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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 ~ April 15th, 2014:

Spring has officially arrived, the weather is really nice and, most importantly, the fishing in many locations is incredible! 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, the fish have made it through the winter in fine shape and are very healthy and hungry. It appears that we should have most of the month of April to fish before the spring snowmelt causes run-off to become an issue in some spots. The fishing is great - this is a wonderful time to be out 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...

RIO GRANDE: The flows on the lower Rio Grande have dropped to the 375cfs range and the fishing has been very good for the last couple of weeks - the water has cleared substantially and the wadding is much easier than was during the high flows we experienced throughout the winter. Since the beginning of the month, the caddis have started to pop and the fish are really starting to key into them. The caddis hatch should be at its peak within the next couple of weeks and this should give us some great afternoon dry fly fishing. Last week, all types of wet flies and nymphs were bringing fish to the net. The action has been steady and consistent throughout all of the locations we fish on the lower Rio. Don't hesitate to give us a call anytime for an update on the fishing and caddis hatch.

Conejos Cuttbow
ABEYTA RANCH: We made our first trip to the Abeyta Ranch (on the Conejos River) on March 11th. The fishing was really good then and has been getting even better as the weather warms up. We have been on the ranch every week since our first day this year and haven't had a bad trip yet. There are some really big fish being caught; both rainbows and browns. Larger nymphs under an indicator have been the ticket and even though the water is very clear, the fish aren't that spooky. We have kicked over a bunch of rocks doing bug samples and the amount of stonefly nymphs we're finding is amazing. The fish are gorging on them right now and it sure looks like the salmon fly hatch this June could be off the charts.
Conejos River Fly Fishing
This is a great time of year to fish the Conejos. The river is still low, flowing at about 80 cfs (cubic foot per second), and the fish are bunched up and hungry. If you get on a good spot, you stand the chance of landing multiple nice fish out of one pool or run.

Picture Above: Raulo F. with an amazing 24" cuttbow; wow!
Picture Below: 20" rainbow from our first trip to the Abeyta Ranch on 3/11/14 ~ Nicely done Rick G.

San Juan River Fishing
SAN JUAN: We have been doing quite a few trips on the San Juan in the last month or so and, especially with the good weather, the fishing has been excellent. As of this writing, the flows being released out of Navajo Dam have been holding steady in the 250 to 265 cfs (cubic feet per second) range. This flow level has made for great wade fishing throughout the quality water stretch. Since our last report in late February, the bigger fish have started to move up into shallower water and are becoming quite aggressive. The rainbows are thinking about spawning and are not as picky as they can be at other times of the year. The water clarity is still pretty low with about 16 to 24 inches of visibility. This means that anglers can get away with much heavier tippet than usual (4X isn't an issue) and, even though many fish are up in the shallows, they aren't able to see wading anglers that well. No need to make long casts. "BOBBER BOY!" midges have been the best pattern by far. Along with the standard array of lava and pupa patterns, fishing with streamers, leeches and egg patterns has still been a great bet, bringing some very large fish to the net. Even though some days have been pretty windy, with the flows so low and the easy wading, we can usually find an area that offers some protection from the heavier gusts. Check out the all-inclusive package we offer on the Fishing Packages page for more information on this option.

Picture: First time fly fishing - Nancy S. with a chunky rainbow that couldn't resist a "BOBBER BOY!" midge.

Navajo River Trout
THE MK & SPEAR U RANCHES: We just made our first trip to the Navajo River last week and went to the Spear U Ranch. The fishing in both the lakes and on the river was exceptional. The fish in the lakes are very fat and strong and we caught lots of them. The best fishing technique was to strip streamers but a fair number of fish fell for smaller nymphs moved slowly under an indicator. The fish in the river were very aggressive as well, wanting almost all types of wet and nymph patterns. Like the fish on the Conejos, the river fish are still primarily in the deeper, slower water and bunched up. As the day warms up they seem to be starting to work up into the riffles. Right now the Spear U ranch is the place to be - great fishing in a gorgeous location.
Browntrout In Colorado
After the success we had on the Spear U Ranch, we are going to make a trip upstream to the MK Ranch in the next week or so to check it out. It should be good. Give us a call around the middle of April for a report this ranch, on the upper section of the Navajo.

Picture Above: Nice double hook-up landed on the Spear U lake by Mark Sr. & Mark Jr. C. - way cool!
Picture Below: Barbara C. with her beautiful 24 " brown from the river.

Bar X Bar Ranch
BAR X BAR RANCH: What good fishing! The lakes on the Bar X Bar 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 are starting to 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 and there is very little weed to contend with. These conditions should hold until at least the middle of June. There isn't much snow in the mountains so we'll just have to see what happens as far as fishing conditions go throughout the summer months. This is the time of year to think about a trip out to the Bar X Bar. It is super-easy fishing and is the best location to fish that is close to Santa Fe; a little under an hour drive from the Plaza.
Picture: One of many nice rainbows Ben W. caught at the Bar X Bar. What an angler Ben is for 9 years old - he is amazing!

CHAMA & LOWER BRAZOS: The fishing below Abiquiu dam has started to pick up a bit from the February doldrums and we have had a couple of pretty good trips there in the last few weeks. There is quite a bit more water being released out of the dam (currently the flows are in the 250cfs range) which should help the fishing. The flows out of El Vado dam have been raised to the 100cfs range. The fishing in the section of the Chama river has been pretty poor recently. As the air and water warm up throughout the next few weeks, the fishing should improve. The fishing above El Vado on the upper river and in the Brazos is just starting to show some signs of picking up. Most of the ice has left the lower Brazos and we should see some good fishing in this spot within the next few weeks.

PECOS: The river looks great and there are lots of bugs, just not that many fish. You can still have a fun day above where last year's fire was and there aren't that many people on the water. This is a gorgeous time of year to be on the Pecos so if you go with the attitude of enjoying the experience as a whole, you won't be disappointed. The lower river is not producing that many fish but should improve as the season progresses. 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.

QUINLAN RANCH: The ice has left all of the lower lakes on the Quinlan Ranch and we are putting the boats in the water this week. The fishing should be really good from now through the end of June. We'll be fishing the lakes in the next few days so get in touch for a current report on the fishing. We have already started doing our 4 night/3 day packages up at the ranch. If you are interested in specific dates, please don't wait too long to get the ball rolling on making a reservation. 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.

THE VALLES CALDERA NATIONAL PRESERVE: The VCNP should be opening up to fishing around the middle of May and we will start to do trips out there then. Please give us a call for the status of the 2014 fishing program on the Valles Caldera.

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