Thursday, July 5, 2012

Rio Vallecitos- Carson National Forest

 I fished the Rio Vallecitos  last Saturday( June 30th). This is a beautiful, medium sized stream in North Central New Mexico.  When I say medium sized, I'm talking about the New Mexico range. So it's not as big as the Pecos in its canyon below Cowles, but has an average flow that's larger than the forks of the Gila. Access is from NM 111( off of US 285 north of Ojo Caliente) and then onto FR 274 just north of the town of Canon Plaza.There are couple stretches of public land(mixed with very private)  further downstream,but upstream from where you cross the bridge on FR 274 it is all Carson National Forest for several uninterrupted miles so this seemed like the least complicated place to try the stream. It also the roughest. After the first few hundred yards, where it's wide enough for people to have beaten down the brush,built rock dams in the stream( I assume to provide bait fishing holes) and leave trashy campsites, there is almost nowhere to be but in the water.The thin strip of flat land along either bank is a real bushwack, so I put aside notions of fishing from the bank even though it would have been more productive given the low water conditions. The current was not strong, and the water wasn't deep but the boulders and stones were very, and I mean very, slippery. I wore some old Cons, and I have  enormous bruise on my foot to show for my mistake. Hip waders or some sort of sturdier footwear like some old hiking boots would be a better choice. The rugged and sometimes painful and wet( you will get dunked) nature of the canyon reminded me of the Rio de Las Vacas( directly above it's namesake campground) but on a larger scale. It was different in one very significant way however,  because of its larger flow and wider channel the Rio Vallecitos is a clear corridor. I could cast away, I mean actual casts, to my heart's content and only rarely got hung up in any vegetation, living or dead.
So, about the fishing:in the morning I did a short recon fish while wife and dog waited patiently and cleaned up other people's messes. I promptly caught two browns in about 20 minutes and quit to help in the clean up. I returned in the afternoon driving into the town of Vallecitos on the winding,but well maintained FR 44(  then to FR 106 to NM 111 to FR 274) from El Rito. Starting at around 3 , I fished for three hours. Counting the two fish I caught in morning, my total number of trout brought to hand for the day was  . . . two. Not that I didn't have my chances. I lost at least three that I had on the hook, including one large one that tore my fly right off. There were a few other takes as well including a couple fish that were either leaping out of the water at my fly or the nearby real thing.
 At the end of day I saw couple of strange things. One was a smaller fish laying itself out on a rock along the bank to catch a bug before sliding back in the water. Another was a larger brown with something brassy and three inches long in it's mouth. On closer inspection, it was, of course, a small trout. I knew that browns were known as cannibals from reading about the phenomena many times,but I had never seen it in action,nor would I have expected to on a smaller stream such as this.There are good sized browns here,and the woman at El Rito Ranger Station said there are rainbows and maybe a few cutthroats as well.  Even though the fishing wasn't fast and it may have seen better days with more fish and more water;with better footwear, I'd definitely would try the Rio Vallecitos again.

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