What do you do if you have no "Chocolate Emergers" or "Baetis Flies"? ...you improvise...
I met my old friend Jeff Libit at the McDonalds in Bernallilo at 8:00a.m. and heded for the mighty San Juan. We reached the San Juan about 11:45am and stopped to have lunch. After lunch we went to Abe's so Jeff could get a fishing license and then went to the parks dept. office so I could get a parking sticker. Jeff is a long time friend of mine that I have been trying to fish with for quite some time and we were finally able to arrange our schedules to do it.
We were fishing by 1:30 pm. We went to Simon Canyon and as soon as we approached the slowing moving flats about 4-5 large fish rolled over and swam toward the north near the faster water. We tried several patterns including glo-bugs carpet flies, woven patterns small emerger patterns. We were successful and getting a few fish to go for a glo-bug, a red sparkle carpet fly (believe it or not) and a #14 brown and tan woven nymph pattern. We fished upstream into "Lunker Alley" hooking several fish along the way. We fished until 30 minutes before dark and headed for the comfort of a real Motel in Aztec. We had a real nice dinner and caught up on old times and reminisces.
We had noticed all day the there was a lot if activity on top of the water and I decided that I was going to fish with dry flies on Thursday and Jeff would continue with nymphs to see what happened.
We arose early, had breakfast and traveled to the San Juan for another day of fishing. Jeff and I decided that the catch and release stretch was what we needed today. As soon as I got to the river I headed for the cable area and started fishing the slow flats. I put on an Royal Trude pattern trailed by a #22 gray colored Baetis and after a long cast into a flat pool and less than a 2 foot drift and a rainbow colored football hit the Baetis. After playing the fish for a short while carefully landed it in my net. At that point I realized that I was right about the fish feeding off the top.
Jeff was having a slow time at it and, in frustration, finally put on a Chartreuse glo-bug that we affectionately refer to as puff balls. First cast and after a small explosion of water a beautiful rainbow trout appeared. The next cast, same thing. So, Jeff was in good spirits again.
I got several fish on the Baetis pattern and a Chocolate Emerger to fill-out a wonderful day of fishing with an old friend. We fished until about 2:00pm as I was heading to Chama to fish Heron Lake with my brother on Friday.
The most valuable thing that I got from this trip is that we should do our best to spend more time with our friends, life is just simply too short. Oh! Do you know what you do if you have no "Chocolate Emergers" or "Baetis Flies"?...go buy some.
I've always been intrigued about fishing for some of those large Lake Trout from Heron Lake. My brother Craig was invited by Tom Capelli (Fishing Guide) to fish for these monster trout. Tom invited me to accompany them. Imagine Atlantic Char in New Mexico. We met Tom at the Willow Creek boat ramp at 7:00 am.
We headed through a beautiful opening in the cliffs to wider area of the lake. We were about in the center of the lake and started fishing at about 50'-55' deep. Tom was instructing us on how to fish for these monsters, setting to hook and all of the other important instructions for a successful trip.
The weather was a little chilly, with the area having a hard freeze the night before. There was a slight breeze on the water, which are good conditions for catching these fish. We moved around a little and after an hour or so I felt a slight tap on my line and I set the hook. This was an invigorating experience as I slowly brought the fish to the net so Tom bring it to the boat.
Wow, what a nice fish, beautiful colors and size.....10 lbs - 4 oz. We put the fish in the live well and continued to fish. The weather was getting warmer with no breeze. Tom told us that when the lake is calm it moved the fish down deeper and makes them less active. So, we all wished for a little breeze. After an hour or so a breeze is what we got. The breeze turned into a pretty windy day with 2' - 3' wakes. I got into another fish soon after that and didn't set the hook soon enough and the fish got away. Of course this fish was larger.
Craig and I continued to get several hits throughout the rest of the day until we quit fishing about 3:30 pm. We headed back to the dock, cleaned the fish, said our good-byes and started back for Albuquerque. It was nice to be with my brother again, we spend so little time together.
I would like to thank Tom Capelli of High Country Fishing guide service for that great day of fishing. As far as I know Tom is the only licensed guide on the lake and is very successful and experienced guide and I would highly recommend using his service if you want to catch monster Lake Trout. Tom is very knowledgeable and accommodating. You can reach Tom at P.O. Box 1197 Rutheron, NM 87551...or....fax (505)588-7674 or email TCapelli@aol.com.
June 10 th
First of all I've got to go fishing more often. I have mistakenly come to the conclusion that there are actually more important things that I have to do besides fishing. Well I'm going to have to put a stop to that silly notion...Well I digress...Let's get to the point at hand.
Saturday Morning at 5:30+ I arrived at my brother Craig's house to embark on a day of fishing. We headed through Edgewood, Stanley, Pecos and parts in-between. After arriving in Pecos we had a nice breakfast, then headed for Jack's Creek. We parked at the Jack's Creek Camping and Day-use area up atop NM rt. 63 a couple miles north of Cowles.
Craig and I hiked down into the canyon about 7:45 a.m. and started fishing right away. Craig headed upstream and I headed downstream, fishing etiquette you know. This area is mostly narrow runs and larger pools with very little open water. The pools are where the fish are and the use of a #14 Tan Elk Hair Caddis will usually work. My first cast I hooked a real nice Rio Grande Cutt about 6" in length. As I fished downstream for about a quarter of a mile I had similar results on the same pattern for several fish in the 7" to 9" range. Something odd happened, I caught a medium sized Brown which was not supposed to be there. The area should only have native trout.
The area is very dense with live trees, downed logs and tall grasses so please hone your casting skills. Let me tell you, if you don't know how to "Sling-Shot" cast, you had better practice.
After about an hour I went back upstream and met Craig. Craig's success was the same as mine using the same pattern. When I reached him, he was standing next to a pool with that he motioned me to walk around. There were several (6 to 7) "Cutts". I almost laid down on the ground to cast but, still spooked the fish that were in the tail of the pool. Normally Rio Grande Cutts are not easily spooked. We started downstream and decided to fish until we reached the road to the day-use area (about a half mile). About half way to the road we sat on a nice log in the shade to have lunch. As we continued to downstream the fishing slowed down primarily because of the terrain. The creek spread-out too shallow and the area was much denser. So, I suggest that you start fishing upstream from the road beyond about one-half a mile.
We reached the road about 1:45 and my much younger brother graciously offered to hike up the road to the day-use area (about one and one-half miles uphill) and get my truck while I rested in the cool shade. I'm tough but I'm not a fool. What a nice brother!
When this nice brother of mine returned with the truck we went to the Tererro Store and got soft drinks to satisfy our parched throats. We decided to fish the Pecos upstream from the campground across the road and hiked up about a half mile before starting to fish. The water in the Pecos is crystal clear at this time, but lower than normal because of the limited run-off this year.
My first cast was a strike from a real nice 10" Rainbow stocker using the old reliable Elk Hair Caddis. Craig and I continued use this pattern with some success for about another half mile of stream. The fish were in the runs more so than pools. We fished until about 4:00 and started back to the truck. My brother and I always have a great time when we fish together.
As always, we had a great day of fishing with good results and recommend these places highly.
June 16 th
Rio Chama/Rio de los Brazos
The intent of my excursion this weekend was to take more photos of the places that I fish to add to my CD that I will be publishing in about 3 weeks...and also to do some fishing along the way. Just so you will know, the CD that I will be publishing will be similar to my web site except with additional information and more photos of the featured areas where I go fishing. So look for it soon.
I left Albuquerque about 1:30 p.m.. I was supposed to leave about 4:00 pm because I was waiting to deliver an order of flies for a couple that were coming in from California to fish the upper Red River. They got delayed in Phoenix so I was able to leave earlier.
After a long drive I reached Forest Road 151 past Holy Ghost Ranch on the road to Chama from Espanola. I left the main road to head down to the Rio Chama. I drove about 4 miles before I reached the top of the bluff where the Rio Chama was and I parked. The river was very inviting but I had to remind myself that this was MOSTLY a photo taking trip. So I took a few pictures and headed for Chama.
When I arrived at NM152 I headed east for the Rio de los Brazos. Again I took several pictures along with these deer shown in the picture. I continued my journey north and took a few pictures of the Rio Chama. By 6:30 pm I realized how hungry I was and stopped at the Branding Iron Restaurant and had supper.
I was planning to spend the night in Chama but I finished earlier than expected so I headed for the Rio Hondo near Taos. I arrived at the area that I was going to camp and found that the forest was closed due to extreme fire danger. I called the Golden Eagle Lodge in the town of Red River and Mark Drummond was kind enough to set me up with a room. I got to Red River about 10:00 pm and laid down in that great king sized bed and was asleep in no time.
June 17 th
Red River and the Cimarron
I slept in for a little while, left the fly order with Mark to give to the people from California and then I went over to Shotgun Willie's Restaurant. Lamont Mulligan fixed me a great breakfast.
After breakfast I drove to the east end of town and where the "Points of Interest" sign is I parked and went fishing. Fortunately there was access to Red River from Fawn Lakes campground east through town, but closed in the forest area. The water was low and crystal clear. I tied on an Elk Hair Caddis found a nice run and cast several times and finally got a real nice brown. As I continued fishing downstream catching several browns and rainbows and taking pictures along the way. I fished until about 10:30 am and decided to go the Cimarron. I reached the Colin Neblett Wildlife Area in the "Cimarron Canyon State Park" and started fishing right away. The river was running a little murky but, I tried the Elk Hair Caddis pattern that I had on but it didn't work. So I tied on a #18 bead-head Prince nymph and got a strike. I fished several spots fishing downstream to Pine Ridge and caught all browns on the same pattern in different types of water.
I went back to Red River and got there about 3:00 pm. When I arrived in town I went to visit and meet the family from California, Richard and Carrie Kojak and kids. They are real nice people and after about a half hour of visiting and a fly casting lesson I went to the Ponderosa Lodge where Robert Cook, the proprietor, had previously set me up with a room for the night.
About 4:00 pm the Kojaks came over and invited to have dinner with their family; they were celebrating Carrie's parents 50 th wedding anniversary. We had dinner at Brett's, a fine dining restaurant. Carrie's 16 year old son polished-off 22 oz steak like it was a small bowl of butterscotch pudding, Ohh! to be 16 again...The food and company were great and I really enjoyed myself. I went back to my room about 8:00 pm to work on my report. I intend to fish and photograph the Rio Hondo and the Rio Grande and maybe even go home tomorrow.
Places to remember (These people were very nice to me so please patronized these business's if you make it up to Red River): Ponderosa Lodge, Golden Eagle Lodge, Brett's, and Shotgun Willie's.
Rio Hondo and the Rio Grande
I got up early and gassed-up my truck and headed for the Rio Hondo. Since the national forest was closed I went to the portion of the river downstream of the community Arroyo Hondo. I arrived at the confluence of the Rio Hondo and Rio Grande about 8:30 am and started fishing. I fished upstream of the Rio Grande on the Rio Hondo. The water was very clear and low but after awhile I caught a small rainbow. I was using the same Prince Nymph that I used the day prior. I continued upstream over the large rocks and boulders for a couple of hours and caught a couple more rainbows and one brown. The fish were small but it was fun catching them.
I left the Rio Hondo area and was going to fish the Rio Grande near Pilar but the rafting traffic was pretty heavy. The Rio Grande is running low but is muddy so I decided to go home. I arrived home about 2:00 pm and consider the trip a success with the photography and the fishing and also the catching.
A couple of things that I consistently saw on my trip was lower water, in all of the streams that I visited, than I have seen in many years and an extreme fire danger in all areas. The lower water inherently brings fewer fishermen which provides a little more solitude for those who go fishing but the fire danger is something to be noted. So please be careful out there to quote an old "Hill Street Blues" TV show sergeant.
July 29 th
"Another great fishing day ahead," I said to myself at 5:00 a.m. Saturday morning, as I was looking at the Sandia Mountains from my front yard. I was waiting for my friend Mike Mora to arrive for our trip. Little did I know what was in store for us. Mike arrived at 5:30 a.m. and we headed for the Rio Cebolla in the Jemez for some Rio Grande Cutthroat fishing. We were talking and engrossed in our conversation so intently that I was half way to Cuba before I realized that I missed my turn-off at San Ysidro.
We continued on to Cuba and took the back way to our fishing spot. The views on the way through the mountains were breathtaking as always, so the missed turn was "a good thing". I showed Mike Clear Creek and the Rio De Las Vacas perhaps a future fishing trip. We got to the Rio Cebolla above Fenton Lake about 7:30 a.m. and we had a good breakfast. After breakfast we got "suited-up" for fishing and started hiking upstream.
Mike's second cast landed him a real nice lively Cutt and a few minutes later I caught an equally as nice fish. We continued upstream and in every hole, run pocket water, and bend in the river Mike and I continued to catch a lot of fish ranging in size from 3"-5", 9"-10" and one 14" Cutt. The larger fish were decorated with their spawning plumage, a beautiful bright red color. I split-up with Mike for about an hour and headed upstream so I could give him some breathing room. We met each other again about 10:30 a.m. and swapped stories about our catches. Mike was telling me how he caught a nice 14" fish just before we met again and also said that he caught it twice, not unusual but not common either.
The rest of our trip we were together. We fished upstream about 2 miles. About 2:30 p.m. it started to sprinkle and it was evident that we were going to get rain and perhaps a lot of it. We started back downstream fishing along the way and I finally reached the hole where Mike caught the 14" fish and I drifted a #16 Yellow Humpy near the undercut bank and "bam" that same fish was ready to be landed and released again.
I normally don't count fish but, I will say that Mike and I caught in excess of 30 fish each and are very much looking forward to the next trip. As a matter of fact my brother Craig and I have planned a trip there next Saturday...OOOOOh lucky me.
Mike used some foam hopper patterns, Caddis and Royal Trudes. I used Yellow humpy and Royal Wulff. All of the flies were #16 in size and we were doing so good on dry flies that we didn't even try nymphs.
This trip was one of the most productive trips I have gone on in quite some time, I have been telling Mike about this fishing for a long and we were finally able to arrange our schedules to fish together. Mike is a very nice young man and it will be a pleasure to fish with him again. A fella has got a lot to be thankful for when he can share an experience like this with his friends and family.
You should here from me next week. ...tight lines...Phil
My brother Craig and I headed for the Rio Cebolla for some Rio Grande Cutts. Craig and I got to our destination at 8:45 a.m. and prepared a good breakfast before our trek. About 9:45 a.m. we dressed-up in our fishing costumes ready willing and able for the days activities.
The first fish that we caught were Browns and were nicely sized. The remaining fish for the day were all Cutts but, I think Mike Mora and I gave those Rio Grande Cutts a lesson two weeks ago. The fish today were much more elusive and more easily spooked. Along our way we had visits from chipmunks, a beautiful blue jay and a couple of cowboys herding some cattle.
I used a #16 Royal Wulff all day and Craig used hopper patterns. We caught more fish in the deep runs and deep cover than we did two weeks ago. There was a lot of crawling, sneaking, kneeling and sling-shot casting today. I caught one 12" trout that had the brightest, most vivid, orange hued red swatch of spawning plumage I think I have ever seen. I'm sure the spawn is over but the color sure isn't yet.
After having lunch with one of our chipmunk friends we gave each other some breathing-room. Craig went upstream and I went down stream and we both continued to catch a lot of fish until about 3:15 p.m. when we met again and decided to head back to the truck. We got to the truck about 3:45 p.m. and got out of our costumes and agreed that we had another great day of fishing just as it started to rain.
The fish that we caught were sized 3" - 5" and 9" - 12" and some larger ones.......we landed and released over 20 fish each (it's hard not to count when you start catching this many fish).
After brushing through a tree or two we headed down the road and arrived at a mountain restaurant for a burger and fries before our trip back home. The fishing and weather were great today. Of course, the company was great also. I always look forward to our next trip together hoping it will be soon.
Red River (below hatchery)
I decided to take Friday off and go fishing so when I got home Thursday evening after I got everything ready and went to bed for a good night's sleep. I went to the bank at 9:00 a.m. Friday morning and headed north thanks to Elsie Wooten, my friend at work who makes sure we get our pay checks even a day early, if needed. I arrived at my destination about 2:00 p.m. after stopping for a burger at Lota Burger in Taos.
On my trip to Taos I noticed that the Rio Grande was muddy and very low. The Rio is as low as I've ever seen it. There is so many rocks exposed it makes you wonder how the rafters are able to float the river, but they are.
I went down to Red River as soon as I got there. I suited-up and saw that the Red was high and murky....so much for dry fly fishing. I put on a #14 Prince Nymph and fished it in the fast water and realized right away that I had to fish in the slower water just as it breaks the fast. I was right because that's where the fish were. Once I figured this out I started catching fish right away. Over the next hour or so I caught several fish, all rainbows. I saw that the water was pretty clear near the bank and I tied on a #16 Elk Hair Caddis and fished it in the water near the bank where there was some width to it and started catching some fish.
I fished with the Caddis pattern for an hour or so with success but not as much as in the deeper water with the Prince Nymph. I went back to the Prince and continued to catch fish. I fished until about 4:30 p.m. and headed back to my truck. I got back to the truck and went to a camping spot near the hatchery to setup camp. By the time I setup camp, ate supper and settled in it was about 8:00 p.m. and I went to bed. I was hoping that the fishing would be as good on Saturday and maybe the Red would clear-up some.
Red River (below hatchery)
I awoke from a good night's sleep about 5:45 a.m. and after a good breakfast I headed for the Red again. I was disappointed that the water had not cleared any but, I was not discouraged because of my success on Friday. I put my rod in my day-pack and decided to hike downstream first before fishing. I hiked about a mile downstream then I assembled fly rod and proceeded to fish, using the same Prince Nymph that I used the day before.
I started caching fish after about a half-hour. I fished downstream for a mile or so and caught fish in most of the runs that I fished. I fished until about 2:00 p.m. catching several fish on the same fly. Well not the same fly, the same pattern losing a couple in the trees along the way. I broke my fly rod down and put it back in my day-pack and started the hike back to the truck. After several chugs of water and stops for fresh air along the way I finally made it back to my truck about 3:45 p.m. You know, I've fished this river for 30 years or so and you would think that I'd be in shape for this hike by now.
I caught several fish, all rainbows, with the exception of one real nice German brown. The fish ranged from 10" to 14" most being about 12" and I saw only one person today which is good for the solitude factor. I don't always catch fish but, this year sure has been a good year in the catching department. Another great trip this weekend although it is nice to have someone with you to share the pain of a hike like this.
Red River (below hatchery)
Lucky me, I headed for the Red again today. I arrived at 1:45 pm and the water was great...low but clearer that two weeks ago.
I started with a #14 Yellow Stimulator and while adjusting my belt I got a nice hit. Needless to say, the fish got away. I hiked downstream a little further and casted in some shallow riffles and after about the third cast I saw a big white lower lip...do fish have lips?...only this time I set the hook and paid attention long enough to land a real nice 14" rainbow.
I continued downstream fishing the dry fly for about 45 more minutes with similar success in deeper water for smaller fish. I then tied on a bead-head #16 Hare's Ear Nymph with 2 "BB" size split-shots and started the deeper holes, letting the fly drift to the tail end of the holes with moderate success.
I hiked downstream to the "Wall" and while fishing the wide deep run just upstream from the wall, I hooked and collared a real nice German brown about 16" in length. I guess the browns are starting to cruise upstream for their fall spawn. I was surprised that I didn't see many browns when I was here two weeks ago.
About 4:00 pm it started to sprinkle and I looked up in the sky and realized I had better get back to the truck. I used to be a lot tougher in my earlier days. But, on the other hand why get wet on purpose?
By the time I got back to the truck and dried myself off some it was time that I headed up for Red River to the Ponderosa Lodge where Nancy Duensing was nice enough to put me up for the night. After I checked-in I went over to Texas Red's Steakhouse for a wonderful Rib-Eye steak.
The fishing on the Red was as good as it was two weeks ago except, this time I was able to fish dry flies for awhile longer. I'm looking forward to my trip to the Cimarron River tomorrow if it doesn't rain too early.
I awoke at 5:30 am looked out of the window and saw the ground covered with clouds and my truck covered with condensation, similar to the steam in high dollar steam room on Wall Street. What a beautiful high mountain paradise. Why would anyone want to live anywhere else but New Mexico? I had milled around, loaded my gear in my truck and went to Shotgun Willie's for a good breakfast. By 8:00 am I was on my way to the Cimarron. On my way I saw three wild turkey walking in the brush alongside of the road who were oblivious to my presence. In light of that, I sat and watched them for about 15 minutes remembering how hard it is to hunt these creatures when you have a weapon. My weapon today was a camera.
I continued my trek and stopped at Dos Amigos Anglers, a fly shop at Eagle Nest. Mike Stewart gave me some pointers on what flies to use and how to use them on the Cimarron. I started fishing the quality waters about 9:00 am and started fishing with #16 parachute Adams. I fished the fly in the fast water and let it drift in the small pools next to these runs. The water was a little higher than normal and a little murky. But, the fishing was good. Over the next hour or so, fishing the quality waters, I caught and released several nice fish in the 10" to 14" size range.Photo to the right is good structure for this area.
I wanted to do some nymph fishing so I went downstream below the Clear Creek confluence and it is a good thing I did. I tied on a #14 Orange Scud and the first cast I landed a nice brown and while casting again I got my fly in a tree and the tree won. I tied on #16 Cimarron Special with the same result, a fish not a snag. I fished the fly for awhile and caught a couple of small browns and a couple of rainbows. After about 45 minutes I tied on an Orange Scud again and that is the fly that I fished for the remainder of my time on the Cimarron catching several more rainbows and browns along the way. I can't thank Mike Stewart enough, he was very generous with his information so, please patronized his shop if you are in the area (505)337-6226 in Eagle Nest, NM.
At 2:45 pm I got out of my fly fishing garb and went back to Dos Amigos Anglers to give them a report and drove southwest until I finally made it home. I sure have been lucky this year to be able to fish as much as I have. My next trips will be Red River on October 7th with one of my customers from Texas and the Rio De Los Pinos on October 13th with my brother Craig and my friend Tony for a two day trip.
I got up about 5:00 a.m. and started my trek for the Pecos. I was eating a couple of cinnamon rolls, that my wife baked the day before, on my way north to fish this bountiful fishery. The first place I stopped was at the Dalton turnout to take a look at the conditions of the water. The water was crystal clear and low with perfect conditions for some dry fly fishing opportunities. I continued to the next turnout and walked to the water and it reminded me of the times that my grandson James and I fished this spot, which was one of his favorites as a child. I just couldn?t resist it so I suited-up to begin my day of fishing. I tied on a #14 Yellow Stimulator and trailed it with #16 Gold Ribbed Hare?s Ear nymph. My first cast was upstream in a shallow fast run and I let it drift into the tail end of the large pool below and got a strike on the stimulator, which surprised me because I expected the Hare?s Ear would be the tasty looking morsel that would be the target. I fished this spot for about a half hour and continued north.
I did something that I haven?t done in a long time. I stopped at every turnout on the way to Terrero, as I did with my grandchildren in years past. I used the same flies in these spots with similar results. I fished the areas very methodically and patiently just as I taught James.
I arrived at Terrero about 9:00 a.m. and proceeded upstream about a half mile beyond the local store before I started to fish. There is a large hole between two very large boulders and an old fallen pine across the water. My first cast was between the boulders in the fast water. I let the flies drift to the tail end of the run and after about four casts I was teased with a small tap on the Hare?s Ear nymph. I soon realized that I would need to use a lower profile because of the clarity of the water. My assessment was correct; I positioned myself in a lower profile and started casting longer presentations with better results.
I continued to fish upstream for about a mile and a half fishing all of the runs and deep pools with good results. The fishing was good with the dry fly and nymph dropper. The other combination that I used was a #14 light Elk Hair Caddis and a #18 Pheasant Tail trailer nymph. I fished for about 4 more hours making it a remarkable day. The best part was catching fish and not changing flies all day to see what would work. I caught and released several rainbow and brown trout. The nymphs turned out to be the morsel of temptation for the rest of the day. There are good signs that there maybe a few more weeks of fishing left before the Fall settles in such as; very few leaves falling from the trees.
What a great year that I've had with catching fish and being able to go fishing. My next trip will be Oct. 7 with one of my customers from Texas. We will fishing Red River and maybe the Cimarron. Wish me luck.
When I left Rio Rancho at 12:30 p.m. on Friday the weather was beautiful with mostly sunny skies. I arrived in Taos about 3:30 pm, checked in at the motel and called my boss Mr. Coupland who lives in Taos. He invited me up to his home for a visit. After my tour of his home we talked about photography for an hour or so and I was getting hungry, so I went back into town and got something to eat. I decided that I would take it easy for the rest of Friday and head out in morning to fish Red River.
Red River - below the hatchery
I got up at 6:00 a.m., had breakfast and drove north to the Red River hatchery. The air temperature was about 42 degrees, the sky was very cloudy and the water temperature was 48 degrees. I hiked into the canyon about a half-mile before I started to fish. I tied on a #14 Yellow Hump and trailed it with #16 Telico Nymph about 12? away from the Humpy. My first cast was into a deep run that drifted into a wide pocket where a small brown trout came up to the dry fly to tap it. It was exciting, of course and I continued in the same run for a while and went on to the next run. However, in this run I set the hook into a 12? brown and released it right away. I realized that the browns were starting to cruise up from the Rio Grange to spawn.
I fished for the next couple of hours in the same type of water and using the same combination. I caught several rainbows and browns of the 10-14 inch size range losing two Telicos along the way. I only had one Telico left and it was about lunchtime so, I decided to eat hoping to prolong losing the last good fly. While I was eating lunch I noticed that it was very quiet and it reminded me of a coming snowstorm.
There was a slight breeze and it seemed cold enough to snow but it never came. After lunch I continued downstream and was still catching fish until I lost the last Telico Nymph that I had. I tied on several different flies trying to find the fly that would work, to no avail. Then I tied on a # 8 Peacock nymph as a trailer and on the first cast I got a strike. By 1:45 pm I reached ?The Wall? and started back upstream.
About 2:00 pm my customer Derrell Nantze, from Texas, showed up where I was fishing. Were visited for about 45 minutes and Derrell headed downstream as I was continuing back towards my truck. We had agreed meet on Sunday morning so we could hike down into the box near the convergence of the Red River and Rio Grande. That evening I talked to my wife and found out that I needed to go home early on Sunday and had to cancel my trip with Derrell.
Rio Grande near Pilar
I got up at 6:00 am, had breakfast and the weather was very wet and heavily overcast, It appeared that our trip to the box wouldn?t have worked out with the bad weather so; I didn?t feel too bad about my change of plans. I started for home about 7:30 am and once I reached Pilar the rain had stopped so I went over to the Rio Grande near the Taos Junction Bridge. The water was a little murky but looked fishable, so I got into my fishing duds and started fishing about a half-mile below the bridge. I tied on Black Wooly Bugger and made several cast without even a tap. I moved downstream and got into a real nice deep slow run as I was stripping my line in about an inch at a time I got a tremendous hit but ?No Cigar?. I fished until noon with no additional action and decided to call it a day with another lesson in humility.
The fishing this weekend was good even with the inclimate weather but I enjoyed my visit with my friend Derrell and hope to spend more time with him next year. I am going to take a fishing break for a while to do some long overdue chores; winterize the furnace and cooler, cutting grass, pulling weeds, pulling weeds, pulling weeds???????... See Ya next time.
I met Bob Smith, the president of our company, at our Rio Rancho Office at noon. We were meeting three other co-workers and a friend prior to our trek for the mighty San Juan. Bob "El Jefe de Truchas" Smith and I rode up to the San Juan together and arrived about 4:00 p.m. to meet the rest of the guys who went in separate vehicles.
We met at Cottonwood campground and spent the next 45 minutes setting up camp. About 5:30 p.m. we all dressed-up in our San Juan fishing costumes to conquer the mighty river. I went upstream from the campground with "El Jefe" and Lawrence "Don't want no stinking bacon" Lopez to a real nice deep hole at the end of some wide riffles. The water was boiling with the fish eating from a buffet of insects floating on the surface of the water. Being an old die-hard nymph fisherman I tried a black emerger trailed by a red annelid, while the rest of the guys where using dry flies with emerger trailers and after a few casts I got into a real nice beautifully colored German brown trout.
We fished awhile longer and it was becoming too dark to fish so we all headed back for the campground. When we got back to camp Jamie "Slow Go" Marrufo and Matt "Laid Back" Meyer had started to cook dinner while Mike " Lightning Rod" Chavez was starting to collect some firewood. After an evening of food and campfire chat we all went to bed. About midnight two more of our guys showed-up Mario "Huh?" Madrid and Eric "Whas up?" Mercado.
We all got up about 6:00 a.m. except for "Huh?" and "Whas up?". We all agreed that we would fish until about noon then come back to fix something to eat. After all, fishing is the point right? We started fishing in "Lunker Alley" about 8:30 am Bob caught the first fish of the day a beautiful 18" rainbow trout on a #20 Red annelid. He's the old guy with the Green ball cap. Shortly after catching the fish Bob realized that his waders were filling-up with water due to a hole that he unknowingly tore in them the evening before.
Bob went back to the truck for some dry clothes while the rest of us attempted to match his accomplishment of catching a fish. Matt was the next one to catch a nice rainbow in the 19" range. He caught it on caddis larva. Matt's the guy with the smile that looks like he just got away with a mischievous deed. We were all fishing with various flies from black to chocolate emergers trailed with annelids, larva and emerger patterns.
About 10:30 am Mike, who was fishing with a yellow Panther Martin spinner with red dots and a single barbless hook, got the hit of his life. Within minutes Mike landed a nice fat German brown trout about 17 1/2" in length. He's the guy with the big grin and the cool shades. Most of the guys got a hit or two and a thrill along the way.
We started downstream to our vehicles because it was getting close to noon and as we were trekking we saw Bob returning from his excess H2o experience. Everybody except Bob and Lawrence went back to camp. We prepared brunch and just as we finished eating it started to rain. We sat around camp inside and outside of our vehicles until it let up. At 4:30 pm we all went to Texas Hole to join the other anglers in the quest of conquering the big fishy. Bob was fortunate enough to stand in the exact spot where ALL of the fish were. Boy did he give us a good lesson in setting the hook, reeling in and netting fish after fish after fish.
It went from daylight to dusk over the next couple of hours and then we went back to camp for a well deserved evening of food and folly. After dinner we sat around a roaring campfire having fun and giving no one a release from personal affectionate insults and the like. After several hours of belly laughing fun we all tucked into our individual pockets of comfort for a good night's sleep. By the way, you noticed that I didn't tell you about the fish that I caught? Well I got skunked. My reward for a great summer resulting in a bountiful harvest of good therapy, I suppose.
Sunday Morning............It had rained part of the night and the ground was a soggy. However, there were clouds in the sky which obviously means baetis and midge hatches. We awoke at 6:00 am and broke-up camp and by 8:00 we all were on the river at the Texas Hole parking lot. Bob, Lawrence and I started walking to the Upper Flats as the rest of the fellas went to fish Texas Hole. I stopped at one of my favorite runs just above the kiddy pond and with my first cast into the run I was drifting the fly into a small pool and while mending my line an explosion occurred. After about 15 minutes I had landed a 23" rainbow trout. I was using a bright green #22 larva pattern with a black bead-head. Well, after that bout I was ready for some more of this stuff. I continued up to another deep run of water about waist deep and fished it for awhile with the same fly catching several more fish. Bob approached after awhile and also fished the run with some success.
I moved down to a wide flat area where some top water feeding activity was occurring. I thought "Baetis" and I was right. I started making some fairly long casts and after several casts a large white mouth of a rainbow trout was lead into temptation and was hooked, netted and released. It continued for another 45 minutes and I finally realized that it was time to go home. By noon we had all made it back to the parking lot. As it turned out my buddy Lawrence finally caught two nice rainbows in the kiddy pond while no one else, in the same run, was catching fish. We all know how good that feels. We were all homeward bound by 12:45.
We all caught fish, some large some small and we used emergers, pupa, larva, wooly buggers, and various other patterns with the #22 and #24 pupa and larva patterns being the most productive. I always talk about how important the seclusion of most of my trips are but, I gotta to tell ya, this was the most fun that I have had in a long time. I consider the guys I went with as good friends and I'm looking forward to our next trip.
I got up early Friday morning, after a great Thanksgiving Day with my family, and started driving toward the San Juan. I reached San Ysidro and the fog was as thick as pea soup our cream of tomato. The fog held close to the ground until I arrived in Cuba and the skies cleared but, when I reached Bloomfield the fog reappeared. By the time I drove through town it was as if the landscape opened in front of my eyes with clear skies and a warm sun.
I arrived at Texas Hole at 10:00am and by 10:30am I was fishing. I tied on a #20 Red Annelid and a #20 Chocolate Emerger trailer. I fished for an hour and caught a couple of nice rainbows. I changed to a #18 Orange Annelid and trailed it with very small Chartreuse Egg pattern. I fished with this combo for a while with no action.
I was about to change the setup again when I got the hit of my life on the egg pattern. He ran my line out to the backing three times and at times I was stripping my line in like a flagman declaring a winner in a car race. I just assumed that I had foul-hooked him but, I was gladly mistaken and when I finally got him into me he was laying on his side and it was a 26" German brown. The fish was so big I couldn't get him into my net and I thought he might be dead. All I could think was "Where's my brother, I need a picture?" I got the fly out of his mouth and tried to revive him. After about 5 minutes he pulled his tail out of my hand to win the tug-o-war with a boost like a rocket. I'm convinced he will live to be caught again.
When I began fishing again the water was boiling with the fish feeding from the ongoing hatch of bugs. They were everywhere, on the water, on my clothes, on my glasses and so on. I tried on #22 Baetis patterns (brown, gray and olive) and fished hard for a couple of hours but brought nothing to hand. By 4:00 pm I had had all of the fun I could stand for a day.
I got up before day-break and went to the river for another day fishing. I arrived at lunker alley at 7:30 am. The sky was a little cloudy as the sun was coming over the high mesa but, the sun burned the clouds quickly as it approached 8:00 am.
My first setup was a #22 Red Annelid trailed with a small Chartreuse Egg pattern. As I was positioning myself solidly on the moss covered rocky bottom I made my first cast and on my retrieve I got a good hit, set the hook and lost the entire rig. I tied on another Red Annelid and trailed it with a Gray Bunny Leech. This time I paid attention and with a very slow retrieve an inch at a time and after 4 or 5 casts I set the hook in a beautiful 22" rainbow with the Bunny Leech.
I fished with the bunny leech for about an hour and a half longer with similar results catching fish in the 18" to 20" range. I finally lost my last leech and noted the fish feeding on top from the hatch that started about 11:00 am. I tied on a #20 Chocolate Emerger trailed by a #22 gray Baetis pattern with a white CDC wing. I was not getting much action with the gray Baetis so I tied on a #22 BWO (Blue Winged Olive). I started getting into some top feeders that were very selective but, after awhile I started to catch some more fish and by the end of the day I considered it a success.
The weather that was suppose to be snow and rain turned-out to be a great trip with great weather. On your next trip, don't forget your gray bunny leeches for early morning and later afternoon and BWO for the mid-day hatches fishing. My next trip will be to the San Juan to fish with a fellow Rocky Mountain Outdoor Writers and Photographers member Al Marlowe the week after Christmas.
My next trip turned out to be this weekend except I went alone. I sure have been lucky this year because I've fished more this year than I have in a very long time. In addition to the number of times that I've gone, I've been very lucky catching fish too. I left home before daylight Friday morning and arrived at the San Juan by 9:00 am and was fishing Lunker Alley by 9:30 am. A fellow angler shown to the right was contemplating, as we all do, what fly do I put on now? I started out by tying on a #16 Orange Annelid trailed by a #18 Johnny Flash and fished this combo for about 20 minutes. I was fishing on the bottom weighted with a couple of B sized split-shots. I got a strike, set the hook and brought to hand a nice 16 inch rainbow. After releasing him I continued fishing in the same run and after several casts was able to set the hook into an 18 inch fat rainbow. After an hour or so I had landed and missed a few more. I'll let you guess as to the number of misses. I tied on a #20 Green-Eyed Lady trailed by a gray bunny leech and fished the same pocket water catching a 19 inch rainbow.
At about 11:00 am a sizable hatch of bugs started so I tied on a #16 Blue-Winged Olive trailed by a #20 white-winged CDC Olive and fished until about 1:30 pm with little success. I went to my truck to eat lunch and by 2:15 pm was finished with lunch and was fishing in Texas Hole.
There was a major hatch occurring and I fished for about and hour with no luck. The fish heads were popping out of the water feeding on insects and looked not unlike how it might be viewed by the fish if we were bobbing for apples in Texas Hole. I tried the combination that I had been using in Lunker Alley and was not getting much action. I then tied on a #20 CDC Baetis trailed by a #22 Adams. I fished for the next couple of hours and only caught two fish in the 16 inch size range. When I finally got out of the water to call it a day I realized the error of my ways after noting the size of the insects that were stuck to my waders were #26 or smaller. It was 5:00 pm by now and time to eat supper.
Saturday morning I was on the water by 7:00 am fishing downstream of Texas Hole and it was cold, 38 degrees with a water temperature of 43 degrees. I tied on #18 Orange Annelid trailed by a #22 Gray Emerger and on my first cast I caught a 20 inch rainbow. I only fought the fish for a few minutes and it came in on its side. I ran some oxygen through the fish's gills for a few minutes and was able to released him unharmed. I continued fishing the run for the next couple of hours and caught several fish in the 16" to 18" size range. Then the one thing not to happen in the winter on the San Juan happened...I fell in the water because I wasn't carefully watching my footing as I usually do. I was baptized with the 45 degree water and proceeded to thank to lord for his blessing. The blessing is that I will be very careful again for some time to come. I continued to fish for about an hour longer and with cloudy overcast skies, hiding the sun, I just couldn't tolerate the cold any longer and decided to call it a day.
Boy, what a wimp I've become. I stay in motels in the winter when I can. I eat in restaurants sometimes. I even buy flies sometimes instead of tying them myself...wow ain't life great? My next trip will be to the San Juan to fish with a fellow Rocky Mountain Outdoor Writers and Photographers member Al Marlowe, our executive director, and possibly my brother, the week after Christmas.
...tight lines... Phil
My brother Craig and I planned to meet our fellow Rocky Mountain Outdoor Writers and Photographers member Al Marlowe after Christmas for a couple of days of fishing on the San Juan. Well, Albuquerque and Edgewood and Rio Rancho along with most of the state of New Mexico got blasted with a pretty heavy snow storm. Our trip was only postponed one day and as luck would have it the San Juan area was spared the effects of the storm.
Late Wednesday evening I received a message from our friend Al and he informed me that he would have cancel. Craig and I left my house early Thursday morning. The weather was cold but clear and looked like a promising trip. We arrived at the parking lot to Lunker Alley and the Middle Flats in time to eat lunch. After lunch hiked down to Lunker Alley in time pick a good spot to fish. Craig tied on a Red Hot and started getting some action right away. I tied on a #22 Desert Storm and trailed it with a Red Hot. The fishing for me was a little slower but eventually I caught up with Craig. Craig tied on a Gray Bunny Leech and got into a swarm of hungry trout. I know trout don't come in swarms but it sounds more appropriate for Lunker Alley.
We both fished hard all afternoon cast after cast fishing deep in the main channel and drifting into the slow water, where the action was, with good results.
The fish were giving use a lot of hit and run action requiring a little more concentration but, we prevailed and had done well by the end of the day. The fish were all rainbows ranging 16" to 19" in length. As the sun was lowering behind the high mesa it got cold quickly. We hiked back to my truck got out of our fishing costumes and headed for warmer surroundings. We ate dinner at the 5 Seasons lounge and went back to our warm motel room for some fly tying and warm beds. We also called our friend Al Marlowe to make sure he was in good spirits.
Friday morning we slept in a little had about 4 donuts each before heading back for Lunker Alley for another fly fishing lesson. There is a lot of big fish in this run but, at times, they are very difficult to catch. I started out with a #22 Green-Eyed Lady and Craig with a Gray Bunny Leech. We started fishing the lower portion of Lunker Alley and my first cast I hook the mouth of a beautiful rainbow about 19" long and fat. We made a few more casts and continued up to the main channel of Lunker Alley for our second day of fishing. I tried several patterns such as a #22 Desert Storm, #22 Red Hot, San Juan Worms, Egg Patterns and a Gray Bunny Leech. Craig used a Gray Bunny Leech most of the day. It turned out that the Leech pattern was the most productive for both of us.
We caught several real nice rainbows in the size range of 16" to 20". The weather was great and the water temperature was ideal. The only thing that put a damper on our fun is when a couple of guides with their drift boats proceeded to fish right over us as if we weren't even there. I guess fishing etiquette is something that is not taught to every professional guide. Fortunately this little display only lasted about 45 minutes. Craig and I had a great time together fishing, reminiscing and enjoying each others company. As they say "It doesn't get any better than this". By the way it turns out our friend Al Marlowe arrived at Buena Vista, Colorado on his way to meet us and throw his back out and had to go back home. I sure hope he's able to return to Buena Vista soon to pick it up. We missed you Al.
Another great year of fishing. I'm trying to plan a trip to the Rio Grande in January to do some pike fishing. As soon as I go you will get a report.
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