New Mexico Fly Fishing – Wild Western Rivers

by | Mar 28, 2023 | Fly Fishing, Destinations

Fishy State with Lots of Culture

New Mexico fly fishing and Colorado fly fishing for trout is always good no matter the time of year. These places are unique and special because there is so many different types of water to fish such as lakes, high mountain creeks, alpine lakes, freestones, and tailwaters. There are both stocked and wild fish to try your hand at when fly fishing New Mexico. Trophy size trout are also very possible depending on where you fish. These states have all types of trout which include brook trout, cutthroat trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, cutbow trout, gila trout, lake trout, and even tiger trout.

Another reason to go and check out these two states is not only for the fishing but also the cultural landscape and history. New Mexico has a lot of interesting history within the rivers alone. It is not uncommon to run into petroglyphs while walking the river’s edge. It is also very intriguing to people who aren’t from here, but New Mexico and Colorado have acequias that go through community’s which water fields and crops. These acequias get water straight from the creeks, rivers, and lakes around New Mexico which help keep traditions alive such as New Mexican green and red chile.

In fact, chile is so important to the communities of New Mexico that the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish classifies their special trout waters based on red and green chile. Red Chile water is catch and release only with tackle restrictions and Green Chile water is a two trout daily limit with tackle restrictions. While Christmas Chile (red and green chile mixed) water is a two trout daily but with no tackle restrictions. New Mexico is a one-of-a-kind place for both fishing and the cultural environment.

If you ever make it down for a New Mexico fly fishing trip, make sure you go and eat New Mexican style food. Colorado is also very special because there is so much water to choose from and so much good fishing that there is probably enough water to fish in a lifetime in just one water shed.

Lakes, Rivers and Creeks in New Mexico

The amount of water available in New Mexico and Colorado can be overwhelming. The first question you must ask is what type of fishing do you want to do? Want to fish a lake, creek, or a bigger river? Want to catch wild trout or stocked trout? Want to catch big fish? Want to catch a lot of fish? If your answer is to catch a lot of big wild fish, then join the club. You will have your work cut out for you but that is what makes these trophy fish so special. There are some great starting points and the FlyFishFinder app can help you identify trout streams in New Mexico, local access areas and potential types of fish based on water.

Take Your Pick

New Mexico fly fishing comes with its challenges. Tough terrain and often arid conditions make it a state that proves challenging for even the best anglers. It’s important to have realistic goals and to remember to just have fun and not get discouraged. If you are new to fly fishing these two states and just want to have a good time on the water, you may wish to fish a stocked lake or river. You may also want to try a high country creek and catch a bunch of wild smaller fish. If you are wanting the challenge and are fine with getting skunked, then try catching the big wild fish that everyone dreams of.

How to be Successful When New Mexico Fly Fishing?

To be successful in any of these types of water starts with getting down to the right depth where the fish are feeding. To get to the right depth you may want to fish heavier tungsten bead flies to get down in a freestone because these waters don’t have controlled flows like a typical tailwater does. You may also consider euro-nymphing to get a drag free drift that the indicator will cause. If you are fishing a tailwater with controlled flows, then just make sure your small flies are getting down and your depth is correct. If you need to add some small split shot, then do it and don’t waste any time.

To be successful in lakes, make sure that you are hitting all levels of the water. You may need to strip streamers to fish the lower columns of the water. When fishing the top section of the lake you can use chironomids, egg patterns, mop flies, and nymphs under an indicator about three to seven feet deep.

When fishing headwaters just make sure to be stealthy. Fishing headwaters is simple, you can use a dry dropper rig, a single dry fly, or just euro nymph the small pocket water. Some general flies that will work in all
types of water is an elk hair caddis, chubby chernobyl, zebra midge, chironomid, rs2, hot head nymph, brassie, hare’s ear, egg patterns, worm patterns, and streamers.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a location to start, you can try the Santa Fe area. You can contact local fly shops or book a guided trip with a local guide service, such as The Artful Angler, LLC. Due to the maltreatment of fish in these areas it is a common practice to do your due diligence and research where to fish. Conservation of wild fish in these two places is imperative because of the limited amount of water and the continued impact of climate change. So now that you have all these helpful tips to get out on the water, the only question left to answer is at a New Mexico restaurant, Red or Green?