Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Winter Fishing

The snow falling outside my window is a sure sign that fall fishing is over.  Though many of our beloved streams and lakes are trickling under ice and snow, there are still some good fishing opportunities to hold us over ‘till spring.
            The Red River has always been a great winter fishery due to the large amount of spring water that warms it.  The springs enter the river at various points from the fish hatchery downstream toward the confluence with the Rio Grande.  While the other streams have water temps in the 30’s this time of year, the temps below the hatchery are balmy in the low 50’s. 
            Fish feed throughout the day on Midges, Baeits Mayflies, and a plethora of different underwater nymphs and larvae.  There are several trails that lead down the canyon walls to the lower river.  The Cebolla Mesa trail enters the canyon from the south and is a short drive from Taos.  However, the long dirt road to reach the trail head is very muddy in the winter and it is a much better idea to drive through the town of Questa to acess the confluence area from the Wild and Scenic rivers area.  From here one could also choose the El Aguaje trail.  This trail meets up with the Red a few miles up from the Rio Grande.   Though the fish tend to be larger near the confluence, they seem more plentifull in the middle sections of the canyon.
            The hatchery itself is a great access to the lower Red though it does get more pressure.  Walking downstream from the parking lot usually seperates the serious fisherman from the rest, and good fishing can be found there.  Surprisingly, the water in front of the parking lot seems to always hold fish.  This is most likely due to the large influx of spring water there.
            Another winer time option for the fly-rodder is Pike fishing on the Rio Grande.  Pike grow large in the river and some specimes can be 3 feet plus!  Winter offers a chance to spot the toothy criters as they hang in shallow water soaking up the sun’s rays.  Look for pike in  slow water on the edges of the river.  Muddy bottoms, boulders and underwater structure tend to be good places to concentrate your efforts.  To catch a Pike, you will need a stout 7-9weight rod , wire leader, and some long nose pliers.
            Wherever you find yourself fishing this time of year, be sure to have the appropriate gear.  Weather can change fast, and a accidental slip into the river can turn a nice day into a serious situatiuon.  Always wear layers of quick dry clothing next to your skin.  Take an extra sweater or vest and carry some basic survival tools like a lighter and flashlight.

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