Fred Smith, Club Member
Ah, October—as the weather begins to cool here in Sun Lakes, the high plains of New Mexico beckon the members of the Sun Lakes Fly Fishing Club.
Annually, we travel northeast to spend a few days on the hallowed waters of San Juan River in Northern New Mexico. Considered one of the top trout fisheries in the Continental U.S., the San Juan is a major tributary of the Colorado River. The river, born in the San Juan Mountains of Southern Colorado, drains the four corners area of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona.
The Sun Lakes Fly Fishing Club concentrates our fishing adventures on the section of the river just below Navajo Dam, within the boundaries of Navajo State Park. This tail water section of about four miles is world famous and boasts some of the highest density of trout per mile in the U.S. The New Mexico Fish and Game claims there are some 20,000 trout per mile in this section of the river. The temperature of the river stays in a range of 40 to 43 degrees year around and, therefore, perfect for trout in the section we explore.
Both rainbow and brown trout inhabit the waters, and the occasional 20-inch-plus fish caught on the smallest of flies is not unusual. The San Juan is a great place to hone your skills, as much of the fishing is done while sight casting to feeding fish. Many who fish these waters are lucky enough to land that “trout of a lifetime” on sparsely-adorned flies no larger than a kernel of rice.
The club members spend about four days on the San Juan during our trip. Some arrange for guided float trips and river wading trips during a day or two of the trip. The river is very accessible and can be wade fished the entirety of the four-mile quality water (Gold Medal) section.
Some of the club members camp in the various developed campgrounds along the river, and others stay in the fishing lodges that are found in and around the community of Navajo Dam. Each evening, the club members meet up for happy hour and dinner, sharing stories and exaggerations of their luck that day, while admiring the surrounding high country sandstone cliffs of the Northern New Mexico landscape.
The solitude and serenity of the desert, combined with the 100-foot-wide cold running water of the river, makes for the perfect getaway for our avid fishing group of Sun Lakes men and women.
Typically, our club meets twice per month for breakfast, from fall through late spring. If you’re interested in fly fishing, it’s a perfect time to meet others who are like-minded. For more information, visit our web page at sunlakesflyfishing.com or contact George Abernathy at [email protected] or 480-521-1060.
“Half the charm of fishing is that it generally takes one into beautiful scenery. Catching fish is not all of fishing.” —J. Arthur Hutton, 1931