Let me start off by saying that this was not a planned fishing trip. The point of this trip was to help my grandma drive to New Mexico because the trip would take her about a week alone, and with me along, we did the trip in 2 days, saving her time and money. My mom's side of the family is from New Mexico, and have a pretty rich history in it, dating over a century in NM. Fishing was just an added bonus.
So, at the advice of my good friend Charlie Barton (nvr2L8 ), I fished the Jemez East Fork. I loaded up on small flies and headed out to the river. It was a reasonable drive from Albuquerque, just over an hour I'd guess, but I wasn't paying too much attention to the time. The country is beautiful, everywhere you look is picturesque.
I thought this was going to be my only day to fish, so I fished from about 7:00 until around 2:00. My cousin that went with me fished for about 30 minutes before he went back to the car to sleep. I had my one day license, and I was going to use it. I tied on an orange stimi with a small yellow copper john variant, and the first cast I had a fish on. Didn't get it to hand, but I liked how the day started off so far. Second cast, missed the strike. Third cast I brought to hand a decent rainbow.
I hadn't even walked around the first bend before I'd caught well over a dozen fish. I lost my both my copper john variants in the lip of a fish, so I had to resort to other flies. Small hare's ear nymphs worked, as did BHPTs, but the action wasn't as fast with them. I caught and landed about 3 dozen trout, ranging from 2"-8". The problem I was having is that the chubs were spawning (I think?) because some had fiery red areas around their fins, and they GORGED on my BHPT. I caught 5 of them in a row.
I had so much fun that I wanted to go again. So, later in the trip, I did, except I went back with a fully stocked fly box.
I put day in quotation marks because it was in the evening, and I spent 2 hours or so on the water. Same as the first day, fish were more than willing to give a bite. I didn't even try to count how many I caught, but this time, they were all browns. The only reason my cousin and I stopped fishing is because we had to hike out of the canyon back out onto the road. It's not a long hike at all, but nightfall comes fast in the mountains.
After a horrible night's sleep at the campground, I awoke to the Indian Alarm Clock at about 6:00. I had to pee haha. So, from the Jemez Falls campground, the walk to the East Fork took about 10 minutes. I found out fishing is much better early in the morning than it is at night.
Around the bend in the river under the cutthroat picture is a deep run that is STACKED with trout. It's shallow where you're standing, but deep on the other side. There is a fallen log next to the "wall" of grass in the water, and if you can cast close to the grass, it's guaranteed you'll have a fish on. I saw a huge brown that would have gone 16-18" with ease moseying around the log, so I cast to it. The fly didn't go far enough to the grass, but it was close enough for the brown to turn after it when it passed, but stopped because my dry fly was swarmed by 3-4 smaller fish. I luckily didn't catch any of those fish, and was able to cast again. This time, the fly was going to pass right over, but snagged on a log a foot or two above the fish. Alert but unafraid, the brown meandered off into the abyss unknown
I thoroughly enjoyed myself on the Jemez. I never caught any fish in the Smokies, but I was also MUCH newer on the fly rod when I went. It was a similar experience, except the surroundings are different of course.