About this blog

This blog is all about fly fishing for native trout. On it I cover trip reports, fishing tactics, conservation, the latest news about native trout species and much more. This site provides a companion to my web page Nativetroutflyfishing.com.


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

New Mexico Getaway

 With the pandemic finally becoming more manageable and recently getting vaccinated, my wife Alexis and I were finally able to have a little getaway. After doing a little research, we decided to head to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I had been to Santa Fe way back in 2009, when I went after Gila Trout and Rio Grande Cutthroat in New Mexico, however on that trip I was only there for one evening and had always wanted to go back. As we made plans we decided that we would visit Bandelier National Monument, check out the Santa Fe Plaza and the museums. and while this trip was a vacation first a foremost, it looked like could fit in one morning to pull away for a little fishing as well.

After over a year of limited interaction with crowds, the airport was definitely an overwhelming experience, but luckily we had a smooth flight arrived in Albuquerque safely and made the drive out to Santa Fe. The next morning we woke up early and headed out to Bandelier National Monument. I am a bit of a history nut, so this was one of those spots that really interested me and the ancient Puebloan ruins were amazing. 

Bandelier National Monument

Cliff dwellings

The next day we were in town all day and it proved to be a rather stormy one. However, between the thunderstorms we were still able to check out the awesome Farmers Market, the High Desert Angler Fly Shop (great little shop!), some museums and the Plaza.

Santa Fe Plaza between rainstorms

The next morning I was up early to head for the headwaters of the Pecos River in search of Rio Grande Cutthroat. The drive out to the stream was great as the weather had cleared and the storm of the day before had cleared out any crowds from the valley. I had fished this stream almost 12 years ago and this time I decided to fish a bit lower down to see some new water. 

The stream

As with last time I was here, the stream was rather small and fairly brushy so most casting was going to be bow and arrow style. The other thing I recalled from the previous trip was that these trout were extremely spooky and required a great deal of stealth. It seemed this was still the case, as in the first likely spot I came too I was a bit careless and spooked two small trout. The next hole that I came too, I was much more prepared and made a quick bow and arrow cast into the seam and as my dry dropper set up reached the tailout, I watch a cutthroat dart over and grab the nymph. After a quick battle, I brought a beautiful little Rio Grande Cutthroat to hand.

A beautiful Rio Grande Cutthroat

It amazed me just how many trout were in the creek this time. Every likely spot held at the least one fish and typically more. Last time that I was here I had noted that these cutthroat really seem to favor the tailouts instead of the deeper water of the pools, I usually expect to find trout in which was still the case. This added to the need for stealth as the trout we able to see me approaching from a long distance and had plenty of time to inspect flies before taking them, often putting their noses right on the dry only to refuse it after a couple of seconds. However, often sneaking up to water on hands and knees I was able to find some flies the trout found acceptable and would pick up a decent cutthroat in most pools that I came too.

Spring bloom along the creek

Another Rio Grande Cutthroat

One of the things that I love about seeking out native trout is the beautiful locations that they are often found in. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains range is one of those special beautiful spots and this time of the year extra special, as the trees were just putting on their new growth and the first spring flowers were just starting to bloom. All to soon, my allotted time was up and I had to start heading back to the car. The trek back was a bit illuminating as after running into the third group of other anglers on my way downstream it was pretty clear why these trout were so spooky and selective. 

Time to head downstream

All and all, this was an amazing little getaway and with just a couple of weeks until my next outing to hopefully catch some Eagle Lake Rainbow Trout, the trout season is of to a good start.


Bill Trussell said...

Landing wild trout in any terrain is special, especially when you have a scenic backdrop like you were fishing from. What wt. fly rod and fly pattern were you using? Thanks for sharing

Gary said...

Bill- I have a little 1wt fiberglass rod that I was using, that was perfect for this stream. As flies go, I was using a size 14 royal pmx with a size 16 copper john as the dropper. This combo is absolutely deadly for small stream trout.