San Juan River's 'Quality Waters' Top 10 Spots Worldwide


The first four miles of the San Juan Rived are designated by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish as ”Quality Waters.” Released from Navajo Lake, the water is clear, cold and rich in nutrients and sustains one of the most prolific trout populations in North America. By Donna K. Hewett. This story is sponsored by Three Rivers Brewing and Northern Edge Casino

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Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains on the San Juan River just below Navajo Dam. The first four miles of the river are called the Quality Waters, where 80,000 browns and rainbow trout nibble and sway. You're watching "The Local News Network," brought to you by Three Rivers Brewing and Northern Edge casino. I'm Haley Opsal. The Quality Waters, a world class trout fishing section along the San Juan River, is where anglers from every corner of the earth come year round to fly fish. River guide Mark Nesbit, owner of Blue Sky Fly Fishing Company, puts his drift boat in what's known as the Texas Hole.

There's probably more fish concentrated in this run than there is anywhere else on the river And as you can tell, we got that more fishermen concentrated in this area than anywhere else on the river.

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish permits only artificial flies with single barbless hooks in this section of the river.

I'm trying to imitate aquatic insects that live down in the water, down below the surface. They're called nymphs. And let me show you one of them. Okay. There's one of them and you can see how small it is.

Except for the occasional carp, there are only two types of trout in the river.

The rainbows are hybrids. They're called cut bows. They're a triploid. They're a cross between a cutthroat and a rainbow. And our brown trouts were stock 30 years ago. But they haven't stocked one since. So all the brown trout come from natural reproduction, where all the rainbows come from stocking.

The artificial flies don't smell good or look good to the fish. Fly fishing is all about the presentation, which is what makes the sport so challenging.

This is going to be my cast. I'm going to make my cast and this is my presentation. What I'm fishing with, and I'm going to slow it down so it has a chance. And what I'm trying to do is I'm trying to make it go the speed of the bubbles. The same speed as the current that I'm fishing. And boy it's moving real quick here.

Farther down the river, anglers use salmon eggs and worms to catch and keep the fish. But the Quality Rivers is strictly catch and release only.

With catch and release, you get to catch 'em, play, enjoy the dance with the fish, and then turn around and release 'em, and someone else gets to do it. Maybe it'll be your grandson or someone else's. But anyways, that's the beauty of fly fishing

To book a half or full day float, go to Thanks for watching this edition of "The Local News Network." I'm Haley Opsal.


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