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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 14th, 2015:The run-off from the snow melt has been occurring in many of the locations we fish at for the last month or so. This year it has been a somewhat "off and on" affair and seems to be steadier and lasting much longer than the early, heavy surges we have experienced in the past few springs. This has enabled us to fish many spots that we typically wouldn't be able to during run-off. There have been some great rains and spring snow storms in the last few weeks which is a blessing for our water levels (see the Bar X Bar Ranch picture below). It seems that due to these storms, the air temperatures have stayed cooler and there is still a fair amount of snow up in the mountains. All of this bodes well for good fishing conditions this coming June and July. There has been some great fishing to be had in the last few weeks, especially in the lakes and tailwaters sections of the rivers we fish. The bugs are moving in almost most all of our waters and we have had a few good mayfly and caddis hatches which brought on some early season dry fly action.
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.
QUINLAN RANCH: In the last few weeks, the fishing on the Quinlan Ranch lakes has been very good and should continue to get even better over the next month or two. The fish in the higher altitude lakes have made it through the winter in fine form and are really chunky and strong. The lower lakes have really turned on and we have been landing some very big fish out of them. So far this season, we are catching mostly rainbows but have landed a few browns and the odd Snake River Fine-spot cutthroat. All manner of rigs are working - chironomids, nymphs and streamers are all bringing fish to the net.
In the last few days we have started to see the odd damsel fly so pretty soon they should be added to the mix for the trout's dining fare.
Usually by the end of May the dry fly fishing picks up; it is going to be a hoot to catch some the Quinlan's bigger fish on the surface! All of the boats are in the water - there are three ClackaCraft drift boats and three aluminum skiffs spread between the five lakes we fish on the Quinlan Ranch.
We are already booking a lot of our 4 night/3 day packages up at the ranch for the 2015 season. If you are considering a trip this year and are interested in specific dates, please don't wait too long to get the ball rolling on making a reservation. The Quinlan is a great place to base out of to fish Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. Please check out the "Fishing Packages" page for more information.
Upper Picture: Miles C. with a beautiful Willow Creek Lake rainbow last week - NICE!
Lower Picture: Mark L. fighting one of the bow of the driftboat on Don's Lake.
SAN JUAN: The fishing throughout all of the "Quality Waters" stretch on the San Juan has ranged from very good to epic for the last month. With the exception of one small bump a couple of weeks ago, the flows being released out of Navajo Dam have been in the 325 to 350 cfs (cubic feet per second) range. This has made for some superb wade trips. The wading is easy and the fish are bunched up so that once you get on them, you can catch lots. The water clarity has improved a lot since our last fishing report and, as of a few days ago, the visibility was about 4 to 5 feet. As is always the case on the San Juan, small midge lava and pupa patterns are the best bet but wolf eagles and pine squirrel leaches are bringing some nice fish to the net.
Another fun thing is that the fish are beginning to look up and there is a good chance of throwing some big foam bugs and/or midge clusters to rising fish and catching a few on the surface. Even though some days have been pretty windy, with the lower flows and the easy wading, we can usually find an area that offers some protection from the heavier gusts. The winds should start to back off here in the next couple of weeks as we get closer to June.
If you are interested in fishing the San Juan this spring and would like to stay in the area, we offer a fishing and lodging package. For more information and pricing please go to our "Fishing Packages" page or give us a call.
Upper Picture: Justin R. landed this nice bow in the Braids last last week (Shane holding it).
Lower Picture: A nice Cable Hole brown - way to go Bill M.!
BAR X BAR RANCH: The lakes on the Bar X Bar Ranch have been fishing incredibly well for the last two or three weeks with lots of fish being caught. Wet flies, nymphs and midges are all working and on sunny days there has been some decent dry fly action. Everyday there are more and more grasshoppers showing up in the meadows and the fish are becoming more and more attuned to them being blown into the lakes. There are also some really big, fat fish being caught on larger streamers fished deep.
All five of the ranch's lakes are full of water and right now there is very little weed to contend with. If we continue to get a few more rainy days, these good fishing conditions should hold until at least the middle of July. Right now is the time to think about a trip out to the Bar X Bar, especially with the higher water conditions in the Pecos and the Rio Grande. It is super-easy fishing and currently this is the best location to fish that is close to Santa Fe; a little under an hour drive from the Plaza.
Upper Picture: A spring snow on April 27th at the Bar X Bar. The fish didn't say no and
neither did Danya & Mark W. - what troopers!
Lower Picture: A beautiful rainbow that Mark W. landed - a spring "snow-trout".
RIO GRANDE: The flows on the lower Rio Grande have been all over the place for the last month or so, ranging from 400cfs to as high as 1,500 cfs. Right now they are in the 500cfs to 700cfs range which is pretty much too high for really good fishing. We have done a few trips on the Rio in the last few weeks. The Rio, being her normally fickle self, offered up some really good days and some pretty slow ones as well. With the water levels changing daily, it seems the fish aren't settling into any predictable feeding patterns. As soon as the flows come back down and stay at a consistent level for a week or so, the fishing should be good again. Give us a call for a current update over the next month or so.
Picture: A beautiful spring rainbow on one of the better days last month. Wade L. - yea buddy!
ABEYTA RANCH & CONEJOS RIVER: The Abeyta Ranch and the lower Conejos are still fishing very well we are just having to be careful with the flow levels when picking the days to fish. The run-off is on but has been going up and down almost daily so we are still getting lots of good opportunities to fish on days when the flows are lower. The clarity is still fairly good but a bit more off-color than a few weeks ago. Bigger, flashy nymphs and worms are still the go to patterns but on days with higher flows, we've been pitching a few large streamers. We're still catching an amazingly large average size of fish with many in the over 20" range. The fish seem to be very healthy and fighting super-hard. If you are thinking about a trip to the Conejos in the next few weeks, make sure to check on the flows first or give us a call to see what is happening.
Picture: A beautiful 22" Abeyta Ranch brown - here's looking at ya'.
THE MK & SPEAR U RANCHES: The fishing on the Spear U Ranch (on the Navajo river) is starting to get quite good. The lakes have been exceptional and the river, though still running a bit high, is beginning to produce some nice fish as well. All manner of setups are working in the lakes - streamers, nymphs and midges and even the odd take on a dry fly (there have been some pretty good mayfly hatches on the lakes this spring). Last week we did a major trimming of the willows by the river at the Spear U. This opened up a lot more water and will make the casting and fishing much easier; we can't wait to give all of the new areas a try. This Ranch offers four miles of river and two lakes - a great spot to fish both a river and a couple of lakes in one day of fishing. Plus the views are hard to beat.
The section of the Navajo river at the MK Ranch (which is about 10 miles upstream of the Spear U and the diversion) is still running too high to fish. As the flows subside within the next month or so the fishing should be exceptional.
Picture: A Spear U Ranch mayfly stopping to take a rest last week.
CHAMA & LOWER BRAZOS: The fishing in the tailwater section below Abiquiu Dam has slowed down a bit and the flows being released out of the dam have been going up and down between the 200cfs and 400cfs level. It still is a good bet, just not quite as good as it was earlier this spring; many fish have been taken out of the river and ended up in the frying pan. Wouldn't a catch and release area be nice? The fishing in the section below El Vado Dam has been decent and should get better towards the end of the month. For the last few weeks the water release from El Vado dam has been steady at 100 cfs which is a very easy flow to wade and fish in. Large, heavier nymphs followed by something smaller and a bit flashy seem to still be the key to success in both the Abiquiu and El Vado stretches. The Chama above El Vado and the Brazos are still in full run-off conditions and flowing way too hard to fish - check it in a couple of weeks.
PECOS: Within the last week the water levels on the Pecos have bumped up to the 200cfs range which is realistically too high to fish. Before the flows came up we had some good days on the river with lots of fish landed. It will probably be at least until the last week of May before the conditions on the Pecos are really good again. Look at the flows before you go.
THE OSO PICCOLO RANCHES: Both of these spots are still in full on run-off conditions but it won't be too long before they will be good bet. 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 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.
THE VALLES CALDERA: This year the Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP) has changed to being a National Monument so we aren't exactly sure how the fishing program will be working yet. Currently the whole management of the VCNP is still in a state of flux due to the change of federal designation preserve. The fishing program is still closed. Apparently it will be opening up to fishing around the middle of May as was usual in years past.
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.
New Fishing Licenses:
Don't forget to get your annual New Mexico and Colorado fishing licenses for this season! The new licenses start on April 1st of each year. Below are some links where you can get your fishing licenses on line. Click each states image to take you to their online license purchasing page.
TU launches the Wild Steelhead Initiative:
Trout Unlimited is launching the Wild Steelhead Initiative and Wild Steelheaders United, an ambitious and hopeful effort to protect and restore the wild steelhead. The goal of the Initiative is to, organize, activate and educate.
The passion to catch wild steelhead is a bond that unites anglers young and old, urban and rural, liberal and conservative, gear or fly. Wild steelhead have inspired thousands of anglers to become conservationists. Until now, those conservation efforts have been primarily local, focused on specific rivers and led by small groups of dedicated volunteers. Never before has there been a broad initiative that effectively focuses the conservation efforts of the large, impassioned community of wild steelhead anglers. Chances of conservation success are greatest if we have the backing of as many individuals as possible. This is why Wild Steelheaders United is critical.
Management strategy and policy for wild steelhead is being shaped today that will affect steelhead populations over the coming decades. Meanwhile, changing climate conditions are reducing streamflows and steelhead habitat in many watersheds, and state and federal budget shortfalls are likely to lead to increased scrutiny and closure of hatcheries. Without a coherent strategy, planning, and sustained action by the people who care the most about this iconic fish, factors such as possible future ESA listings and potential overcrowding onto already limited resources could take our wild steelhead fisheries beyond the tipping point.
Today, 70 percent of the major steelhead populations in Oregon, Idaho, Washington and California require federal protection and opportunities to catch wild steelhead have diminished dramatically in many rivers. At the same time, we are seeing wild steelhead make a comeback, in rivers like the Elwha and Eel. We believe that the future of wild steelhead - and angling opportunity for these incredible fish - cries out for coordinated action across their native range.
Take a look at their website and consider giving them your support. To go to the website please click on the link below:
Orvis/TU 1,000 Miles Campaign:
HOW A CULVERT REPAIR IMPROVES A STREAM: In many rivers throughout the U.S., outdated and environmentally unsound culverts block fish passage, in essence creating a series of dams on small tributaries to larger rivers. These culverts negatively impact fish spawning, block fish passage into these tributaries, and take away miles upon miles of fishable water. By repairing existing culverts, or by replacing these culverts altogether, fish are once again able to swim upstream. The process is simple and highly cost effective. In place of small, often elevated culverts, larger culverts are buried halfway into the streambed and filled with a natural bottom. This creates a more ecologically friendly passage for fish, and opens up miles of spawning grounds, habitat, and fishable water.
RECONNECTING STREAMS ACROSS THE US - CREATING MILES OF SPAWNING HABITAT & FISHABLE WATER: Help the Orvis-Trout Unlimited 1,000 Miles Campaign reach its goal to reconnect 1,000 miles of fishable streams by repairing or replacing poorly constructed culverts throughout the U.S. Culverts are significant impediments to fish passage and survival - just as significant as a major dam - but the solution is dramatically simpler. Many need to be removed or modified, the cost is minimal, and the overall impact to many watersheds is significant. Funds raised by the Orvis-TU 1,000 Miles Campaign will go toward the engineering and removing of culverts, with the goal of reconnecting over 1,000 miles of fishable habitat. Presently, there are projects that involve culvert improvement or removal on Kinne Brook in Massachusetts, the upper Connecticut River in New Hampshire, the Shenandoah valley in Virginia, Big Slough Creek in Wisconsin, the Deschutes River in Oregon, the Bear River in Wyoming, and many others.
You can help reconnect rivers throughout the US by giving to the Orvis/TU 1,000 Miles Campaign in 2014. Orvis is donating another $90,000 in matching funds so that every $100 you donate will become $200, for a total of another $180,000 in 2014. Every dollar you donate will be used to improve these streams, and the impact will be felt by fish - and anglers - all across the country for years to come.
Please send your check payable to Trout Unlimited (Memo: "1,000 Miles Campaign"), c/o The Orvis Company, 178 Conservation Way, Sunderland, VT 05250 or donate online by clicking on the link below:
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):