While most of the spring was cool, the fairly mild summer July heat is definitely here. Last week, Jerry over at the Ridgway Conoco recommended that anglers head on up in elevation to one of the many high lakes for a fishing excursion like Crystal Lake on Ophir Pass and even Buckhorn Lake near Colona.
These days, if the still water in the high country isn’t for you, there are some small high elevation streams to toss a fly into to beat the summer heat. I would first head on up to the Town of Telluride and fish the Valley Floor. While this 500-plus acre piece of land sat idle for many years while the town went through condemnation proceedings to acquire it for good, the fishing on the San Miguel River, which runs directly through the Valley Floor, got a needed rest and now fishes quite well.
Whether you agree with the massive condemnation of the land or not, go fish it. It is there for your enjoyment. You’ll find small undercut banks and nice riffles to drop a parachute Adams or even a small Chernobyl ant to entice the small rainbows to the surface.
If the Valley Floor is a bit too close to town, head further up in elevation to the top of Lizard Head Pass to fish the small headwaters of the Dolores River. This stream meanders through a grassy field atop the scenic pass and is full of tiny cutthroats. Believe me, if you don’t have big fish on your mind, this stream can be a perfect place on a hot July afternoon to lose yourself for a while. These little fish like to strike small caddis.
The headwaters up there often become murky with even the slightest amounts of rain, so bring some small San Juan Worms (cut them down if you need to) to drop off the end of your dry fly to make sure the fish see it when the water is off color.
Fishing at high elevation in the San Juans is one of the best ways to fish the area – especially in July. If time allows and you aren’t in any hurry to get anywhere, July is also a great time for angler naps. If you find yourself fishing at the 1 p.m. hour and the fishing stinks, set the rod down for a couple of hours and wait until that sun moves across the sky. Have a drink, take a nap and wait for the prime time fishing that will come in the later portion of the day. This way, you’ll e well rested by the time the fishing is good and, well, the fishing will certainly be better. Happy midday napping.