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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 and videos. Good luck fishing!

NM Fishing Report ~ JUNE 10th, 2016:

Early summer is definitely here, the winds have eased up, the run-off is winding down and the fishing is really good right now and will only get better throughout the summer and fall. The water temperature in the rivers and lakes is still cool and the fish are hungry and strong. Mid-June is when the large stoneflies start to hatch in many areas giving anglers some great top-water action with large dry flies. Also the grass hoppers have begun to show up in fine form and we have started to catch a fair number of fish on small hopper patterns. It is getting warm enough to wet wade in many spots which is a welcomed change from wearing waders all winter and spring. All the signs are pointing towards a great summer 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.

All of the Fishing Report pictures were taken within the last 1 to 4 weeks...

VCNP Brown Trout
VALLES CALDERA NATIONAL PRESERVE: For the last month or so, we have been doing quite a few trips on the Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP) and the fishing has been very good. We started off in early May using smaller nymphs but now with the warmer weather, we are having lots of great dry fly action. There also seems to be a fair number of larger fish than in years past. So far this season, we have had clients get into a few 16" fish and one that was almost 18". These are whoppers for this kind of water! As always, there are lots of smaller wild brown trout in the 8" to 14" size range.

VCNP San Antonio
Last October the National Park Service (NPS) took over the management and operation of the VCNP and it is now officially a National Park - the VCNP is an amazing place and well worthy of National Park status. Comprised of almost 90,000 acres of pristine landscapes, it is one of the most beautiful spots in New Mexico. The three major fishing locations are San Antonio Creek, the East Fork of the Jemez and Jaramillo Creek. All of these streams flow though large alpine meadows, offering anglers many miles of great fishing and easy access. Along with many types of wildlife, there is a large elk herd on the VCNP and if you are lucky, you will see a fair number of them. Land of Enchantment Guides is now the only guide service permitted by the VCNP and the NPS to take people fishing on the Valles Caldera. Please give us a call for more details about the VCNP and/or to book a trip.

Upper Picture: A chunky, wild Valles Caldera brown trout on the hopper - nice job Frank G.!
Lower Picture: A beautiful stretch of San Antonio Creek .

Quinlan Ranch Willow
QUINLAN RANCH: In a nutshell, the fishing on all of the Quinlan Ranch's lakes is superb right now. The rains and late snows have stopped, all of the roads are open and the water is still cold. The fish are ravenous and are eating all manner of rigs, with a fair number taking drys. In Don's lake they are chasing minnows along the edges of the shore and we are casting to big fish that are driving the bait into the shallows. You will often see these brutes with their backs out of the water crashing into schools of minnows - it looks a bit like striped bass chasing sand eels or poggies (menhaden) on the flats; very exciting! As we said in last month's fishing report, June is one of the best months to fish on the Quinlan Ranch lakes. No matter what the rivers are
Quinlan Ranch Dons
doing the fishing conditions are good.

The Quinlan Ranch is a wonderful place to base out of to fish Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. We are starting to book up our 4 night/3 day packages up at the ranch for the summer and fall. If you are interested in specific dates or have any questions, don't hesitate to give us a call. Please check out the "Fishing Packages" page for more information.

Upper Picture: Clay W. with a brute from Willow Creek Lake on the Quinlan Ranch - yowzaa!
Lower Picture: A large, male rainbow from Don's Lake still showing off his kipe (hooked jaw). Nicely done John T.

High Water Chama
CHAMA & LOWER BRAZOS: Overall, the run-off on the upper Chama and the lower Brazos is beginning to subside. On very warm days, the upper sections of the Chama are still running high and off color as there is still a little snow left in the high country. On the lower Brazos the water levels and the water clarity are improving with each passing day. Literally within the next few days the fishing should be good in both of these locations. If you go right now, watch your step wading!

The flows on the Chama River below the Abiquiu and El Vado dams are way too high for good fishing - 1,800 cfs (cubic feet per second) and 1,000 cfs, respectively. The water levels in the section below El Vado Dam will be slowly reduced over the next few weeks and we should have some good fishing conditions by mid-month in this spot. Typically the releases out of, below Abiquiu Dam will be too high for good fishing until late summer; it is always worth checking though.

Picture: Bringing a nice fish to the net on the Chama River last week.

Early Run Off Brown
THE OSO PICCOLO RANCHES: As with the Upper Chama and the Lower Brazos, the La Barranca and Wolf Creek ranches are just about done with their high flows. Within the next few days the fishing conditions on both ranches should be very good. Just as the run-off is subsiding is one of the best times of the year to fish these spots - this is typically when we catch the biggest on fish La Barranca and there are some real brutes in this stretch of the Chama.

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: A beautiful early run-of brown trout landed by John T. on La Barranca.

Bar X Bar Ranch Fish On
BAR X BAR RANCH: The Bar X Bar Ranch is still fishing very well, especially in the morning and the afternoon. With the warmer weather and bright sun, we have had to fish deeper in the water column during the middle of the day but the fishing is still good if you are willing to dredge. The water levels in all of the lakes are still very high for this time of year and the water temperatures are still cool. The fish have definitely started to look up and we have been getting quite a few bites on smaller hoppers and beetles. The Bar X Bar Ranch offers great 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: Fighting a fish on the upper lake - A cloudy afternoon on the Bar X Bar Ranch Rainbow; Fish On!

Pecos Last Week
PECOS: There isn't much snow left in the mountains above the Pecos River and the run-off is almost over. The water has cleared and the fishing is getting really good. We have had some excellent trips fishing in all of the spots up and down the river. Indicator nymph set-ups and dry-dropper rigs are both working well. We actually did well when the water was higher with dry-dropper rigs fishing the edges. Now with the flows receding and the clearer water, it is worth a shot in all different types of water. You will still need a good bit of weight when fishing in the deeper pools with a nymph rig - if you aren't getting the bite, add more weight. Though the bulk of the fish in the Pecos aren’t very big (usually in the 8 to 12 inch range), there is still a good chance of landing a good sized, "springtime" Pecos rainbow. Have fun!

Picture: Early morning on the Pecos this week - always target the deeper runs like this.

ABEYTA RANCH & THE CONEJOS: The fishing on the Abeyta Ranch and the lower Conejos River has been on hold for us for the last few weeks. The run-off is at full force with highs so far at Mogote peaking at over 2,000 cfs. We are checking the flows every day on the Conejos and as soon as they get down into the 700 to 800 cfs range we are going to give it a try. It is getting pretty close to stonefly hatch time (usually the second or third week of June) for the Conejos - big bugs on the surface with big fish chasing them; what a hoot!

Picture: The stoneflies are just beginning to hatch on the lower part of the river. In another week or so they should be out in full force.

THE MK & SPEAR U RANCHES: Similar to the Conejos, the run-off is in full swing on the Navajo River, especially at the MK Ranch above the Oso diversion. Judging from the amount of snow still up in the Banded Peaks, we are looking at another week or two before the Navajo is at a good water level for easy fishing and wading. Both of these ranches are 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. These are some of the most beautiful places we fish at.

HIGH TIMBER RANCH: The snow is almost gone on the road up to the High Timber Ranch! In another week or less we should be able to make it to the river and the fishing should be off the charts. We'll keep everyone posted as to when it opens up. With all wild fish and 5 miles of the Upper Brazos River running through the Brazos Meadows, this is one of the most amazing spots we go to.

SAN JUAN: Well the flush is on (see the article below on the San Juan River "flush") and the fishing from the boat has been really good. A few spots up in the braids have been wade-able but be careful even up there. The water has begun to clear substantially from where it was at the start of the flow increase. If you are going to try and fish the Juan during the flush, either from shore or out of a boat, we strongly suggest that you go with someone who knows the river well. The flows are at 5,000 cfs right now and you can get in real trouble if you aren't careful. If you do go, don't be afraid to try bright colored worms and annelids, streamers and/or jigs. As well, big foam dries cast to the edges are bringing some real brutes to the net. Be careful if you go and fish the San Juan right now. Once again... BE CAREFUL!!!

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.

RIO GRANDE: Can you say "cafe-au-lait"? We haven't been fishing on the Rio at all in the last couple of months. The water is very dirty and the flows are just way too high; as of today they are 2,270 cfs at Taos Junction Bridge. Good for the rafters...

Mora Hatchery Gila Trout Spawning Report:

Mora Hatchery
Mora National Fish Hatchery's Gila trout spawning season has ended in 2016 on a high note. The Federal facility spawned 560 captive and wild pairs of Gila trout yielding 122,423 eyed-eggs. Given the expected high survival rate in the hatchery, the eggs should result in nearly 80,000 young trout that will be stocked in the wild in autumn, reaching five inches at stocking time. More than 10,000 Gila trout have already been stocked in 2016 into waters of the Gila National Forest.

"It's been great going at Mora," said hatchery manager, Nathan Wiese. "We expect to double the number of Gila trout this year over what we stocked in 2015. Fishery managers in New Mexico and Arizona have identified 20 streams suitable for Gila trout stocking this year. This is up from nine water bodies from last year."

Of the expected 70,950 young trout, 18,825 will go to Arizona waters, and 52,125 will be stocked in New Mexico. Many of the trout will be placed in streams closed to fishing at present so as to help bolster the fish's conservation status. Those trout produced this year in excess of that needed for recovery purposes will be placed in waters open to fishing.

The Gila trout is considered a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, and occurs naturally only in the headwaters of the Gila River system of New Mexico and Arizona. The trout had been closed to fishing for more than 50 years. Conservation work by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish; Arizona Game and Fish Department; U.S. Forest Service; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Trout Unlimited; University of New Mexico, and the helping hands of dedicated citizen-conservationists improved the status of the rare trout. It was the Nation's only endangered trout until 2006. Gila trout populations were opened to angling in 2007.

Gila Trout
That year also marked the first stocking of Gila trout when Mora National Fish Hatchery produced a comparatively small 3,024 trout. Today's successes come from past experience notes the hatchery's manager. "The Gila trout is not an easy species to raise," said Wiese. "It's one of the rarest trout species in the world and we have had to learn as we go. Our successes now are built on what we have learned from the past."

This rare trout consists of five distinct populations coinciding with five distinct and widely separated headwater streams in the Gila National Forest. The hatchery holds Gila trout from each population in captivity. Each population is intensively managed in the hatchery to preserve robust genetics unique to each stream.

"Mora is not your run-of-the-mill hatchery," said Wiese. "Gila trout in a hatchery is akin to captive-rearing other highly imperiled organisms. The hatchery is a safeguard—and it's a jumpstart—while habitat restoration is underway. The quality of the trout matter most, ensuring as best we can that the imprint of nature remains in the genes of these trout. It's a great time to be a Gila trout angler."

Mora National Fish Hatchery is one of 70 national fish hatcheries located across the country. The facility is entirely indoors and operates with a state-of-the-art water circulation system. The hatchery also holds a small population of endangered bontyail, a fish found naturally only in the Colorado River system. The hatchery is open to visitors. Contact: Nathan Wiese at (575) 387-6022.

Big San Juan River "Flush" planned for Mid-May:

Below Navajo Dam NM
The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) held a meeting on April 26th in Farmington, NM where they detailed their plans for a large release from Navajo Dam this year. Locally know as a "flush", this release is a great benefit to the environmental conditions, habitat and fishing on the San Juan River. There hasn't been a major release/flush from Navajo Dam for the last few years due to the drier conditions and the lower water levels in the Navajo Reservoir. This has caused some serious siltation issues and weed and algae growth in the river which is detrimental to the insect life and fish habitat. It is incredible that the BOR is planning to sustain the release/flush for 31 days. The overall effect of this event should be a much cleaner river and river bottom, better insect growth and bigger, healthier fish!

Below are some excerpts from the BUREAU OF RECLAMATION - NAVAJO RESERVOIR - April 26, 2016 MEETING NOTES that pertain to the up-coming release/flush:

"The most probable forecast will result in a spring peak release beginning with a 5-day ramp up to 5,000 cfs (note that during the meeting we stated a 3-day ramp up. This ramp up rate has since been revised to 5-days based on meeting input), followed by a peak at 5,000 cfs for up to 31 days, followed by a 12-day ramp back down to base flows. The total number of days may change slightly as weather evolves.

The spring peak release will be timed to coincide with the peak of the Animas. Because of this, the start date is highly dependent on weather. Current plans call for the release to begin either May 16th, or May 23rd. The start date for the spring peak release will not be finalized until approximately one week prior to ramp-up."

If you are headed over to the San Juan, we strongly recommend that you stay aware of what is going on with the upcoming release/flush - 5,000 cfs is a lot of water moving so be careful wading!

Picture: Nice fish just below Navajo Dam on the San Juan - You won't be wading here at 5,000 cfs! .

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?

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.

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