Summary: ZOOM Membership Meeting, Jan. 25th
On Monday, January 25th, 2021, Spencer Seim, owner of Zia Fly in Taos, New Mexico, gave a ZOOM presentation to PPCTU titled, “Fly Fishing New Mexico.”. However, he talked about fishing the entire headwaters of the Rio Grande River, which includes southern Colorado as well, with particular emphasis on his guiding access to private ranches in this region.
Some of the creeks Spencer likes to guide in the Rio Grande watershed in southern Colorado include, the Culebra, the Conejos, and he also suggest anglers make a point of fishing the Los Pinos west of Saguache.
Venues in Northern New Mexico that Spencer covered were the Chama river at 2 worthy tailwaters: the first one located below El Vado dam, and the second tailwaters located below Abiquiu Reservoir, and his favorite Alamito Creek, south of Taos.
Spencer’s contact information is…
Spencer likes to use historic or unusual patterns, such as the Ginger Dun and the Ragtag nymph.
Rio Grande Watershed in Colorado: the Culebra, the Conejos, and the Los Pinos creeks
The Culebra Creek flows from Culebra Peak in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains on the east side of the San Luis Valley in Southern Colorado, into the Rio Grande River about 12 miles north of the New Mexico border. Access to the Culebra is upstream, (east) of Chama, Colorado. (There is a “Chama”, Colorado as well as the more famous, “Chama” in New Mexico. The Colorado Chama is about 4 miles southeast of San Louis, Colorado on CR-6. Of interest, Chama Peak proper is located in Colorado…)
SPENCER HAS ACCESS TO PRIVATE WATER ON THE CULEBRA
The Conejos River has a lot more public access than is commonly known. In addition to intermittent public access along Hwy 250 from CR-17 up to Platoro Reservoir (such as the stretch between Conejos Campground and Spectacle Lake campground), there is a lesser known special “fly fishing only” stretch for 4 miles below Menkhaven Campground on CR-17 and Magote Campground, which is the last public access before the Rio Grande in San Luis Valley. That said, Spencer strongly suggests hiking upstream of Platoro Reservoir into the USFS in order to access high county lakes and creeks that feed into the Conejos river.
SPENCER HAS MULTIPLE ACCESS TO PRIVATE WATER ON THE CONEJOS RIVER
Los Pinos Creek in the vicinity of Reservoir – (as accessed off Hwy-114 about 45 miles west of Saguache, along George Bush Drive, also called, CR-788). Multiple pubic access places. Very beautiful and has numerous cutthroat.
Rio Grande Watershed in New Mexico: Two Rio Chama Tailwaters, El Vado Dam and Abiquiu Reservoir.
North of Chama on NM 17 there is good trout fly fishing. There are special regulations on this stretch of the Rio Chama. Fifteen miles south of Chama on US 64/84 is the confluence of the Rio Brazos with the Rio Chama. Most of this run of the Rio Chama is on private land, except for a 4-mile-long stretch south of Chama.
Below its confluence with the Rio Brazos, the Rio Chama offers several miles of excellent fly fishing to the tailwaters of Heron Lake and El Vado Reservoir. The Rio Chama, is very wide at this point, with large runs, pools, and large boulders that create excellent fishing opportunities for rainbow and wild brown trout.
El Vado Dam impounds the Rio Chama about 24 miles south-west of Chama, NM. Public river access (outside of New Mexico State Park boundary) is at a private commercial camping property called, ”Cooper’s El Vado Ranch.” https://www.elvado.com/
Hike down the Rio Chama tailwaters from Cooper’s. The river holds rainbow and brown trout in the 18-20 inch range. You can either cross the river on foot or use a rather precarious but safe “Swinging Bridge”. (Your dogs won’t want to follow you). WARNING: keep track of daily releases of water. Sirens will sound this warning. Sudden swift and deep flows may occur. If this is the case, you will definitely need to return via the swinging bridge.
DIRECTIONS FROM CHAMA – take NM-17 south (it becomes NM-64) for about 12 miles. Take a right (west) on NM-112 for about 14 miles, which leads to “Cooper’s El Vado Ranch (river access) at 3150 HWY 112.
Abiquiu Dam Tailwaters – Rio Chama flows about 50 miles from El Vado Dam to Abiquiu Dam. From Abiquiu, Rio Chama is about 34 miles from its confluence with the Rio Grande. Below Abiquiu Dam the Rio Chama flows generally east, skirting the edge of Carson National Forest. It flows by the town of Abiquiú, located at the mouth of Abiquiu Creek, after which it turns to flow generally southeast. Near the villages of Chili and La Chuachia the Rio Chama is joined by two of its primary tributaries. The Rio del Oso joins from the west then, within less than a mile, the Rio Ojo Caliente joins from the northeast. From there the Rio Chama flows several miles southeast to join the Rio Grande near Ohkay Owingeh, about 5 miles north of the city of Espanola and approximately 30 miles north of Santa Fe.
The Alamitos Creek (south of Taos, New Mexico, past Raton Canyon off Hwy 518), is a tiny little creek that flows into the Rio Pueblo de Picuris, then into the Embudo, then into the Rio Grande. It is full of eager small browns and is famous for pure strain of Rio Grande Cutthroat! It’s high country and wide open! Alamitos Creek can be accessed via Highway 518, east of Penasco.
Fish species found on Alamitos Creek include Brown trout and Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout.
Alamitos Creek near Moro, NM
Trout Unlimited (TU) was the project sponsor for design and construction of a fish barrier on Alamitos Creek in the Rio Pueblo drainage east of Sipapu. TU had identified a small population of pure Rio Grande cutthroat trout in this perennial stream. These fish had been protected from upstream migration of other salmonids by an old irrigation diversion structure, until a flood event destroyed that diversion structure. TU worked with the USFS and the local irrigation district to plan for a new fish barrier that would keep this native fish population isolated. To accomplish this project, TU’s national office and the Truchas TU Chapter obtained a Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) grant to construct the new fish barrier protecting of 7.5 stream miles. U.S. Forest Service personnel completed NEPA documentation and Riverbend provided engineering design and construction oversight for the project. Alamitos was a fast track project where stakeholders met in the Spring, environmental impact documentation was accomplished in the Summer and barrier construction was completed just before the onset of Winter. This project satisfied the WNTI Joint Venture’s goal of building, funding, and implementing collaborative conservation efforts.
Spencer also talked about fishing the Valles Caldera National Preserve.
BE SURE TO WATCH FOR A LINK TO OUR NEXT ZOOM MEMBERSHIP MEETING the 4th TUESDAY of EVERY MONTH!!
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