Fly Fishing the San Juan with Soaring Eagle Lodge

Note-This trip was not sponsored in any way by Soaring Eagle Lodge. This trip came from our own funds, and all opinions herein are my own as well.

Hello, friends! Welcome back to the blog. I don’t know about any of you, but my October was pretty packed with stuff. We spent the first several days of the month in New Mexico for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and took a side trip up to Navajo Dam to do a little fly fishing the San Juan River. Matt and I booked our trip with the outfitter Soaring Eagle Lodge and it was an amazing experience. We stayed two nights and spent two days fishing the tailwaters of the Navajo Dam. It’s only a four miles stretch of water, but it is one of the most-fished lengths of water in the United States. Read on to for our adventure.

We drove up Sunday and evening and the views along the way were pretty stunning. Albuquerque sits between the Sandia Mountains and the plateaus, but the mesas and plains that sandwich the highway into Navajo Dam provided enough scenery that the drive wasn’t boring by any stretch of the imagination.

The Lodge

fly fishing the san juan
Photo via Soaring Eagle Lodge website

Soaring Eagle Lodge sits right on the banks of the San Juan River and employs several experienced guides to make sure you have success on your fishing trip. Lodging, guide fees, and meals are all included in the cost of your stay. You are responsible for your licenses, gratuities, and incidentals. They have rental gear available for you to use if you don’t have your own fly fishing set up. We opted to bring our own rods and reels, though, and our guide made sure we had the appropriate leader and we used flies that he tied himself.

Each cabin featured a small kitchenette, two beds (sleeping four comfortably) and a small outdoor patio. There were also places you could hang your waders and set your rods after fishing each day. There was plenty of time between getting back from fishing and heading to dinner to relax and enjoy the picturesque view and listen to the river rush by.

I didn’t take any pictures of the inside of the cabins (I know blogger fail!) but they were pretty basic. You don’t spend a ton of time in them anyway, so they have all the comforts you need without too many frills.

The Food

Again, fail on my part because I didn’t take any pictures of the food we ate while at the lodge. Like I mentioned earlier, meals are included in the rate, and they definitely aren’t disappointing. There is a fixed dinner menu throughout the week. While we were there we enjoyed ribs smothered in BBQ sauce, red snapper with lobster sauce, and prime rib. Breakfast was a buffet-style setup, featuring all the usuals of scrambled eggs, potatoes, biscuits and gravy, etc. Guides picked up your boxed lunches, which rotated between turkey or ham sandwiches, southwest chicken wraps, and included chips, condiments, fresh fruit, and of course cookies for dessert.

The Fishing

After breakfast, we met up with our guide, Rusty, and loaded our gear into his truck, and headed to the boat launch. Since both Matt and I are fairly new to fly fishing, he spent some time going over the basics before setting up our flies and turning us loose. We mostly did drift fishing while floating down the river a bit, before rowing back upstream and making another pass. The San Juan River is home to largely brown and rainbow trout, although you might catch a few other species of fish on a rare occasion. We caught mostly rainbows, although Matt landed a couple of nice browns and I caught a little tiny brown trout on the second day.

It’s amazing how those tiny, itty-bitty flies could hook some of these bigger fish! Rusty was an amazing guide and I felt like I learned so much from him! And even though Matt totally out-fished me on the second day, I still had a blast just being out on the water watching the scenery pass by. The views in that river valley are hard to beat, for sure.

Overall, I had an amazing time staying and fly fishing the San Juan with Soaring Eagle Lodge. The cabins were cozy and comfortable, the staff and guides were amazing, and the fishing was top-notch! I highly recommend checking out the lodge if you are looking for a fly fishing adventure!

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