I spent this past weekend fly fishing the San Juan river with my brother Steve. The part of the river where we fished is described in wikipedia like this: "One section deserves special mention for its fly fishing allure: the 4.25 miles just below Navajo Dam in northwest New Mexico, near the small town of Aztec. This stretch, known to fly fishermen simply as 'the Juan', is among the most hallowed trout fishing waters in North America!"
The trip started Thursday morning when I drove nine hours from Layton to Navajo Dam, New Mexico. Steve flew from Raleigh to Albuquerque and drove a rental car three hours. We met at a local fly shop where we bought five-day licenses and stocked up on flies. We managed to get in a little fishing before dark. We caught three fish before it got too dark to see. (OK, *Steve* caught three fish.)
We spent all day Friday wading in the river, with relatively little success. The other fishermen we talked to were also having slow days, so we didn't feel bad. Steve had a bit of a hot streak in the late afternoon and landed a few good fish, including the one below.
Just as it was getting dark I got a huge strike and set the hook. But, the fish snapped the line. Every fishing trip has the big one that got away and that was mine. I only landed one fish all day, but it was a decent one.
On Saturday we hired a guide to take us down the river in a drift boat. Fishing from the boat provides easier access to more of the river. It also allows for longer and more natural drifts of the fly. Having the knowledge of a guide that fishes the river 200 days a year also helps. We therefore had much more success. We each caught too many fish to count. As far as winter fishing goes, I don't think we could have asked for a better day. Here is a picture of my best fish.
On Sunday, I drove to Aztec and visited Aztec Ruins National Monument. The ruins are from the ancestral Puebloan people that lived there during the 11th century. One structure, the West Ruin, had at least 400 rooms and was over 30 feet tall.
The most impressive structure is The Great Kiva, which held over 200 people. It has been reconstructed, so you get to see just how amazing the building is.
For those that have read the book Collapse, you may remember the chapter on Chaco Canyon. That site was inhabited at the same time, and by the same culture, as the Aztec Ruins. The too locations are 75 miles apart. I thought about also visiting the Chaco Canyon site, but you need a four-wheel-drive vehicle. I think I will visit that location, along with the Mesa Verde ruins, on a later trip.