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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.

Please scroll down the page to see all of the articles and videos. Good luck fishing!

NM Fishing Report ~ April 14th, 2017:

Spring has just sprung, the weather has turned warmer and the fishing in many spots is terrific! The Conejos, the San Juan and the Bar X Bar Ranch have all been fishing incredibly well so far this spring, with many large healthy fish coming to the net. We also had couple more late season snow storms at the end of last month which added to the already above average snowpack for the year in both the Chama and Rio Grande areas/drainages - this spring and summer the river conditions should be the best we have seen in many years.

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.

All of the Fishing Report pictures were taken within the last 3 to 4 weeks...

Spring Fishing Conejos
ABEYTA RANCH & THE CONEJOS: We made our first trip to the Abeyta Ranch (on the Conejos River) on March 13th; the fishing was really good and has been getting even better as the weather warms up. We have been on the ranch every week since our first day and every trip there has been nothing short of phenomenal. There are some really big fish being caught; both rainbows and browns. Larger nymphs fished deep under an indicator (with the odd worm or egg pattern occasionally thrown into the mix) have been the ticket. We have kicked over a bunch of rocks doing bug samples and we are finding an amazing amount of stonefly nymphs. The fish are gorging on them right now and it appears that the salmon fly hatch this year could be off the charts. This is a great time of year to fish the Conejos.
Conejos River Brown Trout
The flows with the warmer weather over the last few days (currently 386 cfs/cubic feet per second) are beginning to bump up a bit but the river is still very fishable. The fish are still somewhat “bunched up” so if you get on a good spot, you stand the chance of landing multiple nice fish out of one pool or run.

Upper Picture: Bruce B. with an amazing 25" bow on the Abeyta Ranch - Nice job Esquire.

Lower Picture: One of many chunky brown that Mr. B. caught on his epic Conejos adventure - Duuuuude!

Pecos River Brown
PECOS: The flows on the Pecos have been rising slowly for the last week or so but they are still at a decent height. The fishing has been good and we have had some clients land some amazing fish over the last few weeks. There are some really big rainbows and a few exceptional browns moving around on the Pecos these days (check out the picture). If the flows don’t get too much higher, we should continue to have good fishing here throughout the next few weeks. Smaller, bright mayflies, eggs and worms seem to be the go-to patterns. Small wooly buggers as a point fly have also brought some nice fish to the net. Spring is the best time of year to get the bigger fish on this smaller river; lots of fun!

Picture: Young Milo R. landed this 24" brown last week with the help of his guide Joey. Milo is just 5 years old and he may have landed the biggest wild brown we have ever seen on the Pecos - WAY TO GO!!!

Bar X Bar
BAR X BAR RANCH: Wow! The lakes on the Bar X Bar made it through the winter in fine form and there are lots of big, fat fish to be caught. Streamers, wet flies, nymphs and midges are all working well. The fish are really hungry and are starting to come to the surface - who knows, it might be time to try some dry flies - we have had a fish or two take swipes at the indicators. All five of the ranch's lakes are full of water and right now there is very little weed to contend with. These conditions should hold until at least the middle of June. There isn't much snow left in the mountains so we'll just have to see what happens as far as fishing conditions go during the summer months. Run-off isn’t an issue at the
Bar X Bar
Bar X Bar so this is the time to think about a trip out to this ranch. It is super-easy fishing and currently this is the best location to go to, that is close to Santa Fe - a little under an hour drive from the Plaza.

Upper Picture: There are some really big, fat and healthy rainbows on the Bar X Bar this spring. Great job Amanda N.!

Lower Picture: Amanda's dad Walt with one of many nice fish he caught that day as well. The family that fishes together...

San Juan River Fishing
SAN JUAN: We have been doing quite a few trips on the San Juan in the last month or so and, especially with the nicer weather, the fishing has been really good. As of this writing the flows being released out of Navajo Dam have been holding steady in the 480 cfs range (it has been at this amount for the last couple of months). This flow level has made for both great wade fishing and float trips throughout the quality water stretch. Nothing has changed that much since our last report in early March; the bigger fish have moved up into shallower water and are becoming quite aggressive. The water clarity is improving daily and, as of a few days ago, the visibility was about 3 feet. We are starting to see many more hatches of midges and there is beginning to be the option for 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. Even though some days have been pretty windy, with these flow levels and the decent wading conditions, we can usually find an area that offers some protection from the heavier gusts.

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.

Picture: A beautifully colored up rainbow on the Upper Flats last week. Great job Tony W. ~ don't look so serious about it!

QUINLAN RANCH: The fishing on the Quinlan Ranch lakes has just started on Don’s Lake and the fishing is very good with some real monsters coming to the net. We are hoping to get up to the higher altitude lakes this week and are expecting to find great fishing. There was so much snow on the ranch this winter, all of the lakes are full to the brim so the fishing should be terrific throughout the summer.

The Quinlan Ranch is a wonderful place to base out of to fish Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. We are already starting to book our all-inclusive packages up at the ranch for the 2017 season. If you are interested in specific dates or have any questions, don't hesitate to give us a call. Please check out the "Fishing Packages" page for more information.

Picture: Nalah (Myrna and Jesse's aspiring fish-hound) checking out a her first springtime rainbow.

CHAMA & LOWER BRAZOS: The run-off on both the Chama and the Brazos rivers has started so the flows are really too high for decent fishing right now. The releases out of both El Vado and Abiquiu dam are also very large so these tailwater sections are also not worth it right now. This being said, as soon as the flows anywhere on the Chama or the Brazos drop to a more manageable level, the fishing will be epic. Keep an eye on the flows and/or call us for an update; right as the run-off is subsiding is one of the best time to fish these locations.

THE OSO PICCOLO RANCHES: As soon as the flows on the Chama River come down a bit up the La Barranca Ranch will be worth a try - we did fish it for an afternoon last week when the flows were down and caught some great fish. The fishing on the Wolf Creek Ranch is still a couple of months away - still lots of snow up there; yay!

VALLES CALDERA NATIONAL PRESERVE: We are just waiting to get the word that the roads are passable on the Valles Caldera and we’ll be headed out there (hopefully by the end of the month). Spring fishing on the Caldera is always very good and the streams are full of water - you don’t need to be as sneaky!

RIO GRANDE & RED: The flows on the lower/Pilar stretch of Rio Grande and Red River have been all over the place for the last month or so, making for tough to impossible fishing conditions. We did fish on the Rio a couple of days ago and saw a fair number of caddis already. Hopefully the flows will drop a bit and stabilize for the caddis hatch. Please feel free to give us a call for more current conditions.

THE MK & SPEAR U RANCHES: These spots on the Navajo River in southern Colorado are still at least a couple of months away from being fishable - still lots of snow up in the mountains.

HIGH TIMBER RANCH: We had an incredible season up at the High Timber Ranch, fishing on the upper Brazos River and the smaller tributaries. Located in the upper Brazos Meadows at 10,000 feet, this is the most beautiful and remote place we go to. The river is full of truly wild rainbow and brook trout and offers some of the best dry fly fishing in the west. There is a small cabin on the High Timber that we are now using to do multiple day trips up on the ranch. Give us a call about our all-inclusive, 2 to 4 night packages for the 2017 season.

Please check out the "Private Water" page for more detailed information about the fishing on the High Timber Ranch.

Executive Order Could Halt Progress on Reversing Wetlands Loss:

A recent executive order puts fish and waterfowl habitat back at risk by directing agencies to scrap and rewrite the key rule created to help protect headwater streams and wetlands.

Last month President Trump issued an executive order directing the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to revise their 2015 Clean Water Rule, which was created to clarify protections for headwater streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. The order directs the agencies to consider using former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's minority opinion, which said that seasonal streams and many wetlands do not merit protection, as a basis for revising the rule.

"Sportsmen will not settle for watered down protections or negligence for the habitat that supports the fish and wildlife we love to pursue," says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, which joined five other leading sportsmen's groups in issuing a joint statement of support for the benefits of the Clean Water Rule.

Two years ago, sportsmen, conservation groups, and many other stakeholders generated one million public comments that helped to shape the final rule, which was broadly celebrated for restoring protections to 60 percent of America's stream miles and 20 million acres of wetlands previously at greater risk of being polluted or destroyed because of jurisdictional confusion. Since May 2015, there have been several legislative plays and lawsuits filed to block or roll back the rule.

"If this administration wants to put its stamp on the rule, they should honor the years of solutions-oriented consensus on the need to reverse wetlands loss, which has been fueled by legal and regulatory confusion. More clarity for headwater streams and wetlands protections should be the baseline standard from which to improve the rule, not the target of a tear-down," says Fosburgh.

It remains to be seen if it is even legal to ignore the majority position on a Supreme Court case. Meanwhile, the health of fish and wildlife habitat is the infrastructure of an outdoor recreation industry that fuels $646 billion in annual spending and supports more than 6 million American jobs.

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.

To check out the digital report, please click on the link below:
TU interactive digital report - “We are Public Lands”

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):

Report/Article on Low Flows Below El Vado Dam - Fall & Winter, 2011/2012

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