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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.

Please scroll down the page to see all of the articles. Good luck fishing!

NM Fishing Report ~ June 16th, 2014:

The run-off is tapering off and almost finished in most spots, the stoneflies are hatching and the fishing is great! This is one of the best 2 to 3 week periods to fish in Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. Along with the salmon flies, in most rivers and streams the hoppers and beetles have started to show in force and there is some great surface action using many types of terrestrial dry patterns. The lakes are still fishing quite well and should continue to do so for at least another month. Not to mention it is almost time to wet wade in many locations; what more could you ask for? 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.

All of the Fishing Report pictures were taken within the last 5 weeks...

Quinlan Ranch Trout
QUINLAN RANCH: The fishing on the Quinlan Ranch is excellent right now, both on the surface with hoppers and beetles and underneath with nymphs and "Wolf Eagle" streamers. All of the lakes are producing really nice fish with a fair number in the 24"+ range. We aren't sure of what the fish were doing all winter (maybe going to the gym?) but they are amazingly strong and feisty. So far this season have had at least three or four fish take us into the backing; what a rush. As usual, we are catching mostly rainbows but have landed a fair number of Snake River fine-spotted cutthroats in the 16" to 20" range - what beautiful fish they are.

Snake River Cutthroat
We have been doing lots of our 4 night/3 day packages up at the ranch. Austin's cooking is as good as ever and all have been having a great time and enjoying the accommodations and great fishing in the Chama area. If you are interested in specific dates, please don't wait too long to get the ball rolling on making a reservation. This month is already full and July and August are starting to get booked up. Please check out the "Fishing Packages" page for more information.

Upper Picture: Dylan D. with a brute of a rainbow from Willow Creek Lake - go "Wolf Eagle"!
Lower Picture: Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat in spawning colors from Don's Lake - caught on top with a beetle.

Pecos River New Mexico
PECOS: The flows on the Pecos are at a perfect level - 101 cfs (cubic feet per second) today - and the fishing has been quite good. We have been catching quite a few nice wild browns and hold-over rainbows along with this a very good amount of this year's stockers. The fish are hitting dries, dry-dropper rigs and a many types of nymphs. It is still quite pleasant in the canyon sections of the river and with the warmer weather, the fish are looking for the shade in the afternoons. The riffle sections have been producing in the mornings through mid-day. All of the Pecos is now open to fishing and considering the how bad the fire was last June, it has come back amazingly well. The Pecos is your best bet for a public water trip that is close to Santa Fe. This being said, try to fish during the week to avoid the weekend crowds.

Picture: Gary M. with a big, fat bow - who says there aren't nice fish on the public Pecos?

San Juan River
SAN JUAN: We been over on the San Juan at least a couple of days a week for the last month or so and the fishing has been superb. As of this writing, the flows being released out of Navajo Dam have been holding steady in the 285 to 300 cfs (cubic feet per second) range which is a perfect level for wade fishing. Right now we suggest wading on the Juan. It has been really hot over there and it sure is nice to be in the cold water, staying cool; wicked hot in the drift boat these days. The water clarity has greatly improved since the spring and we are starting to do a fair amount of "sight fishing" to larger fish. Lots of dry fly action as well, and not on the small stuff.

San Juan Brown
Big foam bugs are working well and, as Ernie Schwiebert suggested "in any color just so long as its black". Along with the standard array of lava and pupa midge patterns, all manner of baetis are bringing fish to the net. Even though some days have been very windy, with the flows so low and the easy wading, we can usually find an area that offers some protection from the heavier gusts. A little wind also helps to keep things a bit cooler.

Picture Above: Duane S. with a big one that made the wrong choice - way to go!
Picture Below: There are some beautiful brown trout coming to the net these days on the "Juan".

Early Morning Riser
THE SPEAR U & MK RANCHES: The fishing on the Spear U Ranch (on the Navajo river) has been very good recently. The fishing in the lakes has been exceptional and the river, though still off color from the run-off, is giving up some nice fish as well. As the river clears over the next few weeks, the fishing should improve dramatically. All manner of setups are working in the lakes - streamers (Wolf Eagles), nymphs and midges and casting to risers with big dry flies. There are some amazing fish in both lakes as well as some nice ones in the river. Four miles of river and two lakes to fish in a day. How can you beat it?

The run-off on the MK Ranch's stretch of the Navajo (which is about 10 miles upstream of the Spear U and the diversion) has dropped way down and with flows currently in the 140 cfs range, the stream levels are almost perfect. As the flows subside a bit more in the next week or two the fishing should be very good. We are going to make a trip up to the MK in the next week or so to check it out; get in touch for a report on this spot.

Picture: An early morning riser on the bigger lake at the Spear U Ranch - gorgeous.

Adult Conejos Stonefly
ABEYTA RANCH: The run-off has started to taper off on the Conejos and the stonefly hatch is on at the Abeyta Ranch!!!! The big fish are looking up and coming to the surface for size 6 and 8 dries. This is one of the most fun times to fish on the Conejos. The flows are dropping quickly and the stonefly hatch should be on for at least another couple of weeks or so - don't miss it!

After the stones are done the drakes should start and the water will be back to easily wadeable levels with good fishing throughout the rest of the summer and fall. Give a call to check on availability at the Abeyta Ranch.

Picture: Aaron A. took this photo of an adult stonefly on his shirt two days ago on the Abeyta Ranch - the hatch is on!

Bar X Bar Ranch Rainbow
BAR X BAR RANCH: The Pecos area got some much needed rain in May and earlier this month which really helped the conditions out on the ranch. All five of the ranch's lakes are still full of water right now and the fishing is still very good. As is always the case on this ranch in June, we are starting to see some substantial weed growth but this hasn't hindered the fishing too much. The fish are cruising the edges looking for damsel fly nymphs and taking beetles and mayfly dries on the surface. The water levels are much better than last season so we are hoping the fishing conditions will continue to be good throughout the summer. There wasn't much snow in the mountains above the ranch last winter so we'll just have to pray for some substantial rains in July and everything will be OK. Right now is the time to think about a trip out to the Bar X Bar. It is super-easy fishing and is the best private ranch to fish close close to Santa Fe; a little under an hour drive from the Plaza.

Picture: Alison M. braving the rain & wind with a chunky Bar X Bar rainbow (guide Jesse Lee holding the fish).

La Barranca Chama River
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. Both ranches are fishing well. On the La Barranca ranch we have been catching some really nice browns and rainbows with a fair number in the 20"+ size range.
As is usually the ticket on the Chama most of the takes have been on nymph rigs. This section of river runs through a big meadow so the casting and walking are quite easy. The drawback to this is that the water in this part of the Chama warms up pretty drastically by the beginning of August so now is the time to fish it.

Wolf Creek Hoppers
We have fished a fair number of days up on the Wolf Creek so far this month and it has been lots of fun. Small, single hoppers have been bringing some gorgeous wild browns to the net throughout the whole length of the ranche's water. The water levels are dropping and it has completely cleared so the fishing should be great for the rest of the summer. If small alpine pocket water and meadow fishing is your thing, this is the spot for you. This is probably the prettiest section of water we guide on. For more information check out the Private Water page.

Picture Above: Bruce B. with a good bend in the rod on the La Barranca Ranch.
Picture Below: Alpine meadow fishing with hoppers on Wolf Creek.

Chama Brown Trout
CHAMA & LOWER BRAZOS: The upper Chama and the Brazos are getting to the perfect level to fish and we have had some good trips on both spots. The water has cleared in both rivers and the fish are starting to key in to smaller mayflies and stonefly patterns. The fishing in this whole area should be good for at least another 6 weeks or so and, if we get some rains in July, the fishing should be good throughout the summer. The fishing below El Vado has been good recently depending on the flow levels. The Bureau of Reclamation has started doing the "weekend rafting releases" from the dam so the best fishing is when the flows are down during the week. The section below Abiquiu dam is running pretty high (in the 400 cfs range) and the water is pretty dirty - we haven't been to this stretch of the Chama for the last couple of months. We drive past this section of the river almost every day so we'll be keeping an eye on the flow levels and water clarity. If it starts to look better, we'll give it a try.

Picture: Mike G. with a silvery Chama brown trout (guide Noah Parker standing by) - good job!

RIO GRANDE: Right now the flows on the Rio are very high - 940 cfs below Taos Junction Bridge and 611 at Cerro respectively - too much water for any quality fishing. Also the raft and kayak hatch is in full swing below Pilar so, unless you are fishing for a paddler, it would be a good idea to wait for the flows to come down a bit. Considering how great the fishing was before the run-off started, we are expecting good fishing again as soon as the flows get to fishable levels. Give us a call anytime for an update.

TU Annual National Meeting in Santa Fe this September

TU Logo
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.

For more detailed information, click on the link below go to the 2014 Meeting page on the TU website:

Trout Unlimited 2014 Annual Meeting in Santa Fe, NM

AG Backs Fishing Access in Streams Across Private Land

AG Gary King
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

Please watch this video and then read the article below...

Culvert Repair
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.

1k logo
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:

Orvis/TU 1,000 Miles Campaign

Trout Unlimited Praises NWF Climate Change Report:

High Mountain Lake
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):

Swimming Upstream NWF Report

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):

Report/Article on Low Flows Below El Vado Dam - Fall & Winter, 2011/2012

Fly fishing guides for the Santa Fe, Chama, Taos, Los Alamos and San Juan River areas.
Fishing trips on all the best streams, rivers and private ranches in Northern New Mexico.
San Juan River • Rio Grande • Red River • Chama River • Brazos River • Pecos River • Costilla Creek • Rio Vallecitos • Cimarron River
Cow Creek • Rio de Los Pinos • Jemez River • San Antonio Creek • Guadalupe River • Rio Pueblo de Taos • Conejos River • The Valles Caldera

Phone: (505) 629-5688 or (505) 927-5356   ~   Email:   ~   Land of Enchantment Guides: PO Box 55 Velarde, NM 87582