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
Hi there! Since I've become a bit more of a "country girl" this past year I've discovered that I want to strive for a more complete experience of the outdoors and not be as obsessive about fly fishing. (Meaning, I may take two days off of fishing to do something outdoors.) So, this weekend I headed out backpacking in the Chama River Canyon Wilderness. I hiked my butt off and found a couple of elk sheds!
Anyway, it's still the time to try for still water or the Cimarron. Pretty much all other rivers are in run-off. This week I decided I would focus on some tips for the Cimarron. Last time I fished I was trouble shooting my own fishing and tried to make a mental list tips I should share. I've since forgotten some of them, but at least I'll have something to write about later on when I do remember them.
1. Early in the season definitely use a dry-dropper. This week they seemed to key in on a lighter colored hare's ear nymph. I'd recommend using a beadhead so it'll sink into the fast currents more quickly.
2. If you find the fish are primarily hitting the dry (in the summer, usually), take off the dropper. This helps you cast into tighter areas and have fewer tangles.
3. The fish have started to move into the faster pockets (my last Youtube video is already inaccurate...). Cast directly above rocks where the current is slower for a chance at picking pockets.
4. You'll get a lot of glare in the evening because you will face the sunset when you are fishing upstream. Wear a hat with a brim and good polarized sunglasses. I like to watch for strikes that I guess are in the area of my fly and set the hook. It can be frustrating, but that time of evening makes for great fishing!
5. I'll think of more later on!
Now that it's truly fishing season, I'm going to try to update every Monday. At least, when I'm not out fishing on Mondays!
I'll start out with my places not to go: the Chama, upper Rio Grande, Jemez. These rivers are still high and murky with run-off and will likely not be productive. It looks like lower down on the Rio Grande at the John Dunn bridge and in the Pilar area are starting to fish well, but I haven't been there myself yet.
I floated Lake Maloya last weekend and had a great time. There were a lot of risers in the evening. I tried out a wooly bugger, but they seemed to like nymphs better. They hit darker colored nymphs hard that were fished only about 3 feet below the surface. I also caught a few on a caddis once they started rising (I imagine the dry fly fishing would be even better with a smaller dry fly, but I was using it as my strike indicator and didn't feel like changing it up as it was getting darker).
The Cimarron River is also doing well. The flows are quite controlled coming out of Eagle Nest Lake and the fish are biting! As usual, I recommend a dry-dropper on this river in this time of year. In the summer, take off the dropper if they are hitting the dry more often--that will help you catch fewer trees.
My main recommendation is to go to whichever stocked pond you choose! It's time to relearn how to set the hook on some stockers and make the bait dunkers jealous. ; )
Hey there folks, if you're enjoying the slightly more recent updates on this site, please spread the word about my Instagram and Youtube pages--@flyfishinggrrl. I love helping answer questions. I don't mind giving advice, even though I might keep my exact favorite spots a bit more secret. To me, all fly anglers are on the same team and with catch and release (and responsible harvesting, which is also important!) we can keep the streams healthy even if we share some tips and tricks. So far here in NM, our streams are uncrowded enough that I want to share the love (I know it's not the same in all states). A new Cimarron River video will be coming out soon, so keep an eye out for it.
Anyway, I went on a lake adventure the last few days. I tried out some lakes so you wouldn't have to.
So, here goes...the report.
It's the season for some lake fishing. This is when you can catch some larger fish that survived under the ice. This is when you can catch those fish before bait fishermen catch them and harvest them, so get out there!
I headed out to Nambe Falls Lake for opening weekend, which also ended up being the fishing derby weekend. I thought that was a bit weird, but the ranger told me they meant to open up the week prior, but weren't able to. Last year I got there on opening day and had one of my best fishing days of the year. I had a great day this year, although not quite as epic--around 15 fish that were around 15 inches (I hope they were only 15 inches--you'll see why below).
FYI, you can't do the derby in a float tube (or any other boat). I decided to forgo the $500 and $1000 prizes rather than fish from the shore with a bunch of other anglers. I decided not to measure any of my fish so I wouldn't go through heartbreak. But...the top prize went to a 16" fish. I'm not going to try to guess what length my fish were...and I've decided to convince myself I would've never caught the fish from the shore anyway.
But, if you get to Nambe Falls Lake in the next few weeks you'll have great fishing. It's expensive-- $18 to fish and $15 for a boat added on. But, for the next few weeks it will be worth it. From opening at 7 am to about 11 am you'll get constant strong strikes on wooly buggers from a float tube. My suggestion is to focus your efforts on the area around road 3 where the inlet is. I had a lot of success around the submerged plant life.
I also took a trip out to Charette Lakes. I fished for a short while... and it really was just too windy and big. I read about it in books from a good few years back, and I think it's just too difficult to fly fish. I also took a few too many risks in my goofy old car on that rough road around the lake.
Kind of the same story with Maxwell Lake 13. But, it's a bit smaller and lot less deep. So, if you ever catch it when it's not windy, it would be good floating and possibly good fishing with a sinking line for primarily warm water species.
And now--Sandia Lakes! I only fished about an hour toward midday on my way back up north. It is $12 for a small catch and release pond. Very very worth it. I had a hell of a time setting the hook (after a while I decided that the fish were very fast since they are in a catch and release pond, but it was probably me). But, I caught 3 good sized fish and it would have been much better in the morning right when they opened.
There's the update! Any small stocked lake will be worth going to just to make sure you still know how to set the hook.
I did more exploring than catching the last couple weeks, so I hope I can help you out by telling you where not to go.
The rivers are starting to be hit with run-off and the lakes are just thawing...it's a funny in between time, and of course this is right when my spring break was. Not going to complain, because the winter moisture is desperately needed and will bode well for summer fishing.
I tried out the Ohkay Owingeh lakes, which are managed by the pueblo of the same name. I got there a couple days after opening day, which usually is a good strategy for these well-stocked and heavily fished lakes. But I saw zero, zip, zilch fish activity. No rises. I tried small nymphs, medium nymphs, streamers, everything. No strikes. So, I'd give these lakes a solid no for the future. Let me know in the comments if you've ever had luck there.
As of last week, Fawn Lakes were still frozen. But, once thawed, you should be able to catch some eager winter hold-over rainbows! Eagle Rock looks clear now. Red River was running high in town, and I imagine that condition will continue.
The Cimarron is ripe and ready to be fished. Since it is a tailwater, it won't get quite as out of control as the other streams, but there will likely still be some discoloration from the recent snow storms. Should still be great with a dry-dropper combo.
I camped up toward Ghost Ranch this past week, so I went to a couple spots on the Chama with a beginner fly fishing friend. I tried out the Chama below Heron for a little bit one evening. I think if I had been able to cover a lot of water, I would have eventually caught a fish. But, it was a bit high. This is the location where I caught some carp over the summer. If you're up for the challenge, try out sight fishing for carp late in the summer when the water is low!
I also tried out my old staple water below Abiquiu dam. No luck. I've caught fish at the higher level the river was flowing at, but maybe they were out of wack from recent changes to the flow. The river was a lovely green color...and I really thought I'd be able to get one. I've never fished in March there, so the evidence does seem to suggest to focus on this area of the river only in winter.
Anyway, I hope that helps out! This weekend I am heading out to Maloya and possibly Storrie or Charette Lakes (trying something new!).
Great fishing is right around the corner!
I've finally released a new video that is covering current conditions rather than being out of date. Please check it out at: https://youtu.be/aU_nEE__KFw.
The Cimarron is going to be great when a bit more water is released from Eagle Nest Dam and it warms up. It is still quite frozen in shady sections, but I managed to catch a few fish on there.
Run-off should be high this year! Once run-off hits many of the rivers will be too high to fish for a good few weeks, but they will be much healthier over the summer. I'm really looking forward to trying to hit some still waters as soon as they're ice free. There should be some fish that grew over the winter and wooly buggers should be appetizing for hungry trout.
I also made it out to Tingley Beach again, and the fish were not feeding as heavily as they were before. It's starting to get a bit too warm for the catch and release pond. It didn't help that the fish were fed their fish kibble while I was there. At least I got to see some impressive sized fish rise for kibble! It's time to get some brown foam to tie some fish food flies for next year.
I have been tying some flies to stave off the winter blues. See some pictures below. Still such a beginner, because as soon as summer hits I ignore the vice!
I didn't get to do this in a timely fashion, but I got to attend the New Mexico Trout Conclave in Albuquerque and I want to extend a thanks for such a great event. The sessions were superb! I'm used to attending professional teaching conferences, and I think I feel much more at home in sessions about fly fishing.Thanks for hosting, NM Trout, and keep up the hard work. I'm now a proud member.
I feel a little bit bad about not updating recently, but then I remember...it's winter!
I got out to the Rio Grande about two weeks ago. It kicked my butt... no fish this time. I only had a couple hours on the water in the evening. I'd like to get out there at midday when the fish might be a bit more active in the "heat" of the day. But, really, I probably wasn't getting the nymph down far enough, and in the winter especially you really need to place it right in front of the fish.
If you tight line nymph, I'd say the Rio in the winter is your water! Show us indicator anglers who's boss. 😂
I've still been getting good reports from Tingley. The fish don't seem to be as picky as they were in past years. They weren't hitting very hard when I went there, so I ended up using a dry fly as my indicator. I'd suggest using a dry-dropper set-up or a yarn indicator. You'll end of seeing some of the more gentle takes and probably will catch more fish. Make sure you have at least 3 feet of depth down to the nymph, though.
I've still been catching some fish in Cimarron State Park, but I'm concerned about stressing the fish out in the low water levels. The river is frozen over in most of the Park. Where do all the fish winter over??
Time to go tie some flies!
I don't know if any fly anglers out there switch over to ice fishing in the winter, but I'm up for giving it a try on Eagle Nest Lake if the ice gets thick enough this winter. I'm getting a bit desperate up North. One advantage of living in Santa Fe last year was that the Chama below Abiquiu was short trip away--not anymore. I also had winter success on the Jemez proper last January. I need to get to the Rio Grande, but I want to hike in and truthfully I need to pump myself up for it. I have to be up for the river royally kicking my butt and humbling me. But, that's what winter is all about. After a summer where fishing felt too easy, I need nature to remind me who's the boss.
I visited family in Albuquerque, and got to do some urban fishing. I tried the Bernalillo drainage, which I had amazing luck at once upon a time. No fish this time...
I also got to Tingley Beach, which was fishing pretty well! They were hitting a size 12 prince nymph 3-4 ft. below an indicator. I was fishing a beadhead, but I seemed to have more success if I crimped a weight on the line about a 8-12 inches above the nymph. Back in the day I was in the practice of using tiny nymphs at Tingley, but it seems like the fish are less picky. All of the ones I caught were between 12-14 inches--saw one big one swimming around.
Anyway, I hope to have some more interesting fishing tales and advice here soon. I have a big work commitment that's been holding me back from doing a bigger trip, but soon I'll be free from that! I promise some better fishing tales/tails in 2019. I'm excited about the snow we've had so far. Good snowpack means a better fishing season and fewer forest fires.
Feel free to drop a comment below if you have had some success this winter!
Well, I promised to update more regularly, but then it got cold! After the Halloween snow day there was another storm that buried my house in about a foot of snow. I've still been fishing open water at the Gravel Pit Lakes, but things are icing over and the days are getting short. It's definitely getting into the slow season. I'd say get out to the tailwaters for your best chances at success. Otherwise, it's fly tying season! I'm working on a couple videos from fishing in Cimarron State Park so watch out for those.