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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 ~ April 10th, 2015:Spring has definitely arrived here in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. We have had some really warm weather in the last few weeks with afternoon temperatures reaching up into the seventies in the lower elevations. The run-off has started in many of our rivers and streams - this is about 3 weeks earlier than what is to be expected. The fishing is still very good in many spots where the run-off hasn't reached full force yet and our lakes and tailwaters are fishing extremely well. With the way things are looking, we are optimistic that the fishing should be excellent by this late spring and early summer. At current snowmelt rates, the run-off should be done by mid-May and almost all of our rivers and streams should very fishable by then. The weather is nice, the bugs are starting to move and the fish are starting to feed well after a long winter, making this one of the best times of year to be on the water.
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 Abeyta Ranch and the lower Conejos have been fishing amazingly well so far this spring. The fish are looking very healthy and we have been getting into some real beauties. For the last month or so the water flows have been at a good level for nymphing, holding quite steadily in the 150 to 250 cfs (cubic feet per second) range. The clarity is still fairly decent and the water has the perfect green, springtime tint to it. We've been up on the Abeyta Ranch at least two or three days a week recently and have had some banner days with many really large fish landed.
Bigger, flashy nymphs and worms have been the go to patterns and when the fish turn on, look out - they aren't being very shy about
hitting the rigs! With the current rate of snowmelt and the releases out of Platoro reservoir, these fishing conditions should hold for at least a few more weeks. Most probably we'll see full on run-off in the Conejos River by May 1st. This being said, give us a call for daily updates on how the river is doing.
Upper Picture: Ras checking out a beautiful spring Conejos rainbow on Saint Patrick's Day ~ The Luck of the Irish.
Lower Picture: Ted S. showing off a 25" male rainbow on the Abeyta Ranch. Kipe-silla; nicely done!
BAR X BAR RANCH: Wow! The lakes on the Bar X Bar made it through the winter in fine form and there are lots of really nice fish to be caught right now. Streamers, wet flies, nymphs and midges are all working well. The fish are really hungry and on occaision are starting to come to the surface - who knows, it might be time to try some dry flies. We already have seen some grasshoppers in the meadows near the lakes and have had a fish or two take swipes at the indicators. All five of the ranch's lakes are full of water and right now there is very little weed to contend with. These conditions should hold until at least the middle of June. There isn't much snow left in the mountains above the ranch so we'll just have to see what happens as far as fishing conditions go during the summer months. Right now is the time to think about a trip out to the Bar X Bar. 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.
Picture: A nice Bar X Bar rainbow that fell for a big cone-head leach a couple of days ago. Well done Nancy P.
CHAMA & LOWER BRAZOS: The tailwater section below Abiquiu Dam is still fishing quite well. The flows/water releases out of the dam have been bumped up since our last report but are holding steady in the 240 cfs range. There are still quite a few nice rainbows to be caught, especially in the deeper runs in the first mile or two below the dam. With this spot fishing well and having good water flows, there have been many anglers on this section of the Chama. Unfortunately good fishing etiquette is often not practiced by all of the folks on the river. Recently we had a run-in with couple of anglers who didn't have a clue as to what good fishing etiquette was. Basically, if you see other fishermen, don't walk or fish in the water directly upstream of them. If fishermen are courteous and aware of where others are fishing when an area is crowded, it will help to make a better day for all and everybody will catch more fish. The fishing in the section below El Vado Dam is just starting to pick up a little bit but the water is still very cold and the bugs and the fish are just starting to move. Everything in the river system should become more active as the spring progresses. 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 in run-off conditions and the water is flowing a bit too hard for good fishing.
Picture: A beautiful spring day below Abiquiu Dam on the Chama last week.
SAN JUAN: We have been doing quite a few trips on the San Juan in the last month or so and with the nicer weather, the fishing has been really good. As of this writing the flows being released out of Navajo Dam have been holding steady in the 350 cfs range (it has been at this level most of the winter and spring). This flow level has made for great wade fishing throughout the quality water stretch. Nothing has changed that much since our last report in early March; the bigger fish have moved up into shallower water and have become quite aggressive. The water clarity is improving daily and, as of a few days ago, the visibility was about 3 feet. We are starting to see many hatches of both midges and mayflies with some fairly decent dry fly action in the afternoons. Along with the standard array of lava and pupa patterns, fishing with streamers, leeches and egg patterns has still been a great bet, bringing some very large fish to the net. 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.
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.
Picture: Rick G. releasing a nice Upper Flats fish last month. Note the water clarity.
QUINLAN RANCH: The fishing on the Quinlan Ranch lakes has been good so far this spring and will continue to get better throughout the summer months. The fish in the higher altitude lakes have made it through the winter in fine form and are really chunky and strong. So far this season, we are catching mostly rainbows but have landed a few browns and Snake River fine-spot cutthroats as well. 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. The ranch got a lot of snow in the last few storms so the lakes are very full and in great shape so far this season.
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.
Picture: Early morning on the Quinlan Ranch - Don's Lake with the boats ready to go.
RIO GRANDE: With the warmer weather at the beginning of the month the flows on the lower Rio Grande bumped up to as high as 1,500 cfs which is an un-fishable level. Since then, the flows have been steadily dropping and are now in the 450 cfs range. This is a very fishable flow level but the wading will still be tricky in many spots. We have done a couple of trips on the Rio in the last few days and the fishing was OK, with mostly smaller fish being caught. As soon as the flows come back down a bit further and the water warms up a little more, the fishing should be pretty good. The caddis are coming soon...
Picture: The Rio above TJ Bridge last month.
PECOS: The flows on the Pecos right now are a bit high for easy fishing but they are starting to slowly come back down. The water has been quite off color but over the last few days, it looks like it is clearing up a bit. We have had fair fishing in the deeper, slow moving pools. As the higher flows subside and the water clears, we should have some great mid-spring fishing on the Pecos. Hopefully this will be within the next week or two.
THE MK & SPEAR U RANCHES: The fishing on the Spear U Ranch (on the Navajo river) is starting to get very good. The fishing in the lakes has been exceptional and the river, though still a bit spotty, 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 are some amazing fish in both lakes as well as some nice ones in the river. 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.
We checked out the MK Ranch (which is about 10 miles upstream of the Spear U and the diversion) and, as of right now, the river there is still running a bit high and off color. As the flows subside within the next month or so the fishing should be exceptional.
THE OSO PICCOLO RANCHES: Both of these spots are in full on run-off conditions but it won't be too long before they will be good bet. We can't wait to get up to both of these spots! 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.
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:
Senate Passes Public Lands Measure:
WASHINGTON, D.C.- On December 15th, 2014 the Senate voted to approve a number of important public lands measures, two of which are in New Mexico, that were attached to the federal defense reauthorization bill, including measures that will protect vital fish and game habitat in four western states and ensure fishing and hunting opportunities remain intact for generations to come. The package of bills is on the way to the White House for President Obama's signature.
The approved legislation includes measures to designate new locally supported wilderness areas in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, as well as legislation that would protect lands in the North Fork of the Flathead River drainage in Montana from hard-rock mining and future oil and gas drilling and fracking.
"This package of bills represents the culmination of years of hard work by our staff and our volunteers on the ground and our partners all across the West," said Trout Unlimited President and CEO Chris Wood last week when the package passed the House. "It's proof that, even with the political fractures that plague Washington these days, anglers and hunters can get important work done through local efforts to apply common sense to common problems for the common good. This is proof that conservation is a bipartisan value shared by hunters and anglers regardless of their political views."
The bill details changes to two areas in New Mexico:
Management of the 90,000-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico-a spectacular volcanic caldera containing outstanding fish and wildlife habitat-would shift from a board of trustees to the National Park Service, which would implement a plan to improve public recreation access, including for hunting and fishing.
The Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Protection Act, which will protect fish and game habitat in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains north of Taos, N.M. The bill, introduced by U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan in 2013, protects 46,000 acres of backcountry in the Carson National Forest, including prime deer and elk habitat and headwater streams that host important populations of native Rio Grande cutthroat trout and provide clean drinking and irrigation water for downstream communities. The Columbine-Hondo area offers an array of recreation and economic benefits, including hunting and angling, livestock grazing, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, wood-gathering and tourism.
"Each of these bills has one important element in common," Wood said last week. "They were all crafted locally, with input from anglers and hunters who understand that quality fishing and hunting only happen if intact habitat is available for everything from trout to elk. Sportsmen matter, and Congress has recognized their contribution to these important conservation measures."
Upper Picture: San Antonio Creek on the Valles Caldera.
Lower Picture: Early spring elk in the Valle Grande on the Valles Caldera.
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):