fly fishing grrl NM fishing report
find me on instagram @flyfishinggrrL and
on youtube: flyfishing grrl
find me on instagram @flyfishinggrrL and
on youtube: flyfishing grrl
I'm a teacher and at about this time every year I start to feel a sense of urgency. I must get in more fishing before the school year starts. I need to get to that new location that I've never been to... I should get in another backpacking trip or two. There just isn't enough time left.
I guess I should be thankful that (1) I get a summer break, (2) that this sense of urgency makes me feel very alive, and (3) fall fishing is great and the rivers will be less crowded.
Anyway, the fishing report. Fishing on the Pecos is "combat fishing" right now, even during the week. If the fish aren't biting, it's because someone already fished your location recently. I'm not sure how long the fish stay down after being fished, but it's safe to say just move on to other water.
The Valles Caldera is amazing, as usual. I think I forgot just how spooky these fish are and my first half hour on the stream was slow because I kept trying to get as close as I would to Pecos trout. Nope, these trout won't put up with a clumsy angler. Use the curves of the stream to your advantage. I like to cast around the curves and listen for a tell-tale splash that indicates a strike. If it's a straight away stretch (as straight away as this winding stream gets), stay way back and make some longer casts. DON'T FALSE CAST. I can't say that enough to folks who are unused to the small streams of New Mexico. You'll scare the fish before you even put a fly on the water if you're more focused on casting than fishing. ; )
I'm getting up to the Chama above El Vado this week, and I'll let you know how it goes.
So far it seems like a good monsoon season is in the works! The forests are open and the fish are feeding!
I got out to the Pecos above Cowles this past week, and it was superb fishing. I am a creature of habit, and the good ol' stimulator with a prince nymph dropper did the trick. They fish were hitting both flies at about the same rate. Most of the fish were smaller browns, as is usual in the Pecos, but the action was nonstop. The water is low (at least where I was at--it was running off brown lower down in the canyon). So, it's stealth fishing at its finest. Be aware of your location. I saw plenty of fish run from me, and I had some cloud cover helping me out.
I made a quick stop at Monastery Lake on the way home to maybe harvest a fish, and I took in a good 16 inch rainbow. I brought him home and got enough meat off to cook up a couple breaded filets. I've been keeping trout about twice a year nowadays, and I don't have much of a taste for them anymore. (Other than when I'm camping and they taste like heaven.) My step-father told me that would happen after I fished enough!
Otherwise, the fishing was rather slow at the lake (could have been that the fish had just been stocked or because of the rains that day?). A coworker of mine I saw seemed to be doing very well with worms...
A few days later I headed up to the Santa Barbara River. The water level is perfect for fishing right now, and as usual the scenery is some of my favorite in NM. Again, the fishing was on fire! The browns are hungry and feeding right now. They were hitting the dropper a bit more than the dry, so I'd suggest having a nymph on if you go fishing there. Often I go with just a dry there, but maybe the cooler monsoonal weather is making them feed more underwater.
There were new regulations posted--"red chile water"--stating that cutthroats were catch and release only and all other trout had no keep limits! It would be great to get the native fish back in charge of this stream...but there are so so so so so many brown trout I don't see it being quite possible without severe intervention from Game and Fish. It would be really hard for me to stomach keeping a bunch of brown trout unless I had a fish fry with a group of friends back down at the campground or something.
Well, it's not the best fishing season in NM this summer. Carson National Forest was just closed, and that leaves just a few options for fishing: Rio Grande, Chama, Eagle Nest Lake, San Juan, and a few other areas. These areas will be crowded and under high fishing pressure.
On my way back to NM from Wisconsin I got got a quick day of fishing in in Colorado around Leadville. I think I'll be heading back up there soon this summer! I think you'll see why in the picture below.
I won't be updating you on the fishing in NM for the next couple of weeks. I'm heading out on the Ice Age Trail in WI along Lake Michigan for a week of backpacking. I'm bringing my fly rod and will try my luck up here! Tight lines and be sure to check out my Youtube channel for video of this journey in a couple of weeks.
I'm finally getting some fishing in in earnest...as best as I can with my two closest water sheds under forest closure.
I had a great couple days on the Los Pinos about two years ago. This year it was not the case. It seemed fished out. My step-dad and I threw everything at them, hit a lot of water (the bait area, the special trout water). He caught about three, and I caught one. The brown he caught was bigger but very beat up looking. We didn't see fish rising, even with the insane insect activity. We didn't see fish running. Either they were full and hunkered down, or more likely this watershed is being mistreated and too many fish are being harvested or otherwise harmed.
The Rio Grande around Pilar was more typical. The fish are in there...just sometimes hard to get. They hit on pheasant tails, hare's ear, and prince nymphs between 12-16. Fish 'em deep. I also like to use one splitshot a foot or so above my nymph and sometimes fish a double nymph rig.
I did get some good entertainment watching rafters fall out of their boats and having water fights, and saw some mountain goats!
Starting tomorrow, the Santa Fe National Forest, which covers pretty much all of the fishing on the Pecos and Jemez Rivers, will be closed to the public. It's the right decision--the article below from nmfireinfo.com details just how many campfires were left burning when they weren't even allowed. It's a miracle there hasn't been a large fire already in this large national forest area. Stinks that the actions of a few likely hastened this closure, but it is important to protect our resources. Time to head a little further north for fishing, while you still can.
Sorry about the delay in a post. I was wrapping up another school year, which was made a bit more exhausting because I'll be teaching in a new district next year and had to deep clean my classroom. I'll be off to new adventures next year, including being closer to the fishing around Enchanted Circle!
There was an article in the Albuquerque Journal recently regarding the plight of the state's rivers and streams with our current drought. I worry about fish die off this summer--nearly every river is much lower than it's supposed to be at this time of year. Hopefully last week's rainstorm is a sign that we'll get some early monsoons. Otherwise, fish and fisherman are not going to have a great summer here in Northern NM.
But, for now, there's some good fishing to be had. I had some good luck on the Jemez River proper, but it's obviously being heavily fished. Fenton was good in the evening with parachute Adams. Otherwise, it didn't seem like anyone was catching much.
The Guadalupe is a river I'm very fond of, mostly because the hike down into it keeps a lot of other anglers away. It was on fire...but very low. I scared many a trout, but it was fun to have the challenge of being forced to be stealthy. If you give it a try, give every little riffle a cast. Some of the best fish I caught were in 1-2 feet of water right next to or behind rocks. The larger deeper pools are actually more challenging because as soon as you startle a fish, they run up the pool and scare all of the fish. In those cases, cast long and cast to risers. You only have a couple chances, if that.
The Cimarron would be a good bet right now--since it's actually a tailwater, the flow will be more consistent all summer. I had some great fishing there last weekend.
Monastery Lake is at the point where you can sight fish and show off a bit in front of the "bait dunkers." It's fun fishing when you get there early in the morning and leave when the crowds really start to get there (and the fishing slows down too).
I was allowed an hour and a half of fishing at Hopewell Lake (I was on the way home from Pagosa Springs), and it was good, especially when the clouds rolled in. At first I tried a nymph about four feet down under a strike indicator, and I got a few bites and lost a big 'un. But, the recently stocked rainbows seemed to like a nymph only about two feet under a stimulator better. If you get a brookie there, please release them. I've been catching fewer and fewer there the last few years. I think the lake has gotten more popular, and I think many of these colorful little guys have been harvested...
We saw an antelope in the middle of the road on highway 64--I had no idea that area was part of their range! Scared the living daylights out of him...
I haven't gotten out there yet, but everyone is telling me that the Rio Grande is good. It's at an ideal flow for fly fishing, so give it a whirl!
Anyway, that's what I've got now. It's summer break for me, so I hope to get out a little further on some overnight trips so I can get some more variety in these reports.
I'm a teacher, and haven't gotten out fishing as much as I would like this last month, and definitely haven't had time to make any fishing videos. But, I've collected some good information on where to go and...where to not go.
The Jemez area streams are good, as always at this time of year, but things will shut down earlier this year due to the winter's drought. I had some fun on the Guadalupe a couple weekends ago, but the water level was low and the fish were wary. My best fish was a 12 inch cuttbow, but most of the afternoon was smaller browns. Do dry-dropper rigs here--I caught about 2/3 of the fish on the nymph and 1/3 on dry. A size 16ish brown pheasant tail seemed to do the trick. For most of the fishing, the dropper doesn't need to be very deep (no more than a foot), but you may want to change the depth when you reach some of the deeper pools.
The East Fork was good, but again I caught a lot of small guys. I did land one nice size brown for that size of stream--working on the video soon.
I had some fun at Fenton Lake a while ago too, but it was crowded and I didn't catch anything big (there's a theme here...). The evening and morning hours are where it's at there. If you have a float tube, bring it. It's really nice to get away from the crowds on the shore and it's fun to reach some of the areas where the steep bank and trees make it very difficult to fly fish from the shore.
A fishing buddy of mine (shout out to you, Pablo!), has fished the Pecos and had some luck. But...again, the water is low and the fishing is going to decline. The fish are being shy in the way they usually are in late summer. Here's to hoping we don't lose trout this summer to overheated streams!
And...drumroll... where not to go. SNOW LAKE.
My step-dad fished there last weekend, and he said it was disgusting. The water is very warm, weedy, and smelly. NMDGF is stocking it with trout, but it really sounds like the conditions are not at all healthy for them. He said he caught a trout that was infected with parasites--covered in sores and with worms (larva of some kind?) crawling out of the side of its body. I did not enjoy writing that last sentence...
But, if you want to try to catch some carp, go for it! The report is that there are many rising carp there, and I've heard they put up a fight.
I've been wanting to get down to the Gila to catch Gila trout, but with the drought conditions it really sounds like it's going to have to air for another year. It's quite a drive from Santa Fe, especially when there's good fishing 1-2 hours from my front door.
Thanks for reading! Find me on Instagram @flyfishinggrrl and don't forget to subscribe to my Youtube channel Flyfishing Grrl.
I've been to a few different places to fish in the last few weeks, and here are my tips.
Nambe Falls Lake has been fished out. It isn't worth the money. I fished there and got one strike, which I missed. Now I know the only good time to go there is before the fishing derby.
Streams in the Jemez are good to go, but the popular areas are being heavily fished so it isn't as good as it should be. Find someplace off the beaten path. Normal old dry-dropper rigs will do the trick. Some of the streams will be shutting down in the summer because of the lack of moisture, so make a trip in the next six weeks or so.
I haven't fished the Pecos, but based on the flow and past experience, things are starting to heat up out there. It'll be good.
Hot spot...Cimarron River. Even though the NMDGF website said it was slow, it seemed like conditions should be good so I gave it a try. I was right. I fished for a short couple hours in the afternoon and caught around 15 browns (it was the kind of fishing where you lose count and get into that fishing mindspace). A few of them were getting up to 12 inches, which I was happy about. They hit a stimulator a few times and loved my prince nymph. Nobody seemed to be out there. I hate to tell you this secret, but we're all on the same team.
I promise! I'm going fishing tomorrow, so I'll get you some updated information on what's happening out there.
I find this website useful, even though it's not fly fishing focused: http://www.jemezcentral.com/fishing-report/. They update regularly, and I've found the reports on the conditions to be very accurate. Thanks, Amanda's!