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 didn't manage to catch any fish this weekend. I tried the Pecos a little past the Dalton area and tossed wooly buggers and weighted nymphs at them, but nothing. There was still a touch of ice on the river in the shady parts. The flow was low--the small amount of snow we've gotten wasn't contributing to runoff yet.
I imagine there should be some ok pre-runoff fishing in a couple weeks, and then a few weeks of runoff before there's some solid fishing. I'm starting to feel a bit desperate for some good fishing close by.
I'm heading out to Fenton for some floating this weekend and staying overnight in Jemez Springs. Hoping to end the dry spell!
I'm trying to fight the winter fishing malaise by making videos from old footage, but in reality I think it's making me more desperate for good fishing and more stir crazy from being inside and not out on the water. I really should be making more flies--that'd be practical.
On Valentine's Day I caught a good six fish at Monastery Lake, which took the edge off a bit, but I really want to get in some small stream and float tube fishing in. Oh, the wait.
I haven't gotten to the Juan yet this winter season, so that's on my list before the spring. Otherwise, the things closer by are too crowded and a bit too slow (the Jemez, Chama below Abiquiu) to feel worth the drive.
I did go skiing for the first time since I was in high school this week. A bit too fast, expensive, and crowded for my taste, but at least I got outside!
Keep up the fight, fellow anglers! Almost there.
I apologize for the lack of posts in November and most of December. I didn't get to go fishing very much because it was crunch time at work (I'm a teacher by day). The fishing trips I have been on have been short and rushed.
But, here are my top 5 choices for getting through the winter here in north-central NM based on the few times I've been fishing in the last six weeks.
1. If the Rio Grande is below 400 cfs, give it a try around the Pilar area. I went there a few weeks ago and did well using a prince nymph and a hare's ear. See my video below.
2. Now is the time to go to the Rio Chama below Abiquiu. This river has become my winter home water. The flow is perfect (below 200 cfs) right now and has been stocked well. I went on Christmas Day and caught around twenty fish in a short afternoon of fishing using a large prince nymph (size 10?) about 3-4 feet from the strike indicator. If you're not getting hits where you're fishing, move around. The fish will often be bunched up in the slower riffles.
3. Try out the San Juan River. I don't know how access is with the closures, but this is generally a good bet in the winter. (Although I went in November and only caught three small fish.)
4. Try out the ditches in and around Albuquerque; it's hilarious to catch trout next to a busy intersection. Red copper johns have done well for me every time I fish the ditches.
5. Tingley Beach. I hooked a big fish a couple weeks back (and lost him...), and it sounds like the fishing has been pretty steady at the catch and release pond there.
A couple weeks back I was desperate and fished a half-frozen Monastery Lake--and caught a few fish out of the small bit of lake that wasn't frozen.
If you have some warm clothes and the will, the trout will bite. Remember it's all about nymphing and getting the flies down deep enough to where the trout are holding.
I went to the Chama last week, and although the level should have been at fishable (about 400 cfs), it had just come down to that level and was still very muddy. I caught a few suckers, but didn't get any strikes from the apparently reticent trout. Give it a couple weeks to clear, and I bet the fishing will be superb. Remember, put a little bit of weight on your leader and give yourself 4-5 feet below your strike indicator to the nymph. It's been well stocked so there should be some fish to catch!
I'm writing this post a week after I fished the Jemez, but I'm sure it's going to be good fishing into mid to late October, depending on how cold it gets. The fish were more actively feeding after the water warmed up, so I would recommend going fishing in the afternoon or evening.
I was working at Hummingbird Music Camp and fished on their property. I fished for about 45 minutes midday the first day and caught about 10 fish, including one good-sized brown--the biggest brown I have ever caught on the Jemez River proper. The stockers keyed into nymphs, both prince nymphs and tan hare's ears. The two browns I caught over the weekend struck on caddis.
The truly epic fishing was on the second day when I fished between 4:30-6:30 pm. I caught about 20 rainbows out of a single run only about 20 feet by 10 feet. I would drag a fish out of the hole, release him, re-cast, and catch another. They had no fear--my rod and shadow were practically above these fish. It was unreal!
In other news, Game and Fish has stocked Hopewell Lake. The fishing will likely not be good there with the overnight lows already below freezing, but I have hope that the fishing will be good after ice-out next year. I also hope the brookies did alright after with water being removed for fighting the nearby forest fire this summer. This year was such a disappointment!
This video is from last year, but it gives you the idea of what the fishing was like:
I hope this fishing report is not only a source of information, but of fun and humor.
The Pecos will give you your fix. I can even go there after school at this time of year and get a couple hours of fishing in.
It's pretty easy fishing. Use a large dry fly like a stimulator (I'm predictable) and a dropper like a prince nymph or copper john size 12ish. You'll catch a bunch of small browns on the dry and rainbow stockers on the nymph. Last time I experimented with my tenkara rod around the fork between Holy Ghost and Terrero and had a lot of fun.
But it's trashed. It's awful. Every time I fish there I lose trust in humanity. There are chip bags, dead fish discarded on the shore, powerbait jars, beer cans, and just general carelessness scattered around.
But I did find this last time:
Hey everyone! I didn't post for about a year, but I'm going to start linking this site to my Youtube channel and Instagram...so I guess I should keep it updated!
What has been frustrating to me as a fly fisher in New Mexico is the lack of accurate fly fishing reports online. The NM Fishing Report is helpful, but aimed toward many different kind of anglers. The Orvis report only covers a few rivers (although there have been a few added recently) and High Desert Angler has been updating sporadically. (I can't judge, though.)
Amanda's Jemez Report is very useful for when you want to go fishing in the Jemez. And, I always suggest going into the local fly shops to get some tips and to spend some money, but sometimes you want to get up and go and save some cash.
Anyway, I'm about done with my summer break (I'm a teacher) and when I go fishing on the weekends or take the rare day off, I want to get the best bang for my buck. So, here goes. I hope I'm able to help you out. I'm going to mostly tell you about waters I've fished recently, but I may give you a few tips based on past experience as well.
Top pick, if you like small streams: Go to the Rio San Antonio on the Valles Caldera. It's free right now. Free. I posted about this place about a year ago and it's the same. Heaven. Bring large dry flies around 14-10 (hopper patterns, large caddis, stimulators) and expect an epic day going into September at least. Make sure you are stealthy and fish around corners and when it's a straight away give the fish a good amount of distance. You'll see them. If they see you, that's bad news. Use 5 or 6x tippet. If you're in a place where there's a lot of grass try slamming the fly onto the water--you might catch something! One last tip--use your ears. The fish take the flies noisily and you can often fish blind if you listen for the take.
Get there by 9 am (at least on the weekends) so you're able to get into the backcountry. They only let in 35 cars a day. Ask for directions to the San Antonio there at the office.
Simply stated: get a yearly pass to the Valles for unlimited epic fishing. The end.
No, really, you'll get hit after hit on large dry flies in an easily wadeable stream, amazing views, and not have to compete with any other anglers for turf. You'll catch 9-14 inch browns over and over in a 2-4 foot wide stream. Just amazing.
The fish did start biting a bit more around 10 am, although that was when some of the morning clouds cleared. They seemed to like stimulators and my humongous homemade caddis more than smaller caddis. It was really fun to see the bigger brown's wake when they came barreling from under the bank to get the fly.
This is a great stream to bring a friend to because the meadow setting makes for easy bunny hopping around each other, and the curvy nature of the stream make for a lot of fish-able water.
I had a 4 weight, 8 1/2 foot rod this time, which helped with some of the larger browns. The other times I've fished it I used a 2 weight, 7 1/2 foot rod, which made for a lot of fun.
I stayed in an Air Bnb place in Virginia Beach for a few days. It was a humongous house where the backyard was backed up right next to a lake, which blew my little New Mexican mind. It was a lake bigger than Hopewell, and probably even Fenton. Also, the lovely people I stayed with had potbellied pigs as pets that wandered around their backyard, snorting and being very cute.
I borrowed my hosts' kayak and went for a quick morning fishing trip. It was already in the 90's at about 8 in the morning, I swear. I saw a few big fishing rising and tried for them, but they didn't seem interested in anything I had, even the new bass flies I had bought. So, I paddled to the opposite end of the lake by some trees, rocks, and a shopping center. I finally round some rising little panfish. I caught a few small bluegill on stimulators.
Then, the next day I went fishing in the ocean with a charter that you pay $40 to go fishing for four hours on, with bait and tackle provided and no license needed. It was kind of superb being in the middle of the ocean. We used tiny pieces of squid on huge hooks, and the captain would drop us right above schools of fish. Anyway, caught a couple dozen croakers (see below), one blue fish, and one whiting. Then, we paid to get them filleted and ate them right up. It was almost like fly fishing in that we caught one after another after another. Fun times!
I went backpacking the the Pecos Wilderness along the Santa Barbara River back in the beginning of June. At that point, the river was still in run-off, and the weather was too cold to support much insect life. I ended up catching one little brown on a nymph in a full day of fishing.
July, however, is a different story. Although the weather is still much cooler than the surrounding areas (it was nearing 100 in Santa Fe), there were bugs galore. And, now the river is at a much more fishable level.
The way to do the Santa Barbara is to park at the Santa Barbara campground (there's free parking right outside the gate), and make your way to the trail at the rear of the campground . Follow that trail to the bridge (about 45 minutes) and start fishing around there. That weeds out any campers who are fishing. Don't forget to wear that sunscreen and to bring water and a rain jacket. The altitude could be tough for anyone not used to it, too.
I took a beginner angler on this trip, so I didn't get in my normal fishing time, but they were biting at a orange stimulator and a small prince nymph. I ended up taking off the nymph because they were hitting the dry fly hard. The action was fast and furious, with a strike in every likely riffle and pool. Where we were at, I only caught smaller browns, but you will see some larger pools right off the trail on your way to the bridge, which I think would be a great place to try for some bigger browns if you feel comfortable walking down a steep hill to get to them. If you go higher up, you should be able to catch some Rio Grande Cutthroats.
The fish weren't terribly spooky, and they took some flies that sank or dragged a bit. I think they would be apt to eat any dry flies you throw at them at this time of year.
So, if you're looking for a good 30 fish day (at least), make your way to the Santa Barbara in July.