Fly Fishing Report for Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado
Runoff has started on almost all of the area waters around northern New Mexico. These are the conditions when the report was written. Conditions are changing daily! Expect to see higher flows with warmer weather. You can check on current flows before you go by clicking on New Mexico Stream Flows from our links page.
San Juan River 4030 cfs below Navajo Dam; Fair to Good
The Peak Spring Release has begun! The river should reach 5000 cfs by Sunday. It will stay at 5000 cfs for 31 days and ramp back down over a two week period ending the peak release on July 4th. The river is going to be stirred up and murky for the first few days to a week. Give it some time for the fish to settle down and the water to clear. Be careful if you are wading the river; you can still access much of the upper flats area by foot, or consider hiring a guide. Currently it's a midges game. Long line nymphing with a standard attractor and midge larvae set up. Fish pupa patterns higher up in the column around 10 or 11 am. Even thought the baetis hatches are waning and not bringing a lot of fish to the surface, they seem to key in on baetis patterns after lunch until the evening when midges become the favorite trout food again. Black and olive midge larvae and pupa are the top producers near the dam especially in the mornings. Move down river after lunch to get the baetis hatch. Chocolate and olive have been the best baetis colors. Johnny flash and foam wing emergers are among the favorites. The Special Trout Water section is all catch and release and has a two fly only rule. If you see someone in violation, turn them into Game and Fish at 1-800-432-4263. Officers have been checking people for licenses, barbless flies, and the number of flies on your rig! File those barbs or go barbless, as the fines are steep!
Pecos River 150 on the Rio Mora, 341 cfs on the Pecos near Terrero; Slow to Fair
You can still fish the Pecos, but it will require throwing quite a bit of weight to get to where the fish are holding. Wading is tough and crossing the river is pretty much impossible. Look for areas that naturally hold fish like the big holes around Dalton, Windy Bridge, and Willow Creek. The water is a little clearer and there is less of it as you go upriver. The typical two fly nymph rig with a large stonefly nymph with a smaller trailing fly under an indicator has been the best producer. European style nymphing works even better in the faster currents. Eggs, San Juan worms and flies with some flash should also be on the menu. Panchuela and Holy Ghost Creeks have a little less water and might offer an alternative to the main stem. Please respect the landowners and stay out of any private property along the river. The National Park Service will reopen the fishing season on Pecos National Historical Park starting June 16th. Please see the Park's website for more information.
Rio Grande 798 cfs at Cerro; Slow: 1360 cfs at Pilar; Slow to for trout, Slow for pike, Slow for smallmouth bass
The Rio is getting higher and murkier every day with spring snow melt on the tribs. Visibility is less than a foot. The caddis hatch is pretty much done although you might see some here and there. If you go, use big nymphs such as big crane flies or stoneflies or throw streamers. At least with a streamer, you never know what you'll get but your chances of catching something will increase. Pike fishing is slow. Your best bet for them is a large streamers that move water. There is also lots of rafting traffic around Pilar.
Jemez Mountain Streams 104 cfs above Jemez Pueblo; Fair to Good
I fished the San Antonio in the Valles Caldera Tuesday. The morning was a little slow but the fishing picked up pretty quickly and the fish were looking up. Hoppers and beetles worked well.The upper reaches of the San Antonio, East Fork, and Cebolla are the best bets for fishing in the Jemez outside of the Caldera. Let things warm up a little before you start. Try a dry dropper rig just as an easy presentation in the lower flows and less murky water you'll see upriver. The lower Jemez and Guadalupe are high, fast, and murky as well. Fish the edgewater and obvious pockets. Fish are keying in on larger flies like stonefly nymphs. A two fly rig with a stone trailing a smaller caddis nymph or an attractor like a copper john should be working. The Fishing Program on the Valles Caldera National Preserve is now under Natioanl Park Service rules. There is no longer a reservation system. It's all first come first served until all of the backcountry access permits are issued for the day. Please see the Preserve's website for more details.
Chama River 247 cfs above Chama; Slow: 1410 cfs above El Vado Reservoir; Slow: 1550 cfs below El Vado Dam; Slow: and 1180 cfs below Abiquiu Dam; Slow
The river below Abiquiu is very murky and the release has gone way up pretty much making fishing here impossible. Look to fish elsewhere. The release below El Vado is also way up from this weekend's flow. The Bureau of Rec. is sending water downstream to end up in the middle Rio Grande to mimic a spring flood event over the next few weeks. The flows will go up steadily to match the natural flows on the Rio and should peak around Memorial Day weekend around 2000 cfs. Obviously wading will be the biggest challenge in higher water. Stay tuned. Streamers, stonefly nymphs and cranefly larvae have been the top flies. The river flowing into El Vado is very high and fast . It'll be a month or more before that stretch becomes wadeable. There is a new stream gauge above Chama. It will reflect what is flowing through the Sargent Wildlife Area. Flows are too high, but we'll continue to utilize the new gauge in our reports. Chama River above El Vado and below Abiquiu are Special Trout Waters with reduced bag limits. Please report anyone over harvesting there to New Mexico Game and Fish at 1-800-432-4263.
Cimarron River 1.7 cfs below Eagle Nest Dam; Fair to Good: 29 cfs at Cimarron; Fair to Good
Boo for New Mexico being one of a few states that do not have instream flow laws that keep a waterway from being de-watered. The release out of Eagle Nest Dam reflects that fact and is very low. It'll likely remain this way until runoff subsides and irrigators call for water. Fortunately trib flow starting with Tolby Creek at the upper end of the state park adds to the flow. Gauging at the low flows recorded at Cimarron, I suspect the runoff here to be minimal and the river to be quite fishable and fairly clear, clear enough anyway. Scuds, red midge larvae, baetis nymphs, and golden stonefly nymphs have been reported to be working on the river. This place will provide somewhere to fish now that runoff seems to be affecting most of the other local waters.
In Southern Colorado:
Animas River 1240 cfs at Durango; Slow
The Animas is in full runoff. The water is high and murky. Fishing with streamers and big nymphs like stoneflies with some flash will still get the trout's attention just take caution while wading. No reports from other area waters.
The Conejos River 176 cfs below Platoro Reservoir; Fair to Good: 820 cfs at Mogote; Slow to Fair.
The Conejos has come up in flow over the last week like everything else from snowmelt and although the higher release out of Platoro has been reduced for the time being. If the flows get to a stable level, then the clarity may return and become fishable. Safe and easy wading on the other hand won't return until mid-June. I have had good reports from people fishing in the meadows below Platoro. The water is murkier and the wading is tougher on the lower river. Dredging the deeper runs with stone fly nymphs and San Juan worms seems to be the most successful tactic. I haven't had any reports on the tribs. They could fish well also as long is it's not the one contributing runoff.
Rio Grande 859 cfs at Thirty Mile Bridge; Fair to Good: 2320 cfs at Wagon Wheel Gap; Fair to Good
Dam release is accounting for most of the water on the upper Rio Grande above Creede. Streamer fishing and nymph fishing has been good and there is been enough of a release out of Rio Grande Reservoir to float it. It's a little early for stoneflies. Should be another 3-4 weeks. Caddis are the only things flying, but the fish aren't in a rising mood.
Pagosa Area- Piedra River 1180 cfs at Arboles; Slow; San Juan River 1250 cfs at Pagosa Springs; Slow
High water and from snowmelt has hit these area waters like everything else. Maybe some of the headwater streams or smaller tribs or Williams Creek below the reservoir., I haven't had any reports from here but looking at stream flows doesn't make me hopeful for decent fishing.
Arkansas River 470 cfs at Granite; Fair to Good: 742 cfs at Salida; Fair to Good
Cooler weather and a relatively low releases out of Clear Creek and Twin Lakes have kept fishing on the Ark fairly good. The release out of both reservoirs has gone up slightly but should be enough to really affect the fishing. The fishing is easiest from Salida upstream to Hayden Meadows. You can fish downstream of Salida into Big Horn Sheep Canyon although the flows there make fishing out of a boat your best option. Flows can change with a release out of Twin Lakes, or Clear Creek reservoir. The clearest water will be upstream of Chalk Creek to Hayden Meadows. Fish in the deeper runs mid-channel in the and cover the shallow riffles from mid-day on if you see active surface feeding. Stonefly nymphs with trailing beatis nymph seems to be the best set-up..
It's spring in New Mexico and water and fishing conditions and water flows can change with the weather! Please CALL the fly shop for the latest in stream flows and water conditions.
For the most current stream flow data, see our links page or click here for New Mexico Stream Flows. or here for Colorado Stream Flows.
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