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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 ~ February 12th, 2018:
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 RIVER: Nothing much has changed since our last report and the “Juan” is probably the most productive spot to fish right now. We have been doing a lot of trips on the San Juan over the last month or so and the fishing has been really, really good. This should be the case throughout the rest of the winter and into the spring. As of this writing, the flows being released out of Navajo Dam have been holding steady in the 370 cfs (cubic feet per second) range. This flow level has made the fishing great for both floating and wading. We are doing well fishing the deeper water spots from the boat and then getting out and wading in the shallower areas - the best of both
worlds. One thing that has changed since our last report is that the reservoir has “turned over” making the water clarity a bit low with about 16 to 24 inches of visibility. This means that anglers can get away with heavier tippet than usual (4.5 X shouldn’t be an issue) and larger flies are producing lots of fish. The fish are hanging in the deeper water early in the day but as the sun gets overhead and the bugs start to appear in the shallower sections, they are moving up into the flats and riffles to eat. Recently, along with the standard array of lava and pupa patterns, fishing streamers, leeches and worms has been a great bet and these patterns are bringing some
very large fish to the net. This time of year the crowds are gone - on our last few trips, both floating and wading, we basically had the San Juan all to ourselves, seeing only one or two other anglers throughout the whole day. The NMDG&F and the NM State Park are still working on the river below Simon Canyon which is shortening up the length of a float trip so wade trips are still probably the best option (check out the article below for more details).
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: A beautiful San Juan brown in the Texas Hole - Thumbs up Amanda G.!
Middle Picture: Taking a break from rowing. No other boats on the river this day...
Lower Picture: Wade fishing the head of the run. One of many nice fish Dennis O. landed.
CHAMA & LOWER BRAZOS RIVERS: The Chama River tailwater sections (the areas below the dams) are still fishing quite well with the best bet being below Abiquiu Dam. At the beginning of this month the flows/water releases out of the dam were lowered to the 30 cfs range which makes for super easy wading. There have been tons of rainbows stocked in this section of the river over the last month or so and they have been a blast to catch. We are still hooking into a few really nice browns below Abiquiu as well.
The section below El Vado Dam is in full on “winter fishing mode” with the much colder water coming out of the reservoir this time of
year. The flows have been holding steady in the 100 cfs range since the first of the year; hopefully this is where they will stay until spring when the brown trout eggs have hatched. If you are able to get this spot on the Chama under the right conditions - warmer, sunny days - you can still have a very fun time and catch a fair number of fish. Large, heavier nymphs followed by something small and flashy have been the key to success in both the Abiquiu and El Vado sections.
The fishing on the upper Chama has slowed substantially and there is a fair amount of ice in the slower pools and along the river’s edge. On warmer, sunny days there is still a chance of having some pretty good fishing but things on the upper river have definitely wound down for the season. The fishing conditions on the lower Brazos are the same as on the upper Chama - the river is very low, clear and cold.
This being said, if you are in the area on a warmer, sunny day these spots are still worth a shot. Lighter tippets and smaller flies fished close to the bottom will most probably be the best rigs to use.
Upper Picture: Guides day off on the lower Chama - Joey Hart with a nice winter brown trout; yea buddy.
Middle Picture: There are lots of nice rainbows to be had below Abiquiu Dam these days. Well done Rob H.!
Lower Picture: Blue skies with a dusting of snow below El Vado Dam at the end of January.
PECOS RIVER: Believe it or not, we have actually had a couple of very decent days on the Pecos in the last couple of weeks. Joey and Jesse fished it one afternoon a few days back and did quite well; no big fish but lots of fun and decent numbers to the net. The water is quite cold throughout the river and the fish are definitely still hunkered down for the winter. This being said, on a warm sunny day, you could still have fun and catch a bunch. The best spots to try will be in the deeper holes in the lower sections of the river. Smaller streamers and nymphs are the way to go right now. If it stays warm for the rest of February, early March on the Pecos should be really good this year.
Picture: The Pecos River is looking really pretty right now...
RIO GRANDE & RED RIVER: The flows on the lower/Pilar stretch of Rio Grande are still flowing in the 450 - 500 cfs range - no change from our last report. We have had some decent pike fishing but the trout fishing has been just fair at best. As with most of our fishing locations this time of year, warmer, sunny days will probably be more productive. The Red river, which is a tributary of the Rio is fishing fairly well. This time of year the cuttbows move up out of the Rio into the Red to spawn. If you don’t mind a bit of a hike, this is a great spot to try over the next 4 to 6 weeks. Please feel free to give us a call for more information.
Picture: A nice winter afternoon on the Rio - Angela is all smiles and enjoying the weather.
ABEYTA RANCH & CONEJOS RIVER: The ice on the Conejos River and the Abeyta Ranch has got to the point where it has made it not worth fishing. One could certainly do a trip on the Conejos but it would entail trying to find pools or runs that were not iced over. Depending on the weather, early to mid-March on the Conejos is usually when the fishing starts to pick up again. This is when we get the biggest rainbows of the year!
BAR X BAR RANCH: The lakes at the Bar X Bar Ranch are pretty much iced over but there are a few spots beginning to clear. If we get a couple of weeks of sunny weather, it should be ready to fish. Right after the water opens up is when we get into some of the biggest fish of the year on this ranch's lakes. The Bar X Bar Ranch offers great fishing that is close to Santa Fe; a little under an hour drive from the Plaza.
QUINLAN RANCH: The lakes and ponds at the Quinlan Ranch are iced over and the fishing is done for the season. We had some great fishing this fall and the fish looked to be in great shape heading into this winter. We're already thinking about ice-out next April.
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.
VALLES CALDERA NATIONAL PRESERVE: The fishing on the Valles Caldera is finished for this year but what a great year it was out there! As soon as the roads are passable next year we'll be headed out to the "Caldera". This year we got into some really nice fish and during our last few trips in the fall and the amount of brown trout redds (see the article below) we saw was amazing. This bodes well for a great future of the fishery.
THE OSO PICCOLO RANCHES: The fishing on these ranches is done for the year. We're already getting excited about next year up there! 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.
THE MK & SHAHAN RANCHES: The Navajo river, especially in the higher, shaded sections gets really cold by mid-November and the fishing slows way down. Typically in late March into early April is when we will start fishing these locations again. Both of these ranches are located in southern Colorado on the Navajo river. The Shahan Ranch has 2± miles of river with some terrific stream improvements and deep pools. The MK Ranch is higher up upstream with about 4± miles of river. These are some of the most beautiful places we fish at.
HIGH TIMBER RANCH: The High Timber Ranch is also finished for the year. What an incredible season we had up there. We are doing 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.
Upcoming enhancements of San Juan River at Navajo Lake State Park:
Parts of the San Juan River will be closed beginning on December 15th (primarily areas from Simon Canyon down to the Gravel Pit). If you are thinking of heading over there this winter make sure to check on what will be open.
The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish will begin a river enhancement project on Dec. 15, 2017 on the San Juan River at Navajo Lake State Park from Simon Point Day-Use Area downriver to the Crusher Hole Day-Use Area. Temporary closures of multiple day-use areas are expected until sometime in April, 2018.
The project will include a new boat takeout at Crusher Hole Day-Use Area. The Crusher Hole area will be closed to the public from Dec. 15, 2017, through March 1, 2018. There will be no access to the boat takeout at Crusher Hole while the new takeout is constructed. Bolack Day-Use Area will be closed from Dec. 15, 2017, through April 15, 2018. County Road 4280 that offers access to the area will also be closed to traffic. However, anglers may access the area at Cottonwood Campground.
A temporary boat takeout will be constructed at the Munoz Day-Use Area. The temporary takeout will provide public access to the upper portions of the river. For the safety of all visitors to the park, use of the San Juan River past Simon Point, including portions in and out of the park boundaries, will be closed to boat traffic and wade fishing from Dec. 15, 2017, through March 1, 2018. Limited use of the river will be available from March 1, 2018, through April 15, 2018.
All listed areas will be posted closed and the gates will be locked. For more information, contact Navajo Lake State Park: (505) 632-2278.
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):