Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mid-May Blues

Mid-May in the rockies is a difficult time for us fly-fisher people.  Personally, I’ve been on a 2 week long hangover following the 3 weeks of binge fishing on the Rio Grande during the epic Caddis hatch.  And though there are still a few fish to be caught there, I can’t get inspired about mediocre fishing, having just experienced some of the best.
                Some drainages that did not receive much snowfall are fishing well now, like the Rio Pueblo and the Little Rio Grande.   Otherwise, expect any stream that drains high elevation snow fields (10,000 feet and higher) to be high and muddy for the next month or so, depending on weather. 
                Run-off is having much more of an effect on the rivers that originate in the San Juan Mountains.  Though it was a less than average snow year there, good moisture in April and May and frequent cold fronts have kept the snow that is there from melting.  The Rio Grande, Chama, Conejos and the Los Pinos are all experiencing high flows now.  The creeks closer to home like the Rio Hondo and Red River are still fishing well under low, clear water conditions.  Both creeks are due to experience some snow melt though it may be minor in the Red.  The Hondo does not get too muddy during spring floods but the fishing is difficult when the flows get high.
                But there is some good fishing during run-off especially in area lakes and tail waters.   Eagle’s Nest, Cabresto, and Hopewell Lakes are great places to help with the run-off blues.  While Cabresto and Hopewell mainly offer small, but numerous, Brook trout, Eagles Nest is a haven for large Rainbows.  Fish the lake with small streamers and bead-head nymphs from the south and west shores.  Use floating lines and long, stout leaders.  When you hook up to a fish, make sure to let him run as these fish are big and powerful.
                Our two tail waters, the Cimmaron and the Costilla are productive right now and will be good through the month of May.  Flows on both streams are a bit high now.  But this is lake water, not snow melt and it is warmer and clearer providing better feeding conditions for the trout.  Stoneflies will start hatching on these to streams towards the end of the month.  Until then, fish a dry-dropper rig with attractor nymphs and San Juan Worms.
                Anytime you are headed out fishing check the water flows to make sure stream flows are appropriate.  You can find real-time data for all or streams and rivers on the USGS website which is easily found with an internet search.  Or follow this link: ( http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nm/nwis/current?type=flow&group_key=basin_cd&search_site_no_station_nm=&format=pre ) 
Stay away from rivers that are rising fast and monitor flows so that when the snowmelt does taper off, you can be there with bells on.

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