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Fly Fishing Report & News

Northern New Mexico and southern Colorado fishing report, current local water, weather 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!

Spring fishing has been in full force here in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado with our rivers and lakes producing many nice fish. Recently, our guides have been doing lots of trips in the Chama area and on the San Juan River and have had great success. We have been facing some closure issues due to the fires in NM (see second article below) but luckily, we have multiple different options for fishing and continue to have quality days on the water. The fish in all of the locations we go to seemed to have weathered the winter well and are fat, healthy and hungry. Run-off from the snow melt appears to have peaked in many of our rivers and streams and is just now starting to back off which makes for some of the best water conditions of the year.

As always, don’t hesitate to call us for up to date information, if you have any questions and/or would like to book a trip. Even better, stop by our new fly shop, The Fly Fishing Outpost, we just opened in Santa Fe. We have all the fly patterns and gear you will need for a successful fishing trip in our area (See the third article down for more information and directions).

All of the Fishing Report pictures were taken within the last 5 weeks...

Chama River & Alpine Tributaries:

Elvado Chama River NM
The lower Chama has been hit or miss depending on which sections of the river we have been fishing. The section below Abiquiu Dam fished quite well earlier this spring, until the releases out of the dam were increased; they are currently at 765 cfs (cubic feet per second). You can still fish here, but the water is quite turbid and really high. Big, heavy nymph rigs will probably be the best option if you try to give this location a try.

The area below El Vado Dam has been very productive on our recent trips and we have brought some solid browns to the net here. Fishing below El Vado is dependent on the flow levels being released out of the reservoir so check to see if they have bumped before going fishing - anything much higher than 600 cfs is a bit dicey. If you are going to fish in the El Vado section, we would suggest using brightly colored nymph patterns, mop flies, squirmy-wormies and stoneflies. Stripping bigger streamers and buggers is also a good bet in the slower water. Depending on the releases from the dam and the water levels, you will have to adjust your weights and fly depths accordingly.

Elvado NM Fly Fishing
With the run-off starting to taper off, the upper freestone spots on the Chama River have started to fish well over the last few days. During the higher flows, we have had some good trips fishing deep with heavier nymph rigs. With every day as the water levels drop further and the water clarity increases, we have been going to smaller sized flies - we have even started seeing a few mayflies hatching. All the trout we have landed on the upper river seem to have made it through the winter well and were quite healthy. The fishing should be nothing short of epic in this area from late May well into June and July.

UPPER PICTURE: The indomitable Bruce B. (a.k.a. "The Streamer Master") with a nice early April Chama brown trout.
LOWER PICTURE: El Vado gave up this rainbow for George R. a few weeks back ~ well done!

The San Juan River:

San Juan Big Brown
We have had some excellent days fishing the San Juan over the last couple of months. As of this writing the flows being released out of Navajo Dam have been holding steady in the 300 cfs range (it has been at this level since the middle of April). This flow level has made for great wade fishing throughout the quality water stretch. We aren’t doing that many float trips these days as there are many boats on the river and we are able to have much better fishing and get away from most other anglers when wading and, at these spots on the river, we’re getting into a much bigger size class of fish. Along with the standard array of larva and pupa patterns, fishing with streamers, leeches and egg patterns has still been a great bet, bringing some very large fish to the net.

San Juan River Fly Fishing
With the clearer water right now, 5.5X or 6X tippet for indicator rigs is a good bet. Early in the morning a good set-up to start with would be a combination of smaller annelid and midge larva patterns. Keep changing your depths and weight in relation to each area’s water depth and speed. Both mayfly and midge nymph patterns are working well in the late morning into the afternoon in the riffles, especially when there are bugs hatching. Size 20 and 22 chocolate or gray mayfly nymph patterns and size 24 to 26 midge pupa and emerger patterns in gray, black and olive are also all fooling many fish. Depending on the day the fish have also been fired up to eat dries which, at this time of year, is not always the case. On two separate trips we have had clients land some dinosaur sized trout. The fishing gods shined down on the anglers and not only did they hook a fish over twenty five inches; they also landed them!

UPPER PICTURE: How about a 25 inch San Juan brown trout? Awsome job Karen S.!
LOWER PICTURE: Heavy winds late last month didn't stop Mike A. from landing this 26 inch brute!.

The Oso Piccolo Ranches:

Chama River Brown Trout
The La Barranca ranch on the upper Chama river fished well before the run-off and we caught some great fish there before the water levels got too high last month. With the dropping water levels recently, we have started to do some trips here again and it is fishing better and better each day we go. Right now we are using heavier nymph rigs and/or streamers on sink tips and getting into a some really big browns and rainbows. The same as on the other upper sections of the river, we are slowly switching to lighter rigs and smaller flies. At the rate that the flows are dropping conditions should be perfect by the third week of May.

La Barranca Chama River
There is still a bit too much water running to fish on the Wolf Creek Ranch - it will probably be another couple of weeks before it is ready; it is a small stream at a higher elevation. Wolf Creek should be shaping up to offer great fishing soon and can be a blast targeting the wild browns that are eager to eat almost any fly pattern. By early June the dry fly fishing here should start and you can have a great time fishing just a single hopper all day long.

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 La Barranca butter ball brown trout came to the net for Tom F. ~ Nice!
LOWER PICTURE: Robert M. fishing a softer edge seam at the La Barranca Ranch last week.

The Rio Grande & The Red River:

RIO GRANDE TJB
The Rio Grande fished really well pre-runoff; we even had a small window of time with a caddis hatch. We fished the racecourse and Pilar area both half and full day trips until run-off, with solid browns and rainbows landed. Nymphing with worms, buggers, mayfly and cranefly larva were our go to patterns fished deep to get down to holding trout. Skating an adult caddis during the hatch rolled some decent fish and was a lot of fun when it lasted. As of now we are waiting for the runoff to subside on both the Rio Grande and the Red River before we to do any fishing at these two spots. We are also floating the Rio Grande and will start guiding from the raft potentially sooner than we will be wading. This is a great option to get on the water sooner. Hopefully by early June, the Rio and the Red will be available for both wading and floating. As soon as this happens the fishing will be excellent! Feel free to give us a call at the office to see where the water levels are at.

PICTURE: A Taos Junction Bow landed on the Rio last month ~ Nicely done Tom L.!

The Bar X Bar Ranch:

Bar X Bar Ranch
The lakes at the Bar X Bar have been fishing extremely well. Just after ice out we were fishing streamers and nymph rigs subsurface and had some very productive days even when it was cold. As the weather warmed up in early April, the fish began looking up and started to eat dry flies. Depending on the conditions, there has been excellent dry fly fishing with small hopper and beetle patterns. Unfortunately, the access to the Bar X Bar has been shut due to the closure of the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) so we haven’t been able to get out to the ranch since the beginning of May. As soon as the fires are a bit more under control, we should be able to start fishing out here again - hopefully sooner than later. We’ll keep you posted.

PICTURE: Alyssa A. with a beautiful Bar X Bar Rainbow last month ~ you go girl!

The Quinlan Ranch:

Quinlan Ranch Chama NM
Since early April, the fishing on the Quinlan Ranch lakes has been very good and should continue to get even better over the next month or two. The fish in the higher altitude lakes have made it through the winter in fine form and are really chunky and strong. The lower lakes have really turned on and and we have been landing some very big fish here. So far this season, we are catching mostly rainbows but have also landed some very nice browns. All manner of rigs are working - chironomids, nymphs and streamers are all bringing fish to the net. We are also just starting to see the odd damsel fly so pretty soon they should be added to the mix for the trout's dining fare. Usually by the end of May the dry fly fishing picks up; it is going to be a hoot to catch some of the Quinlan's bigger fish on the surface! All of the boats are in the water - there are five ClackaCraft drift boats spread out between the five lakes we fish on the ranch. We have started our all-inclusive fishing packages at the Quinlan Ranch and clients have been happy to kick back and enjoy the quality food and lodging provided at the Quinlan.

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.

PICTURE: An early April fatty on Don's lake ~ Well done Jose A.!

The Conejos River:

Conejos Salmon Fly Hatch
Up until late April the Conejos River was fishing very well and the fish are fat and eating stonefly nymphs and worms trying to bulk up on the abundance of spring food. Right now, the flows on the Conejos are very high, trending in the 1,600 to 1,800 cfs range, making the fishing pretty difficult. You can still hook a few fish if you target the slower water and the softer edges. It does look like the run-off on the Conejos my be done a little earlier than is typical. If the flows are down at least to 600 cfs levels by mid-June there could be a great salmon fly hatch - keep your fingers crossed!

PICTURE: Adult salmon flies doing their thing...

The Shahan & MK Ranches:

It is still a bit early to be fishing these two properties as they are tucked up into the upper end of the Chromo valley and the Navajo River, where we fish here, is running pretty high and cold. In the next few weeks, we will start scouting both properties and hopefully begin fishing them by early June. The Shahan Ranch, due to being at a bit lower in elevation, usually starts to become fishable before the MK Ranch. Both ranches are great options to fish and continue to blow our minds at the quality of trout that live in this river system.

The Pecos River:

The Pecos, like the Bar X Bar ranch, is inaccessible right now due to the SFNF and NM State Park closures. The fishing was very good before the run-off with both healthy browns and rainbows eating nymph rigs. When the river was low and clear the fish were selective and wanted to eat small midges and mayflies trailed behind an egg or larger attractor fly. As the water bumped worms and stoneflies seemed to turn more fish and flashier mayflies and prince nymphs got the attention of more picky eaters. We are hopefully going to have less wind in the next few weeks and with fingers crossed the fire will be able to be better contained. Please call the shop to find out up to date information regarding the access to the Pecos River and when it is open again to the public.

The Valles Caldera & Jemez Area Streams:

The East Fork of the Jemez has been fishing well but due to the Cerro Pelado fire, we have not been able to fish up in this area. As of now the Valles Caldera is closed to the public, but we are eager to get out on their spring creeks as soon as it opens up again.

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Fly Fishing and the Fires in New Mexico

Pacheco Fire
Over the last few weeks we have had may people call us to ask about the wildfires that are ravaging parts of northern New Mexico and how they are affecting the fly fishing in our area.

There are currently three major fires in northern New Mexico, two of which are still very active (the Cerro Pelado fire and the Calf Canyon/Hermit’s Peak fire) and one that is very well contained (the Cooks Peak fire). The fires that are affecting some of our fishing locations are the Cerro Pelado fire and the Calf Canyon/Hermit’s Peak fire. The fire conditions here have been very bad over the last few weeks which has allowed these two fires to grow quickly and get out of hand.

The Cerro Pelado fire is in the Jemez area directly along the southern border of the Valles Caldera. As of this evening (5/12/22), its size was 43,887 acres and was 11% contained. Currently the Valles Caldera is completely closed as is approximately 20 miles of Route 4. This means there is no access to the upper ends of the public water in the Jemez area.

The Calf Canyon/Hermit’s Peak fire, which is on the east side of the mountains due east of Santa Fe, is a massive fire. As of this evening (5/12/22), its size was 270,447 acres and was 29% contained. This fire has caused the closure of the of the Pecos and Las Vegas districts of the Santa Fe National Forest and the Pecos Canyon NM State Park. These closures mean that we are unable to fish the Pecos River and/or access the Bar X Bar Ranch.

The good news for anglers that are fly fishing in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado is that the Chama area, which got a lot of snow this past winter, is a long way from where the fires are (100± miles) and the conditions there are great. Closer to Santa Fe, the options are a bit more limited due to the fires, but the Rio Grande has not been affected and Santa Cruz and Nambe lakes are also great spots to try. The San Juan River, which is even further from the fires, is always a good bet. Check out the map below to get a better idea of the location of the fires and their proximity to the areas we fish. Call us at the shop anytime for current information and updates on the closures and the fires.

These fires, especially the Calf Canyon/Hermit’s Peak fire, have devastated many communities here in New Mexico. To date, over 16,000 people have had to evacuate their homes, there have been over 300 houses and structures lost and the devastation isn’t over yet. If you would like to help by making a donation to the victims of these fires, you can do so at either of the links below - the folks who have been affected could sure use a helping hand.

Red Cross Donations to NM Fire Victims

Santa Fe Food Depot Donations for NM Fire Victims

NM Fires

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We've Opened a Fly Shop!

FFO Outside
We would like to let everyone know that our new fly shop, called The Fly Fishing Outpost, is now officially open. Located at Bishop’s Lodge in Santa Fe (1297 Bishop's Lodge Road), it is an amazing spot right on the bottom pool of a stream - you can try out a new fly rod on the water.

We have lots of great gear, flies, rods & reels, clothing, New Mexico fishing and hunting licenses and much more...

Please come by and say hi and check it out. Our hours are 9 to 5, every day. We’ll be looking forward to seeing you!

Bishops FFO Map

FFO Inside      FFO Inside

FFO Inside      FFO Inside

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Fly Tyer Magazine Article Profiles Shane Parker-Kast

SPK Fly Tyer Article


We are very proud to announce that Shane, one of our guides, has been featured in an article in the most recent issue of Fly Tyer Magazine (Autumn, 2020). Many thanks to Fly Tyer editor David Klausmeyer who wrote the piece. You can read a printout (.pdf) of the article by clicking the link below:

Article on Shane Parker-Kast ~ Fly Tier, Guide & Artist

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 recommend that you pick up a copy at your local fly shop and/or consider getting a subscription. Check out their website: www.flytyer.com

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Fly Tyer Magazine Article about Land of Enchantment Guides

Fly Tyer Article


The Autumn, 2017 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:

Article on Land of Enchantment Guides

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 recommend that you pick up a copy at your local fly shop and/or consider getting a subscription. Check out their website: www.flytyer.com

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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?

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