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New Mexico Fly Fishing Report & News

Northern New Mexico and southern Colorado fishing report, current local water and fishing conditions along with some general fly fishing news and trout fishing information.

Please scroll down the page to see all of the articles and videos. Good luck fishing!

NM Fishing Report ~ May 29th, 2017:

Right now spring run-off is at its peak in some rivers and starting to wane in others. Recently we have mostly been going to the Pecos River, the Valles Caldera and the lakes on the Bar x Bar and Quinlan ranches - the fishing has been excellent with lots of large fish being landed. The water levels on the Conejos and most of the Chama are still very high but should be at fishable levels by the first week or two of June. The fish at every location we have been to so far this spring look as though they have had a great winter and they are super healthy and strong. We got some more snow and rain over the past six weeks and, with the terrific snow-pack from this past winter, we are anticipating the best water conditions this summer that we have seen in many years.

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 3 to 4 weeks...

VCNP Canyon
THE VALLES CALDERA: The “back country” on the Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP) is now open to the public and the fishing so far this season has been excellent. We started off the season on the VCNP using smaller nymphs but now with the weather warming up more every day, we are beginning to have lots of great dry fly action – smaller foam beetles and dry caddis patterns are bring some aggressive top-water strikes. As was the case last year, the average size range of the fish seems to be larger than it was a few years ago before the fires. So far this month we have had clients get into a few 15” to 16" fish and one that was an honest 18". As always, there are lots of smaller wild brown trout in the 8" to 12" size range. The VCNP is one of the most beautiful locations we fish and the late spring/early summer is typically one of the best times of year to be there.

Picture: A beautiful afternoon on the Caldera last week.

Bar X Bar Ranch
BAR X BAR RANCH: The lakes on the Bar X Bar have been fishing incredibly well for the last five or six weeks with lots of fish being caught. Streamers, wet flies, nymphs and midges are all working and on sunny days there has been some decent dry fly action. Everyday there are more and more grasshoppers showing up in the meadows and the fish are become attuned to them hitting the lakes. Along with the terrestrials, there have been some decent hatches of smaller mayflies which are bringing fish to the surface as well. All five of the ranch's lakes are full of water and right now there is very little weed to contend with. If we continue to get a few more rainy days, these good fishing conditions should hold until at
Bar X Bar Ranch
least the middle of the summer. Right now is the time to think about a trip out to the Bar X Bar, especially with the higher water conditions in many of our rivers and streams. It is super-easy fishing and currently this is the best location to fish that is close to Santa Fe; a little under an hour drive from the Plaza.

Upper Picture: Louis M. with a nice rainbow in the net - way to go young man!

Lower Picture: The Mississippi boys sure can fish! Dave G. with one of may good sized bows he landed at the Bar X Bar.



Pecos River Springtime
PECOS: Within the last week the water levels on the Pecos have receded to a decent, fishable level and will continue to get better. Right now the flows are at 250 cfs (cubic feet a second) below the Mora which makes the wading a bit tricky but not too bad. We have had some terrific days on the Pecos over the last month or so. There are lots of smaller browns coming to the net along with a few really nice rainbows. The trick right now is finding decent “holding” water - this means fishing in the deeper, slower pools and back eddies along the shore. We have been mostly using two fly indicator rigs and, if you are fishing the edges, a dry/dropper set-up. As the flows come down over the next few weeks more and more spots on the river will open up and the dry fly fishing will improve.

Picture: Barry D. making a cast into a pocket on the Pecos. Higher flows but good fishing.


Dons Lake QR
QUINLAN RANCH: The fishing on the Quinlan Ranch lakes has been good and will continue to get better throughout the early part of the summer. With all of the snow that the ranch got this past winter, the lakes are at the highest levels we have ever seen. The fish in the higher altitude lakes have made it through the winter in fine form and are really chunky and strong. Don’s lake, which is down lower on the ranch, has been fishing very well with some really big fish being landed. So far this season, we are catching mostly rainbows but have landed a few browns and the odd Snake River Fine-spot cutthroat. All manner of rigs are working - chironomids, nymphs, boobies and streamers are all bringing fish to the net. The fish are cruising the edges so we are fishing both out of the boats and from the shore.
Quinlan Ranch Brown
We are also seeing the odd damsel fly so pretty soon we will be adding them to the mix for the trout's dining fare. Usually by the first couple of weeks in June we start having some great dry fly action; it is always a hoot to catch some the Quinlan's bigger fish on the surface.

The Quinlan Ranch is a wonderful place to base out of to fish Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. We are already starting to book our all-inclusive packages up at the ranch for the 2017 season. If you are interested in specific dates or have any questions, don't hesitate to give us a call. Please check out the "Fishing Packages" page for more information.

Upper Picture: Our own Ann L. with a nice rainbow from Don's Lake last week - Well done!
Lower Picture: This Quinlan Ranch brown was still sporting his kipe-jaw; no wonder he fell for a booby...

Conejos High Water
ABEYTA RANCH ~ CONEJOS: Run-off is still in full swing on the Conejos right now with the flows generally in the 1,000 to 1,500 cfs range – pretty high for good fishing - this being said, the fish are still hungry. We have done a couple of trips at the Abeyta Ranch at these higher flows and have had some great success fishing the slacker water and the side channels. The fish are stacked up in these areas where there is some depth and less current and they are eating all manner of bigger nymphs, worms and streamers. This certainly bodes well for when the water levels subside a bit, typically by mid June. This is also when we start to see the first stoneflies hatching on the Conejos. Don’t hesitate to give us a call for an update on this epic hatch or for the fishing/water conditions on the river.

Picture: The big bows were still eating at 1,100 cfs on the Abeyta Ranch. Bill S. did a great job landing this beauty!

San Juan Wade Trip
SAN JUAN: With all of the snow pack and the run-off coming into Navajo Reservoir, the Bureau of Reclamation is doing an extended "high water release" this year. As of this writing, the flows being released out of Navajo Dam have been holding steady in the 5,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) range. The ramp up to this flow level started at the beginning of May and will be held at the current release until mid-June. At this point the flows will be ramped back down over a 2-3 week period to get to a more typical lower water level by July 4th. Even with the higher water conditions, the fishing has been very good with lots of nice fish coming to the net. All manner of rigs are working; midges, worms, eggs, streamers and jigs are all worth a shot.
San Juan Float Trip
Don't be afraid of brighter colors and heavier tippets - you can get away with 3X and 4X these days. The trick is getting down to the fish so a bit more weight and depth than usual is required. We have just started to get a few fish to look up along the edges at big foam beasties on the surface - it won't be long now. As the weather warms and the flows start to drop, the fishing will be incredible. These days we would suggest doing a float trip as the wading is very tricky at best. If you do decide to do a wade trip on your own, be very careful and stay away from any of the main channels.

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.

Upper Picture: There are some really fat and healthy rainbows on the "Juan" these days. Great job Laura R.! Lower Picture: Jesse Lee netting a fish on a high water float trip we did a few weeks back.

CHAMA & LOWER BRAZOS: The fishing on the Chama is almost out of the question right now with 3,000 cfs being released out of El Vado Dam and 1,900 cfs out of Abiquiu Dam. The Chama above El Vado and the Brazos are in full run-off conditions and the water is running way too high and hard to fish. There is still a fair amount snow up in the mountains so it looks like it will be at least a couple of weeks before the flows drop to anywhere near to fishable levels; vamos a ver. The good news is that once the flows subside, the Chama River will be in the best shape we have seen in many years and the fishing should be off the charts throughout the summer and fall.

THE OSO PICCOLO RANCHES: The La Barranca and Wolf Creek Ranches are faced with the same run-off scenario as in the Chama and Brazos report above - in 2-3 weeks these ranches should be a great option.
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.

RIO GRANDE & RED RIVER: The water levels in the Rio Grande are way too high to these days; they have been ranging between 2,000 to 4,000 cfs over the last couple of weeks which is downright dangerous for fishing - don't even think about it. The flows on the Red River have backed off a little but are still quite high. No telling how long before the Rio is fishable but the Red could be worth a look within a couple of weeks. Check the flows before you go.

THE MK & SPEAR U RANCHES: As of right now, the Spear U and MK ranches are both still in run-off conditions with the river there is running very high and a bit off color. As the flows subside in the next week or two the fishing should be very good. Both of these ranches are 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. The MK Ranch is higher up with about 4± miles of river. These are some of the most beautiful places we fish at.

HIGH TIMBER RANCH: Located in the Brazos Meadows at an altitude of 10,000 feet, fishing on the High Timber Ranch is still at least 3 to 4 weeks away. With all the snow we've had this winter and spring, the fishing should be phenomenal up at the High Timber Ranch this summer. We'll keep everyone posted as to when we can get up to the ranch. Please check out the "Private Water" page for more detailed information about the fishing on the High Timber Ranch.


Chama River Catch and Release Area Now Established:

C R Chama Sign


With the beginning of the new licensing period on April 1st, 2017, the new catch and release area on the Chama River below El Vado Dam was implemented and became a reality. The New Mexico Game and Fish Commission (NMDG&F) approved catch and release regulations on this section of the Chama River at its November 17, 2016 meeting in Grants. The new regulation, as written by NMDG&F staff, applies to a three-mile stretch of the river that starts 1.3 miles below the El Vado Dam. The first 1.3 mile section of the Chama directly below the dam was left out of the proposal because it includes the Coopers El Vado Ranch and areas upstream that are popular with "catch and keep" anglers fishing on the Chama.

The new catch and release area begins about 1/4 mile below Cooper's where the gauging cable crosses the river and then runs downstream to the confluence of the Rio Nutrius/Canyon - a distance of about 3 river miles. Anglers willing to walk a moderate distance downstream from Cooper's should have the opportunity for larger, stream-bred trout. The new catch and release regulation for this section of the Chama River mandates that all fish must be released with a tackle/gear restriction of using only single barbless hook and artificial lures. At some point in the next few weeks signage will be installed on the riverbank at the upstream and downstream boundaries of the new catch and release area (the picture above is of the signs that will be placed on the upstream boundary).

All of here at Land of Enchantment Guides would like to thank all of the individuals, organizations and business who supported and helped to make the catch and release area on the Chama a reality - we couldn't have done it without your efforts. Hopefully over the next few years, this section of the river will become the great fishery that it has the potential to be.


Executive Order Could Halt Progress on Reversing Wetlands Loss:

A recent executive order puts fish and waterfowl habitat back at risk by directing agencies to scrap and rewrite the key rule created to help protect headwater streams and wetlands.

Last month President Trump issued an executive order directing the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to revise their 2015 Clean Water Rule, which was created to clarify protections for headwater streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. The order directs the agencies to consider using former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's minority opinion, which said that seasonal streams and many wetlands do not merit protection, as a basis for revising the rule.

"Sportsmen will not settle for watered down protections or negligence for the habitat that supports the fish and wildlife we love to pursue," says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, which joined five other leading sportsmen's groups in issuing a joint statement of support for the benefits of the Clean Water Rule.

Two years ago, sportsmen, conservation groups, and many other stakeholders generated one million public comments that helped to shape the final rule, which was broadly celebrated for restoring protections to 60 percent of America's stream miles and 20 million acres of wetlands previously at greater risk of being polluted or destroyed because of jurisdictional confusion. Since May 2015, there have been several legislative plays and lawsuits filed to block or roll back the rule.

"If this administration wants to put its stamp on the rule, they should honor the years of solutions-oriented consensus on the need to reverse wetlands loss, which has been fueled by legal and regulatory confusion. More clarity for headwater streams and wetlands protections should be the baseline standard from which to improve the rule, not the target of a tear-down," says Fosburgh.

It remains to be seen if it is even legal to ignore the majority position on a Supreme Court case. Meanwhile, the health of fish and wildlife habitat is the infrastructure of an outdoor recreation industry that fuels $646 billion in annual spending and supports more than 6 million American jobs.


Trout Unlimited launches digital report ~ "We are Public Lands":


The United States has 640 million acres of public lands that belong to every man, woman and child lucky enough to call themselves Americans. Today, that birthright is under threat from private special interests that want to sell them off under the guise of “transferring” them to the states.

In honor of National Public Lands Day and National Hunting and Fishing Day on Saturday, Sept. 24, Trout Unlimited released a new digital report that focuses on America’s public lands and the people who use them, as well as the effort to transfer and sell these lands to the highest bidder.

“The truth is that the distance between the effort to ‘transfer’ public lands and to sell them is very short,” TU President and CEO Chris Wood writes in the report. “Many of the states that would manage these lands have already sold significant portions of their formerly public state land to the highest seller. And we, as a country, have nothing to gain by such actions.”

The interactive digital report, “We are Public Lands” shows importance of public lands to the American people. The report is part of a larger project—“Thirty Days of Public Lands”— a month’s worth of original content on the TU website to honor America’s connection to these lands that all citizens own. Thirty Days of Public Lands includes features from across the country, including short pieces from well-known writers and conservationists, videos profiling some of the most avid public land users, photos and a chance for readers and viewers to tell Congress why public lands matter to them.

Also, as part of the launch, TU has put out a short film, “Birthright” (see above) which focuses on the people who use public lands and the effort to keep these lands in common ownership today, and for generations to come.

To check out the digital report, please click on the link below:
TU interactive digital report - “We are Public Lands”


Hank Patterson Explains Trout Unlimited (TU):

Hank Patterson shares his understanding of Trout Unlimited and the importance of membership with a couple new clients. What hoot! Are you a TU member?



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.



Rio Chama Flow Optimization Project:

CHAMA RIVER CANYON
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   ~   Email: trout@loeflyfishing.com   ~   Land of Enchantment Guides: PO Box 55 Velarde, NM 87582