Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Fly Fishing—The Perfect Pursuit




By Taylor Streit

I just read an article about a guy who is going to snowboard down Mount Everest. Wow, that’s certainly not for everybody. There seem to be so many extreme sports these days that only fit the hardy types—hardy and foolhardy. Where will this masochistic race to—or from—the summit end? The ancient Mayans played a ball game that lasted for days, and when it finally ended the best player of the winning side got to have his head chopped off. (Isn’t there a similar TV show on Fox?) Is there anything exciting for the average Joe to do? I’m not alone; I’ve looked around and not many of you guys walking down the street are going to be honored for sacrifice.

The physical, metaphysical, and moral considerations of such sports keep participation low. Personally I’m blessed with a number of handicaps that keep me out of the running: actually anything evolving running is out, because if I sprain my right ankle one more time, wheelchair sports will be all I have left. I can’t paraglide because I’m afraid of flying. I can’t climb mountains because I have a fear of dying. I don’t have sufficient wind to mountain bike or money to ski.

And these radical sports simply don’t have the esteem of traditional sports. How you going to compare Frisbee golf with golf? The best sports weren’t even called sports when they started—they were too important for such flippant labels. When first man came in from hunting or fishing, and hadn’t scored, he and the family died—end of game. How you gonna call that a sport?

Hunting and fishing are just plain natural things for the human to do—it’s in our blood. But we are too “civilized” to hunt now, so that leaves me—and millions of other old defectives who find modern life sufficiently hazardous—with fishing. Although the poles are made out of graphite, instead of stick, the “sport” is still preformed close to the way they did it back in biblical times. The ancient Macedonians tied feather to hook thousands of years ago, and if you consider my rating system—where the longevity of a sport equals quality—that makes fly fishing superior even to something as noble as baseball.
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It’s got to be fly fishing because modern man can’t relax long enough to just toss a worm in and await a bite. People presume that fishing and fly fishing are one in the same—but au contraire; fishing requires patience, but patience is the last thing you need when fly fishing. It’s very active, and the perfect pursuit for our impatient times—both physically and intellectually: figuring out what subspecies of mayfly the fishes are lusting after, then changing flies, casting here, wading there. Always questioning, pondering, and exploring. And executed with a stream crashing against your legs.

If you’re the patient sort, continue to relax. You won’t have to turn neurotic to participate. Although a dying breed, the “purist” is a fly fisher that sits placidly streamside and casts only to rising fish. This genteel form of angling is associated with tranquil water—where the ring of a rise, the sweep of the cloud, and the dart of a swallow are easy to see. There is an endless array of fly fishing styles to match the equally endless array of fly fishers: there’s water to suit the young, the old, the male, the female, the fit, or the fragile. The young “fun hog” can run down a jagged canyon and “rip some lip” while dashing over boulders and chasing big fish. The athletic type can become a tournament fly caster. The artistic can wax poetically about the endless combinations of feathers that form a fly, or write poetry from the curving lines of a graceful cast. And the academic, armchair outdoorsman can join in without even wetting a line: by learning the Latin names of the bugs, tying flies, and fussing with gear. Then join a fly fishing club where such behavior is encouraged.

People don’t even have to be good at it to enjoy themselves. Fly casting is a fun thing to do in itself. And since the fish are thrown back, there is no scoring. This opens the door for the not-so-gifted to stand on equal footing with their fishing partners. To quote from my book, “Instinctive Fly Fishing”: “Catch-and-release fishing allows the unlucky angler even greater victories. Putting him in a place where excuse isn’t needed. This place lies beyond the next bend in the river—from where your fishing partner can’t see you.” Just being near moving water is enough for some—and catching fish may even be considered a nuisance. One serene gentleman that I fished with became so enraptured by the gurgling stream that he secretly removed his fly, so as not to be bothered by a fish tugging on the line.

 I am from a generation and culture that doesn’t allow for a man simply hanging out of doors and do nothing--unarmed. Holding a fly rod will keep your red neck friends from calling you a “nature boy”. And it will also help fill the huge gap that has formed between our natural selves—that part of us that has been outside looking for something to eat for a couple million years—and the modern man who has so suddenly been locked indoors. This soul is so alienated from nature that his only relationship with it is through warfare with it--snowboarding down Everest, traversing Tasmania or crawling across Kentucky. Fly fishing is more about grooving with nature rather then trying to conquer it.

 There is something about fly fishing in secluded places that satisfies that lust for life, and lowers the ego--without putting your life in peril. I’ve witness over-amphed city folks have complete personality changes after a day on the water. They start the day with “goals” and nothing less then bagging a world record will do, but by sundown they say “we didn’t catch many; but it was such a pleasant day—who cares”.

You won’t hear such blasphemy from the saltwater fly fisherman! I worked in the bone fishing business for several seasons and my clients always knew exactly how many fish they caught and—more importantly—how many their companions caught. Maybe its the intense nature of fishing the flats: as fish are generally hunted, and the spotting and stalked—and occasionally hooking—can be stressful and that it brings out the materialistic, competitive side of the humble fisherman. It can be a frustrating game, and some fish, like the Permit, are so difficult to fool that it’s coup just having one just look at your fly.

Saltwater fly fishing is the answer for those looking for exotic outdoor thrills. On a recent trip to the wild Esperito Santo Bay off the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico I caught snook, tarpon, bonefish--and had a permit inspect my fly. But it was the surroundings that made it special; there was of course, abundant sea life, and the untrodden jungle was always close by; with saltwater crocks and birds of wild color and design. Their piercing calls help create visions of jaguars lurking in the tangled bush. We didn’t do any lurking in the jungle ourselves but instead lived the high life at the lodge eating our way through the delicious fish species.

As a general rule of thumb; the more untouched a place is the better the fishing will be. This leaves the wildest places on earth to investigate and fish. Floating the wide rivers of Patagonian, to fishing beside griz in Alaska. Or you can arrange to go deep in the Amazon after furious Peacock Bass. So many fishes—so short a life.

 But we all ain’t got that kinda dough and time to flick our flies about the globe. And thankfully there is an incredible amount of exciting fly fishing here in the good ole US of A. There’s big Bones and tarpon in the Keys, and huge salmoniods in tributaries of the great lakes. Endless ponds and lakes filled with bass and pan fish dot the countryside. They are great fun to fish with the fly rod. But its trout that keep the average angler happy; and they reside by the millions in streams and rivers across the US, and where catch and release fishing is well established there will be good-sized fish. This is the case in much of the western US--where the scope and quality of the fishing—is staggering. What makes exploring all this moving water so interesting is that it all fishes differently, and every one of these creeks and rivers have their own character. Still waters may run deep but moving water has many personalities: Some gurgle, some laugh, some rage and others only whisper.

And the adventure angler with imagination may find secluded secrets near home. I once discovered an immense trout living in a hidden beaver pond not far from my home in the southern Rockies. It took a couple of hours hike to get into the place and three summers of intense fishing to finally outwit Ole Walter. He was so difficult to catch because he fed on one type of insect and inspected all flies with great scrutiny. And what made it all so exciting was that we could watch his every move from a hill that overlooked the clear, still water. My son Nick and I finally fooled him late one evening. The low light and his voracious appetite were his undoing. We threw the 27 inch trout back in the pond but he died of old age by the following spring. But finding treasures like ‘Old Walters’ hideout doesn’t always require a long hike. Some of the best fishing is often close to home in overlooked nooks and crannies. And from the Explore chapter of my book, “Many of the best fishing places that I have found are ones that are simply overlooked because everyone assumes that they are overused. The thing is that sometimes everyone assumes that and consequently, the place never gets fished. Even in the west, the best water can often be found where you would least expect it to be: next to houses, dumps, thrift stores.”
What turns people off to fly fishing is that it perceived to be a complicated and technical sport. And unfortunately many of fly fishing’s most prominent residence have a stake in keeping it a complicated game. There is an endless supply of gear that must be sold and theories that need pontification. Certainly it takes great skill to catch a tailing bonefish, or to get a big selective trout to eat a tiny dry fly. But catching bluegills in a farm pond or brook trout in a falling stream is easy. You don’t have to be proficient to enjoy yourself. I’ve guided thousands of beginners and most all of them caught fish their first day, and giggled while they did it. And don’t be afraid to pick up a fly rod because you might turn into another obsessed ‘trout bum”; leaving the wife and kids to sleep in the back of your truck in Montana. But be careful; it’s easy to be caught in the river’s flow, because there are no limits to the sport--outwitting nature is an endless challenge. There is always a bigger fish, a new way to catch it, and a new stream to find it in.

 Fishing is ever hopeful--every time that fly touches the water there is the possibility that a glimmering fish will rise up and inhale it. That’s always within reach. There isn’t much hope for me snowboarding down Everest—or being the best player in a Mayan volleyball game. And that’s OK with me.


                                                               



Friday, May 18, 2018


Low Water Fishing 
by Taylor Streit   

     The smart fly fisher pays attention to fishing conditions and plans accordingly with both long and short-range goals in mind. It starts with arriving at the right stream––at the right time. Romantic notions often cloud rational thinking in this area and if you had a blissful day on Old Skuttlebutt Creek last year, that doesn’t mean it will be any good this season. Our guides at Taos Fly shop and the Reel Life in Santa Fe don’t fish Skuttlebutt when it’s gonna suck.
     Knowing where not to fish is obviously critical, too. This is pretty cut and dried in a low water year. The smaller streams are out. Sure you can still catch trout in your favorite little creek but more mileage will be needed because the trout will be ganged up in the few pools capable of harboring them. Also, you will likely spook the others in the pool once you hook one—so you’ll end up catching very few for your long walk. Many smaller streams may even suffer fish kills later in summer, although nature is practiced at dealing with extremes and they usually recover quickly. Even in the terrible drought of 2002, a fork of the Chama river went totally dry but was repopulated by aquatic insects and trout the very next year.
     Fortunately, we have a number of waters that stay relatively healthy because they have other sources of water than those supplied directly from on high. That would include streams that are below dams and those that are spring-fed. Spring-fed creeks are scattered across the state and would include most of the streams in the Valle Caldera national refuge, and the lower Red River and the Rio Grande.
     Yup, you heard right, the Rio Grande is a huge spring-fed creek and superb fishing in a low-water year! The springs are what make the Rio so rich and this year’s fishing has already been excellent. In low water years the spring water becomes the bulk of the Rio’s flow and this cool clean water makes for a healthy aquatic environment.
     Easier accessibility is another plus in low water years. Much of the Rio has excellent fishing terrain in the form of huge basalt boulders. Wading between these great rocks is impossible in higher flows but in low water the trout become much easier to get at. Of course we hope for summer rains but there is a negative element when there are downpours on the loose soils of the San Luis Valley. When that happens the Rio Grande will get muddy and then fish poorly for a week or so.
     A new factor of considerable importance is the addition of river otters to the Rio Grande scheme. They were introduced about 10 years ago and with no predators and an abundant food supply their populations have gone through the roof. It would appear that up to this point they have been prospering on crayfish, carp and chubs. Such ‘trash fish’ are competition to the trout and the otter seem to be doing the Rio some good here.
     Unfortunately, this is not the case in the spring-fed lower Red River where the otter have been dining on their favorite food––spawning trout. There was zero spawning activity in the Red last year and this is a big deal because this is the most important spawning ground for big wild trout in the state. Smaller waters like the Red do not hold ‘trash fish’ and trout are much easier for the otter to corner in the more confined water course of this narrow stream. The otter influence here is mostly a winter thing and good populations of smallish brown trout and stocked rainbows will be found in warmer weather.
     The Pecos Drainage amounts to a lot of stream, but there seem to be sufficient fishermen to accommodate all the space, so try and fish there on weekdays. Be sure to hit the Stonefly hatch in early June, because unfortunately, except for that spring fishing, the Pecos will probably not fish well this season unless big rains materialize.
     Another very important river for New Mexico fly fisherman is the Conejos just over the border in Colorado. Large trout eat dry flies here and insect hatches are prolific and predictable. Expect green and brown drakes starting in June and stoneflies around that time as well. Pale Morning Duns (PMDs) and caddis can hatch throughout the summer. Although the river is a tailwater much of the flow is from natural streams and those streams will be very low. The trout here suffer in low-water years unless lots of supplemental water is released into the system from Platero Reservoir. (And that is strictly an irrigation thing as water in the west is not used for the benefit of fish.)
     The free-flowing Chama River has been fishing very well the last couple of years. We do a lot of guiding in this great stream and we were about to write the season off as a big-time bummer! But screwy weather ain’t always a bad thing and an insane rain event there this spring has all of a sudden put a lot of water in the system. Fishing should start there in late May.
     Below El Vado Dam there are some very nice-sized trout and they are going to get even bigger as the water below Coopers El Vado Ranch was declared catch and release. Fish downstream with a cone head Slumpbuster and then fish back up with a Poundmiester nymph. Look for flow releases of under 200 c.f.s. for the best fishing.
     The Abiquiu section of the Chama has had decent fishing the last couple of years. This is primarily an offseason fishery (late fall and spring) and although the bulk of the action is for stocked trout there are some big wild browns as well. They are particular about their hidie holes and the help of a guide will be about the only way the average angler will latch onto one of these special trout.
     A couple of other Northern New Mexico waters that hold up well under such conditions are the tailwaters of the Cimarron and Costilla Creeks. Their respective reservoirs have decent amounts of water so fishing should be OK throughout spring and summer
     Remember to check the weather forecast and New Mexico streamflows on line before you head out the door. And here’s my last tip: Make it a good day by calling it a hike—just bring a fly rod along. If you do well, call it fishing.



Tuesday, February 13, 2018










NEW MEXICO PIKE ON THE FLY
By Taylor Streit

Most fly fishers visiting New Mexico are here for the fine trout fishing on the Rio Grande, San Juan and Chama rivers. They  are usually from flat country and they want to be standing in fast water engaged in  fast action. And that’s what fly fishing for trout is all about. Pike fishing has a darker, deeper and slower angle. It’s a longer wait for a strike but when a pike takes a fly—it is explosive!
The main pike fishing is on Rio Grande near Taos in wintertime. The long tooth frequents long slow pools, still channels and large eddies.( The dead spot in middle of the eddy.) Targeting beaver lodges and side channels also helps improve the odds.  Long slow pools hold random pike but it requires a lot of casts to find them.
A floating line is OK if you are using a heavy fly. A sink-tip line might be a better choice in a deep pool. Sinking leaders can also get the fly down to the right level. Wire tippetts are, of course, always employed!
Chartreuse flies are a good choice for pike because they are easily seen by both fish and fisherman. But pike eat a lot of smallish stuff: like crayfish, so a small dark fly—like a #6 brown or olive wholly bugger—is a good choice.  
There are  long stretches of the Rio that do not seem to hold pike; but there are a number of “go-to” places also. The John Dunn Bridge at Arroyo Hondo and the Taos Junction Bridge above Pilar are both a good bet. The Dunn bridge seems to be solely a winter spot and the pike will be found upstream of the bridge. (Although it appears that few wild trout are eaten by them, no doubt the thousands of  rainbows released at these sites attracts pike—as well as large brown trout.)
If you aren’t afraid of a hike try “Miners Trail” north of Taos. It’s on the west side of the river and although pretty easy to find it requires 4X4 to reach when wet.  It’s a 700 foot decent but otherwise  pretty easy water--by Rio Grande standards. Once you get to the river the banks are mostly grassy, but upstream a half mile it gets rough, but there is a great plunge pool that holds pike, even though the water moves along at a pretty good clip. Its deep so  the fly needs to get down a ways. This is a good place for a sink tip fly line. One might look for pike in dead spots off the main current in this general area also, as this whole portion of the Rio is popular with the pikes.
 If you are not familiar with the nature of the Rio Grande in northern N.M. beware that the river is exceedingly rugged and remote above here. And there is no vehicle access all the way  to the Colorado border. But a few miles above the state line  the Rio goes docile as it slide beneath one of Colorado’s highest peaks—Mt Blanca at 14,435. There are roads beside the river here- making the pike easy to  get at. Consequently the area is fished somewhat—but its still sparse fishing pressure really as pike arnt really fished for in these parts. there just arnt many people around this area either.
And downstream, below the state line, in the “Ute Mountain Run” there’s absolutely  nobody around. The Rio here is in a sheer canyon with 100 feet continuous  cliffs. This area could safely be rated ‘unfished’, as it is hard to get at, and poor water quality keeps trout numbers low. There are long slow stretches where huge pike may lurk and I remember seeing a picture of a 54 inch specimen from there some years ago.
There are faint 4X4 roads along the rim but ways down to the water are rare. It can be floated but that is problematic as there is no “take out” perse, and a boat needs to be hauled up and out  of the canyon a couple hundred feet. And it is not a float that can be accomplished in one day; so camp gear needs to be hauled up and out too.
On this pike water north of Taos, there is a period-- in the downhill side of runoff—when pike will be enthusiastic about eating flies on, or near, the surface. A  large red and white Dahlberg diver is the fly of choice; and can be used as a popper or retrieved ‘just so’ and thereby suspending in front of a visible fish. This fabulous fly fishing is for the more advanced angler because the fish must be spotted. Which is not easy to do cause they are motionless and the water is usually murky. It’s a good time to have a guide as she can take up higher position and instruct the client where to cast. (Google “Taos Fly Shop pike on the fly” for a thrilling little movie!)
The other pike fishery of note in northern NM is Eagle Nest lake. The pike came on the scene about ten years ago; and with a solid foodbank of their natural prey—yellow perch-- are reaching serious maturity about now. (Pike caught in this once-fine trout lake must be killed BY LAW.) They can be hooked by walking and casting out ‘blind’ from shore with a dark wholly bugger or slumpbuster—of rather small size—about a size 6. They seem to be in 4-6 feet of water, so the fly needs to get to that level. A floating line with a fast-sinking leader is an idea set up for  casting from the bank.

Taos Fly Shop guide Christopher Jenkins suggest that the fishing need not be totally ‘blind’ , and says to “ look for darker bottoms where the water will heat up faster. There seems to be more bait fish activity too at such spots. And also look for weed Islands where they can hide an ambush their prey. There are also some subtle currents  lines too. Places where prey concentrates.”

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Float Fishing the Rio by Taylor Streit

Float Fishing the Rio
by Taylor Streit

In Colorado, the Rio Grande is an excellent river to float-fish––it has a lot of the medium-speed, even currents that suits the style of fishing and there are roads paralleling the river and numerous places for put in/take outs. This all-important ease of access is not the case once the Rio enters New Mexico, because except for a short portion above Pilar the river runs through a roadless canyon.
      We have 50 miles of exceedingly wild river that requires considerable effort to drift and much of it is simply too rowdy to drift fish. But as the saying goes “if it was easy everybody would be doing it.” It’s highly unlikely that you’ll see another fisherman in this country—let alone one that’s in a boat. So if it’s solitude and a lack of competition that you’re looking for, this is it.  
      The upper-most section (Ute Mountain run) starts at the Colorado border. Running through a shallow but precipitous canyon here, the Rio is dominated by Ute Mountain just to the east. This worn volcano casts a lonely spell over barren ground that receives little rain. And Bajadas—or “ways down”—between the cliffs are few and far between. To further reduce crowds of anglers, trout numbers through here are not good, and near the state line there may be no trout. (That’s because most of the water traveling through this wasteland has already done duty in the vast agricultural farms of Colorado’s San Luis Valley, and is return irrigation water with marginal oxygen.)
      Some 10 miles downriver there is a big gain of spring water from a huge spring and that increases trout numbers. Such springs escalate as the river falls faster and further into the earth until the river is an actual  rampage of rapids at “Wild Rivers.”
      This upper Rio may be low on trout but it’s full of pike, carp, and solitude. And there could be a world record pike there because people have caught them over 50 inches long! And since it is just about never fished— who knows what lurks in these miles of desolate pools.
      Some of this area could be driven to but it is too big to fish or sightsee on foot. Floating it is the way to go and you might see all sorts of critters: bighorns, elk, deer, lions and bears––and lots of hawks and eagles. I’ve read somewhere that it has the highest number of nesting raptors of any river in the U.S. Oh, and there are no ugly cows—but there are ugly rattlesnakes.
      There are a couple of hitches to the float: the first being that it is too far to do in a day so you have to bring camping gear. Being forced to spend more time in this magical place is a high class problem, but there is a second snafu: although the put-in is a snap at the Labatos Bridge just in Colorado, there is no easy take out and you have to carry your boat and camp gear over two hundred vertical feet up Lee Trail. If you are planning to do this, look to the excellent book The Rio Grande by Paul W. Bauer. It has nary a word about fishing but is written from a rafter’s point of view with superb maps and info. That book or google earth will also show you where the fast water is; and that is where the trout are, so you would want to pull over before you go through a rapid and fish it while you’re checking it out. (One thing about float is that you don’t get to fish this prime fast water as you go through it.)
      The trout are pretty uniform in size here, averaging about 16 inches. Most will be browns. As they are rarely fished for, they will usually eat a streamer and that type of fly is perfect for covering a lot of water quickly. A bead head crystal flash wooly buggers in black or olive is a good choice as that pattern is a good fly for carp in the slower waters between the fast zones. For pike, use an eight-weight fly rod with an 8-inch-long chartreuse streamer tied on with a foot of wire leader.
From Lee Trail to La Junta the Rio is known as "Wild Rivers" and is unfloatable. Period. And exclamation point! (No, don’t even think about it--many have died finding this out.).
At La Junta, the junction where the Red River and the Rio meet, you will want to put-in at the Cebolla Mesa trail by the John Dunn Bridge in Arroyo Hondo. This float is also referred to as “Middle Box” and is the best float-fishing trip on the Rio.  Although not severe overall, there is a short, class-three rapid at Horse Thief Shorty, and it is wise to have a proper boatman take you through. It’s also too long to do in a day, so you need a decent sized boat to carry the camp gear. Since such a craft is too big for humans to haul down; boat, whiskey and gear need to be taken down by one of man’s best friends--the horse/mule.

Now getting all this together is a rather complicated affair but this is being done by Taos Fly Shop and they are doing trips in spring and fall. Fishing can be temperamental because the dates need to be locked in; and fishing conditions are always unpredictable on the Rio. (Hey, that’s fishing--the experience of floating wild water is grand either way.) But this hunk of river has great numbers of trout, as it has many wide rifles that are insect rich, and this water is much simpler to fish then the crazy currents of the rest of the canyon.
      This seldom visited area is most pleasant because the banks are by and large, flat and grassy, and old ponderosas tower over some excellent campsites. There is one lonely—and very long riffle area––where mountain lions like to hang when the high country is snowbound. Their tracks are often seen in the mud along the bank and kills are sometimes found hidden, just above the river.
      This section of the Rio has no low water limitations and can be floated in fall when the Rio is low and prime (no dragging the boat over long shallows but there will be bumping over rocks). Another choice time—although spotty—is April during the caddis hatch. Conditions are temperamental and can range from high water to snowstorm––but when things go right…well, they can go way-right.
      Years ago, I was down there in early spring when a big wind was huffing and puffing upstream. Clouds of caddis were sailing by in vast swarms. They skittered and skimmed across the flat water but once the insects hit the choppy riffle they would stumble and bounce across the little waves. All the trout that lived in the long pool below came to feast and were slashing at the insects with such zeal, that a spray formed over the riffle. In this ensuing mist, a mini rainbow was created over the water. You don’t see a “trout splash” like that every day!
      As I mentioned, the take-out for the Middle Box float is the John Dunn bridge 10 miles north of Taos. It is the only vehicular access to the river between the Colorado border and the Taos Junction Bridge—which is 15 miles downriver of the Dunn Bridge (or JDB).
The river here is rafted extensively from spring to early summer from here. It is a fabulous and famous float and there are several rafting companies who float “the Box.” They take thousands of sportsmen here and running the “Taos Box" is big business. The length of this float is full of trout but high flows are necessary to make it through—but beware, the fishing absolutely stinks in high water. And even if it did fish when high, you’re way too busy flailing about the raft and yelling “Oh, my God” in the Class 5 rapids to think about making a cast. I’m sure that the right boatman in just the right craft could float fish much of the water during lower water periods. But this is very rarely done and the entire box could safely be called unfished.
      The only easy float of the Rio starts at the Taos Junction Bridge and is an agreeable mid-speed current. There is a Class 2 rapid but otherwise it is gentle. There is a put in/take out (Lone Juniper) about 4 miles down that makes for a good half-day drift. Although this water is all paralleled by road it is an entirely different experience to float-fish it, then to wade-fish it. This is good Smallmouth Bass and Pike territory and when in the slower sections it is wise to fish for those species with a separate rod rigged especially for them. The trout will be primarily in the faster water.
      Starting at Lone Juniper and taking out at Quartzite is another half-day float. (Starting at Taos Junction Bridge to Quartzite is a full-day float.) But there is a rapid about one mile above Quartzite that is tricky business and comes on just as one has gone over the irrigation dam. (Which is a start in itself.) It seems near impossible to walk a boat by this short Class 2 and 3 rapids…so duffer boatmen beware.
      From Pilar (Quartzite) to county line is about a 7-mile float. It is rowdy water and there is one section that is downright scary. It is floated a great deal; both commercially and privately. Hopefully, I have already made the point, but it bears repetition; that floating and float-fishing are two entirely different animals. The water here is just too fast to float-fish effectively because of the Class 3 and 4 rapids--and for most of the distance all hands need to be employed, so someone’s head doesn’t get bashed on a rock. Trying to catch a fish would be a bit silly here (although I have done it with Capt. Nick Streit on the oars). This is a serious commercial rafting piece of river and is 4.5 miles in length. The takeout is at the large BLM facility known as County Line.

      Below there is some very nice riffle water but the take outs are tricky, and/or non-existent in a large boat. Fishing from a one-man boat that can be carried would make this float doable. There is a B.L.M. take out where the Embudo joins the Rio. As flash floods often contribute silt from the Embudo, trout fishing deteriorates below there anyhow.
      A good day of float fishing does not have to be for miles and miles. Especially if one is alone and is in a craft that can be gotten in and out of easily and then pulled along behind on a rope. You’re likely to see other anglers in all this lower area so remember to be courteous and not too uppity. Try and hug the opposite bank and don’t fish in the other sports water. And try not to act too uppity in your effortless passage. And also remember that those landlubbers and clumsy wading fishers have probably not caught near as many fish as you. Because--I have forgotten to mention this fact-- floating allows one’s fly to be seen by massive numbers of fish and almost always produces more fish than wading. So, tell the shore bound commoner—who is stumbling and bumbling his way upriver-- that you are having but marginal luck. Be kind, discretion in these matters is always wise.



 
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