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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 ~ August 23rd, 2014:

Early this morning we got the first small hint of fall here in Northern New Mexico. It rained last night and, after the storm passed, the air felt crisp and quite a bit a bit cooler than usual. A few of the larger brown trout in the higher mountain streams are starting to show signs of getting colored-up for their hot dates during the spawning season. We have had great fishing so far this month, with lots of nice fish being caught on the surface with hopper patterns. There seem to be an inordinate number of grasshoppers around this summer so the terrestrial top-water action should continue for at least another month or so. With all of the rain we have been getting, the rivers are in good shape and the fish are healthy, which bodes well for great fishing in September, October and November - we can't wait!

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...

Conejos River Dry Fly
ABEYTA RANCH ~ CONEJOS: Since our last report, the water flows on the Conejos have stabilized and are holding steady in the 150 to 200 cfs (cubic feet per second) range which is absolutely the perfect level for fishing on the Abeyta Ranch. We have been catching lots of very nice fish on the ranch's water, both on nymph rigs and dries. There are lots of smaller mayflies hatching but it seems the fish that are looking up want hoppers - they aren't very bashful about eating them if you get a good drift and presentation. There seems to be an equal amount of browns and rainbows coming to the net, with a few cutthroats thrown in for good measure.

Conejos Brown Trout
Once the early fall arrives, the browns will start to get horny and careless on the Conejos and, judging by the numbers of nice ones we have been seeing throughout the summer, the fishing this fall on the Abeyta Ranch should be off the charts. Once the first couple of frosts hit, the leaves of the cottonwood trees in the bosque along the river will all turn gold making fall on the Conejos River one of the most spectacular times of the year to fish there.

Upper Picture: Rick I. with a 22.5" rainbow that ate a hopper.
Lower Picture: A beautiful 22" Abeyta Ranch brown in the net.

Rainbow Chama River
CHAMA & LOWER BRAZOS: The upper Chama and the Brazos are still fishing well and should only get better as we move into September and October. The water levels on the Brazos have become pretty low and the water is quite clear. The fishing is still good but a bit more challenging, with a good drift and cast being more important than when the water is higher and a bit off color. The upper Chama is looking much better than it did in July with lots more water in the river from the rains. The fishing is starting to pick up as well. The fishing below El Vado Dam has been holding up very well so far this summer. Though the water is its typical grey-green color, we are still catching lots of fish in this area. The higher releases out of the dam for the rafters and kayakers are going to continue at least through Labor Day weekend; we'll just have to wait and see where they end up after that. The area below Abiquiu dam is running high (in the 630 cfs range) and the water is very dirty and we haven't been to this stretch at all this summer - we're still waiting for the fall.

Picture: Nice Chama River bow - way to go John F.!

Brown Trout Wolf Creek
THE OSO PICCOLO RANCHES: 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 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.

The fishing on the Wolf Creek Ranch is excellent right now, especially in the lower canyon section. Small to medium hoppers and stimulators are bringing many fish to the surface. Dry-dropper rigs also have been working well, especially after a rain.
Wolf Creek Ranch
We have been pleasantly surprised at the size of some of the fish in this small stream; there are a fair number in the 16 to 19 inch range - what a trip to hook into one of these on a 3 weight! Some of the bigger pools and runs are still giving up 3 or more fish at a time and there seems to be a fish in almost every single little pocket as you work up the creek. Great dry fly fishing for wild brown trout in one of the most beautiful locations in Northern New Mexico; you can't beat it.

The water levels on the La Barranca Ranch on the Chama River (which had been drastically reduced by the irrigation ditches above the ranch) have come back up with all of the rain we have been having. It is looking like it will be worth heading back there in the next week or so. The fall fishing on this stretch of the river should be really good this year.

Upper Picture: Saxon G. with a wild Wolf Creek brown trout on a hopper; way to go!.
Lower Picture: Wolf Creek - Beautiful, small water with really nice fish.

Letting One Go
SAN JUAN: Last week, the Bureau of Reclamation increased the release from Navajo Dam up to the 750 cfs (cubic feet per second) range. We have been over to the "Juan" a fair number of days in the last month and the fishing has been good to great, depending on the water conditions. There have been some very heavy rains over on the San Juan which has caused the river to be quite off-color on occasion. There was in immense rain up Simon Canyon a couple of weeks ago which caused it to run at over 3,000 cfs. This moved an incredible amount of silt into the section below Simon Canyon at the lower end of the Quality Waters stretch. It is going to take a big release out of the dam to flush/clean out this part of the river. The upper sections of the quality water are still in fine shape and it looks like we will have great fall and winter fishing this year. For the last few weeks we have been doing well with big dries and there was yet another ant fall so top-water action should be good for a while longer. Along with the standard array of lava and pupa midge patterns, all manner of baetis patterns are bringing fish to the net. As is usually the case in August, we seem to be having better success with smaller sizes; we're mostly fishing size 24 and 26 flies. With the higher flows, fishing out of the driftboat has been great because we can get into lots of spots now, that were unreachable a month ago.

Picture: Letting one go from the driftboat on the San Juan last week.

Willow Creek Lake
QUINLAN RANCH: As was the case in our last report, the fishing on the Quinlan Ranch is still holding up well. With the warmer weather, the higher altitude lakes seem to be the best option in the warmer part of the day and the lower lakes are better in the morning and evening. All of the lakes are still producing really nice fish with a fair number in the 24"+ range, especially on Willow. The dry fly fishing is still pretty good but emergers (like RS 2s) have been the ticket recently. Stripping streamers is also a good bet with lots of nice, big fish whacking black leeches and "WOLF Eagles"!

QR Bears
We have been doing lots of our 4 night/3 day packages up at the ranch. The Quinlan is a great place to base out of to fish Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. If you are interested in specific dates, please don't wait too long to get the ball rolling on making a reservation. Due to the elk season, there is limited availability in September, October and November. Please check out the "Fishing Packages" page for more information.

Upper Picture: A big Willow Creek rainbow raising a ruckus!
Lower Picture: A local family heading up to Honeymoon Lake on the Quinlan Ranch in early August.

MK Ranch Rainbow
THE SPEAR U & MK RANCHES: The fishing on the Spear U Ranch and the MK Ranches (both of which are on the Navajo river in Southern Colorado) has been good in the past month, when the water was clear. Both of these sections of the river got decent amounts of rain which caused the water to be turbid in August. We have only been up to these ranches a couple of times recently but will be going more often as the fall progresses. September and October are by far the best months of the year to fish the Navajo.

Picture: MK Ranch wild rainbow caught on a dry-dropper rig.

PECOS: Though the Pecos has been getting a lot of fishing pressure this summer (especially on the weekends) the fishing is holding up very well. We have been doing a minimum of 2 or 3 trips a week on the river every week and there are still lots of smaller rainbows and browns - 8 to 14 inchers - to be caught. There is always the chance of catching a fish or two in the 16 inch plus range, but don't hold your breath. If you are willing to work up and down the river, you can find some good water to fish and have a great day. All manner of drys and smaller nymphs are working well. The Pecos should fish well throughout the fall, especially after Labor Day.

BAR X BAR RANCH: The Bar X Bar is still in full-on summer mode which means the lakes are a bit warm and low. We are waiting for a good rainstorm or two and the conditions should be good again. The end of August and September are usually a great time to think about the Bar X Bar again.

RIO GRANDE: The flows on the lower Rio (between Taos and Velarde) have been dropping gradually for the last few weeks and today they are at 333 cfs (cubic feet per second) below the Taos Junction Bridge. This being said, the river is still quite off color but should start to clear soon. Hopefully it will be fishable within the next couple of weeks - we'll keep you posted. The flow levels are great but the water is still a bit dirty for great fishing. Give us a call anytime for an update.

Environmentalists Applaud EPA Plan for Protecting Alaska's Bristol Bay Watershed

Bristol Bay AK
Washington, DC - July 21st, 2014: An unusual group of Alaska Native leaders, commercial fishermen, investors, jewelers and conservation organizations applauded the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) release of its Proposed Determination - a detailed plan for restricting mine waste disposal from the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska's Bristol Bay watershed. The EPA has authority under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to restrict mine waste disposal that will harm important fisheries. Alaska's Bristol Bay supports the largest and most productive wild salmon fishery in the world, supplying half of the world's supply of wild sockeye salmon and generating 14,000 annual jobs and over $450 million in annual revenue.

"It's been a long time coming. We're happy to see the EPA complete the next major step in protecting the Bristol Bay salmon fishery." said Luki Akelkok, chairman of Nunamta Aulukestai, an association of ten Bristol Bay Native Tribes and Native Village Corporations. "Our culture and economy depend on the long-term health of these salmon runs."

"As a jeweler whose business depends on precious metals, and therefore mining, we have nevertheless long opposed the development of new mines that threaten areas of high ecological and cultural value," said Michael J. Kowalski, Chairman and CEO, Tiffany & Co. He continued, "We applaud the EPA for taking this vital next step under the Clean Water Act to safeguard Bristol Bay and the communities and fishery it supports."

Alaska Native Tribes and commercial fishermen petitioned the EPA in 2010, asking the agency to use its power under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to protect the fishery by restricting harmful mine waste disposal. There is broad support for this approach. Of the 890,000 public comments received by the EPA on its study of mining's potential impacts on the famed fishery, 98% of Bristol Bay comments, 85% of Alaska comments, and 73% of national comments support EPA action to protect Bristol Bay.

"We asked the EPA to step in to protect our fishery from the Pebble Mine because the State of Alaska wasn't listening to us," said Kim Williams, executive director of Nunamta Aulukestai. "The future of our people and 14,000 jobs are at risk. We're glad the EPA is doing its job."

"Our nation's most prolific salmon fishery is one step closer to being protected from toxic mine waste," said Jennifer Krill, executive director of Earthworks, a national conservation group. "We'll be looking at the details closely, and participating in the hearings, and encourage everyone else to do so."

The EPA completed a study of the potential impacts to the salmon fishery from developing the proposed Pebble Mine in January 2014, which found that it would likely result in significant and irreversible harm to the salmon and the people and industries that rely on them.

TU Annual National Meeting in Santa Fe this September

TU Logo
The Trout Unlimited (TU) 2014 national Annual Meeting will be held in Santa Fe, New Mexico this September 3rd thru 7th. The 2014 Annual Meeting features four days of activities, including fishing, a conservation tour, inspiring speakers, an awards banquet, workshops and invaluable networking opportunities. All general meetings will be held in the Eldorado Hotel & Spa. The State of TU will be given at the New Mexico History Museum Auditorium.

All TU members are welcome and encouraged to attend the State of TU, workshops and meetings at no fee. The general registration fee of $300 includes all meals and events Thursday through Saturday. Register before July 1 and receive a discounted registration rate of $275. The general registration fee is for all meals, including the banquet. Tickets for the banquet may be purchased separately in advance. Room reservation must be made by August 18, 2014 to guarantee the TU rate of $129/ night. To book your room, call the Eldorado Hotel & Spa at (505)995-4560.

For more detailed information, click on the link below go to the 2014 Meeting page on the TU website:

Trout Unlimited 2014 Annual Meeting in Santa Fe, NM

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