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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 ~ April 26th, 2018:
Spring has officially arrived, the weather is really nice and, most importantly, the fishing in many locations is incredible! The run-off has started but with the lower snowpack we have it hasn’t been much of an issue. This has enabled us to fish many spots so far this spring that typically we might not be able to. At every spot where we have been fishing recently the fish are very healthy and hungry. It appears that we shouldn’t have any really major run-off events to contend with throughout May and June so this good fishing should continue for at least the next 6 to 8 weeks or so. The weather is great and this is a wonderful time to be out on the water. 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 that we take anglers to, check out our Private Water page.
Above Picture: Our guide Clay Wallis with a dinosaur of a rainbow he caught on a day off at the beginning of April (on public water no less). Measured at exactly 30 inches - Duuuude!
BAR X BAR RANCH: The lakes on the Bar X Bar Ranch made it through the winter in fine form and are in terrific shape. Streamers, wet flies, nymphs and midges; they’re all working well right now. The fish are really hungry and, over the last week or so, they are starting to come to the surface more. We are starting to hook a fair number on dry flies and on dry-dropper rigs. All five of the ranch's lakes are full of water and there is very little weed to contend with. We have had some epic days so far this season on this ranch. These conditions should hold until at least the beginning of July. There isn’t any snow left in the mountains above the Bar X Bar so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens as far as fishing conditions go throughout the latter part of the summer. This is a great time of year to think about a trip out to the Bar X Bar;
it is super-easy fishing and right now this is the best location to fish that is close to Santa Fe; a little under an hour drive from the Plaza.
Upper Picture: A chunky, springtime rainbow on the lower lake ~ good job Bobby L.!
Lower Picture: Seamus M. with one of many he landed at the BxB. This young man could catch em' up!
THE CONEJOS RIVER & ABEYTA RANCH: The Abeyta Ranch and the lower Conejos River have been fishing amazingly well so far this spring. The fish are looking very healthy and we have been getting into some real beauties. For the last month or so the water flows have been at a perfect level, holding quite steadily in the 250 to 500 cfs range. The clarity is quite good and the water still has that perfect green, springtime tint to it. We’ve been up on the Abeyta Ranch and the Conejos at least two or three days a week recently and have had some banner days with many large fish coming to the net. Bigger, flashy nymphs and worms have been the go to patterns and when the fish turn on, look out - they aren’t being very shy about hitting the rigs! When the flows are lower, we have been going to smaller size nymphs and doing equally well as with the “junk”. With the current rate of snowmelt and the releases out of Platoro reservoir, these fishing conditions should hold for at least another month. It doesn’t look like we’ll see super high run-off on the Conejos this year. Bearing this in mind, the conditions this June might be perfect for an epic salmon fly hatch - we’re keeping our fingers crossed and tying lots of large orange stimulators in anticipation of it happening! Give us a call anytime for on update on how the river is doing.
Picture: Brant G. with a beautiful springtime rainbow he caught at the Abeyta Ranch (guide Jesse Lee holding it).
SAN JUAN RIVER: We have been doing quite a few trips on the San Juan over the last month or so and with the recent nice weather we’ve had, the fishing has been really good. As of this writing the flows being released out of Navajo Dam have been holding steady in the 600 cfs range (it has been at this level since the beginning of April). This flow level has made for great wade fishing throughout the quality water stretch, just be careful not to go too far out into the main channels. There are lots of smaller fish in the river right now and it seems that the bigger fish have moved into all the deeper slots and bowls. The water clarity is fair with about 18 inches of visibility and should improve as the winds subside. We are starting to see many hatches of both midges and mayflies with some fairly decent dry fly action in the afternoons. Along with the standard array of lava and pupa patterns, fishing with streamers, leeches and egg patterns has
still been a great bet, bringing some very large fish to the net.
NOTE: Fishing with an Alaskan style bead rig has been made illegal on the quality waters section of the San Juan River. Though, to the best of our knowledge, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDG&F) has not notified the general public in writing of the new regulation it went into effect at the beginning of April. This new anti bead-rig regulation states that “anything used to attract a fish must directly attached to a hook”. If/when we find out anything more on this and get a printed regulation, we’ll let you know.
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: Bent rod up in the Braids on a late spring afternoon
Lower Picture: Wade fishing double; a brown and a rainbow. Well done Jan & Allen!
THE OSO PICCOLO RANCHES: The La Barranca ranch on the Chama has been fishing better and better each week this spring and we have caught some great fish in the past month or so. There seem to be many nice browns and rainbows spread out in all types of water from one end of the ranch to the other. On higher flow days they are on the deeper edges of the current seams and on lower flows they are moving up into the riffles. No top-water action yet but we actually have just started seeing a fish or two come to the surface this last week. We’ll keep hitting this spot when we can but, as soon as the run-off starts to wind down in mid-May, the fishing at La Barranca should be off the charts. Wolf Creek (on Wolf Creek Ranch) is still running a little high but it is looking really good. We are going to go and check it out in the next week or so and the way things are progressing it should be absolutely perfect by mid-May as well.
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.
Upper Picture: A beautiful Chama rainbow on the La Barranca Ranch. Way to go Bill M. ~ give that man a cigar.
Lower Picture: Deanne C. with a nice brown ~ nice fish for your first day ever fly fishing!
CHAMA & LOWER BRAZOS RIVERS: The flows on the Chama River below both Abiquiu and El Vado dams have been to the 600 to 720 cfs range respectively. The fishing in these spots is still fair but wouldn’t be our first choice of spots to fish now. If you are going to these areas, flashy nymphs and worms may be the best bet (give the mighty mop fly a try). The upper Chama and the lower Brazos are another story. Though the water levels in both of these rivers are running a bit high, we have had some really decent days so far this spring in both of these spots. Heavier nymph rigs are under an indicator have been the ticket with Warden’s Worries and Squirmies being good patterns to start with. The flows right now in both of these locations are still fishable and depending on how the run-off progresses, they may continue to be good throughout the spring until run-off is finished. Just check the flow levels before you go.
Picture: This gentleman wanted to fish but had some issues with his knees. He still caught a bunch from the chair on the Chama; can't stop - won't stop! Very inspiring to us all.
PECOS: The Pecos has been fishing well for the last month or so. We have had some decent trips fishing in all of the spots up and down the river. There is/was very little snow up higher above the Pecos River this winter so in all reality there hasn’t been any run-off this spring. Though the bulk of the fish aren’t very big, usually in the 8 to 14 inch range, there is always a chance of landing a really large rainbow (there are the occasional dinosaurs that come to the net). Both rainbows and browns are hitting equally well on smaller nymphs and dry-dropper rigs right now. Don’t be afraid to try a small streamer, squirmy-wormy or an egg pattern if you see a bigger fish. The flows are a very low for this time of year and have been in the 30 to 40 cfs range which makes for very easy wading and fishing; not the norm for spring fishing on the Pecos River. As always is the case wherever you fish this time of year, check the flows before you go.
Picture: The Pecos is just gorgeous these days. The time to fish it is now...
RIO GRANDE: For the last few weeks the flows on the lower Rio Grande been holding pretty steadily in the 250 cfs (cubic feet per second) range which is a perfect level for fly fishing. The caddis hatch has been on for the last few weeks and the fish are keying into them both sub-surface and on top. We have done quite a few trips on the Rio Grande over the last month or so and the fishing has been very good, with many fish being caught. On calmer afternoons there has been some terrific dry fly fishing, especially hitting the banks and edges using pretty much any dry caddis patterns. When it is windy or if we aren’t seeing any rising fish, we have been doing well with all manner of nymph rigs and smaller streamers. With the lower snowpack and less run-off, it is looking like this could be a really good year on the Rio Grande. Judging from the level of success we have been having recently, it certainly appears that the otters haven’t wiped out all of the fish in the Rio; go figure. We sure do like these beautiful animals and it makes us really happy to see them when we are fishing. Give em’ a break!
Picture: Myrna at the oars with her buddy Nalah looking for risers on the Rio last week.
QUINLAN RANCH: All of the lakes on the Quinlan have opened up and the fishing is getting better and better with each passing week. We still have to pick our days to get up to the upper lakes but the roads are open and all of the ice is completely gone. Right now streamers and chironomids are the ticket but as the bugs start moving a bit more, all manner of rigs will be working. Within the next 2-3 weeks it may also be time to cast some dries at the grassy banks; we can’t wait. May and June are some of the best months to fish on the Quinlan Ranch lakes. No matter what the rivers are doing the fishing conditions are good at the Quinlan Ranch.
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: Don's Lake on the Quinlan Ranch in mid-April; it's ready and waiting.
VALLES CALDERA NATIONAL PRESERVE: Right now we are only fishing on the East Fork of the Jemez on the Valles Caldera. This year they aren’t allowing vehicles to go into the back-country and San Antonio Creek until May 15th. The fishing on the East Fork has been decent this month but we are really excited to start going to the San Antonio once the road access opens up. The best time to fish the Valles Caldera is in late spring and early summer and this year should be no exception.
THE MK & SHAHAN RANCHES: The Navajo river is looking really good this spring. Shane did our first trip of the year on the Shahan Ranch last week and though it was pretty windy, they caught some nice fish. Nymphing is still the ticket but it won’t be long before it will be time to cast some dry flies. We haven’t made a trip upstream to the MK Ranch but it should be just about ready - give us a call for an update. 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: With the lower snowpack we should be able to get up to the High Timber Ranch by mid-May this year. We’ll be making an attempt to go and check it out soon. Along with day trips out of the Chama area, we are now 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):