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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 ~ July 26th, 2014:Sorry it has taken this long to get a new report done. The only excuse we have is that we've been on the water most days and, the fishing has been great! With just a couple of exceptions, all of our rivers, streams and lakes are fishing well with lots of really nice fish coming to the net. Within the last few weeks we have started to get some good rains which has helped water flows and conditions immensely and has cooled things down a bit in the afternoons for us. Wet wading is definitely the way to go these days - a pleasant reprieve from the heat of the summer. The hoppers and beetles are in full force and the surface action with dry flies and dry-dropper rigs recently has been a blast. So far we couldn't have asked for a better summer of fishing. Overall the water levels are low (which is typical for this time of year) but they don't seem quite as low as last year. The only thing that could make things better would be some more good rains.
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.
CHAMA & LOWER BRAZOS: The upper Chama and the Brazos are fishing well these days, especially right after a rainstorm. The Brazos has been very consistent for the last month or so, producing lots of smaller rainbows and browns, using hopper-dropper rigs. For the last few days the water levels on the Brazos have dropped substantially so the fishing has slowed a bit. The section of the Chama between the town and the Heron dam has been taking a serious hit from the irrigators and in many places it is incredibly low and warm. We are keeping our fingers crossed that this doesn't completely screw up the river in this stretch - it has been taking quite a beating for the last few years. The fishing below El Vado has been holding up very well so far this summer. Though the water is its typical grey-green color, we have been doing just fine here. With the higher release out of the dam, the section of the Chama below Abiquiu dam is running high (in the 560 cfs range) and the water is very dirty - we haven't been to this stretch at all this summer; we're waiting for the fall.
Picture: Trey R. with a beautiful, wild Chama brown trout.
THE OSO PICCOLO RANCHES: 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 Wolf Creek Ranch has been an absolute joy to fish recently. At an altitude of about 9,000 feet, it has been cooler than most locations, especially in the canyon sections.
The fishing has been off the charts with lots of really nice wild browns being taken on dry flies. Some pools have been producing 3 to 4 fish at a time and on the days after a rain, the meadows have been very good as well. Great dry fly fishing in one of the most beautiful locations in Northern New Mexico; you can't beat it.
We haven't fished on the La Barranca Ranch for a month or so. The water levels are very low and it is really warm right now. We are waiting until mid-September once things cool down a bit and the brown trout start to get fired up.
Upper Picture: Early afternoon on Wolf Creek.
Lower Picture: Typical Wolf Creek brown that ate a small hopper.
SAN JUAN: Over the last 5 days (as a result of decreasing river flows in the San Juan River Basin) the Bureau of Reclamation has increased the release from Navajo Dam up to the 650 cfs (cubic feet per second) range. For the next few days there will be a fair amount of moss and debris coming down river but this should clear up by early next week. The fishing in July on the San Juan has been good and this increase in flow should only make things better. The fish will spread out a bit and become a little less skittish. For the last few weeks we have been doing well with big dries and there was an ant fall as well; top-water action should be good for awhile. Along with the standard array of lava and pupa midge patterns, all manner of baetis patterns are bringing fish to the net. With the higher flows, streamers should start to become more effective as well. It has been very hot over on the Juan this month so wading is certainly a great way to beat the heat. With the higher flows and some rains, things should cool off a bit and the fishing out of the drift boat should also become a good option.
Picture:Way to go Stewart T. - one of many caught that day!
QUINLAN RANCH: The fishing on the Quinlan Ranch is holding up extremely well. With the warmer weather the higher altitude lakes seem to be the best bet in the warmer part of the day and the lower lake better in the morning and evening. All of the lakes are still producing really nice fish with a fair number in the 24"+ range, especially on Willow. The dry fly fishing is still pretty good but emergers (like RS 2s) have been the ticket recently. We have been fishing them either under a dry or below an indicator - both methods are working. As well, stripping streamers has started to pick up again with lots of nice, big fish whacking black leeches.
We have been doing lots of our 4 night/3 day packages up at the ranch. The Quinlan is a great place to base out of to fish Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. If you are interested in specific dates, please don't wait too long to get the ball rolling on making a reservation. August is starting to get booked up and, due to the elk season, there is limited availability in September and October. Please check out the "Fishing Packages" page for more information.
Upper Picture: Chunky Honeymoon Lake bow - Way to go Kate P.!
Lower Picture: A 24" brute of a rainbow that ate the black leech in the late afternoon. Nicely done Ryan F.
PECOS: Though the Pecos has been getting a lot of fishing pressure this summer (especially on the weekends) the fishing is holding up very well. We have been doing 2 or 3 trips a week on the river every week and there are still lots of smaller rainbows and browns - 8 to 14 inchers - to be caught. There is always the chance of catching a fish or two in the 16 inch plus range, but don't hold your breath. If you are willing to work up and down the river, you can find some good water to fish and have a great day. All manner of drys and smaller nymphs are working well. Please be courteous to other anglers.
Picture: Nice 18" Pecos rainbow - there are a few in there...
THE SPEAR U & MK RANCHES: We have been up to the MK Ranch's stretch of the Navajo River (which is about 10 miles upstream of the Spear U and above the diversion) a few times in the last couple of weeks and the fishing has been good. The water levels seem to be much better than last season and the caddis are coming back. Some nice fish have been caught on the surface and on the dropper. August and September should be really good on the MK Ranch.
The fishing on the Spear U Ranch (on the Navajo river) has been very good recently. The lakes are producing some nice fish on the dries in the morning but shutting down by about 10:00 am. We then move over to the river and fish the rest of the day. Some really nice rainbows have been landed out of the river this month. We have been fishing mostly nymph rigs, but if the river is clear, hoppers have been the ticket on top.
Picture: View of the Navajo Peaks across the lake at the Spear U Ranch.
ABEYTA RANCH ~ CONEJOS: The flow levels on the Conejos have been up and down a bit with the rains but the fishing has been good. When the water is lower and clearer, the fish are a bit spooky but we are still having some really good days on the Abeyta Ranch. There are some really nice sized fish on the ranch this summer and we have been landing a fair number in the 20" to 25" range. We have been keeping two set-ups rigged - a dry-dropper rig for the shallow riffles and double nymph rig for the deeper pools - and have been doing well on both. With the size of some of the browns we are seeing, it looks as though the fall will be really good this year on the Conejos. Give a call to check on availability at the Abeyta Ranch.
Picture: Beautiful 25" Conejos rainbow - Nice!
BAR X BAR RANCH: The Bar X Bar is in full on summer mode which means the lakes are a bit warm and low. We are waiting for a good rainstorm or two and the conditions should be good again. The end of August and September are usually a great time to think about the Bar X Bar again.
RIO GRANDE: The flows on the lower Rio (between Taos and Velarde) have been dropping steadily for the last week or so and today they are at 416 cfs (cubic feet per second). The river is still off color but clearing-up slowly. Hopefully it will be fishable soon. Usually by mid-August, the river has cleared and the fishing is quite good - we'll keep you posted. Give us a call anytime for an update.
Environmentalists Applaud EPA Plan for Protecting Alaska's Bristol Bay Watershed
Washington, DC - July 21st, 2014: An unusual group of Alaska Native leaders, commercial fishermen, investors, jewelers and conservation organizations applauded the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) release of its Proposed Determination - a detailed plan for restricting mine waste disposal from the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska's Bristol Bay watershed. The EPA has authority under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to restrict mine waste disposal that will harm important fisheries. Alaska's Bristol Bay supports the largest and most productive wild salmon fishery in the world, supplying half of the world's supply of wild sockeye salmon and generating 14,000 annual jobs and over $450 million in annual revenue.
"It's been a long time coming. We're happy to see the EPA complete the next major step in protecting the Bristol Bay salmon fishery." said Luki Akelkok, chairman of Nunamta Aulukestai, an association of ten Bristol Bay Native Tribes and Native Village Corporations. "Our culture and economy depend on the long-term health of these salmon runs."
"As a jeweler whose business depends on precious metals, and therefore mining, we have nevertheless long opposed the development of new mines that threaten areas of high ecological and cultural value," said Michael J. Kowalski, Chairman and CEO, Tiffany & Co. He continued, "We applaud the EPA for taking this vital next step under the Clean Water Act to safeguard Bristol Bay and the communities and fishery it supports."
Alaska Native Tribes and commercial fishermen petitioned the EPA in 2010, asking the agency to use its power under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to protect the fishery by restricting harmful mine waste disposal. There is broad support for this approach. Of the 890,000 public comments received by the EPA on its study of mining's potential impacts on the famed fishery, 98% of Bristol Bay comments, 85% of Alaska comments, and 73% of national comments support EPA action to protect Bristol Bay.
"We asked the EPA to step in to protect our fishery from the Pebble Mine because the State of Alaska wasn't listening to us," said Kim Williams, executive director of Nunamta Aulukestai. "The future of our people and 14,000 jobs are at risk. We're glad the EPA is doing its job."
"Our nation's most prolific salmon fishery is one step closer to being protected from toxic mine waste," said Jennifer Krill, executive director of Earthworks, a national conservation group. "We'll be looking at the details closely, and participating in the hearings, and encourage everyone else to do so."
The EPA completed a study of the potential impacts to the salmon fishery from developing the proposed Pebble Mine in January 2014, which found that it would likely result in significant and irreversible harm to the salmon and the people and industries that rely on them.
TU Annual National Meeting in Santa Fe this September
The Trout Unlimited (TU) 2014 national Annual Meeting will be held in Santa Fe, New Mexico this September 3rd thru 7th. The 2014 Annual Meeting features four days of activities, including fishing, a conservation tour, inspiring speakers, an awards banquet, workshops and invaluable networking opportunities. All general meetings will be held in the Eldorado Hotel & Spa. The State of TU will be given at the New Mexico History Museum Auditorium.
All TU members are welcome and encouraged to attend the State of TU, workshops and meetings at no fee. The general registration fee of $300 includes all meals and events Thursday through Saturday. Register before July 1 and receive a discounted registration rate of $275. The general registration fee is for all meals, including the banquet. Tickets for the banquet may be purchased separately in advance. Room reservation must be made by August 18, 2014 to guarantee the TU rate of $129/ night. To book your room, call the Eldorado Hotel & Spa at (505)995-4560.
AG Backs Fishing Access in Streams Across Private Land
From the Santa Fe New Mexican ~ Wednesday, April 9, 2014:
Landowners can't stop New Mexico sportsmen from fishing in a stream that crosses private property if the fisherman is wading or standing in the water rather than trespassing on adjacent land, Attorney General Gary King said Wednesday in a legal analysis applauded by a sportsmen group. King reached the conclusion in a nonbinding legal opinion that could spark a fight over fishing access in a state where many prime trout streams, such as the Brazos and Pecos rivers, are bordered by private land and are small enough to wade. King said fisherman can't trespass to gain access to public waters, but that "walking, wading or standing in a stream bed is not trespassing."
Existing state laws and regulations don't directly address the question of the public's right to fish in streams crossing private land, according to King's office. State wildlife agency rules deal with trespassing by sportsmen. Game and Fish Department rules prohibit fishing on private property without the landowner's written permission when the land is properly posted with signs. The agency, which is responsible for enforcing fishing and hunting rules, didn't immediately respond to telephone calls and emails seeking comment on King's legal analysis.
The New Mexico Wildlife Federation praised King's opinion. "This is great news for New Mexico anglers," said Garrett VeneKlasen, the group's executive director. "This opinion reverses decades of actual practice," he said in a statement, "and we all - sportsmen, landowners, the Game and Fish Department - need some time to assess the implications and figure out how to implement the changes. For starters, we'll need to implement an intensive stream-steward program, widespread educational and outreach effort to anglers and landowners to prevent conflicts. This is not going to be an easy transition, but it is a red-letter day for New Mexico anglers."
The New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau voiced opposition to King's legal opinion and said it would ask for clarification from the Game and Fish Department. "This opinion goes against the grain of private property rights in New Mexico," Chad Smith, the organization's CEO, said in a statement. "New Mexico's farmers and ranchers should be able to post no trespassing signs and expect that those will be honored by hunters and fishermen across the state."
According to the opinion written by Assistant Attorney General Stephen Farris and signed by King, landowners - even if they own the streambed and surrounding land - can't prevent fishing in streams and rivers because the water belongs to the public. "The public's right to use public waters for fishing includes activities that are incidental and necessary for the effective use of the waters. This includes walking, wading and standing in a stream in order to fish," the opinion concluded.
A nearly 70 year old state Supreme Court ruling established the right to fish from a boat on a public lake bordered by private land, and King's office drew on that in reaching its conclusion about fishermen who are wading in a stream. "A private landowner cannot prevent persons from fishing in a public stream that flows across the landowner's property, provided the public stream is accessible without trespass across privately owned adjacent lands," according to the attorney general's opinion. King stressed that the opinion did not deal with fishing access to streams crossing federal or tribal lands.
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:
Trout Unlimited Praises NWF Climate Change Report:
WASHINGTON, D.C. - September 5th, 2013: Trout Unlimited today praised a report released by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) that details the most current information available regarding the climate change impacts on, and threats to, America's valuable fisheries resources, and the potential impact to fishing.
TU's science team contributed to Swimming Upstream: Freshwater Fish in a Warming World. The report, which builds on past reports by TU and a coalition of fish and wildlife conservation groups, is a strong science-based call to arms to address harmful and nationwide threats to trout and salmon resources, and angling opportunity all across America.
Trout and salmon are on the front lines of the climate change battle. Trout and salmon depend on cold, clean, plentiful water to survive, all of which are threatened by predicted changes in air temperature and precipitation. Increased wildfire risk, decreased snowpack, droughts in some places, and intense floods in others, will radically impact trout and salmon habitat in the years to come. As the nation's premier organization for protecting, reconnecting and restoring coldwater fisheries, better understanding these changes directly impacts Trout Unlimited's core mission. Today's report confirms that by mid-century, the future for trout could be bleak-as much as 50 percent of suitable habitat for trout in the West could be lost, and a dramatic reduction of brook trout habitat in the East, including complete elimination from iconic watersheds such as Shenandoah National Park, could take place.
Using tools like the Conservation Success Index, TU's scientists are working to integrate predicted changes in the climate with current threats to trout and salmon habitat.
"Climate change is just another factor that greatly complicates the existing problems facing coldwater habitat," said Jack Williams, senior scientist for Trout Unlimited. "We were happy to work with the National Wildlife Federation to spotlight how challenging it will be to protect, reconnect and restore trout populations for future generations as the climate continues to warm. Adaptation projects that increase the resistance and resilience of our streams to impacts from climate change is an emerging focus for our organization. This is what TU has always been good at-implementing on-the-ground conservation strategies that keep cold water cold and plentiful to the benefit of fish and fishers alike."
TU projects that range from very large-opening a 1,000 miles of habitat on the Penobscot River with our coalition partners in Maine, to the very small-fixing culverts and removing small dams in Virginia-help to build resilience to climate change in fish populations. Working with landowners, farmers, ranchers, industry and government agencies of all shapes and sizes, TU specializes in these types of projects. However, the report also correctly calls for tackling the root of the climate change problem, greenhouse gas emissions-without meaningful reductions in emissions, much of TU's work could be outpaced by warming trends.
"NWF has long been one of TU's best conservation partners," said Williams. "We look forward to working with NWF to further enhance our understanding of climate change impacts on the nation's fisheries and our angling opportunities, but most importantly, fulfill the report's roadmap for curtailing climate change impacts on our fisheries."
Below is a link to the full NWF report. Whether or not you beleive in climate change, if you have any concern for the future of fly fishing it is a must read. Click on the link below to open the report (PDF file):
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):