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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.
NM Fishing Report ~ August 24th, 2017:
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.
ABEYTA RANCH ~ CONEJOS: Since our last report, the water flows on the Conejos have stabilized and are holding steady in the 225 to 300 cfs (cubic feet per second) range which is absolutely the perfect level for fishing at the Abeyta Ranch. We have been catching lots of very nice fish on ranch, with both nymph rigs and dries. There are lots of smaller mayflies hatching but it seems the fish that are looking up want hoppers and 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 Snake River fine-spot cutthroats thrown in for good measure. The average size of the rainbows this year is a big as we have ever seen with lots of fish in the 20 to 25 inch range being caught; some real brutes! 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 both the Abeyta Ranch and the public stretches of the river 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: A beautiful young lady with a beautiful rainbow on the the Abeyta Ranch ~ this gal sure can fish!
Lower Picture: Another big bow pulled from the Conejos River. The plumbers strike again!
CHAMA & LOWER BRAZOS: The upper Chama and the Brazos are still fishing very well and should only get better as we move into September and October. The water levels on the Brazos have actually been very good throughout most of the summer and should hold up well for the next couple of months. The fishing is very good with many nice rainbows and a few decent browns being hooked. Any smaller nymphs are working along with small terrestrials and dries of all types; hopper-dropper rigs are a great bet. The upper Chama has been in great shape for the whole year with lots more water than we have seen in many seasons. The fishing has been good with the exception of the few days when heavy rains made the river excessively off-color. As the rains subside over the next week or two, this will cease to be a problem. We have been doing well with all sorts of fly set-ups with everything from small dry flies, hopper-droppers and
nymph rigs bringing fish in. Earlier on in the summer, worms were the ticket but now it seems to be that smaller stoneflies, warden’s worries, small bead-head may fly nymphs and smaller Prince nymphs are the go to flies. When the water has been a bit off color, we have had some great success fishing bigger streamers. If you are willing to commit to it, stripping streamers through the deeper pools and runs and around any good structure will increase the chances of hooking into the biggest fish in the river. Over the last month or so this technique has brought some really big fish to the net for us in the upper Chama. The fishing below El Vado Dam has been good throughout the summer, especially when the flows coming out of the dam are lower (the higher releases out of the dam for the rafters and kayakers typically continue at least through Labor Day weekend). No dry flies in this stretch but any bright nymphs in tandem with a wooly bugger will work - don’t be afraid to change your depths to match the section of river you are in. The area below Abiquiu dam is running high (in the 630 cfs range) and the water is very dirty - it does appear to be clearing ever so slightly this past week. We haven't been to this stretch at all this summer; we're still waiting for the fall and the flows to be reduced.
Upper Picture: Jason D. with a beautiful, wild, streamer eatin' Chama River brown trout - way to go!
Lower Picture: Cloudy day and the bows came out to play on the upper Chama - nice.
THE MK & SHAHAN RANCHES: Located on the Navajo River in southern Colorado, both of these spots are fishing really well with lots of decent sized browns and rainbows to be had. As with all of our rivers this season, the water conditions on these ranches are the best we have seen in many years. The water on the MK ranch, which is above the diversion, is still really cold which is a blessing for this time of year. This stretch of river is full of cased caddis so the fish are very fat and will slam a small warden’s worry or caddis pattern. The top-water action has been very good so far this summer with small hoppers and elk hair caddis being our most productive patterns. At an altitude of 8,200 feet, this area cools of quickly in the early fall
and the browns start to get fired up by mid-September and there are some beauties to be had! The Shahan Ranch is a new ranch for us this year and boy is it spectacular. It has one deep pool after another that are full of fish, both rainbows and browns. So far this season on this ranch we have been fishing mostly nymph rigs with all manner of caddis patterns but over the last few weeks, the dry fly action has been really good. This section of the river actually has more browns than Rainbow so the fall fishing should be off the charts. The Shahan Ranch has 1.5 miles of river with many great pools. The MK Ranch is higher up with about 4± miles of river nestled in right below the Banded Peaks. These are some of the most beautiful places we fish at.
Upper Picture: Another wild rainbow from the MK Ranch last week - nicely done!
Lower Picture: Andy S. checking his rig below some small falls on the Shahan Ranch.
PECOS: The fishing on all sections of the Pecos has been good recently, even on days when the water is a bit cloudy due to a rain. All manner of rigs are working, both dry flies and wets. On top we have had some great success with smaller hippie stompers and foam beetle patterns. If you want to get a bit tricky and fish two dry flies you can trail a small parachute Adams behind your larger lead pattern. All manner of smaller nymphs and stoneflies are working well sub-surface, just get your depth and weight right for each spot. We have been catching lots of mid-sized rainbows and wild browns with the occasional larger fish (a “Pecos surprise”) thrown in. The Pecos should fish well throughout the fall, especially after Labor Day.
Picture: A gorgeous wild brown trout from the Pecos a couple of weeks ago - way to go Tom D.
SAN JUAN: A few days ago the Bureau of Reclamation increased the release from Navajo Dam up to the 700 cfs (cubic feet per second) range which is still a decent level for wading and perfect for a float trip. The fishing has been very good throughout July and August and, maybe due to the recent “flush”, the fish are in really healthy and fat. The upper sections of the quality water stretch 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 both with big and, small dries and 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, recently we seem to be having a bit more success with smaller sizes of midge patterns; we're mostly fishing size
24 and 26 flies.
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: San Juan "family double". Way to go Bill M. (L) and Jake M. (Center).
Lower Picture: A big bow for Gary M. on a float trip in late July.
BAR X BAR RANCH: The Bar X Bar is still fishing very well and with all the good rains we have had recently, the lakes are in phenomenal shape for this time of year. For the last month or so the dry fly action has been off the charts. In the upper lakes we have been able to sight fish with a single hopper to specific fish and use dry flies all day long - what a blast! If you want to directly target larger fish (there are a fair number of fish in the over 20 inch range on the Bar X Bar) a larger leech pattern stripped and fished deep is the way to go. Pretty cool to be able to fish top-water and then switch to streamers without moving to a different spot. We have also made a few runs down to the Bar X Bar stretch of Cow Creek which is full of wild browns and a few bigger
rainbows. This section of the creek has tight fishing conditions but it is very beautiful and rewarding if you want to have a bit of adventure. The fishing in September and October should continue to be very good out at the Bar X Bar Ranch.
The lakes offer 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: Now this is the relaxed way to fish. Go get em' Mr. Z.!
Lower Picture: Nancy Z. fished all day with a single dry; this is one of many nice fish she landed. Good show!
VALLES CALDERA NATIONAL PRESERVE: The fishing on the Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP) is still very good with an above average amount of water in the streams for this time of year. We are still having lots of top-water action with small hoppers, beetles and parachute Adams being the go to flies. When the water is of color after a rain light nymph rigs are working very well with smaller Prince nymphs and red copper johns as a great first choice. As always, there are lots of smaller brown trout in the 8" to 12" size range with the occasional bigger fish coming to the net. As the fall progresses the brown trout will become more aggressive as they get ready to spawn - this typically means that you will catch a larger size run of fish. With its expansive alpine meadows and gorgeous views, the VCNP is one of the most beautiful locations we go to and the fall is one of the prettiest times of year to be there.
Picture: All dry flies; all day on the San Antonio. Great casting and good fishing Joe L.
QUINLAN RANCH: As was the case in our last report, the fishing on the Quinlan Ranch is still holding up fairly well. With the warmer weather in August the ranch’s lakes seem to fish best the morning and evening. This should change as the weather cools into the fall and the fishing should be good throughout the day. North Lake has been a lot of fun and one of the best places in the state to go and catch good sized brook trout. All of the lakes are still producing some really nice fish with a fair number in the 20"+ range. 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". 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. - there is limited availability in September and October due to the elk hunting season.
The Quinlan Ranch is a wonderful place to base out of to fish Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. Please check out the "Fishing Packages" page for more information.
Picture: Joan G. all smiles and hooting with her Don's Lake brown trout. Cool!
THE OSO PICCOLO RANCHES: 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. We been pleasantly surprised at the size of some of the fish in the 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.
The La Barranca Ranch on the Chama river has been fishing extremely well throughout the summer and should stay this way throughout the fall. Dry-dropper rigs and smaller streamers have been the ticket and are bringing lots of nice fish to the net. NOTE: Availability on these ranches is limited throughout the fall. Please call us for more information.
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.
Picture: Mr. G. with nice wild La Barranca brown trout that crashed a hopper - well done!
RIO GRANDE & RED RIVER: The flows on the lower Rio (between Taos and Velarde) have been dropping gradually over the last few weeks or so and today they are at 302 cfs (cubic feet per second) below Taos Junction Bridge. These flow levels are great for this section of the river. This being said, it is still a bit off color but it is getting clearer with each passing day. We have done a couple of trips here within the last two weeks and had fairly decent fishing. Prince nymphs, soft hackles, smaller wooly buggers and streamers were the best patterns. The best types of water seemed to be in the deeper, faster runs and on the edges of the riffles. The Rio typically fishes the best in September through November and all of the conditions are looking as though it will be a good fall this year. Give us a call anytime for an update. The Red River has been fishing just so-so for us throughout this summer. The fishing in the section below the hatchery in Questa is OK but it is very overgrown this year. Bring some extra flies...
HIGH TIMBER RANCH: We were only able to get into to the High Timber Ranch a couple of times this year - all of the heavy snows blew out the road in many spots which made driving pretty dicey until early August. On the trips we did make up to the ranch this month we had some of the best fishing ever with 40-50 fish per angler days. Unfortunately the fishing season ends up at the High Timber Ranch at the first of September. Please contact us about fishing up there next year. We are starting to do multi-day, all inclusive trips up at the ranch. Check out the "Private Water" page for more detailed information about the fishing on the High Timber Ranch.
Fly Tyer Magazine Article about L.O.E. Guides and the Flies We Tie:
The autumn issue of Fly Tyer Magazine did an article on Land of Enchantment Guides featuring 16 of the custom fly patterns that Shane, Jesse and Noah tie. Many thanks to Fly Tyer editor David Klausmeyer for thinking enough of us to do the article - we are very flattered. You can read a printout (.pdf) of the article by clicking the link below:
Fly Tyer is the best publication on the market on all types of fly tying and materials. Though primarily a magazine on all things concerning fly tying, it is an equally good source of many fishing skills and techniques. We highly reccomend that you pick up a copy at your local fly shop and/or consider getting a subscription. For more information you can go to their website: www.flytyer.com
Chama River Catch and Release Area Now Established:
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.
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.
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:
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):