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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 ~ MARCH 29th, 2016:Spring has officially arrived and the fishing in many spots is really good! The ice has left all but the highest altitude streams and the run-off hasn't started yet. In almost all of the locations we have been fishing for the last month or so, it appears that the fish have made it through the winter in fine shape and are very healthy and hungry. There were some really warm days at the beginning of March which caused a mini snow-melt but that has abated as the nights are back to being more seasonably cold again. Hopefully we will have most of the month of April into early May to fish before the real spring snow-melt causes run-off to become problematic in spots. The wind has been a bit of an issue for the last few weeks but this is typical for March - it should start to fade off as we get into April. One thing for sure, the fish have bit through the windy days which always makes any type of day on the water enjoyable!
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.
BAR X BAR RANCH: Wow! The lakes on the Bar X Bar Ranch made it through the winter in fine form and there are some really big fish to be caught right now. Streamers, wet flies, nymphs and midges; they're all working well. The fish are really hungry and we are even starting to see a few come to the surface - who knows, it might already be time to try some dry flies? All five of the ranch's lakes are full of water right now and there is very little weed to contend with. These conditions should hold until at least the middle of June. Now 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: A beautiful 23" spring rainbow from the middle lake; looked like a small steelhead. Good job Matt Z.!
SAN JUAN: We have been over on the "Juan" almost every week throughout the winter and early spring and it has been offering up some excellent days. The releases out of the Navajo Dam have been steady in the 470 cfs (cubic feet per second) range which has made for both great wade fishing and float trips. The water is beginning to clear just a little but it still a bit off color - this is a good thing. The rainbows have moved up in the riffles and are thinking about spawning. Due to this they are really keying into brighter colors and egg patterns. This should last through most of April. Great fishing and off-color water; this is our favorite time of year to be fishing on the San Juan!
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: Todd R. with a Hell Hole porker - way to go!
Lower Picture: Jim S. the trout slayer on his own, with his first San Juan fish - Nicely done.
CHAMA & LOWER BRAZOS: The fishing conditions and flows on the Chama River below the dams have been perfect for the last couple of months. The flows out of both El Vado and Abiquiu dams on the Chama have been holding steady in the 75 to150 cfs range. The fishing below Abiquiu has been very good with lots of recent stockers and holdover rainbows with the odd brown thrown in for good measure. The section below El Vado on the other had has been her typically fickle spring time self. We have had some really good days and then a few slow days. 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 have been a larger nymph followed with something pretty small. The real key has been to get the correct depth for the spot you are fishing in.
We have made a few trips to the lower Brazos in the last couple of weeks. The ice is gone and the river is running fairly high and off color. There aren't a whole lot of fish to be had but there sure are some nice ones. It is hard to say how long it will hold up until the run-off becomes a real issue but it is still fishable right now.
Upper Picture: After about 25 rainbow, a decent brown below Abiquiu dam for Ben H.
Lower Picture: Happy birthday Brazos River brown trout for Billy. Way cool!
ABEYTA RANCH & THE CONEJOS: For the last month or so, the fishing on the Abeyta Ranch and the lower Conejos River has been really, really good, especially on the sunnier days. We have been catching lots of really fat, nice sized fish in the 16 to 20 inch range. There have been a few even larger ones in the 20+ inch size with the biggest rainbow so far this season being 24+ inches; measured. The water is still low so the fishing and wading are is very easy. 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. Earlier in the month the fish were still bunched up in the deeper holes but over the last couple of weeks they have spread out to many different types of water. The only issue is that on cloudier days the fish are hitting very lightly and less aggressively which makes setting the hook a bit more challenging. The flows are still very low and the water is still quite clear. As soon as the runoff starts to pick up and the water becomes a a bit more cloudy, the fishing should be epic. At the rate things are going we should have great fishing at least through mid-May on the Conejos.
Picture: Patric S. with the most amazinly colored up rainbow we have ever seen on the Abeyta Ranch. What the heck was this fish doing all winter - maybe it went to carnival in Trinidad?
QUINLAN RANCH: The lower lakes on the Quinlan have opened up and the fishing has begun to get really good. We haven't been able to get to the upper lakes yet due to the snowdrifts on the road but this should change in the next week or so. Once the water warms up a little bit more the bite should really be on at the Quinlan, probably by mid-April. Right now streamers and chironomids are the ticket but as the bugs start moving a bit more all manner of rigs will be working. The boats are in the water on the lower lakes and we have two new Clackacraft drift boats coming this year for the upper lakes - it will be awesome! As with most of our lakes in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, just after ice out (when the ice melts) is an incredible time to fish. Keep the Quinlan Ranch in mind for some terrific spring fishing.
The Quinlan Ranch is a wonderful place to base out of to fish Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. We are starting to book our 4 night/3 day packages up at the ranch for 2016. If you are interested in specific dates for next year or have any questions, don't hesitate to give us a call. Please check out the "Fishing Packages" page for more information.
Picture: Beautiful early spring rainbow from Don's Lake on the Quinlan Ranch. Nice job Gary W.
THE OSO PICCOLO RANCHES: The La Barranca ranch on the Chama has started fish fairly well over the last month. Not that many fish yet but the ones we are catching are really nice with a fair number in the over 20 inch range. The water is off color and cold but as things warm up a bit it should really turn on. The fishing should be great until the run-off gets to be too much. Big nymphs, worms and wolf-eagles have been the ticket. There is still way too much 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: Jim S. strikes again with a nice early spring brown from La Barranca on the Chama.
PECOS: The Pecos is just beginning to pick up a bit. We have had some decent trips in the last few weeks on both the lower and middle sections. There is still a bit of snow up higher and in some of the canyon sections but it is fishable. Though the bulk of the fish aren’t very big (usually in the 8 to 12 inch range), we have had clients land a few really good sized rainbows. Both rainbows and browns are hitting equally well on smaller nymphs and larger patterns. Great fun! The stream-flow is still at a good level in the 60-120 cfs (cubic feet per second) range. This may jump up quickly if we get a prolonged warm spell so check the flows before you go.
Picture: A good sized bow for Jim L. on the Pecos last week. They're in there.
RIO GRANDE: We haven't been fishing on the Rio at all on the lower Rio at all in the last few months. The flows are just too high; as of today they are 963 cfs at Taos Junction Bridge. Just not worth it yet.
THE MK & SPEAR U RANCHES: THE MK & SPEAR U RANCHES: There is still a bunch of snow up at the MK Ranch but it is going fast. Probably in another couple of weeks we may make a scouting mission - we'll keep you posted. 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. It is one of the most beautiful place we fish at.
HIGH TIMBER RANCH: At an altitude of 10,000 feet, fishing on the High Timber Ranch is still a few months away. What an incredible season we had up there last year. This year we will be doing all-inclusive, 2 to 4 night packages up at this ranch. Contact us for more information and pricing.
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?
Sportsmen's Act Takes a Big Step Forward:
As of the end of November a broad package of legislative priorities for anglers and hunters has made serious progress in the Senate. The sportfishing industry applauds the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for advancing a major portion of the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2015 during last week's committee markup hearing. Originally sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2015 contains provisions that will benefit our nation's sportsmen and women by providing increased access to our public lands and waters and improving fish and wildlife management.
"For those of us in the recreational fishing community who have been increasingly worried that yet another session of Congress will pass without paying meaningful attention to addressing sportsmen's issues, the Senate action today is a welcome sign of encouragement," said Scott Gudes, vice president of Government Affairs for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). "We applaud the leadership of Chair Murkowski and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) for advancing the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2015 which addresses many immediate and long-term needs of anglers and hunters."
Gudes noted the three following provisions approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that are of particular interest to the recreational fishing community:
1: Provide a clear congressional declaration of policy for all federal agencies to facilitate the expansion and enhancement of recreational fishing, hunting and recreational shooting opportunities on federal lands in accordance with their missions.
2: Establish a national "open unless closed" standard for federal lands with regard to fishing and hunting access.
3: Require agency justifications for proposed public access closures, and limit temporary closures to no more than 180 days.
On October 8, the House Natural Resources Committee passed companion Sportsmen's Act legislation that now awaits action on the House floor. In the Senate, the Sportsmen's Act has been split between two committees, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee.
Gudes concluded, "We now look to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to act swiftly to take up its portion of the Sportsmen's Act. With the Congressional calendar quickly filling up and the 2016 Presidential election fast approaching, immediate action is needed to ensure that this broadly supported bipartisan legislation is enacted to the benefit of sportsmen and women and the nation as a whole."
Please take a minute to watch it...
Cold Waters Video:
At the end of the 2014 fishing season, five respected fly fishermen â€“ 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 â€“ 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.
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):