I was in New Mexico on business this week and decided to take my fly rod with me and catch some streams out there. The best part of my plan was blown when I got stuck in the Atlanta airport for 6 hours Monday on the way out - instead of arriving at 12:18, I got landed in Albuquerque at 6:15 with about a 2 hour drive ahead of me - bummer.
So I was stuck with a couple of short trips on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings after I finished working. Both nights I got on the water about 6:00 with daylight running out a little after 8:00.
Tuesday night I went to the Jemez River on a stretch that was somewhat equivalent to our Smokies freestone streams. Difference was, the water was a dark brown coffee sort of color and not from high rain runnoff. Kind of weird looking. Well, I didn't see sign one of a trout so I hopped back in the car and went about 10 miles up the road to the East Fork of the Jemez. This stream was totally different. It's basically a meadow stream.
As you can see, the water is very flat, very few rocks/riffles, lots of tall grass and weeds around and generally ranging around 10-12' across. There were lots of 20-somethings camping and hiking (and wading through the stream) through the area but only ran into one other fisherman, a young guy who was just walking out with a spinning rig. This was my first attempt at meadow fishing and it was definitely a challenge. With no boulders to hide behind, you have to really get low to keep from spooking the fish - when you get really low, hanging up in the grass and weeds gets to be a regular event. Really takes some getting used to.
With trout rising everywhere, I spent the first night (only about an hour before dusk) untangling my line and spooking fish. I was using a dry and, whlie I did get some strikes, I had no real takers. There was enough action, though, that I knew I had to come back the next night.
On Wednesday night, I went straight back to the same place with about two hours of sunlight to play with. Once again, I started with dries and later added an ant trailing the dry. I started getting stikes on both and hooked about 3-4 before finally catching this brown.
Caught this guy on a beetle - turns out terrestrials were probably the ticket all along. By the time I started to really get the feel for how/where to fish this place, the sun ran out on the second day.
Definitely must go back when I can spend some more time and work on the meadow techniques but it was a great way to decompress after a day of work. For another trip, I'd like to try the Valles Caldera National Preserve, formerly thousands of acres owned by the Baca cattle company. They take 10 fishermen per day into a stretch of the East Fork upstream from where I was (for a fee of course) to fish from 8:00 till 3:00. Look it up on line if you get a chance - looks like a great way to spend a day.
BTW, my first trout outside the Smokies - something of a milestone.