On the last morning of my trip I woke to colder temperatures and ice on the tent. The temperatures had noticeably dropped and as quickly fumbled in the dark to pack up the tent, I felt a twinge of sadness knowing this was going to be my last day on the water. My goal at this point was to get into a couple of fish in the morning and be off the water by noon to make it home to see my lovely wife.
I stopped by the Back Cast Cafe and had myself one more breakfast and a half a pot of coffee before pulling on my wet waders and half frozen boots. After thanking Peggy and the staff for their hospitality while I was there, I drove to the Texas Hole parking lot. I waded into the water and with only a couple of cars in the parking lot, I had the river mostly to myself. My original goal and thought of the morning was that I would catch a couple of good fish and then take off, but lady luck had other things in mind.
Throughout the morning, I hooked 10 or 11 fish and a few of them were of very good size. Many I lost through a poor hook set, but there were a few that I had almost to the net that decided to pull some acrobatic move and taunt me as they swam slowly away. It was extremely frustrating and I quickly became discouraged thinking that I was going to have to drive 7 hours home having gotten skunked on my last day. Finally, I saw the indicator dip and I set the line only to feel the small head shake of a fresh stocker. Game and Fish had stopped by as I was leaving the night before and supposedly had emptied thousands of freshly stocked rainbows into the river.
I continued to work the areas that I had fished the days before and made a loop to find myself in the main channel of the river. Drifting my rig through a slow spot on the side, the unmistakable flash of a feeding fish instinctively caused me to raise the rod tip and fish on. With great care, I played the fish to some shallow water and ultimately the net. Kneeling in the water, cradling the fish in my hands I was ecstatic having seen my hard work through the morning finally pay off. I reveled in the moment and said a quick thank you prayer as I watched the powerful fish fin its way back into the strong current of the San Juan River.
With the heaviness gone from my shoulders and the crushing thought of getting skunked now out of my mind, I headed for the truck. Storing gear away safely, I fueled up on PB and huckleberry jam along with a spicy elk jerky that one of my students had gifted me on the last day of school. The weather was perfect and I rolled the windows down as I pointed to truck south and then ultimately west.
Taxes, yardwork, and other miscillensous spring break projects had been put off long enough and the closer I got to home the more my thoughts turned to these chores. The time that I spent on the San Juan River was definitely a different style of fly fishing then my normal small stream outings, but at the same time extremely rewarding and enlightening. With 3/4 of a school year under my belt, this trip was much needed in order compose myself and offer a bit of relaxation before the final quarter and general madness.
Thanks to everyone who gave me insight and helpful tips for my trip. It would not have been possible without you. Here’s to the next time I can get back to the San Juan.