Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Fishing the spring run-off


A windy start to the fishing season has left many of our northern NM trout un-molested.  While most rivers are running too high with run-off, there are a few good options for those looking to spend a day on the water.  Spring is a time of year when we look to the area tail waters for more consistent flows- and better fishing.  The Cimmaron, for example, has fished well this spring and should continue to be good as Eagle’s nest lake absorbs the majority of the snowmelt from it’s headwaters. 

As my Father writes in his book Fly Fishing New Mexico,   “though seldom wider than 20’, the Cimmaron takes up a big space in the Nm fly fishing scene.  It’s a very popular tail water fishery with fat brown trout.  It also fishes best when most other streams don’t, namely, during spring run-off”.

  There are few bugs hatching on the Cimmaron this time of year so don’t concern yourself with “matching the hatch”.  Instead, fish flies that are heavy enough to get to the bottom of the deeper pools where the fish are still awaiting warmer water.  Bright flies, like a Red San Juan worm are always effective because of their increased visibility in the muddy spring water. 

Cimarron River

Anglers should also not over overlook the small streams south of Taos this time of year.  The Rio Chiquito, Pot creek(rito del la olla) and the Little Rio Grande(Rio grandee de rancho) will start to clear sooner,  as the lower elevation snowfields of these drainages are quicker to melt.  These creeks hide plenty of wild fish within their brushy banks.  If you go, don’t take your 9 foot 5 weight.  Fly fisherman will have a better experience toting a shorter, lighter rod- like a 7 ft 2 or 3 wt.   Fish in these streams do not tend to be of the educated persuasion, and almost any fly put in front of a non-spooked fish will work. The trick, again, is to not alert your quarry of your presence.  Stay low, avoid wearing bright colors or white, and try to keep the sun at your back.  If you find yourself drifting a fly through good pool with no action- move on, the fish are on to you! 

Spring is also a great time to investigate some of our area still waters.  Eagle Nest Lake offers a chance at a trophy Rainbow - or a Pike over 40"!  Cabresto, Hopewell, Morphy and Eagle Rock lakes can all be productive too.

Eagle Nest Lake

Though most of our streams and rivers are high and muddy, don’t hesitate to get the gear out of the closet and try a little fishing.  It’s also a good time to take an inventory of your fishing equipment.  Are your waders leaking?  Has your leader or tippet gone bad?  Time to re-stock your fly box?  Have you picked up your new fishing license?   These questions are better answered before your trip, and making sure your gear is in order is an important part of a successful outing.  Remember to be prepared for all four seasons out there.  Snow, wind, rain, hail and sun are all part of a typical spring day in our mountains.  Waders are a good idea this time of year too, even if the stream you are fishing does not usually require them.  The water is cold and often times the rivers are out of their banks, making it hard to reach the fish without getting wet.  Have fun and good luck!

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