the 4 miles for the quality water.
We all agreed that it was worth the gamble and shortly took off downstream. It wasn't long before we were into some fish using baetis nymphs:
Most in this first run were about this size
We caught a good number out of this first hole before moving on downstream in hopes of finding better quality fish. The next run we came upon was a beauty, and once again it wasn't long before I hooked up:
The quality did get better here, and we found ourselves pulling a lot of fish out of this run. Plus the browns began to start showing up in the net at this point.
We picked this spot to stop for lunch, and the scenery was quite appealing too:
After lunch, we hesitantly left this spot since we still had a lot of water to cover. Just downstream at the next run we hooked into possibly the best fish of the day. Well, that we landed anyway:
After this fish we switched to large streamers in hopes of turning some big browns. We weren't disappointed as we had several over 20" give chase. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a decent hookset on any of them, and therefore no pictures of big browns to show for it.
It was a wonderful day on the water. A little longer than we originally planned, but the fishing, scenery, and guide was spectacular. We definitely made the right choice by going with this lower section float.
Amy and I are anxiously awaiting our next trip to Durango, and highly recommend Animas Valley Anglers to anyone who is looking for a guide in the area.
I would like to thank my lovely wife for taking the majority of these photos, and the video also in a separate post on the blog.