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2007 Trips

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June 2, 2007

Jemez Mountains - East Fork


My wife Ella and I recently bought our 4 year old great-granddaughter Kyra a Barbie fishing pole and promised to take her and her brother Brandon fishing this Saturday. Their mother Valene planned to tag along.


So this morning at 5:00 am I arose to fill the truck with all our fishing gear and other supplies for our trip while my wife Ella and kids got ready. Walking through the house I saw Brandon watching TV?he had been up since 4:30. I thought I was anxious.


Brandon and I loaded the truck in short order and we were off to the races soon after. Ella likes to bait fish and so does Kyra. I wasn?t sure how the water conditions were so we all decided to bait fish. I wasn?t planning to fish much as the kids usually require most of my attention but I took my spinning rod just in case.


We were on the water of the East Fork fishing one of our favorite spots by 7:00. The weather was nice and the water conditions were good. We fished for about an hour and I caught one small brown and released it. We chose to go to another part of the East Fork at the Conchas Trailhead. I fished for a little while and laid my rod down to help Kyra. Shortly after she cast her Barbie fishing pole she caught her first fish, a very nice German brown.

Grandma and Brandon fished this spot for quite a while and all they hook was rock, debris and trees. I couldn?t believe was I was witnessing. My wife almost always catches to the first, the biggest and the most. And Brandon was just not having any luck at all. By the time we broke for lunch at about 11:15 Kyra had caught three more, one more brown and two rainbows.


We went to the Jemez Falls trailhead parking lot and gathered at a picnic table for a long leisurely lunch in the shade. By 12:45 we were driving downhill towards Jemez Springs looking for a good spot to fish, stopping at a few turnouts along the way. We finally stopped at the ?3 Bends? day use area. Everybody fished with similar results of the morning?s venture. We found a deep pocket of water at a bend in the river; Kyra cast her line out, let it drift into the pocket and caught a fifth fish.


That was to be the last of the catches for the day. Ella, Kyra and Brandon fished for a couple more hours with no luck.


Boy I have to tell you, Ella doesn't get skunked very often, especially by a 4 year old with a Barbie fishing pole. Goes to show you?all you need is a line, hook and some bait on some days.


WOW what a trip. Brandon and I are planning a trip to Red River to flyfish on June 22 and soon after the Rio de los Pinos.


...tight lines...Phil


June 22 and 23, 2007

Red River and the Lower Rio Grande


I called my grand-daughter Valene early this month to see if Brandon could go fishing with me this week and I was Penciled-in on Brandon?s activity calendar. This is foreign to me because I have always done many things on a whim and fishing is one of them. When I feel the urge I generally go in pretty short order. We planned to fish Red River and the lower Rio Grande near Pilar for a long day of fishing.


I took Friday morning off work so Bandon and I could get the driving out of the way and we could have a fresh day for fishing on Saturday. I booked a room at the Kachina Lodge in Taos. We arrived in Taos about mid-afternoon and checked into our room. We settled in our room and watched a little TV and got bored real quickly. Brandon and I took a long walk and discussed what to have for dinner. At 6:00 we were having a Pizza for supper. Bandon said Grandpa, Pizza always wins out doesn't it.?


After a good night?s sleep we were heading north for Red River by 6:00 Saturday morning. We arrived at the Red River Fish Hatchery by 6:40 and put on our fishing stuff for trip to the canyon. My first trip to Red River was a long time ago and I have taken my wife and our kids and their kids and now my Great-Grandson Brandon on his first trip.


Red River was running high but clear with pools and pockets of water few and far between. Most of the runs were swift and difficult to fish but as the Red usually is there is always a place to fish even in high water. We hiked back into the canyon about a mile and a half fishing every spot we could fish. Brandon and I both got a strike at almost every pocket of water we could fish, but no more than one hit. Today was definitely one-strike water. We had to get our line in the fast water drifting it into the slow?that?s where the fish were. For the conditions we did very well.


On our hike out of the canyon Brandon casted into a deep pool in bubbling effervescence just below a larger boulder and hooked a real nice rainbow and brought it to hand quickly. It was reminiscent of my Daughter Denita?s first big fish at the same hole when she was about 12 years old.


We got back to the truck with plenty of time to go to the Rio Grande so Brandon fished the kid?s pond for a while with a few strikes but no fish. We grabbed some snacks and headed for the Rio Grande.


We arrived at the Rio Grande after noon and went to one of my wife?s favorite spots. The day was getting very hot at this point and the water was a little murky, high and swift. The bank was further back than usual if you get my drift. We only fished riffles drifting into slow pools and did pretty good. The casting was difficult except at the pools we fished. We finally ate some lunch around 2:00 after I convince Brandon that he was going to disappear if he didn?t eat. This kid sure has a passion to fish.


While we were eating he said, Grandpa, I have really been anxious about this trip since my Mom put it on my calendar.


We went back to fishing shortly thereafter. We found a good spot and started fishing again. Brandon casted into a large pool of very slow water and hooked a nice smallmouth bass. We got it off the hook and started again. I was casting and Brandon came over to me and wrapped his little arms around me and said Grandpa, I love you. Man if that?s not a great trip I don?t know what is. We fished until 4:30 when both of us decided we had enough heat and were ready to go home. We stopped in Espanola for snacks and shortly after that, Brandon was fast asleep for the final leg of our trip home. Kids seem as if they have an endless stream of energy but I guess not.


This was another great trip with Brandon with a trip to the Rio de los Pinos and a couple more places before summer is over. I just haven't given his Mother the dates yet to put on his calendar.


...tight lines...Phil


July 17, 2007

Jemez Mountains - East Fork


My son Gordon with his wife Lori and kids? Michael, Nicholas, Sierra and Cali and Michael?s friend Dustin came from Lincoln, Nebraska to visit us for a week. I had planned to take everyone fishing on Wednesday but by the time Monday evening arrived Tuesday actually seemed better.


Our daughter Stephanie with Brandon and Kyra joined us all early in the morning. We gathered the gang in my truck and Gordon?s car and left for the Jemez Mountains at 6:00 am. We arrived on the East Fork about 7:00. I got all the kids and Ella set up with rods, reels and bait and I grabbed my fly rod. All was left to do was have fun all day.


Michael was on the water first and on his first cast brought in a nice brown. ..things were beginning to look good. I spent the first hour untangling lines and redoing rigs to keep several kids fishing. In no time Brandon caught a rainbow and soon after Ella caught a rainbow. Ella was determined she was not going to be skunked on this trip. Once I got the kids on a roll I headed up stream to throw a few casts with Michael. You see Michael was in need to catch another fish. We found a nice deep pocket of water wrapping inside and around a very large boulder and I knew there would be a fish there and a yellow bodied humpy was the fly of choice. After four casts Michael was able to bring in a small brown.


After a few more fish we went back where the rest were and we decided to drive further upstream to the Las Conchas day use area and try some of the big holes and great long runs. I directed Sierra and her dad to a huge deep hole and the first cast brought a good sized rainbow to her hand. Ella caught some rainbows in the same spot.


I headed upstream drifting the yellow humpy through some runs and bring some small browns to hand. Gordon, Michael and Sierra hiked to some large pools ahead of me. I crossed the stream and fished back into the open canyon water catching several small fish. Gordon and the kids were fishing all the pools from the other side with little luck. We fished until about 11:45 and by then all of us were congregated at the mouth of the canyon. Everyone was hungry so we left and drove to the Jemez Falls parking area where we had a very nice relaxing lunch.


Around 1:00 pm we drove down to La Cueva day use area. It can be a logistical nightmare trying to keep lines untangled and getting hanged-up lines loose from the stream bottom to keep a bunch of kids fishing while you are trying to fish. So by now I have my fly rod was back in its case so could concentrate on helping the kids. We walked downstream to a large hole where Ella and Brandon caught several fish. I took Nicolas further downstream to find some pools to fish. He was fishing for a while when his mom, d dad, Sierra and Cali joined us. Nicholas continued to fish while Ella and Brandon were still at their spot and after about an hour or so we all walked back to the parking lot for a break and some snacks.


Later Ella and Brandon started to fish a very large slow pool with some logs at the downstream end holding the water back. Ella and Brandon both caught several fish over the next hour and a half. By then the adults were getting tired and the kids were getting fished-out. We all decided it was time to head back home.


But the trip is not complete until we have the traditional ice cream before going home. We stopped in Jemez Springs at a store and got several ice cream bars and relaxed in the shade under the store canopy at a picnic table before going back home.


The water was good to us today. The sun was hot and the day was long and I am sure the memories of the fun we had today will linger for some time. The stats on this trip were Michael caught the first, Ella caught the most and Kyra and Nicholas learned you sometimes get skunked even if Grandpa does help you.


I was successful drawing a day on the Valles Caldera Preserve to fish the upper San Antonio so Brandon and I will there fishing there on September 8th. Meanwhile, I am sure Ella and I will be fishing somewhere. ..She is hinting Pilar on the Rio Grande. Gordon is coming down next spring so he and I can go to the high mountains and fish a stream we haven?t fished together since he was a teenager.


...tight lines...Phil


August 25, 2007

Jemez Mountains - Rio San Antonio


One of my friends from work, Pat had open-heart surgery a several weeks ago. He is healing well and exercising to get ready for an elk rifle hunt in October hoping to pull his 75 pound bow by winter or spring. I told him when he was ready I would take him fly-fishing. Well he said he would be ready by this weekend...and he was.


I picked Pat up at 5:45 am and stopped for a breakfast sandwich to go; me not him, he had oatmeal or some such thing at home. My grandson Brandon and I successfully drew for at trip to the Rio San Antonio on the Valles Caldera Preserve for September 8th and we invited Pat to go with us. This trip was a prelude to that trip. We planned to the fish the Rio San Antonio in the Jemez Mountains near La Cueva.  I wanted to get him use to the water he would see on the preserve. The only difference would be on the preserve the trees are very sparse. However, it is a casters? paradise with nothing but grass to get in the way.


We got to the spot on the San Antonio across from the San Antonio Campgrounds on NM 126 about 7:15 and proceeded to put on our fishing costumes. I tied a yellow humpy to my tippet and I suggested Pat tie on an elk hair caddis.  We hiked upstream about a half mile before we started to fish. The weather was a little nippy and the water was cold and clear. We fished the runs and pocket water for a while and I finally got a strike. Pat and I both started to get strikes in the faster water in the middle and at the end of the pools and also near the bank. We both started fishing all these types of structures and it started to work for us.


Now that we were fishing all of the structures we both were rewarded with a lot more action. We continued to fish upstream. Most of the morning we got more strikes than fish in hand but we did well and were having fun. We found a nice place to settle down for lunch about 11:00 where we ate and talked about the great day we were having. We settle in for an afternoon snooze which lasted about 15 minutes for me and 1 minute for Pat then we were at it again.


We fished upstream and I was using and green bodied elk hair caddis and the fish started to hit even better than morning. Pat and I both fished upstream about 2 and a half miles from the truck and started back downstream fishing all the spots we missed on the way up. On our way back we had a brief rain with silver dollar sized rain drops that didn?t last long but was enough to raise the humidity a tad. We both brought several more fish to hand.

By the time we returned to the truck it was 4:00 pm. I could sense Pat really enjoyed himself. He told me this was the first time in a long time he caught more fish than lost flies?that we both did. It was a pretty good hike today and I was impressed with how well Pat did, considering his recent surgery, and frankly I was a little apprehensive to even take him where I did.


We brought more than eighteen nice browns to hand today, some would fit in the palm of your hand and others were in the 8 to 9 inch range?another great day of fishing. We also got as many strikes, if not more.


We are both looking forward to our next trip on the Rio San Antonio at the Valles Caldera.


...tight lines...Phil


September 8, 2007

Jemez Mountains - Valles Caldera National Preserve - Rio San Antonio


Do the words stealth, power, invisible, low-profile, quiet, instant response, sneaky and patience have meaning to you? Well they have meaning to a fly fisher...


My fishing buddy, Brandon and I were lucky enough to be successful in the fishing lottery for the Valles Caldera National Preserve to fish San Antonio Creek on September 8th for the day. We invited my friend Pat McMahon to tag along with us. I took Pat fishing a couple of weeks ago so he offered to do the driving this time and picked Brandon and I up at my house at 4:45 am.


We stopped at an all-night Mickey ?D?s? for an early breakfast sandwich then we were on our way. We had a nice ride to the preserve staging area while Pat and Brandon got to know each other. We arrived at the staging area about 6:30 and got our fishing assignment to beat no. 4. San Antonio Creek is divided into 10 beats approximately 2 miles long each with beat no. 1 being just below the headwaters to the east. The creek flows west through two very large open meadows named Valle Toledo and Valle San Antonio. The creek runs through these meadows like a tightly bunched serpent for its entire length through the preserve. There are a few springs and feeder creeks which add water to the San Antonio along its journey to the west such as Rito de los Indios and San Luis creek.


We were driven in a van to our destination at the upper end of beat no. 4 and hiked down to the creek. After assembling the fly rods I suggested Pat tie on an elk hair caddis and I helped Brandon tie on a yellow humpy. The weather was perfectly calm with fog to the ground and crisp cool air. The fog lifted fairly quickly and Brandon was making his first. Shortly after Brandon's cast Pat threw his line to the water. I thought I would wait until I got Brandon going pretty well before I would set up my rod. The water was crystal clear with its dark bottom structure.


We fished for quite a while bringing no fish to hand. After many casts Brandon finally caught his first fish. We fished for an hour or so longer with little luck. These fish are so timid that if you walked to the bank you might as well walk to the next one because the fish would spook instantly and glide through the water forming a wake like a submarine eliminating your chances on that run. We knew we had our work cut out for us today. We made very long casts using a very low profile and as soon as the fly hit the water the fish would attack instantly leaving little time to react and set the hook.


Brandon and I were knelt down near a run and he made a long cast and was able to set the hook in the mouth of his second German brown trout. We returned the fish to the water and sat for a while. Brandon was watching Pat fishing with no luck and he said, "Grandpa your friend looks like he is having trouble, maybe you should help him." Well, I did give him some pointers and suggest maybe he try another fly pattern. He did but still no fish for a while.


By 10:30 Brandon and I sat to rest for a little while and had a trail mix snack. Before long Brandon was taking a short nap. We all gathered around 11:45 to have lunch together discuss the strategy for the afternoon. By 12:30 we were sailing flies through the air again. I decided it was time to rig up my fly rod and tied on a Joe's hopper. I also decided to let Brandon fish for the rest of the day as much as he could without my help, after all it that is my job as Grandpa to let him spread his wings a little, so to speak. He was doing pretty good, just needs practice to develop proficiency. I found a good run and literally crawled on my hands and knees to the bank then laid on my left side and threw a side cast into some riffles that opened into a long run where an undercut was present and a wave of water moved out from the undercut structure, my hopper disappeared and I set the hook in a 14 inch brown and brought it to hand. I was encouraged at this point. A few casts later I landed a 12 inch brown.


I caught up with Pat and gave him some more pointers and he started catching some fish shortly after. Todays conditions and methods were good fishing lessons for all of us. We used yellow humpies, Joe?s hoppers, black hoppers and elk hair caddis flies and the fish appeared to be attracted all these patterns. I don not think it was the fly pattern as it was about presentation, stealth, power, response and patience.

Brandon learned a lot today and got a lot of casting practice as Pat and I did and we will all be better fly fishers for it.


By the end of the day we brought to hand about 14 fish and missed at least triple that many man, what a great day with my grandson and my friend, a time we will not soon forget.



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