In late September, we visited the San Juan for our annual float trip. We were delighted by the cool weather and the clear water. Recent rains have washed out the muck and slime from the flats, and fish were easily visible to up to four foot depths. The trees were just beginning to turn and the evenings were crisp, but there were bugs aplenty.
The river improvements made have cleared up the Chutes section and Last Chance Riffle. These were completed two years ago, and include rock structures and large boulders to keep the river water churning which helps scour the streambed and keep silt and sediment suspended to be carried further downstream. This section had excellent rocky streambeds, which held some impressive trout, including a 21 inch brown male in spawning colors caught on a size 22 black midge pattern.
We also inspected the recently restored wetlands at the Munoz Day Use Area. According the the Department of Game and Fish about 50,000 willows, rushes and sedges were planted to provide habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife.
The parking lot at the day use area was open and provided access to the Lower Flats and Baetis Bend, and the trails along the stream were also still open, allowing access to upstream and downstream sections of the river.
Biologists with the Department of Game and Fish say closing the wetlands will allow the newly planted vegetation to become strongly established.