I decided to take a year off from two of my favorite streams,the Middle Fork of the Gila River and the Mimbres River, in 2009. One reason was that because of the persistent drought and accompanying fires that lasted into August, the conditions were going to be significantly less than ideal. It seemed a good time not to further stress out these trout populations(especially on the Mimbres). Although I've spoken with one person who said there was decent fishing on the Mimbres in early September.
The previous fall these two streams provided a couple of the best days I've had on any Gila water in the ten years I've been fishing there. In both cases it was for browns, which was a little strange because in previous outings at either location, the catch had been exclusively rainbows. I know the Middle Fork had long held browns, but the Brown Trout in the Mimbres are a relatively recent phenomena- more than likely the result of some unofficial planting. Their less than legal origins notwithstanding, the browns have found an excellent home in the lower waters of the wilderness section of the Mimbres. Rainbows and hybrids begin to appear more frequently the farther upstream one goes, but I don't know if browns have come to dominate the upper stream as well,or if they've gotten into the upper forks yet.
I'd never had a big day on the Mimbres previously, and was even skunked once. If you have fished on the Mimbres in an average or above average water year and caught a good number of fish, consider yourself lucky. Only when you visit regularly will you realize how wildly fluctuating the conditions can be. One Fall I hiked upstream in the wilderness for three miles or so, crossing the river a dozen or more times and never got the tops of my boots wet. During one summer backpacking trip the water was high enough to make each of those same crossings an unwanted adventure. Needless to say the fishing wasn't much on either occasion. But on that beautiful October day in 2008, it seemed that I probably equaled my total number of fish from all my previous trips combined(only a slight exaggeration).
It's a bit of an up and down haul, though only two miles, to get to the Mimbres stream bottom from the trailhead on Forest Road 150. On the way out it's much worse,especially if it's only been a day trip. But down in the bottom of the canyon- it's a different world. I always find it hard to leave, and not just because of those two five hundred foot climbs I know are waiting for me.And not just because of those beautiful eager browns and colorful hybrids either( although that helps). Perhaps it's because, when there's enough water and the sky is a deep October, New Mexico blue, I imagine that this is everything a small trout stream could be,or should be, and it's more than enough for me.Final note: there are bears here, and I've had a (mutually terrifying, luckily) close encounter with a large one. Not that I'm trying to scare anyone off. Well, maybe I am.NOTE: the stream and trail conditions may be vastly altered by the Silver Fire( July, 2013).