Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Now is the time to hike into the Rio and get some of the great fall fishing! Abundant summer rains were good for the long term benefit of the watershed-- but made for poor fishing on the Rio this summer. The fish haven’t been bothered in a long time and have no doubt forgot about we fishers and our sneaky ways. September/October have always been the most reliable months for the Rio and will be best once the air temps top out in the 60-70 range. Even November has good fishing as the BWO (blue winged olive) hatches often linger into that month.

Matching the BWO is often the secret to the best fall fishing. Not so much the dry fly but the nymph. The really big rainbow trout of the upper box—in the Wild Rivers section—never feed on the adult but will gooble the nymph. (Olive micro may size 16-20). The classic rig that we use on the upper portion of the Rio is comprised of three flies. Starting with a very large dry at hand (Royal Stimulator #6) then a Poundmiester for the middle fly and the micro may for the tail fly. The big trout will almost always eat the little fly so when you are fighting them keep this in mind and don’t bend the rod over double as the small hook will pull out in a long fight.

Stop into Taos Fly Shop and we will show you the rig—or better yet—hire one of my great guides and have them tie on your flies—net your fish—and carry your lunch. They won’t carry you out of the box unfortunately, unless you are a world record tipper. The canyon is wild and world-class and just few minutes from the bustle of Taos.
Wild Rives Cutbow

Following is something I wrote for hardcover book published to pitch Rio Grande National Monument status to the powers that be in Washington. The title is The Rio Grande del Norte (there were only a hundred or so printed).

When I first topped the rise heading into this valley so many decades ago, I gazed into the mysterious “Taos Box” winding northward through the plain I was instantly ruined for other landscapes. I’m a man of the outside and the dramatic allure of this mighty canyon has sustained me both physically and spiritually since.

Shortly thereafter I worked surveying the no-mans- land of the Rio Grande from the Colorado border south.  We followed scribed rocks that cut out the vast Spanish land grants centuries before. Encounters with animals usually marks times in this wild territory, and while skipping across a talus slope I found myself up on a rock surrounded by a nest of buzzing rattlesnakes. I had to be rescued by my crewmates from this “spaghetti” of denning rattlers. They fashion long hooks at the end of range poles and cleared a path for me.

We weren’t the first to map the area, as once while hunting geese I ended up trapped below sheer cliffs and found my way out by the aid of a map chiseled  in the rock—no doubt  by another  hunter –some  thousand years before.

The higher slopes of the “Rio” have fed us with deer, antelope –and literally tons of elk meat. And this past year a Bighorn Sheep. The coup for me being not killing the sheep itself but mustering 65 year old bones uphill thousands of feet. And then carrying the meat some seven miles out!
All in all, I have spent so much time in that canyon that by now  that I have seen hunks of cliff randomly fall into the void as the hole so slowly fills. I’ve seen eagle’s chase geese, watched eagles and osprey hunt as a team, and once saw a bald eagle drop a fish from 500 feet and then fold its wings and catch it again before it hit the ground!

And the waterways of the Rio Grande have made me--and a half a dozen guys who guide for me—a living. We fly fish small streams in the higher drainages in summer and climb into the canyon of the  mighty Rio Grande in cooler weather. The Wild Rivers portion is famous for its huge trout and pike and we have helped thousands of people catch --and release-- their biggest trout from there.
My family was raised by the Rio and my granddaughter Taylor has already caught her first trout from there. She’s not the only one who thrives on our outdoor paradise as my son’s Nick’s Taos Fly Shop outfits thousands of happy tourists who visit our area; they come not only for the fishing, but for the valley’s beauty and unique culture as well.

With development in one form or another encroaching from all directions lets continue to respect this harsh—yet delicate--place with the protection it deserves and needs. Please support the Rio Grande Del Norte. I still have grandkids who has yet to catch a fish in the canyon.

1 comment:

  1. Great prose. made a tear well up.


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