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> > San Juan vs North Platte for November

Nasvegas007September 6th, 2017, 3:01 pm

Posts: 4
I am planning a trip in November and am debating between the San Juan and the North Platte (I could be talked in Bighorn but would have to stay in Billings for cost).

My main goal is catch more fish rather than a couple of big ones. I will admit I am an impatient fisherman and if I am not catching something pretty regularly I get pretty bored!!

Any thoughts on which river will have the best results?
Either one better for other activities like hiking?

I will be there for 4 weeks so any suggestions are greatly welcome!!

PS - I will be doing primarily wade trips with maybe a couple of guided float trips so any insight which has more/better wade options would be great as well.
Just getting started. Be patient with me!
MartinlfSeptember 6th, 2017, 4:37 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3233

I'm guessing, based on what I've read and heard from others, so I hope someone with personal experience on either or both rivers will chime in and correct my possibly wrongheaded response.

First I'd highly recommend fishing the first days on either with a guide, and as many days as possible with a guide. On a new river this can make a lot of difference, especially if you're just getting started fly fishing (as opposed to just getting started posting here).

My nephew who is also getting started fly fishing had some very good fishing on the San Juan when he went. I can check about his guide if you wish.

I believe the South Platte is a bit more technical and challenging in terms of the fishing, and I'm not sure it is floated much, if any.

I believe both streams will require small flies and the expertise needed to fish them effectively. You'll want to check with local shops about the best times to fish, flies, etc.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
CrenoSeptember 6th, 2017, 7:04 pm
Grants Pass, OR

Posts: 305
Unless you have the flexibility to change the destination just before you go, hat time of year I would definitely select the San Juan. You could hit an all out blizzard on the north platte or bighorn in Nov. If you have the flexibility to switch just before your trip, then just watch the weather forecast as the streamer fishing for big browns on either of the northern streams can be amazing if the weather is good, or fair. Ne sure to check with the shops before going to any of them.
Nasvegas007September 6th, 2017, 7:24 pm

Posts: 4
Hey Martin, thanks for the input.

I am a big believer in the guide. I am new to fishing and the forum so I will take all of the help I can get.

If your nephew had a guide he liked I would love a recommendation!

Thanks for the tip on the fly size as well!
Just getting started. Be patient with me!
Nasvegas007September 6th, 2017, 7:26 pm

Posts: 4
Thanks Creno. I think that may be my deciding factor. I would hate to spend half my time stuck inside.

I am booking this week with no flexibilty, so San Juan it is!!

I appreciate the input.
Just getting started. Be patient with me!
FalsiflySeptember 7th, 2017, 5:04 am
Hayward, WI.

Posts: 661

For what it's worth. If you get to the Sportsman's tell Bill Eves The Wisconsin guy said hello.
When asked what I just caught that monster on I showed him. He put on his magnifiers and said, "I can't believe they can see that."
Nasvegas007September 7th, 2017, 6:27 am

Posts: 4

For what it's worth. If you get to the Sportsman's tell Bill Eves The Wisconsin guy said hello.

I will be staying one mile from there so I will be there a lot!!
I will definitely say hi to Bill.
Just getting started. Be patient with me!
MartinlfSeptember 8th, 2017, 7:30 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3233
I'll check with my nephew; it may take a little time as he's in the middle of a move to Oregon.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
IasgairSeptember 12th, 2017, 6:54 pm

Posts: 148
I have not fished the San Juan, but as for the S. Platte, here's some info that may help.
The S. Platte runs through a scenic canyon below the dam on 11 Mile Res.. The canyon can be reached by turning South on 11 Mile Canyon Rd. in Lake George and driving a mile. It features long slow meanders; riffle/run/pool complexes; deep, lake like pools and cascades.

Two miles down from the dam, the upper catch & release section has one of the heaviest concentration of rainbows in the state. Most will be 12 to 14 inches, but 15 to 18 inch fish are not uncommon.

The only bad thing is there are invasive species as in New Zealand mud snails. Please clean your waders and boots after fishing.

The flow is around 50 cfs, so it's easy wading.

In the Fall, BWO's and midges are the flies of choice. If you see lots of fish's mouths breaking the surface, they are taking adult spinners. If you're seeing fins, they are eating emergers. No surface action, go with nymphs and larvae.

The browns will be spawning, so egg patterns will also work. I know, fishing egg patterns is an abomination, just like using a San Juan Worm.

Use a dry on top and a midge dropper, or nymph/emerger on top with a midge dropper. three times out of four, the fish will take the dropper.

Try a mayfly emerger #18-20 on top and a weighted Mercury Midge larvae #20-22 on the bottom.

Griffins Gnat #18 on top with an RS2 #20-24 on the bottom.

Rojo Midge #18 in red & black

Brassie #18-22

Black Beauty #18-24

I hope this helps you.
WbranchSeptember 12th, 2017, 9:39 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733

From that wealth of information it sounds like you really know the river.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
IasgairSeptember 13th, 2017, 10:08 am

Posts: 148
Never mind, you were asking about the North Platte, not the South Platte. My mistake, sorry.

I agree with the previous post about you may want to hit the San Juan, just because of possible bad weather.
IasgairSeptember 13th, 2017, 11:12 am

Posts: 148

From that wealth of information it sounds like you really know the river.

I try hard to learn the waters I have fished or fish currently.
CrenoSeptember 15th, 2017, 7:42 pm
Grants Pass, OR

Posts: 305
Iasgair's advice for Elevenmile canyon should be good for the San Juan in the larger water although you may want to fish smaller flies on the San Juan. if you float the larger lower reaches you should be fine. Much of the San Juan above Cottonwood campground consists of easily waded side channels (look at aerial photos if you have not already - I always liked the area just upstream for the 2nd large parking lot below the dam.). Because of the constant fishing pressure the fish are not spooked by cautious fishers. But the water is usually too shallow for multi fly rigs. A surface fly and a shorter dropper may be all you have water for. If the flows are good you will have no problem seeing the fish in the shallow water. When you find the right fly/presentation it is memorable. Also, be sure to bring some big, weighted woolybuggers (#4-6 long) in dark green and brown and take the time to wander over to the main channel and fish upstream in the the main flow and head of pools. Let it sink good and twitch occasionally. When it stops hang on :-) More often it is a fish than a rock... And using the same 5 weight you used in the smaller side channels makes for a real challenge :-) have fun
MartinlfSeptember 23rd, 2017, 6:33 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3233
From my nephew regarding his San Juan guide: "My guide was Chip Holdemeyer and I liked him a lot. I booked him through Fisheads Lodge. I think any of the guides from Fisheads or Abe’s would be good." I just realized you were asking about the North Platte as an alternative. I haven't heard much about it, but it appears those who know a good bit more have chimed in already.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell

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