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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 ~ JANUARY 2nd, 2016:For the first time in a few years, it seems that winter is really here. We have been getting some terrific snows up in the mountains and our snow-pack levels are all 40% to 60% above the annual averages for this time of year; incredible! If we keep getting snow storms like this for the rest of the winter, we should have a really good run-off next spring and great conditions in our rivers, streams and lakes next summer - keep your fingers crossed. The fishing so far this winter has been great over on the San Juan and decent everywhere else when the flows have been cooperative. As the winter progresses, we should see much more consistent conditions until the spring run-off.
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.
SAN JUAN: The fishing on the San Juan has been excellent for the last month or so and should stay this way throughout the winter. There have been some amazing midge hatches as of late and the fish are eating incredibly well on top and in the film. When the hatches are on, the top-water action has been off the charts; all you needed is a Griffith's Gnat or any other cluster pattern. When we aren't seeing heads and tails, all of the typical small fly set-ups are working well. Egg patterns are still producing even though the browns are pretty much finished with their spawning. The releases out of the Navajo Dam have been lowered to the 270 cfs (cubic feet per second) range which makes for amazing wade fishing conditions.
Another great thing is that in the last few days, the water is starting to green-up and become less clear. This happens every winter when the Navajo reservoir "turns over". The green water means that you don't need to use as light a tippet and bigger flies and leeches come back into the fore. Great fishing, very few anglers, 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. The winter is (in our opinion) the time of year to be on the "Juan".
Upper Picture: Letting a beautiful "Juan-bow" swim away after he fell for a Griffith's. Nicely done Mark P.! Lower Picture: No one but us on the Lower Flats a few days ago; note the greenish tint starting in the water.
CHAMA & LOWER BRAZOS: The fishing conditions and flows on the Chama below the dams are finally at more typical winter levels. On December 21st thru the 23rd, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Corps of Engineers reduced the releases out of both El Vado and Abiquiu dams on the Chama to the 100 cfs range. Previous to this reduction, the flows coming out of both dams had been in the 1,100 cfs range for well over a month. Hopefully the higher than normal water releases and the subsequent big reductions doesn't have any longer term ramifications on this year's brown trout spawning and recruitment.
The fishing below the El Vado and Abiquiu dams since the big drop in the flows has been quite good. There are lots of fish to be had in both locations, with all manner of streamers, nymphs and midge rigs bringing fish to hand. Until the water clears substantially, don't be afraid of a little bit flashier flies. 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 some nice sized browns. As is almost always the case this time of year, sunny days with no wind will help to produce better results. To help protect any brown trout redds (spawning beds), please try to avoid wading through/on any obvious gravel bars. The brown trout eggs will usually be in the redds until some point in mid-March. The upper sections of the Chama River and the Brazos are iced over and are done for the winter - think about April...
Upper Picture: Ralph W.'s epic Chama Rainbow. Big bows below the dams? Yup.
Lower Picture: Shane thinking "What to do..." - end of November on the Brazos (thanks to Ken T. for the photo).
RIO GRANDE & RED RIVER: The water in the Rio has cleared quite a bit in the last few weeks and we have had some decent fishing recently. The flows are still pretty high but fishable; as of today they are 488 cfs at Taos Junction Bridge. A combo set-up of smaller streamers and brighter nymphs fished under an indicator has been the most productive rig for us. We have been catching mostly stockers but the occasional, nice sized holdover rainbow and the odd brown have been coming to the net along with them. It is also getting to be prime time for pike - keep the big rod handy...
We have made a few trips up to the Red River this past month and the fishing has been OK. Not too many larger fish but we have had decent fishing every trip. Hopefully we'll start to see more of the bigger fish that typically show up during the winter - it is always worth a shot this time of year. The Red River is fed by many springs which typically keeps the water open and warmer throughout the winter, especially downstream of the hatchery.
Picture: High sticking on the Red River a few weeks ago.
PECOS: With lots of ice and cold water, the fishing on the upper sections of the Pecos is pretty much done for the winter. The lower section still has open water and the fishing fairly decent. Egg patterns, squirmies and smaller nymphs and midges are working well. Don't be afraid to put the weight to it and target the deeper pools and runs. As is usually the case during the winter, a sunny afternoon is the best time to be fishing. Warmer days are going to be the best bet, both for the quality of fishing and for the comfort of the angler!
Picture: Mid-December afternoon on the Pecos. Note the ice forming.
ABEYTA RANCH & CONEJOS RIVER: The Abeyta Ranch and the Conejos River are in full-on winter mode and conditions. The river is almost completely iced over now and there won't be any decent fishing until March at the earliest. As soon as there is enough open water to fish in the spring, we'll start hitting the Conejos and the Abeyta Ranch again. We had some great fishing in early December with lots of fat healthy fish landed. Based on what we saw this winter, the early season fishing next year should be really, really good. Give us a call anytime for an update on the fishing conditions.
Picture: A chunky 20" early December Abeyta Ranch rainbow. Nicely done Mark R. - way to go NYC!
QUINLAN RANCH: The lakes on the Quinlan are iced over and the boats are hauled out for the winter. As with most of our lakes in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, ice out (when the ice melts) is an incredible time to fish. This usually happens on the Quinlan Ranch sometime around the beginning of April. Keep this in mind for some great spring fishing.
The Quinlan Ranch is a great 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: Early November sky over Willow Creek Lake on the Quinlan Ranch.
THE OSO PICCOLO RANCHES: The Wolf Creek & La Barranca ranches are going to be on hold until we get some warmer days (probably not until March). Once we start so see things start to warm up in the early spring, the La Barranca Ranch should be a good bet for some big, early season rainbows - we'll keep you posted...
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.
BAR X BAR RANCH: It gets cold very quickly up at the Bar X Bar Ranch - ice out next March is looking really good. We'll keep everyone posted as to when it starts. The Bar X Bar Ranch offers super-easy fishing and is the best private ranch to fish close to Santa Fe; a little under an hour drive from the Plaza.
THE MK & SPEAR U RANCHES: The fishing on the MK Ranch and the Spear U Ranch is done for the year - ice out on the Spear U lakes in the spring is a few months away. 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. Give us a call anytime for an updated report.
HIGH TIMBER RANCH: At an altitude of 10,000 feet, the High Timber Ranch is done for the year. What an incredible season we had up there. Next year we will be doing all-inclusive, 2 to 4 night packages up at this ranch. We should have the details and pricing worked out by the first of the year; we'll keep you posted.
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...
Thank You To Everyone That Helped With The Chama C & R Initiative:
All of us here at Land of Enchantment Guides would like to thank everybody that has helped us with our efforts to get catch and release areas created on the Chama River. The first and hopefully the biggest step toward making it happen has been completed. On November 5th we met with Mike Sloane and Kirk Patten of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDG&F) and presented them with 486 signed surveys, all of which were in complete support of catch and release areas on the Chama. Along with the surveys we also gave them 22 letters of support from organizations, clubs, fishing businesses and stores. As well, they told us that the NMDG&F had received many emails requesting that catch and release areas on the Chama be included in the Draft Fisheries Management Plan. According to Mr. Sloane and Mr. Patten the next step will be for them to do some of their own research and "due diligence" and then, with a little luck, catch and release areas on the Chama can be added to the Draft Fisheries Management Plan which will be brought before the Game Commission at some point in the next few months.
The best thing we can do right now is to be patient and let the NMDG&F do what they need to do. We will stay in touch with them and do our best to let everybody know how things are progressing. Keep your fingers crossed - we are guardedly optimistic that catch and release areas on the Chama River will become a reality.
None of this would have happened without all of your support. Thank you so much to everybody that filled out and signed the petitions and wrote letters and emails to the NMDG&F. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
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.
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):