Buck Hollow Sporting Goods - click or touch to visit their website Midwest Habitat Company

San Juan River NM Fly Fishing Trip


Iowa Boy At Heart
Like I said the other day with my son's elk hunt, I miss hanging out on IW. It keeps me in touch with my Iowa roots and the good folks back in Iowa. So here's a western fly fishing adventure for you all! A little over a year ago, one of my dad's Army buddies from Vietnam told me one of his bucket list things is to learn to fly fish and go to a western trout stream. John and I have always been close since I first met him at his first 173d Airborne Brigade Reunion in Rochester, MN in 1995. I told him I'd do everything and anything I could to make it happen for him. Another of the group, Chuck, where I turkey hunt in TX, was sitting there and asked if he could join the adventure. He was an avid fly fisherman back in the day. Absolutely no problem on our end. They were all together and survived the battle I've described before from Nov 11, 1967. My son, Jacob, and I started making plans. Last Christmas, John's wife contacted me about what all he'd need to get started so she could Christmas shop for him. We solidified the dates this past April during our turkey hunting adventures and I told him the San Juan River, below Navajo Dam was a great place to learn to fly fish. I told the group the San Juan can be very technical, but its also very forgiving and non-technical, which is a great place for a beginner. Somewhere along the way, my best friend of 47+ years, Jeff, invited himself on the trip. No problem and, luckily we have a couple of extra fly rods/reels thanks to my wife's and daughter's set ups. The plan was to meet at Float-n-Fish in Navajo Dam, get waders rented for those who needed them and hit the river for a couple of hours before we could check into our AirBnB. The only complication (or addition to the adventure, I suppose) came when Jacob and I hit Farmington and I realized I forgot to pack our vests and nets. I'll let you all figure out my choice of words, but they were definitely not family friendly. My lovely wife offered to overnight everything to us, but we needed gear to fish that day and Friday morning, with no guarantee of when/if things would arrive in the community of Navajo Dam on Friday. I promised my wife I would replace gear at the bare minimum to be able to successfully fish. We formed a plan and took off Thursday afternoon. It was slow and hot, so we regrouped, got checked into our AirBnB and relaxed for a bit before checking out Texas Hole that evening. I was spending most of my time as the "guide" and my son was acting as my "assistant guide", helping the folks who have never fly fished before. Jacob was great in that essence and I was trying to work a little harder so he could fish.

John struck first Thursday night with a great 'bow, after I suggested he hit the seam along the riffle with his nymph. I had barely turned around when I heard that magical sound. Not only was this his first trout on a fly rod, it was the first fish of the trip and he was beaming! In general, mornings were slow and we always ended back at Texas Hole for the evenings. I'll stick to the evening action for that sake. Jacob ended up landing a beautiful bow Friday night on a dry fly, followed by Jeff (very rookie), who landed 3 great 'bows on a dry within 20-30 minutes. We left too early Friday, because the hatch didn't start in earnest until about 7:50pm. Right as we were leaving, I saw it and badly wanted to cast in the low light, but the group was on the move about 5 minutes prior. We had an early supper Saturday at the Sportsman's Lounge, with the idea that we'd stay until we absolutely couldn't see anymore. I'd told them stories about past experiences on Texas Hole when you're struggling to see your fly. I managed to strike first with a very pretty 'bow on a nymph on the other side of the seam John and Jeff caught from. I gave Jeff that spot because I knew where I wanted to be when the hatch started. The hatch didn't disappoint, either. Jacob caught another nice 'bow, I landed three 'bows on two different dries, and Chuck caught the best fish of the trip, a pretty brown on a dry right as light was fading. My last one was in the dark where I couldn't see my fly, but I could see the rises. I cast out and was watching the general area, when I saw a rise. Hoping for the best, I lifted to set and, BOOM, fish on. Everyone was already across the channel, but Jeff came back to help me land in the fast-fading light. I'm counting Chuck's brown as the last official trout of the trip since he could actually see the take. I'm counting my last one (in the dark) for me, because of my friend, a Vietnam combat vet Marine named Bob (like my dad), who taught me that trick back in 2007. And we're talking about a return trip and other adventures. I know how big my dad was smiling down on us this trip.

View from Munoz Hole upriver
Munoz Hole.jpg

John on the seam at Texas Hole
On The River.jpg

John with his first trout fly fishing
John_1st Trout.jpg

Jeff's 1st of three on a dry
Jeff_1st Trout.jpg

Jacob's first trout in just over a year

My nymph trout

My 3rd trout on a dry Saturday night when it was too dark to see my flies. On a dead chicken
Brian_Bow_Dead Chicken_Dark.jpg

My 2nd on a dry, a #22 midge cluster

Chuck's last light brown on a dead chicken


  • The Gang.jpg
    The Gang.jpg
    214 KB · Views: 41
Last edited:
Top Bottom