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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 ~ November 22nd, 2013:The fishing overall so far this fall has been really good. Right now the weather is starting to play a part but, if you pick your days, the conditions are great. We've primarily been fishing on the San Juan and the Chama rivers and have had some epic fishing and catches. The bigger browns are certainly moving and have been very aggressive. It also seems as though the spawning areas are more spread out this season so we have been able catch many nice fish without unintentionally fishing on a redd (spawning bed). It also seems that not all of the fish are spawning at once - as they sometimes do - which means there are still many pre-spawn and post-spawn browns to be caught. This being said, please be aware that now is the time we all need to be careful of where we walk in our rivers and streams. Try to avoid walking or standing on gravel beds, especially in or near riffles. If you catch fish on their redds, please limit yourself to one or two. Better yet, try not to directly target spawning fish - they are the future of our fishery.
We should have great fishing right through the first of the year. 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.
SAN JUAN: The fishing on the "Juan" has been epic for the last couple of weeks and should be good throughout the rest of the fall and winter. As of this writing, the flows being released out of Navajo Dam have been holding steady in the 260 cfs (cubic feet per second) range. This is much lower than usual but this means the wade fishing is really good. The fish are up in the riffles and are keying into blue wing olives and baetis patterns. There have been some great hatches producing some good top-water action on dries. The browns are starting to work up onto the gravels to spawn and there have been some monsters caught. Recently, fishing streamers has also been a great bet and they are bringing some very large fish to the net.
This time of year the crowds are gone and you can have the river to yourself in many locations. Our last wade trip a couple of days ago, we only saw two other anglers all day and caught lots and lots of fish - pretty cool! Fishing the San Juan is the best bet right now. Check out the all-inclusive package we offer on the Fishing Packages page for more information on this option.
Upper Picture: Late fall afternoon wade fishing on the "Juan"
Lower Picture: Al J.'s big rainbow; caught last week stripping a large leech pattern - What a beauty!
CHAMA & LOWER BRAZOS: The areas of the Chama below the dams have been fishing very well, depending on the flows and the weather. The flows out of El Vado dam have been raised up to 300 cfs (cubic feet per second) and, according to the B.O.R., will stay at this level until the end of December. The water is still pretty murky but may clear a bit with the higher flows. The fishing has been good throughout the fall and should hold for at least another 2-3 weeks. The fishing below Abiquiu dam has been a bit fickle. Within the last month we have had some good days with lots of nice fish caught and a few slow days where the fishing was really tough. The water below Abiquiu looks great and the flows (which are currently in the 100cfs range) are perfect. Within the last few weeks, the fishing on the upper Chama has slowed substantially and we are starting to see a fair amount of ice beginning to form in the slower sections and along the river's edge. On warmer, sunny days there is still a chance of having some pretty good fishing but things on the upper river are definitely winding down for the season. The fishing in the lower Brazos has slowed dramatically and is probably over for the season. The river is very, very low, clear and cold and only producing the odd fish for a day's fishing.
Picture: Eddie J. with a chunky fall brown trout on the Chama - Nice!
ABEYTA RANCH: Late fall fishing conditions have settled in on the Abeyta Ranch (on the Conejos River). On colder days we are starting to see a fair amount of ice forming along the banks of the river but, on sunny days, the ice dissipates and the fishing has been good. The fish are bunching up in the deeper pools and runs in preparation for the winter. Large nymphs and smaller mayflies have been the ticket, bringing many nice fish (mostly rainbows) to the net. The water flows are in the 65 ~ 75 cubic feet per second (cfs) range which makes for very easy wading. If you pick your day and go to the ranch when it is warmer and sunny, there is still some great fishing to be had. Barring an extremely cold snap, this should hold for at least a few more weeks.
Picture: R. Hutchins holding a beautiful Conejos rainbow this fall on the Abeyta Ranch.
QUINLAN RANCH: The lakes and ponds at the Quinlan Ranch are pretty much done for the season and are starting to ice up. We are already starting to book our 4 night/3 day packages up at the ranch for the 2014 season. If you are interested in specific dates, please don't wait too long to get the ball rolling on making a reservation. Please check out the Fishing Packages page for more information.
PECOS: All of the Pecos is now open to fishing and considering how bad the fire damage was last June and July, the river has come back amazingly. Right now the upper sections aren't fishing very well (the water is very cold, low and clear) but one can still have a pretty good day on the lower sections, especially if you fish on a warmer, sunny afternoon. Small nymphs fished in the deeper water seem to be the best bet.
RIO GRANDE: The flows on the lower Rio seem to be holding steadily in the 650 to 750 cfs (cubic feet per second) range and the fishing is only fair at best. The water is still off-color and has started to get quite cold. With this much water moving, the Rio can be a bear to wade - if you go, be careful! We'll just have to wait and see what happens with the river level and water clarity. If either changes, the fishing should improve.
THE MK & SPEAR U RANCHES: The fishing on both of these ranches has slowed way down with the colder weather. If we get an extend warm stretch, the Spear U ranch (which is farther downstream than the MK ranch) might be worth a shot but realistically it would be smart to wait until spring.
THE VALLECITOS: As is the case with most all of the smaller, high altitude streams in our area right now, the water is low, clear and getting very cold! The fishing is spotty at best and it seems the trout are going into full-on winter mode. This means that warm, sunny afternoons will be the best bet for having any success. Probably better to go to the San Juan right now!
THE VALLES CALDERA NATIONAL PRESERVE: Closed for the season. Please give us a call for the status and an update of the 2014 fishing program on the Valles Caldera.
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):
Anglo American withdraws from Pebble Mine, casting project's future into doubt:
ALASKA DISPATCH - September 16th, 2013: Anglo American, one of the key backers of the controversial Pebble mine in Alaska's Bristol Bay region, announced Monday that it is withdrawing from the Pebble Partnership - and will take a $300 million hit for doing so. The London-based Anglo American has a 50 percent share of the Pebble venture, with Northern Dynasty Minerals out of Vancouver, Canada controlling the other half. The company said that Northern Dynasty will assume sole responsibility for the project.
In a statement, Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani said that the company was seeking other investment opportunities.
"Despite our belief that Pebble is a deposit of rare magnitude and quality, we have taken the decision to withdraw following a thorough assessment of Anglo American's extensive pipeline of long-dated project options," Cutifani said. "Our focus has been to prioritize capital to projects with the highest value and lowest risks within our portfolio, and reduce the capital required to sustain such projects during the pre-approval phases of development as part of a more effective, value-driven capital allocation model."
John Shively, CEO of the Pebble Partnership, insisted that reports of Pebble's death are premature. "Obviously we're disappointed, but we still have a great project," he said. "Anglo American was reviewing all of their assets. When they got to us, we didn't make the cut," he said.
Shively, who learned of the pullout this weekend in phone calls from the owner companies, said he expects that Northern Dynasty will decide in the next two or three weeks what its next steps should be. He said the "partnership has to be unraveled," and Northern Dynasty has to consider its options.
Pebble has received intense scrutiny during the exploratory phase of the project. Critics say the mine's proposed location could present a risk to the Bristol Bay watershed and salmon fishery, one of the most lucrative fisheries in the world. Supporters have accused the Environmental Protection Agency of playing politics with the project after the EPA released an assessment of the potential impacts of a large open-pit mine on Bristol Bay fisheries last year. That report said that even barring a major mishap, damage to salmon runs were a likely side effect of mine development.
Meanwhile, the Pebble Mine prospect is also a high-value proposition: Northern Dynasty estimates that the proposed mining area could contain as much as 81 billion pounds of copper, 5.6 billion pounds of molybdenum and 107 million ounces of gold. Estimates have put the value of the resources at up to $300 billion.
The mine could have potential for the state as well, as it represents the largest mining prospect in Alaska's history. The potential tax revenue from the Pebble prospect -- despite mining taxes that are dwarfed when compared to the tax dollars brought in by oil -- could eventually prove valuable to the state as it faces declining oil tax revenues after a tax cut that could see the state lose $1 billion a year in revenue.
The two competing interests have made for a high-stakes public relations battle, with each side disputing the others' facts, and even residents of the region split between the mine's potential for job creation, the existing jobs in the fishery, and the possibility of damage to subsistence salmon stocks if something were to go awry at the hypothetical mine.
Can Pebble survive?
Environmental groups quickly adopted a gloating tone after Anglo American's announcement Monday morning, with the World Wildlife Fund issuing a statement that said in part: "When a company is willing to accept a $300 million charge to walk away from a project, it gives you a sense of just how bad of an idea the proposed Pebble Mine really is."
The group Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay issued a release noting that 900,000 people -- greater than the entire population of Alaska -- had submitted public comments on the EPA's draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, and argued that the vast majority were opposed to mine development.
It's unclear where Anglo American's withdrawal from the Pebble Partnership will leave Northern Dynasty, which acquired the Pebble project in 2001. Anglo American, one of the world's largest mining conglomerates, came aboard in 2007. With Anglo American out of the picture, the question becomes who might take the company's place -- and if the Pebble project can go on without it.
While opponents of Pebble may regard this as a death blow, Shively said the venture may be worth more to some potential future partner than it was in 2007 when the two companies created their partnership.
"We have to sit down with Northern Dynasty and figure out where we go from here," he said.
"Northern Dynasty has a better asset to sell now to a partner than they did in 2007. We've made a lot of progress in terms of defining the prospect and in terms of getting ready for permitting. None of that was on the table in 2007."
Shively said the project managers believed they had been getting close to filing for permits with the state, but that's likely to change. "It's not good news, but this is the way I look at it. Pebble is a great asset, not just to Northern Dynasty, but to the state. This asset is going to be developed some day. I'm certain of it."
A statement from Northern Dynasty CEO Ron Thiessen seemed to agree with Shively: "Northern Dynasty will again own 100 percent of one of the world's most important copper & gold resources and will have the benefit of $541 million worth of expenditures, which opens the door to a number of exciting possibilities for Northern Dynasty and its shareholders and the Pebble Project and its stakeholders. Northern Dynasty and the Pebble Partnership have both the expertise and resources necessary to advance the Pebble Project."
At the market close Monday, Northern Dynasty's stock prices had fallen more than 30 percent from Friday's close.
For more information on the Bristol Bay - Pebble Mine issue, click on the link below to go to the "Save Bristol Bay" blog:
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):