The Cimarron River is a tail water stream that flows east from the bottom of Eagle Nest Lake into the narrow Cimarron Canyon. The river is located in the northern part of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range and is a very productive fishery partly due to the consistent water temperature from the bottom of the lake. The river is an excellent dry fly and nymph fishery for about 9 miles to the community of Ute Park. There is parking and turnouts throughout the area, before reaching Ute Park, with campgrounds for those who want to camp. There are special regulations in the Colin Neblett Wildlife Area portion. The photo below illustrates a typical run of water through the special waters.
The first half-mile below the dam is private and can only be accessed by permit. About a mile downstream of Eagle Nest Lake, Tolby Creek feeds the Cimarron River. Traveling on US 64 east, from Eagle Nest Lake, the river parallels the road most of its way to the town of Cimarron. Three miles east of the confluence of Tolby Creek, Clear Creek flows into the Cimarron just below Cimarron Canyon Spring as you can see in the photo to the right. These feeder creeks hold small cutthroats. The river continues by Ute Park, through private property and then on through the town of Cimarron. This stretch holds wild brown trout but, you must obtain permission to fish.
The Cimarron has an abundance of hatches in the spring and summer with nymphs that crawl the river bottom and banks all year long. The fish are small but abundant. The stream is heavily stocked with rainbows but there are a lot of wild browns and cutthroats. Portions of the river flow though beaver ponds where midge emerger and pupae patterns are the order of the day to catch some 18" wild browns.
The Cimarron River's elevation drops, almost like an escalator in a department store, as it cuts through the narrow canyon on its way to Ute Park. In turn, the stream structure carries riffles, undercut banks, pools and some deep holes. The abundant vegetation such as overhanging willows makes casting, for the novice, difficult. Fishing from the middle of the stream makes the casting easier but don't forget the proper fishing etiquette as you approach other anglers. Short casts and drag-free drifts are important on this stream and when the water is crystal clear a low-profile position is a must in order to catch fish.
The river is heavily fished and during the summer months irrigation requests raise the water considerably at times. Checking the river flow is always wise. See my water flow link to Current New Mexico Stream Flows at the top of this page. Even with the heavy fishing pressure, as it is, you can always find a place to float or sink a fly with success on the Cimarron River.
Take US 64 from Taos and travel east and north to the town of Eagle Nest continue east on US 64 or take the Cimarron-Eagle Nest exit of I-25 north of Santa Fe.
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