New Mexico offers a lot in the way of fishing even though it’s the second driest in the country. Each region of the state has great fly fishing for cold water and warm water species. There are high mountain lakes and streams to remote desert canyons and gorges, something for everyone.
There is fishing year round in New Mexico. The northern end of the state is situated at the southern end of the Rocky Mountains, and the southern part of the state has some very high, intriguing mountains. Many of the high desert areas offer great winter fly fishing. In the Rio Grande Gorge the fishing is best during Fall, Winter and early Spring. Late Spring and Summer is best for smallmouth bass and northern pike.
The majority of western fly fishing water is in the form of small creeks and streams, not the big western waters most people think of. There are thousands of small creeks full of trout.
Fly fishing the streams in New Mexico involves spotting and stalking trout. Fish face upstream in the current to catch food and keep their equilibrium. This also keeps water flowing through their gills. It’s usually preferable to work your way upstream as to not spook the fish. Fishing upstream allows the angler to sneak very close to the fish before casting. If you move slowly and quiet you can get within one or two rod lengths from the trout on most New Mexico streams.
The Cimarron River is a tailwater fishery below Eagle Nest Lake. The river is the most prolific brown trout stream in the state. The river flows for about seven miles before reaching the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch. The Cimarron flows east into the Canadian and Arkansas Rivers, which flow into the Mississippi River. There is a good population of brown trout ranging from 10 to 14 inches and good bunches of 12 to 18 inchers. The river could be considered one of the best trout streams in the west. The river is New Mexico’s premier brown trout stream with 3,000 plus trout per mile.
Culebra Creek is a few miles from the Conejos and offers anglers open meadows to easily cast for large rainbow and brown trout. The creek is a medium sized tailwater below Sanchez Reservoir. The entire stream is private from it’s headwaters to where it dries up in the San Luis Valley. The creek holds large trout averaging 20 inches.
Ute Creek, located on Trinchera Ranch is an icy cold stream that flows from high in the Blanca peaks of the Sangre De Cristo mountains. This is a small freestone creek high up in altitude. The lower stretches of the creek run through a valley with willow, alder and cottonwood trees. The headwaters of Ute Creek cascade down steep canyons creating just the right habitat for Rocky Mountain Trout. The water is very clear and you can often sight cast to cuttbow and brooke trout. Cuttbows can get to 18 inches. The fishing does not get good until the sun has had a chance to warm the water to feeding temperatures in this very cold waterway.