I smear soft butter on the outside of the fish. Fly Fishing For Rainbow: Spring, summer, and fall: Rio Chama (above and below El Vado Dam), San Juan river (below Navajo dam), Pecos river, Rio de los Pinos, and the Jemez watershed. Just as it had the week before, checking on the streamflows in our state’s rivers paid off for me just before the weekend before the Fourth of July. The 15 or so miles above El Vado Lake is a Ponderosa Pine-lined deep canyon with some great rapids, the crux rapid being Big Mama Chama. )), +((!++(!!)+!!+!!+!!+!!+!!+!!+)+(!++(!!)+!!)+(!++(!!)+!!+!!+!!+!!+!!+!!)+(!+-(!!))+(!++(!!)+!!+!!)+(+!!)+(!++(!!)+!!+!!+!!+!!)+(!++(!!)+!!+!!)+(!++(!!)+!!+!!+!!+!!+!!))/+((!++(!!)+!!+!!+)+(+!!)+(!+-(!!))+(!+-(!!))+(+!!)+(!++(!!)+!!+!!+!!)+(!++(!!)+!!+!!+!!+!!+!!)+(+!!)+(!++(!!)+!!+!!+!!+!! )). Between Chama and Tierra Amarilla, below the hairboat run, the river has numerous fences that pose hazards to boaters, but they can be run by carefully avoiding getting caught in them.
Find out where the action is, what the water conditions are and everything you need for a successful day on the water! That was the case on my most recent trip to the Chama. I don’t think any of the cutthroats survived long enough to become holdovers, although I hope some of them did. This process is automatic. That’s a state-record that still stands to this day. It was routine to catch a big stringer full of big trout. Archuleta County in far southcentral Colorado and Rio Arriba County in far northcentral New Mexico, near Colorado SH 17, and US Highways 84 and 64 in the Carson National Forest.
This 8 mile stretch begins beneath a secluded Benedictine Abbey and ends just above Abiquiu Reservoir, where this silty desert river rolls to a halt among the rainbow cliffs of this remote four-corners location. Plan on setting up and running your own shuttles.
Upper Rio Chama runs begin in Archuleta County, Colorado at a campground/corral on Archuleta Creek at the river. The brown trout are now all wild fish, having established a naturally-reproducing population in the Chama. Cooper’s is also the launching point for float trips down the scenic Chama Canyon Wilderness. This May through June run rates a Class II to III on the first 4 miles, then Class IV to IV+ on the next 3.5 miles before settling down to a good Class III run on down to El Vado Lake in New Mexico. Every now and then, you’ll catch a big, holdover rainbow trout. The fishing is usually better with low streamflows, although it can still be good when the flows are higher. I then bake them at 375-380 degrees. Hazards include several barbed wire fences strung across the river between Chama and Tierra Amarilla that can be negotiated by careful boaters, but which can cause serious injury (or worse) for anybody getting caught in one of them, especially at high flows. As you enter this rapid make a sharp move to river right, then nail the right channel, avoiding a keeper hole created by an undercut boulder and a log strainer in the left channel. Heron Lake State Park, just north of El Vado Lake in New Mexico, offers seasonal campsites with and without electricity, drinking water, restrooms, showers, day use areas with picnic tables, a sanitary dump station, 2 launch ramps, sailing, fishing, a seasonal marina operated from April through October by New Mexico Sailing Club with slips and limited facilities, and scenic areas with views of trees, mountains and the Brazos Cliffs. The Upper Rio Chama is a near-hairboat run that can be made by canoes with flotation or kayaks, but not rafts. The lead-in to this rapid is almost indiscernable. Rapids are not named, but these all require good scouting and running precise lines to avoid danger. The waters flow fast and strong, often with little room to scout or portage the hazards. If you do it right, the meat comes easily off the bones and you can lift most of the bones out in one piece.
The flow in the Chama River below El Vado Dam was a meagre 98 cubic feet-per-second the morning of June 30, so I planned an afternoon trip to this section of river. I place them on a sheet of aluminum foil on a broiler pan (see photo above I took in my kitchen). As the canyon walls close in about half way through this run large boulders start to appear in the riverbed signaling the hairboat section of the river with its Class IV to VI rapids and drops. If you’re wondering how to cook big fish, I like to bake them in the oven. In 1946, a 20.5-pound brown trout was caught in the Chama below El Vado Dam. Riverbanks are lined with beautiful, old-growth trees of Carson National Forest. The state Game and Fish Department stocks this area liberally with catchable-size rainbow trout. Back when El Vado Dam was completed in 1935, old timers will tell you that the fishing in the Chama River back then below the Dam was the stuff dreams are made of. This entire run needs to be done with great care and vigilance to avoid accidents. Just below the Dam lies Cooper’s El Vado Ranch, which is a good spot to grab some fishing or snacking supplies, as well as accessing the river. The headwaters has two branches, the West Fork and the East Fork. Your browser will redirect to your requested content shortly. )-)), +((!++(!!)+!!+!!+!!+!!+!!+!!+!!+)+(!++(!!)+!!+!!)+(+!!)+(!+-(!!))+(!++(!!)+!!+!!+!!+!!+!!+!!)+(!++(!!)+!!)+(!++(!!)+!!+!!+!!+!!+!!+!!+!!)+(!++(!!)+!!+!!+!!+!!+!!+!!)+(+!!))/+((!++(!!)+!!+)+(!++(!!)+!!+!!+!!+!!+!!+!!)+(!++(!!)+!!+!!+!!+!!+!!+!!)+(!++(!!)+!!)+(!+-(!!))+(!+-(!!))+(!++(!!)-)+(!++(!!)+!!)+(+!! In this video, I give a few tips to be successful on the Rio Chama below Abiquiu Reservoir. Eagle Nest, Blue-water, Canjilon, and Fenton lakes. Rio Chama, New Mexico is a guide to canoeing and kayaking the Rio Chama flowing south from its headwaters in Colorado through Rio Arriba County, New Mexico to its confluence with the Rio Grande just north of Espanola, with information and links to canoe and raft liveries and rentals, campgrounds, shuttle services and other businesses catering to paddlers and paddlesports. I can’t tell you how long because I just check the fish periodically and judge by appearance and by sticking a fork into the thickest part of their back to tell when they’re done. Get the latest up to date fly fishing report for Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Rio Grande Cutthroat fishing in Chama River with the top producing flies and recommended equipment to get you into fish. The two fish I kept were both brown trout of about 17-18 inches long. This run starts with about 4 miles of garden variety Class II to III rapids that pose no real danger. Having exhausted the supply of easily-cut timber, the railroad moved its operation elsewhere. This run is a little off the beaten path, but deserves consideration for an excellent whitewater adventure on a very pretty river. Last year, they even stocked a bunch of Rio Grande cutthroat trout. It was a major shipping center for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad.
The area is drop-dead gorgeous, with large canyons, forested banks, boulders the size of small houses and a pristine river that begs to be paddled. Personally, I like to fish stretches above and below Cooper’s that are a little harder to reach and where the fishing pressure is less, but the area around Cooper’s has good fishing that is easily accessible. The site of the town now lies beneath the lake. The cheeks of a big trout may be the best piece of meat on the entire fish. That fishing is a thing of the past, but the Chama River below El Vado still remains one of the better spots to catch a big brown trout in New Mexico. There are no other public access points on the Upper Rio Chama. I stuff the inside with butter, salt, lemon slices and sprigs of tarragon. The Upper Rio Chama flows clean, clear and cold, though it may contain a significant amount of dead-fallen timber. The last 15 miles from Los Ojos to El Vado Lake is Class I to III whitewater running through a deep canyon. The prime season for the Upper Rio Chama is usually in late spring and early summer, in the months of May and June, though June flows depend upon a significant winter snowpack in the San Juan Mountains of Carson National Forest. Below the hairboat section lies about 43 miles of really great Class I to III whitewater that is perfect for intermediate or higher level whitewater canoeists and kayakers. The uppermost part of this run is dangerous because of large holes and hidden wood behind very large boulders, some of which are as big as small houses.
From Chama to Los Ojos is about 15 miles of Class I to II water that is beautiful, but not too technically challenging for competent boaters. It was also a major shipping point for the lambs and sheep that grazed the fertile mountain meadows. Much of this section has gently sloping banks from which great photos can be taken by those who dare to bring a camera (can you say "Pelican case"?) First public campground off FR 121, about 5 miles from SH 17, where Archuleta Creek meets the river at 0.0 miles; SH 17 bridge north of Chama, New Mexico at 7.5 miles; US Highway 64/84 near Ensenada at about 25.0 miles; SH 95 bridge near Tierra Amarilla at about 40.0 miles; El Vado Ranch on El Vado Lake at about 55.0 miles. Near the end of this run is a series of truly dangerous rapids characterized by house-sized boulders that hide sticky holes, significant drops and dead-fallen trees, any of which can cause peril for boaters and boats. This stretch of the Chama River has a long history of producing big fish. Please enable Cookies and reload the page. I always cook the fish with the head on. Back when El Vado Dam was completed in 1935, old timers will tell you that the fishing in the Chama River back then below the Dam was the stuff dreams are made of. I don’t wrap them up because I like part of the skin to get a little crispy. The only real drawback is the lack of access between SH 17 and El Vado Lake. The upper 7.5 miles drops some 580 feet in elevation, from 8,460 feet msl to 7,880 feet msl on a gradient of 77 fpm.
This stretch of the Chama River has a long history of producing big fish. However, several nearby campgrounds suitable for base camp operations are located at Trujillo Meadows, Aspen Glade, Elk Creek, Spectacle Lake, Lake Fork, Mix Lake, Alamosa and La Jara Reservoir State Fishing Area campgrounds in Rio Grande National Park, all within a few miles of the Rio Chama headwaters in Colorado on the Conejos, Alamosa and La Jara Rivers. Even the new lake behind the Dam produced 10-to-15 pound rainbow trout. Unfortunately, the distance to El Vado and the lack of public access limit most boaters to the top 7.5 miles of this run. Santa Fe 125 miles; Albuquerque 186 miles; Phoenix 644 miles; Durango 140 miles; Denver 270 miles; Salt Lake City 595 miles; El Paso 452 miles; Dallas 854 miles; Austin 889 miles; San Antonio 916 miles; Houston 1,075 miles; Oklahoma City 728 miles; Little Rock 1,067 miles; Kansas City 963 Miles.
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