Thursday, December 1, 2016

Patagonia Women's Spring River Wader Review by Emily Roley

Review: Patagonia Spring River Waders for Women
By Emily Roley

I started fly fishing back in the year 1992 when I was 13. I was a teenager with a babysitting income and purchasing gear was out of question so I gratefully took whatever second hands my father passed down to me. I remember the extra fabric in the waders folded around me like elephant skin and I had to layer thick, wool socks to try and fill the extra room in the men’s size 10 boot. But I fell in love with the sport, despite the oversized gear.
As an adult woman, with a slightly better income, I have a myriad of options for gear designed specifically for women and I recently acquired Patagonia’s Spring River waders. I must admit that I am smitten with them. The cut and seam construction follow my contour without clinging, specifically through the thighs and hips. I am an angler who enjoys scrambling over obstacles to get the perfect cast and I have found that I have enough room to stretch and crawl without constriction. The gravel guards are made from the same fabric as the waders instead of transitioning to neoprene, this gives the waders a uniform fit and feel all the way down to the boot, which partially accounts for the legroom and comfort.
These waders are crafted with an in-wader suspension system that unclips at the back, which makes a riverside bathroom break easier without having to remove pack or jacket. It takes a little practice to figure this out but it is a super use full feature. The best part of the suspension system is that you can slide the top of the wader down, transitioning these chest waders into pant waders and back again as the weather shifts. In this northern New Mexico region we often see dramatic shifts in weather and I greatly appreciate the ability to transition my gear with such ease.
The upper cut of the wader is contoured, hitting above the breastbone for full coverage. If I had to have a negative critique it would be that this high profile brings the fabric high under the armpits, which feels bulky and can be irritating. The front, fleece lined hand pocket is a lifesaver and I will never purchase another wader that does not have this feature. Lastly, the 100% waterproof pocket on the chest interior is very well designed as I can flip the pocket out and store my phone for quick, picture taking access without the worry of it getting wet when I bend down to net a fish.

In one sentence I feel entirely spoiled in these waders, not having to sacrifice fit or performance while on or off the water. I have learned a lot from age 13 to 37, one lesson being that having the perfect gear is not a necessity in this sport but it certainly is a pleasure.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Get To Know Your Guide: Ron Sedall

Get To Know Your Guide: Ron Sedall

When did you learn to fly fish?

I was young, maybe 4 or 5. My father started taking me to small creeks in the Jemez Mountains.

Why did you become a guide?

The culture surrounding guides was something that I loved. A lifestyle of “play hard and fish harder”. There are amazing moments that come from such a life, moments that are hard to accurately display in all the popular fishing magazines, although the attempts are great. It was during one of these indescribable moments that I knew for certain that this is why I was on this planet. When else does one get to sit back and read the endless writings of the natural world?

Where are you from and how did you end up in Taos?

I grew up in Corrales, which is a small farming community north of Albuquerque. I was working a restaurant job while I struggled through my attempt at college. It was while working this restaurant job that I met Taylor Streit. After a lengthy conversation about Taos and guiding with Taylor I was soon living in the basement of the Taos Fly Shop paying my dues and displaying my dedication. Taos was always alluring to me, especially the Rio Grande and its density of water.

What is your most memorable experience as a guide?

My most memorable experience was my first trip. I didn’t sleep due to the stress, not knowing what the next day would bring. But I learned what has become a pattern, all nerves subside and all is well when the fish are caught.

What is your goal when you take clients on a trip?

A client’s satisfaction is everything. I want their experience to strengthen their love for the sport. I also enjoy creating a bond with my clients throughout the course of a fishing day.

What is your favorite river to guide and why?

That’s a tough question! Every river has its window of fishiness and all have something different to offer depending on when you are there. The Rio Grande is pretty amazing for wild, big fish and it is unique to our area. That fact always makes it a crowd pleaser. It’s very  “wild west” down there. It also has challenges that make every day down there on the river interesting.

What are your 5 “go to” patterns?

-Warden’s Worry
-Hare’s Ear
-Royal Simulator

What do you love about fly fishing?

I love the solitude, the challenges, the subtle changes that happen on the water, the learning process and being in touch with the natural world.

What is the one place you want to fish before you die?

One of my secret spots!

What do you enjoy doing when you are off the water?

Spending time with my amazing fiancée and our dogs. I enjoy camping, cooking, making beer and getting ready for my next day on the water.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Bear's Ears National Monument

Bears Ears National Monument supporter Garon Coriz travels to Taos, New Mexico to learn how President Obama's 2013 designation of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument has affected access for Native Americans, hunters, anglers and more. What he found may surprise you.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Fishing Report: Rio Chama Below El Vado Lake

Rio Chama below El Vado Lake

To fish the El Vado section of the Rio Chama head to Cooper’s El Vado Ranch. It’s about a mile below the dam. They charge a nominal fee to park, and have camping, a tiny store and cabins. These cabins are thoroughly booked in summer as many people come here to bait fish. But don’t let that scare you because there is a lot of river and it is heavily stocked with 12 inch rainbows that grow fast in this rich environment. In just a few months time the trout may gain a couple inches and no longer even resemble a stocked trout, and engage the angler in a vigorous combat.

If your fishing needs to be close to the car there are a couple of very easy and productive runs right adjacent to Coopers. To fish them it is best to get on the far side and walk down a ¼ mile and then fish back up with nymphs. What makes them good spots is that the water has sufficient depth to harbor trout and an even, unbroken flow--one gets a long drift with a moderately weighted nymph. Most of the fish here will just be stockers but a good brown is always possible. (Especially in fall.)

The water above Coopers is broken and fast. If you try and fish up on the east side you will get walled out by a long cliff, so to fish it properly you must be on the west side. You can drive  upstream to the end of the campground and cross the river there; but beware that it is not an easy crossing and try it only at flows below 200 cfs! An easier way to get across—albeit a longer walk-- is to simply use the foot bridge that is visible from Cooper’s.

Far fewer fishermen will be found down below Coopers. This is where the river widens and slows down to a riffle/pool structure. But there is virtually no vehicular access below Cooper’s, and it’s 26 miles to the next access/take out. This is a famous place to float—unfortunately it is not a place to float/ fish because the floating flows are much too high (800+) and muddy to provide good fishing (contact Taos B.L.M. for floating permits).

The group Rio Grande Restoration (.com) is working to stabilize these flows to improve the health of the river. If the flows were consistently at a moderate level of something like 300 cfs it would be likely that the river could be float/fished. Another huge environmental factor here is that silt buildup reduces trout numbers as one proceeds downriver. The Nutrias drainage that comes in from the east is largely responsible for the silt-- but there are still several miles of excellent water that receives only light pressure.

Trout in this El Vado stretch are more numerous than most fisherman realize because they are a temperamental, nomadic and finicky lot of fish! They may feed variously at times and then develop lockjaw. There seems to be a generous amount of food; so lots of time on the water is required to encounter the fishes on the feed. So being there when conditions are optimal is important. Not only should you check flow levels, but also contact the Cooper’s Ranch store and ask what the water clarity is. If the flow has been very high it takes a week or more for it to clear once lowered; and even then the water is really never clear--but if it is a greenish color it will be OK to fish.

Like the Abiquiu section of the Chama River downstream this is primarily an off season fishery. With the best fishing likely to occur in late fall—November/December when the water is low and clear and the large browns are moving about spawning.

This clarity factor dictates the way the river must be fished. Although hatches can be profuse, it is rare to find fish rising. Visibility is a factor and beadhead flies that have sparkle built to catch the trout’s eye are wise to use. But if the fish are feeding they are not particular about what they eat. One way to go is to fish downstream from Cooper’s stripping streamers as you go, then fish back up with nymphs. You want to fish much larger flies here than you might be used to using elsewhere. My favorite fly for fishing downstream is an olive Slumpbuster in size 8, my favorite nymph for fishing back upstream is—you guessed it—the Poundmiester. Fly selection is not near as important as sink rate; so have these flies tied with different sized beads to accommodate the river’s speed and depth. Be aware that large browns and rainbows can be about any where’s in the faster water here, and I have caught 20 inchers in small pockets that didn’t look worthy of a cast. The fish are extremely healthy and put up powerful fights.

Fishing here requires long casts and long hikes; making this a poor place for beginners.
Wading is somewhat treacherous here too. And as the water is cold you will need chest waders and studded wading shoes.

Tight lines—Taylor Streit

Friday, September 23, 2016

Get to Know Your Guide: Christoph Engle

Christoph Engle (Toph-Man)

1     When did you learn to fly fish?
       Back in the Midwest, where I’m originally from, I used to do a lot of off-road bicycling. You would be hard pressed to call it mountain biking being that the terrain there was quite flat. When I moved to Taos in 1997 I experienced what true mountain biking is, and frankly, I didn’t enjoy it much. As they say at the ski valley, Taos is a four-letter word for steep. Still wanting to get out though and enjoy and explore Northern New Mexico, I spent a lot of time hiking in the mountains and down in the gorge. The sights were amazing and there was certainly a sense of accomplishment summiting a few peaks, but hiking for me was still just “there and back”.  In the meantime, I meet a friend who was always talking about fly-fishing and how fantastic it was. I hadn’t fished since I was a kid at summer camp but I asked him if I could tag along one day. I got myself a day license, rented some gear, and we headed down to the Red River. Having no idea what I was doing, I didn’t catch a thing. Hell, I didn’t even see a fish. But, by the end of the day, I was absolutely hooked. It was the excitement of the hunt combined with the song of the river that grabbed me. After that day I began the long and mysterious process of trying to teach myself how to fly fish. Today as a fishing guide, I often tell my clients that are new to fly fishing that it took me about a year to figure out on my own what I have taught them in one day.

2    Why did you become a guide?
       To be honest, I never really decided to become a guide. It was a gift that sort of fell into my lap; for which today I am very grateful. I guess though that I could say that I continue to work as a fishing guide because I enjoy meeting folks from all over the world, showing off my beautiful back yard, and sharing with them both my experience and knowledge about fishing and the excitement of hooking a fish with a fly.

3    Where are you from and how did you end up guiding in Taos?
       I grew up in the Chicago area and lived there until I was 28. Having been introduced to the Rocky Mountains and Taos through skiing, it was always my desire of mine to one day leave the city and live “at altitude”. When the opportunity came up in 1997, I quit my job as a furniture designer and moved out to Taos to start my own business designing and building custom woodwork. My business grew and so did my passion for hunting trout with a fly. My copy of Taylor’s book, Fly Fishing New Mexico, became my go to source and was definitely worn and weathered. In 2006, I had the privilege of attending one of Taylor’s weekend workshops of fly tying and fishing with A.K. Best. By then, fly tying had also become an interest (as it should be for any serious fly fisher) and A.K. was as much of a legend to me as Taylor was (is). At any rate, at the end of the weekend Taylor and Nick approached me and asked if I was interested in doing some "off-season" part-time guiding for them. Even though my business as a custom woodworker was doing pretty well, I was so honored I just had to say “Sure! I’d be happy to guide for you!” Well that part-time work quickly turned into full-time as the Taos Fly Shop grew and now, in 2016, I’m beginning my 10th season as a fishing guide.

4    What is your most memorable experience as a guide?
       A few years back, I guided an older gentleman, probably close to 80, who had done a lot of lake fishing with bait but never fly-fishing in a river. Catching a trout with a fly was on his bucket list and he hoped to accomplish it while still on this earth. Being that he couldn’t see very well and had a difficult time getting around, I took him to a spot I know on the Hondo River that we could drive right up to and fish from the bank. When we arrived, he looked at the 8-foot wide creek with its skinny clear water and exclaimed, “Really? Is that worth fishing? There aren’t any fish in there!” I led him across the grass to the edge of the water, handed him the fly rod with a single Royal Wolff tied on, and, pointing to a spot 6 feet away, I said, “Put the fly there.” Sure enough, a little wild Brown trout materialized out of the bubbling water and ate his fly as soon as it hit the surface. This 80-year-old man was as excited as a 10 year old boy while he played that fish with the 2-weight rod and we landed it on the bank. After releasing the fish, he turned to me and asked, “Do you think there’s another one in there?” We proceeded to catch 4 more Browns from that pool without even moving our feet. I’ll always remember as we drove along the river at the end of the afternoon, this man pointing at the water and saying, “Do you realize how many fish we’re driving past right now? There’s got to be hundreds!”

5   What is your goal when you take clients on a guide trip?
        I enjoy sharing with my clients all the knowledge and experience I have accumulated over the years fishing and exploring Northern New Mexico. In addition to striving for a safe and enjoyable day on the water, it’s my goal to make the client, beginner or advanced, a better angler.

6    What is your favorite river to guide and why?
       My favorite river to fish myself is definitely the Rio Grande. However, guiding on the Rio can often be an agonizing affair. It’s a demanding, unforgiving river, that requires persistence and for me to be at the top of my game. That being said however, the days on the Rio when my clients and I are in sync, fish are eating, eagles are flying overhead, and herds of bighorn sheep are nonchalantly grazing the banks are some of the most amazing days I have experienced as a guide.

7    What are your top five go-to patterns?
        I learned much of my fly knowledge from Taylor, inventor of the Shit Fly (some brown dubbing with a bead on a hook). But even Taylor says sometimes it takes a little more to fool the fish. The flies I use consistently in a variety of situations are the Madam X (yellow or royal; best searching dry-dropper), Bloom’s Parachute caddis (easy to see, great profile), Flying Ant (for fish who have seen it all), Poundmiester (I also tie a non bead version), Micro May nymph (tungsten, a must have for Rio Grande cut-bows), Batman nymph (like candy to stockers). Wait a minute, that’s six…

8   What do you love about fly fishing?
        I love the hunt and the art of fooling fish. To find a fish feeding confidently in a foam line or off a shelf, present my fly to that fish, and have it take that fly just like it was one of the naturals… To me that’s what it’s all about.

9    What is the one place that you want to fish before you die?
       I have been fortunate to have already fished some pretty fantastic places. Recently, salt-water flats-fishing has also expanded my horizons. What comes to mind though is the stonefly hatch in Gunnison Gorge. I have heard some amazing stories about that trip. Iceland also looks pretty cool.

 What do you enjoy doing when you are not on the water?

       I still enjoy working in my wood shop building furniture and doing other woodwork. I spend a lot of time with my new bride, skiing, hiking, and traveling. And of course I also enjoy filling out guide questionnaires.