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New Mexico Fly Fishing Report & News
New Mexico fly fishing report, current local water and fishing conditions along with general fly fishing news and information.
NM Fishing Report ~ MAY 5th, 2016:What wild weather and fishing we have had for the past month or so! During the last two weeks of April, we have had some amazing snows up in the mountains which brought the snowpack levels back up over 100% for the year in many places. This is great news and means that we should have some of the best water conditions we have seen in many years throughout the summer and into the fall this season. The recent storms also have slowed the run-off down in many drainages, which has made for some excellent spring over the last few weeks. We will see some substantially higher flows over the next few weeks but the fishing should remain good in many rivers and streams. This year, with all the late snows we have received, the fishing on all of our lakes will be epic throughout May and June.
As always, don't hesitate to contact us for up to date information, if you have any questions and/or would like to book a trip. To learn more about all of the private ranches we guide on check out our Private Water page.
ABEYTA RANCH & THE CONEJOS: The fishing on the Abeyta Ranch and the lower Conejos River has been superb for all of the month of April. We have been catching lots of really fat, nice sized fish in the 16 to 20 inch range. Recently, there have been a good number of larger ones in the 20+ inch size with a couple of real monsters coming to the net. We have been doing well on all manner of set-ups; everything from large stoneflies, worms and egg patterns to smaller may flies have been working. Depending on the weather, the flows have been fluctuating between 250 and 500 cfs (cubic feet per second). When the water levels are higher and off-color, we have been doing some serious streamer fishing and catching some amazing fish. Recently we have been catching both browns and rainbows with the odd cutthroat thrown in the mix. At the rate things are going, we should have great fishing/water conditions at least through mid-May; then we may have to start worrying about high water.
Picture: Jim R. with a monster Conejos rainbow. 24+" length and 18" girth; this works out to a 9.72 lb. fish - WOW!
THE OSO PICCOLO RANCHES: The La Barranca ranch on the Chama is fishing better and better each week and we have caught some great fish there in the last month or so. The issue is the higher flows due to run-off. If you are willing to fish some heavier rigs and/or streamers on sink tips you will almost always get into a few really big browns and rainbows. We'll keep hitting this spot when we can but, as soon as the run-off starts to wind down in early June, the fishing at La Barranca should really good. There is still a bit of snow up on the Wolf Creek Ranch - it will probably be a month or so before it is fishable.
Comprised of two sections of water on two separate rivers, the Oso Piccolo ranches offer anglers the opportunity to fish on both of these completely different fishing locations in one day. The first ranch, known as La Barranca, has 1.5 to 2 miles of the upper Chama River and the second ranch (the Wolf Creek Ranch) has 3 miles of a gorgeous, high mountain tributary of the Chama called Wolf Creek.
Picture: John T. landed this gorgeous brown, in the high water, on the La Barranca Ranch.
CHAMA & LOWER BRAZOS: : The flows on the Chama River below the dams have still been holding steady in the 75 to150 cfs range. The fishing below Abiquiu has scaled back a bit but is still decent. The section below El Vado Dam is still not fishing that well. This should change as the spring warms things up a bit more. Closer to the dams there are some really nice rainbows (and some Rio Grande cutthroats at El Vado) and, in areas that are less pressured, there is still the chance of hooking into a nice sized brown trout. The best rigs are still larger nymphs followed with something pretty small. The real key has been to get the correct depth for the spot you are fishing in. Anytime now the fishing in the stretch below El Vado should get really good - we've been saying this for at least a month now; hopefully it will begin to really turn on soon!
The upper Chama and the lower Brazos are both running pretty high and off color these days but are still worth a shot especially on days when the flows are down a bit.
Picture: Bruce B. giving it his all last week below El Vado.
Lower Picture: Spring is here and the geese are nesting everywhere on the Chama; watch your step.
QUINLAN RANCH: All of the lakes on the Quinlan have opened up and the fishing is great. We still have to pick our days to get up to the upper lakes but the roads are open and all of the ice is gone. Right now streamers, nymph rigs, worms and chironomids fished a bit deeper are the ticket. As soon as the bugs start moving a bit more, the fish will start to really cruise the edges of the lakes and all manner of rigs will be working. Within the next couple of weeks it may also be time to cast some dries at the grassy banks; we can't wait. The fish are very hungry and really strong - we had a fish take us into the backing last week! May and June are some of the best months to fish on the Quinlan Ranch lakes. No matter what the rivers are doing, the fishing conditions are good at the Quinlan Ranch where you can either fish from the shore or out of a boat - both work equally well.
The Quinlan Ranch is a wonderful place to base out of to fish Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. We are starting to book up our 4 night/3 day packages up at the ranch for the summer and fall. If you are interested in specific dates or have any questions, don't hesitate to give us a call. Please check out the "Fishing Packages" page for more information.
Picture: Paula & Charlie F. doubled up on Don's Lake. Nice fish and nice hats!
SAN JUAN: We have still been doing about a trip a week over on the "Juan" and the fishing is still very good. The releases out of the Navajo Dam have been steady in the 450 cfs range which has made for both great wade fishing and float trips. These flows should stay at this level until the middle of the month and then we're in for some major changes (see the article below on the San Juan River "flush"). The water has cleared substantially from where it was a month ago and we're back to using more typical San Juan rigs of smaller midges with the occasional Wolf Eagle thrown in for good measure. The rainbows are pretty much done with their spawning but eggs and beads are still working well. We also have had some good sessions with dries on calmer days when the midges are hatching. All matter of cluster patterns and Griffith's Gnats have been producing fish on top.
If you are interested in spending a few days on the Juan, check out our Fishing Packages. For more information and pricing please go to our "Fishing Packages" page or give us a call.
Upper Picture: Dennis and a flying Juan-Bow - Ooops...
Lower Picture: Cheryl H. with a nice fish at the Lower Flats. Well Done!
BAR X BAR RANCH: The fishing out at the Bar X Bar Ranch has been great all spring and with all the colder weather and snow we just had, it looks like we'll continue to have great action out there all summer. The water levels in all of the lakes are as good as we have seen in years and the water temperatures are still very cold for this time of year. Rasta Buggers, Wolf Eagles, nymphs and midges are all bringing fish to the net. The fish have definitely started to look up and it won't be long before there will be some good top-water action. We actually have started to see some small hoppers moving in the meadows on sunny days. This is the time to think about a trip out to the Bar X Bar. It is super-easy fishing and right now this is the best location to fish that is close to Santa Fe; a little under an hour drive from the Plaza.
Picture: What beautiful colors on this Bar X Bar Ranch Rainbow.
PECOS: The Pecos has been fishing well for the last few weeks. We have had some decent trips fishing in all of the spots up and down the river. There is still a bit of snow up higher and in some of the canyon sections but it is going fast. Though the bulk of the fish aren’t very big (usually in the 8 to 12 inch range), there is still a good chance of landing a good sized rainbow. Both rainbows and browns are hitting equally well on smaller nymphs and larger patterns; don't be afraid to try a bright colored squirmy-wormy or an egg pattern. The flows are a bit high but still fishable in the 150 to 175 cfs range. They are definitely going to start to get much higher once the snowmelt really gets under way. As always is the case wherever you fish this time of year, check the flows before you go.
Picture: Fishing up in the Pecos Canyon a few weeks back.
THE MK & SPEAR U RANCHES: There is still a bunch of snow up at the MK Ranch but should all be melted soon. Probably in another couple of weeks we may make a scouting mission - we'll keep you posted. Both of these ranches are located in southern Colorado on the Navajo river. The Spear U Ranch has 3.5 miles of river and two small lakes that are full of big fish. The MK Ranch is higher up with about 4± miles of river. These are some of the most beautiful places we fish at.
HIGH TIMBER RANCH: Located in the Brazos Meadows at an altitude of 10,000 feet, fishing on the High Timber Ranch is still at least 6 weeks away. With all the snow we've had this spring, the fishing should be phenomenal up at the High Timber Ranch this summer. We'll keep everyone posted as to when it opens up.
RIO GRANDE: Fo-get-a-bout-it. We haven't been fishing on the Rio at all in the last couple of months. The flows are just too high; as of today they are 780 cfs at Taos Junction Bridge. Still not worth it yet...
Big San Juan River "Flush" planned for Mid-May:
The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) held a meeting on April 26th in Farmington, NM where they detailed their plans for a large release from Navajo Dam this year. Locally know as a "flush", this release is a great benefit to the environmental conditions, habitat and fishing on the San Juan River. There hasn't been a major release/flush from Navajo Dam for the last few years due to the drier conditions and the lower water levels in the Navajo Reservoir. This has caused some serious siltation issues and weed and algae growth in the river which is detrimental to the insect life and fish habitat. It is incredible that the BOR is planning to sustain the release/flush for 31 days. The overall effect of this event should be a much cleaner river and river bottom, better insect growth and bigger, healthier fish!
Below are some excerpts from the BUREAU OF RECLAMATION - NAVAJO RESERVOIR - April 26, 2016 MEETING NOTES that pertain to the up-coming release/flush:
"The most probable forecast will result in a spring peak release beginning with a 5-day ramp up to 5,000 cfs (note that during the meeting we stated a 3-day ramp up. This ramp up rate has since been revised to 5-days based on meeting input), followed by a peak at 5,000 cfs for up to 31 days, followed by a 12-day ramp back down to base flows. The total number of days may change slightly as weather evolves.
The spring peak release will be timed to coincide with the peak of the Animas. Because of this, the start date is highly dependent on weather. Current plans call for the release to begin either May 16th, or May 23rd. The start date for the spring peak release will not be finalized until approximately one week prior to ramp-up."
If you are headed over to the San Juan, we strongly recommend that you stay aware of what is going on with the upcoming release/flush - 5,000 cfs is a lot of water moving so be careful wading!
Picture: Nice fish just below Navajo Dam on the San Juan - You won't be wading here at 5,000 cfs! .
Hank Patterson Explains Trout Unlimited (TU):
Hank Patterson shares his understanding of Trout Unlimited and the importance of membership with a couple new clients. What hoot! Are you a TU member?
Cold Waters Video:
At the end of the 2014 fishing season, five respected fly fishermen - Craig Mathews of Blue Ribbon Flies, Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia, Steve Hemkens of Orvis, Tim Romano of Angling Trade and Todd Tanner of Conservation Hawks - came together to fish for wild trout and share their thoughts on angling and climate change.
COLD WATERS was shot in Montana in October, 2014. It celebrates the joy and passion of fly fishing, and educates anglers on the threat we face from global warming. The film, which is a collaboration between Conservation Hawks and the cinematic team at Conservation Media, focuses on our responsibility to protect cold, clean waters and healthy landscapes, and to stand up for future generations of Americans.
Rio Chama Flow Optimization Project:
The Chama River needs our help. The best way that we, as individuals, can do something to help the situation on the Chama River is to become involved. On May 10th, 2011 a group called The Rio Chama Flow Optimization Project (RCFOP) was formed to address the many issues facing the river. The primary focus of the RCFOP is to band together concerned individuals and organizations and establish a collaborative effort to manage streamflow/discharges in the Chama River system. The project's primary goal is to reinvigorate natural functions of the Chama river while satisfying water management objectives and improving fishing and whitewater recreation. The RCFOP is funded by a grant from the River Ecosystem Restoration Initiative and managed by Rio Grande Restoration.
Please take some time to read the following report/article on the conditions on the Chama River this fall. On the last page you will find contact information for the Rio Chama Flow Optimization Project - please consider supporting them in whatever way you can. Click on the link below to open the report (PDF file):