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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 14th, 2014:What great fishing we've been having so far this fall! We have had wonderful weather and the trout have been really biting. In the last couple of days northern New Mexico and southern Colorado have been hit with the first real cold snap of the season - hopefully it will start to bring some snow to the mountains. This cold weather should actually help the fishing on the lower sections of the Chama and on the San Juan. We are looking at good fishing on the Chama through mid-December and great fishing on the San Juan throughout the winter. Needless to say, we are starting to think about wearing thermal gear under the waders but it still isn't bitter cold yet. The water temps aren't too cold for the fish to stop eating well and they are thinking about fattening up for the winter right now. Good fishing with less people on the water - this is one of the best times of year to fish in the "Land of Enchantment".
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.
QUINLAN RANCH: The fishing on the Quinlan Ranch lakes this fall has been nothing short of amazing. The fish must be trying to put on some calories for the winter because they are biting aggressively and all of the lakes are fishing exceptionally well and lots of really big fish are being landed. As one would expect, streamers and nymph rigs are the best set-ups with DL Rasta Buggers and Wolf Eagles still being the most productive fly patterns. Almost all of the fish are incredibly fat and healthy and they are fighting really hard. This bodes well for their making it through the winter and for a great season next year. Depending on the weather conditions over the next few weeks, we should be able to get in some more good fishing days until the middle of next month. As the fall progresses into winter, it will become more and more critical to pick sunny days to fish at the Quinlan Ranch - typically with colder, cloudy conditions the fish will be running much deeper and harder to catch.
We are already booking a fair number of our 4 night/3 day packages up at the ranch for the 2015 season. If you are considering a trip next year and are interested in specific dates, please don't wait too long to get the ball rolling on making a reservation. The Quinlan is a great place to base out of to fish Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. Please check out the "Fishing Packages" page for more information.
Upper Picture: Late afternoon on Willow Creek Lake. Bruce B's big rainbow (Noah holding it) - NICE!!
Lower Picture: Joe J. with a beautiful Don's Lake rainbow trout caught from the boat.
CHAMA & LOWER BRAZOS: Over the last few weeks, the fishing on the Chama has as gone into full-on fall mode, with the fish really starting to put on a big feed. As well, the brown trout have started to spawn which makes them quite aggressive. This year it appears that the spawning cycle has been more spread out over a longer time frame. It seems that the browns are not all "doing their thing" at once, in a short time period, as is often the case. Maybe this is due to the warmer fall we have had so far; hopefully this will also mean that we will have good fishing later into the year - "vamos a ver". Please be careful not to walk on the brown trout redds (these are their spawning beds that look like areas of cleaned gravel) and try not to fish on actively spawning fish. We need to give them a chance
to be successful in spawning and laying their eggs. Recently the best fishing the sections of the Chama River have been below the El Vado and Abiquiu dams. The releases out of El Vado and Abiquiu have been holding steady in the 75 cubic feet per second (cfs) range for the last few weeks making for easy wading. With the colder weather, the water is clearing up nicely and the visibility should steadily improve. The next four to six weeks should continue to offer up great fishing opportunities in these sections of the river. The fishing on upper part of the Chama (above El Vado reservoir) has slowed down quite a bit in the last week or so and with this cold snap, these areas would not be our first choice of a fishing location.
The water in the lower Brazos is very low, cold and clear and the fishing has slowed down for the season. This being said one could still have a decent day if it is warmer and sunny. The fish are bunching up in the deeper pockets and runs for the winter. If you target these types of water on the river, with a well presented nymph rig, the odds will be in your favor.
Upper Picture: Ron L. with a nice Chama River fall brown trout.
Lower Picture: Six other waders that jumped us while fishing on the Chama last week.
ABEYTA RANCH ~ CONEJOS: What was said in our last fishing report still holds true: "We have been having epic fishing on the Abeyta Ranch on the Conejos River". There has been good to excellent fishing on every trip we've made to the Abeyta this fall with lots of really nice browns, rainbows and the odd Snake River cutthroat being caught. As recently as three days ago, we had a 30+ fish per angler day with the biggest fish landed being a 23.5" fat rainbow. For the last couple of weeks the water flows have been holding steady in the 80 to the 100 cfs range, which makes for good fishing and easy wading. The water is still very clear but it seems that recently the fish are becoming a bit more aggressive and less shy. We are also slowly starting to use some bigger sized fly patterns than we have been; even the odd streamer is bringing a fish to the net. The other cool thing is that on warmer afternoons, the fish are still coming up to the surface so a dry fly isn't out of the question. The browns are done spawning and are eating really well these days - no guilt about fishing on spawning fish anymore. If it doesn't get extremely cold, we should have good fishing on the Abeyta Ranch until Christmas.
Picture: Captain Ron does it again with a nice 23"+ rainbow - a colorful character (we're referring to the trout).
THE MK & SPEAR U RANCHES: Located on the Navajo River in southern Colorado, these two ranches have been fishing very well for the last month or so, especially the Spear U. The fishing on the lakes on the Spear U ranch is still holding up well and on warmer days the river has been producing some really nice, wild rainbows. It is all nymph and streamer fishing right now and the fish are really strong and spunky. At 8,000 feet of elevation, if the fishing on the Spear U stays good for longer this season will depend on the weather. If it is nice and sunny, it should still be good - if it is cold and cloudy; forget it. This ranch offers some of the most beautiful stretches of water in the area and two nice lakes. Both the river and the lakes have large, resident browns and rainbows that become quite fired up this time of year.
The MK Ranch, which is at a substantially higher altitude and colder than the Spear U, looks to be done for the year. With the shorter days and the mountains and trees blocking the sun until mid-morning, the river is not getting much of a chance to warm up. The fish are not biting well and are pretty lethargic.
Upper Picture: John B. with a big Spear U rainbow (with Shane holding it). Power to the trout!.
Lower Picture: Nice wild fish from the river - way to go Greg!
SAN JUAN: The "Juan" is fishing very well right now and the crowds are starting to thin out. We are primarily doing wade trips these days as it seems that many of the bigger fish are above the Texas Hole (this area is not accessible by the boat). As always, the standard array of lava, pupa and midge patterns are working. The baetis and blue-winged olives are starting to make their usual presence known and the odd egg patterns are working as well. As has seemed to be the case throughout the late summer and early fall, we are still having better success with smaller sizes; we're mostly fishing size 24 and 26 flies. With the lower flows right now and the sediment in the lower section of the Quality Waters, wade fishing may be a bit better choice than fishing out of the drift boat. The section of the river below Simon Canyon is beginning to fish a little bit better than it has been which is very encouraging (it became unfishable due to heavy siltation from the flooding event that happened a couple months ago). This is bodes well for float trips next spring, especially if there is a "flush" from the dam to blow out the sediment. Either way, the late fall and winter is our favorite time of year to fish on the San Juan. Very often in January and February we won't see many other anglers and the fishing can be off the charts.
Picture: Letting a nice one go last week on the San Juan.
PECOS: The Pecos has still been fishing well recently but it does seem that the fish are starting to bunch up in the deeper spots in the river. The Pecos canyon is at a pretty high altitude and doesn't get a lot of sun in certain spots so sunny days will be the best choice to be on the river this time of year.
RIO GRANDE: Where is all this water coming from? Right now the lower Pilar stretch of Rio Grande is flowing in the 650 - 700 cfs range which is way too much water to fish comfortably. The river had started fishing well at the beginning of October but the flows have been increasing and the fishing dropping off since then. Once the flows drop back to 300 - 400 cfs levels, the fishing should pick up. Give us a call for an update.
THE OSO PICCOLO RANCHES: The fishing on these ranches is just about done for the year and what a great season it was for them, especially on the Wolf Creek Ranch. We're already getting excited about next year up there!
BAR X BAR RANCH: The Bar X Bar is pretty much finished for the season and won't be worth it until ice-out in the early spring. March, 2015 will be great time to think about the Bar X Bar Ranch's lakes again.
Rio Grande Cutthroat No Longer an Endangered Species Candidate:
SANTA FE - October 1, 2014: New Mexico's state fish, the Rio Grande cutthroat trout, no longer is a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday.
Since 2008, aggressive conservation efforts by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and it's partners have enhanced or restored pure-strain native cutthroats in 127 streams that are open to public fishing. Rio Grande cutthroats now occupy about 700 miles of stream habitat.
After reviewing current scientific information about the cutthroat's populations, genetic diversity and habitat conditions in its historic range in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, the federal agency deemed that the fish is in no danger of extinction. The Rio Grande cutthroat was designated a candidate for listing in 2008, mostly because its habitat had dwindled to 11 percent of what it once was.
"Tuesday's decision is a tribute to the hard work by the department and its public and private partners to conserve our state fish and keep it off the endangered species list," said Paul Kienzle, chairman of the State Game Commission. "It also ensures recreational public fishing opportunities for Rio Grande cutthroat trout for years to come."
Cutthroat restoration partners include Trout Unlimited, New Mexico Trout, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Turner Enterprises Inc., northern tribes and pueblos, and others.
The most impressive restoration effort has been the ongoing project to restore pure-strain native cutthroats to the Rio Costilla watershed, which consists of more than 150 miles of streams, 25 lakes and the Costilla Reservoir. More than 70 miles of streams have been restored and more than 33,000 native fish have been stocked in those waters since that project began in 2007. This year, the department plans to stock another six miles of restored waters.
All of the stocked Rio Grande cutthroats come from the department's Seven Springs Hatchery in the Jemez Mountains, which raises nothing but genetically diverse, pure-strain fish for restoration and recreation.
"Keeping native trout in our state's streams and lakes is extremely important to us, not only because it's the department's mandate to protect native species, but also because it's our goal to provide anglers with opportunities to catch them," said Bryan Bakevich, the department's Rio Grande cutthroat trout biologist. "The Rio Grande cutthroat is found only in one place in the world - northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. We need to keep them around."
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:
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):
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):