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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!

Rio Grande Winter
Happy New Year and we hope that everyone is doing OK. We have been getting some terrific snows up in the mountains over the last few weeks and many of our snow-pack levels are already above the annual averages for this time of year - incredible! If we continue to get some more decent storms for the rest of the winter, we should have a really good run-off next spring and great conditions in our rivers, streams and lakes next summer; keep your fingers crossed.

The fishing so far this winter has been great in a few spots and good others, if you go to the right locations. Both the Chama and the Rio Grande are still fishing well for this time of year and, if you are willing to make the trip, the fishing on the San Juan has been excellent so far this winter. This is also the time of the year to target large pike on the Rio Grande and cuttbows on the Red River, both of which can offer some exciting action. Recently we have been picking our days within the constraints of the weather but are still getting out on the rivers quite often.

PICTURE ABOVE: Late afternoon on the Rio Grande last week after a day of fishing.

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 – or even better, stop by our new fly shop we just opened in Santa Fe (see the article below). During the winter the fish don’t say they are done for the year, just a lot of the fishermen do. Don’t get stuck to the couch!

Chama & Lower Brazos Rivers:

Chama River Brown Trout
The Chama River tailwater sections (the areas below the dams) are still fishing quite well with the best bet being below Abiquiu Dam. The flows/water releases out of Abiquiu is currently at 62± cfs (cubic feet per second) which makes for easy wading. Double nymph rigs with an egg pattern, and any small bright mayfly or zebra style midge are bringing lots of fish to hand. When the sun gets a bit lower in the afternoons, the bigger fish have been taking small streamers, in black or olive, stripped slowly through the deeper runs and pools. If you get a bit further down river from the dam, there is still a good chance of hooking into a few really nice browns as well.

Brazos River New Mexico
The section below El Vado Dam is in full “winter fishing mode” with a fair amount of snow on the banks and much colder water coming out of the reservoir. If you are able to get to this spot on the Chama under the right conditions, especially on warmer, sunny days, you can still have a great time. Large, heavier nymphs followed by something small and flashy have been the key to success below El Vado recently. Another good bet is to try a smaller woolly bugger as your bottom fly and allow the rig to swing at the end of your drifts. The flows coming out of the dam here have been holding steady in the 100± cfs range since the beginning of December, which is a perfect level for this location; hopefully this is where they will stay until spring and the brown trout eggs have hatched.

The fishing on the upper part of the Chama above El Vado reservoir and on the Brazos River is pretty much done for the year. A fair amount of ice has already formed in these spots and the water is very clear and cold - best to wait until spring.

UPPER PICTURE: A warm December day below El Vado - Give that fish a kiss Steve!
LOWER PICTURE: All smiles for Christina W. before the Brazos started to ice up.

The Rio Grande & The Red River:

Boot P Rio Grande
The Rio Grande has been fishing quite well so far this winter. Some nice sized rainbows and browns have been brought to the net recently and we expect this to continue well into the spring. Worms and egg patterns coupled with a small streamer is a good place to start. Consider fishing any of these flies followed by a small chocolate, gray or olive mayfly or midge pattern as well, under an indicator - this is the “go to” rig right now. As with most of our locations this time of year, fishing the Rio Grande on warmer, sunny days will usually be more a bit more productive. Keep in mind that during the winter months, the trout here will typically be bunched up in specific locations so you may have to cover some ground until you find them. If you have ever wanted to try your hand at pike fishing, this is the time of year on the Rio when you will find these monsters willing to attack large streamers. Watching a large pike stalking and then taking your fly will really get your heart pumping, not to mention the fight! Please feel free to give us a call for more information.

We have made a few trips up to the Red River over the past month and the fishing has been okay. Not too many larger fish but we have had decent fishing every trip. Hopefully we’ll start to see more of the bigger fish that typically show up during the winter - it is always worth a shot this time of year. The Red River is fed by many springs which typically keeps the water open and warmer throughout the winter, especially downstream of the hatchery to the confluence with the Rio Grande.

PICTURE: A healthy, hold-over rainbow landed on the Rio last week. Good job Boot P.!

The San Juan River:

Wade Trip San Juan River
The flows on the San Juan are in the 300± cfs range and the fishing has been very good. The midge hatches have been epic in the afternoons and the fish are aggressively feeding but, they are still San Juan fish and can be very selective. Most of the bigger fish coming to the net have been caught wading - try the slower runs in the morning and the riffle sections in the afternoon. Fishing out of the boats has been decent with some good fish caught, but in the winter when the fish are less active, wading allows you to slow down and fish much more effectively.

Float Trip San Juan River
A standard double nymph rig with small red, orange, gray, black or olive midge larva patterns set up behind egg patterns, beads or bunny leaches have been catching fish all day long. Hatches of small black or cream midges are showing up at mid-morning and are carrying on through the afternoon. Griffith’s Gnat dry flies in sizes 10 to 14 (called “Dead Chickens”) and smaller ant style foam bodied flies in black are often bringing aggressive top-water strikes. If you are seeing rises and these larger dry fly patterns are being refused, try fishing a small size 20 to 22 midge dry behind your larger dry, a.k.a. a double-dry rig. Another good technique to try is a small chocolate foam wing fished in the film behind a large Dead Chicken. The streamer fishing is also on at the Juan right now! Black and olive streamers on a sink tip line will bring takes so hard you can have the rod taken out of your hand if you don’t have a good grip. The great fishing and very few anglers make the winter season one of the best times of year to be fishing on the San Juan River.

UPPER PICTURE: A San Juan football rainbow just below the dam. Well done Rob T.
LOWER PICTURE: Peter M. with a nice one from the boat - Happy New Year!.

The Pecos River:

Fly Fishing Pecos River New Mexico
With lots of ice and cold water, the fishing on the upper sections of the Pecos is pretty much done for the winter. The lower sections still have a few spots with open water and the fishing can be fairly decent. Egg patterns, squirmy-wormies and smaller nymphs and midges will be the best option. Don’t be afraid to put the weight to your rigs and target the deeper pools and runs. As is usually the case during the winter, a sunny afternoon is the best time to be fishing on the Pecos right now. Warmer days are going to be the best bet, both for the quality of fishing and for the comfort of the angler!

PICTURE: Casting into a deeper hole in the sun on the Pecos last month.

The Valles Caldera:

Needless to say, fishing at the Valles Caldera National Preserve is over for the year. The good news is that they are getting a good amount of snow this winter and the fishing should be phenomenal this coming spring and summer. We'll keep you posted as to when the Caldera opens up for fishing.

PICTURE: Some of the locals at the Caldera out for hike at the beginning of the year.

The Bar X Bar Ranch:

The Bar X Bar is pretty much finished for the season and won’t be worth it until ice-out in the early spring, a great time to think about the Bar X Bar again. The good news is that right now the lakes are very full and should be in great shape for fishing in the early spring.

The Oso Piccolo Ranches:

The Wolf Creek & La Barranca ranches are going to be on hold until we get some warmer days (probably not until mid-March). Once we start to see the weather begin to warm up, the La Barranca Ranch should be a good bet for some big, early season rainbows. We’ll keep you posted...

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 Conejos River:

The ice on this river has really started to form over the last month so the Conejos is pretty much done until early spring. Depending on the weather, mid-March on the Conejos is usually when the fishing starts to pick up again and we catch the biggest rainbows of the year.

The Quinlan Ranch:

The lakes on the Quinlan are iced over and the boats are hauled out for the winter. As with most of our lakes in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, ice out (when the ice melts) is an incredible time to fish. This usually happens on the Quinlan Ranch around the beginning of April. Keep this in mind for some great spring fishing.

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.

The Shahan & MK Ranches:

The Navajo River is pretty well iced over and there is already a lot of snow up in the Navajo River valley which bodes well for great fishing this coming spring and summer. Typically, late March into April is when we will start thinking about trying these locations again.

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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, 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 winter hours are 9 to 5, every day. We’ll be looking forward to seeing you!

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:

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Trout Unlimited Opposes Repeal of Clean Water Rule

The final “repeal” rule leaves important drinking water sources and habitat at dire risk of being unprotected from pollution, and opens the door for the expected “replacement” rule later this year which will be even worse for streams and wetlands.

WASHINGTON D.C. — Trout Unlimited repeated its strong opposition to the final rule being announced by the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers today that will rollback of protections for millions of miles of streams that provide drinking water for one-in-three Americans and critical water and habitat for fish and wildlife populations.

The final rule, which “repeals” the 2015 Clean Water Rule, making way for the anticipated “replacement” rule, takes another step toward eliminating protection for millions of stream miles and many wetlands, a critical component to functioning watersheds. The replacement rule, is expected to be finalized later in 2019 by the agencies.

The final rule announced today will undermine common sense regulation of a host of development activities, such as pipeline construction that will, over time, degrade hunting and fishing opportunities in every state in the country.

“Today’s final rule, in combination with the replacement rule later in the year, could tear the soul out of the Clean Water Act’s protection of small streams and wetlands,” said Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “Headwater streams, especially ephemeral streams, are like the capillaries in our bodies – they’re small and easy to overlook, but we wouldn’t last long without them. It is a fundamentally flawed final rule.”

Polls show Americans overwhelmingly support protections for clean water and the Clean Water Act.

“The Agencies’ final rule turns its back on the importance of small headwater streams to healthy waterways and sportfishing recreation,” said Steve Moyer, vice president of government affairs for Trout Unlimited. “Sportsmen and women know that we all live downstream. All the benefits of our larger streams, rivers, and bays are dependent on the health of our small streams.”

Using the Clean Water Act to protect headwater streams is especially valuable to Trout Unlimited. At a basic level, 59 percent of rivers and stream miles in the lower 48 states are intermittent or ephemeral (i.e., they are small or headwater streams that do not flow year-round). However, in the drier southwest, that figure is higher. In Arizona, 96 percent of the waters are intermittent or ephemeral streams. EPA Region 8, consisting of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas, estimates that only 17 percent of the waters in its states flow year-round.

Headwater streams contribute to the drinking water supplies of 117 million Americans, protect communities from flooding, and provide essential fish and wildlife habitat that support a robust outdoor recreation economy worth $887 billion.

“Clean water is not a political issue. It is a basic right of every American,” Wood said. “To be effective, the Clean Water Act must be able to control pollution at its source — upstream in the headwaters and wetlands that flow downstream through communities to our major lakes, rivers, and bays. We will work with our allies across the conservation community to compel the agencies to reverse course on their flawed rule.”


How Did We Get Here?
When the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, it protected virtually all of America’s waters–every type of stream, wetland, river, lake or bay. A 2001 Supreme Court decision first questioned if all wetlands and streams should in fact be protected–and the issue has become ever-more politicized since then. In 2015, under President Obama, the EPA finalized a rule (the Clean Water Rule) clarifying that the Clean Water Act protects all of our nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands. The rule gained strong support from sportsmen, scientists and the public, but it was opposed by a powerful coalition of agriculture and development interests

What’s happening now?
Early in 2017, President Trump directed the EPA to first repeal and then replace the Clean Water Rule. The Administration’s efforts to rescind the 2015 Rule have been partially blocked, as the 2015 Rule is in effect in 22 states. The new rule, unveiled today, is an unwarranted effort to replace the 2015 Rule. The new rule is NOT based in science and is NOT consistent with the goals of the Clean Water Act. The new rule proposal will undermine long standing protections for wetlands and small streams, it will harm hunting and fishing in America. However, it is not the final chapter to the story. We expect the Administration and the agencies to unveil a replacement for the 2015 Rule which may well be a true gutting of the Clean Water Act, leaving millions of stream miles and millions of acres of wetlands permanently unprotected. We expect the replacement final rule later this year.

Why should sportsmen care?
The Clean Water Act and the 2015 Rule are vital to TU’s work and to anglers across the nation. Whether TU is working with farmers to restore small headwater streams in West Virginia, removing acidic pollution caused by abandoned mines in Pennsylvania, or protecting the world-famous salmon-producing, 14,000-jobs-sustaining watershed of Bristol Bay, Alaska, we rely on the Clean Water Act to safeguard our water quality improvements. TU members, and sportsmen and women nationwide, want to move forward with progress on cleaning up our nation’s waters, not go backwards. Thus, the Clean Water Act needs to be improved, not weakened, as is the case in today’s announcement.

To learn more please click on the link below. Hopefully we can stop this craziness - call your representatives and let them know how you feel.

Millions of stream miles risk losing protection...

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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:

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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:   ~   Land of Enchantment Guides: PO Box 55 Velarde, NM 87582