Sunday, June 9, 2013

Rio Pueblo de Taos

The Rio Grande looked beautiful,blue and every inch a classic fly fishing stream.But when I saw the Rio Pueblo de Taos at the end of our drive along the Rio Grande Gorge, I knew that's where I wanted to fish.   I knew it would be rock hopping bushwack,but it still was my preference. Why?  I'm not totally sure. I 'm used to bushwacking small streams. I didn't have my waders for standing in the cold water all day, plus everything I've read about the Rio Grande gave me the strong impression that is was a  fall through early spring stream. Bigger streams intimidate me, perhaps because I haven't been super successful at the few I've tried. What the exact reason is, I don't know, but I was still debating it even as I drove toward the  Taos Junction Bridge and the dispersed camping area at the confluence of the Rio Pueblo de Taos and the Rio Grande. Perhaps if I had seen just one  of the many fisherman in the Rio Grande with a rod bent toward the water, I would've changed my  mind and tried my luck on the Big River.   I didn't and didn't.
        So it was off to rock hop in what is probably  the strangest small trout stream environment I've yet to fish. The Rio Pueblo de Taos  runs in it's own  gorge in it's lower end. 10 feet from the stream, is a hot dry desert, and if I couldn't see the  concealing wall of willows  that line  the bottom of the canyon as I walked up the old road( now a hiking trail) running along the south side of the creek, I would never have imagined  water would be there, never mind  a trout stream. The previous day when I first saw the stream, it seemed that we couldn't even hear the rushing and falling  creek until we were  on it,perhaps due to the  sound insulating properties of those same  willows. The water was fast, but not too fast, a bit off color,  and cold enough despite the fact that stream channel is completely without shade.
      Shadeless as it is,  and perhaps too nutrient rich as well, algae and other submerged plants are plentiful, as are the  large boulders. So, first I tried  dry flies and had many takes, a few bites and  one caught chub to show for it. I'm pretty sure all the surface approaches were chubs.  I caught  a small( 8 inches) brown unexpectedly as my dry fly drifted back toward me well below the surface. I realized I needed to switch to small subsurface  flies to get down in the water, but not to the bottom. It meant being careful not to cast or drift into the in- stream greenery.  I succeeded for the most part, as I  avoided the stream side greenery(willows) as well. I pulled out several more chubs,  but began to despair catching any more browns.
    I was on my way back downstream drifting a small beadhead in the channel running out from a small falls when I caught my best fish of the day- a 12 inch brown who gave me a few low leaps and a nice little fight. One or two more chubs, and it was time to head back to the truck. I mused on the way back to Rinconada that perhaps I chose the Rio Pueblo de Taos  because I subconsciously knew my number of boulder hopping, huffing and puffing days of small stream adventure fishing were limited.  Who knows? But that last brown sure made it all worth it. Note: this area has a day use fee of $3.00.

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