I’ve always wanted to fish the Rio Grande & Red River for trout in New Mexico, but never made the trip since it’s pretty far from Albuqerque. Since I reconnected with a high school classmate who is into fly fishing and lives in Santa Fe, it’s a bit easier to split the driving and make the longer trips to flyfish Northern New Mexico. I also benefited from his knowledge of this water on this day.
We headed up toward Questa on October 18, 2010. We turned right at Forest Road 9 after driving on NM Highway 522 out of Taos. This is a dirt road and can be easily driven with a passenger car, but if it ever rains, this road can get a bit muddy and then it would be wise to have a truck.
We parked at the Cebolla Mesa Campground, this is a primitive camping site in the Carson National Forest. Packed up our fishing gear and walked a little more than a mile down the steep trail, it was over a 1000 foot elevation change. I had only running shoes with me that day, and I wish I had brought my hiking boots.
Once we reached the Rio Grande, we rested from the hike down then changed into our fishing gear. We fished the Rio Grande here for a bit then moved up to the Red River. The Rio Grande was a semi murky color, but when we reached the Red River the water turned clear. We caught fish on mostly small green nymphs (size 18) below a parachute hopper. Occasionally the hopper would be hit by opportunistic trout. We also found out that the lead person usually had one or two chances at a pool before spooking it, so we traded off leading upstream.
When you move up to and cross the Red River you move from the Carson National Forest to the Bureau of Land (BLM) Wild Rivers Area (there used to be a foot bridge near the confluence, but it was washed away at some time). There is access to this part of the Red River via NM Highway 378 and the La Junta Point Campground.
Overall it a was a great day, we caught and released fish in the 8 to 14 inch range (the Red River Trout Hachery is upstream of where we were fishing), and we got a workout hiking down and back up (which took more than a hour and made for some sore legs the next day).
Enjoy the video!
Here is a map of the video locations:
View Dominic’s New Mexico Fly Fishing Map in a larger map