Taylor Streit has been guiding fly fishers in Northern New Mexico for 30 years and is a “Legendary Guide” in the Freshwater Fishing Hall Fame. He has written three acclaimed fly fishing books. His son Nick runs Taos Fly Shop and was on the U.S. Junior Fly fishing team that placed second in the world competition of 1998. They employ several experienced guides who have been hand-picked and trained by Taylor on fishing New Mexico waters.
This is an overall north central New Mexico fly fishing forecast for the upcoming season. Particulars on how to get you hooked up will follow monthly on both the Local Flavor and Taos Fly Shop websites.
Historically, fly anglers often plan their fishing holidays for July and August. This used to be a good idea but as one guide put it, “June is the new July.” The clever fly fisher will follow the optimum conditions as they develop in our different mountain ranges and be streamside just as runoff recedes and the insect hatches occur.
Although snowpack in the Sangre De Cristo and San Juan Mountains was at a healthy 100 percent in March, we have lost most of that snow cover prematurely due to warm weather. Now we are looking at about 40 percent. Not great—but an early melt leaves snow just on the north slope and this tends to run off slowly, which gives the smaller streams nice even flows of clear water right into summer. Streams that drain from lower elevations like the Vallecitos in the Tusas Mountains, the Jemez streams and the Rio Pueblo south of Taos will likely fish best in May. Then we just have to hope for summer rains to balance the low flows in August.
The Rio Grande
The Rio Grande’s conditions have been good for several years and trout populations are excellent. Fishing can be done almost any time of year here. In summer, good conditions depend on rains—if it really pours on the loose soils of the desert regions of the San Luis Valley, the river will get muddy and fish poorly. Overall, the river flows are controlled by earthlings somewheres and what gets sent downstream from Colorado is a mystery.
Google “Colorado stream flows” and check the Labatos Bridge flows. When they dip downward, expect good fishing around Taos two or three days later. Remember, the Rio fishes best when low.
The Pecos and the Conejos
The Pecos drainage basin has recovered nicely from its fires a couple years back. There is a lot of stream to fish but there seem to be a lot of fisherman also. So try and fish there on weekdays and be sure to hit the stonefly hatch in early June. (True for the Cimarron as well.)
Another very important river for New Mexican fly fisherman is the Conejos, just over the border in Colorado. Large trout eat dry flies here and insect hatches are prolific and predictable. Expect green and brown drakes starting in late June and stoneflies around that time as well. Pale Morning Duns (PMDs) and caddis can hatch throughout the summer.
The Chama River has been experiencing lean times. The primary cause is low water on the upper free-flowing Chama (around the town of Chama). Dewatering of the river occurs above town by the first irrigation ditch. If you fish above it—in the Sargent Area, or the Colorado section—conditions should be good this summer.
Below El Vado Dam, there are some very nice sized trout but not as many as in past years. When fishing at Cooper’s El Vado Ranch, fish downstream with a cone head Slumpbuster and then fish back up with a Poundmiester nymph. The Abiquiu section of the Chama has had decent fishing the last year or two, but this is primarily in late fall and spring. Although the bulk of the action is for stocked trout, there are some big wild browns as well. They are particular about their hidey-holes and the help of a guide will be about the only way the average angler will latch onto one of these special trout.
Story by Taylor Streit
Photos by Nick Streit
The Taos Fly Shop is located at 308 Paseo del Pueblo Sur in Taos. taosflyshop.com. 575.751.1312.