Monday, June 24, 2013

Rio Ruidoso, Tularosa Creek

   I fished the Ruidoso River for the second time last week. Once again, I forgot to take any pictures. Well, that's not entirely true. Several times I found myself thinking, "this would make a nice picture," but never followed through with actually snapping one. Anyway, the water was low, but not terribly so. More disturbing was the algae growth. I'm beginning to think this creek is having some real water quality issues.
     I started again at Two Rivers park and headed downstream. I saw a fish take something on the surface early on-which was good sign- but then saw nothing, or had any action from any of the likely spots. I saw another shadow dart under the bank at the deep pool right before the Paradise Canyon bridge, but  once again saw nothing and had zero action as I continued on past stately homes and abandoned shacks. At one point I met a freckle faced boy, who, if he would've been without shoes and his fly rod been a cane pole could've have easily stepped right out of an illustrated edition of Tom Sawyer or a Norman Rockwell painting. He had seen big fish downstream,but they were not interested in being caught. We continued on in opposite directions, wishing each other luck.
      I went around the next bridge, to find deep water on the other side, and obvious signs that this was popular "hole." I tried a dozen or more casts with no reward. I continued downstream and the rio, as well as the environs began to change. The stream was much narrower and sunny. Grass grew high on the banks and in clumps in the water. Riparian shade trees were few and far between, and not far from the banks,pinon and juniper baked in the gravelly red soil. The beautiful homes were gone too. Instead there was a cement plant and abandoned trailers. Trash, large and small was everywhere and the river was beginning to take on the character of an urban storm drain.
    At a bend with some overhanging vegetation for shade was a deep pool. I cast a prince nymph in, expecting, given the total lack of action the last 2 hours, nothing. But there was something. Something of good size grabbed my fly decisively and began to run, stripping out line as it went. I was so completely surprised and unprepared for this to happen,lulled as I was by the lack of any takes or bites, that I was no longer " on point," and failed to set the hook. Bitter disappointment.  Shortly afterward I turned around. I'm sure it was one of the resident browns that I lost and not a stocker.
       Upstream I had one more adventure. Back at that pool at the Paradise Canyon bridge, I knew was my last best chance to catch something. I tried casting blind upstream, but there was nothing doing. It's pretty much impossible to approach the pool any other way, but I decided to go up high on the nearly vertical west bank. I could see several large trout in the still water. I hadn't scared them with my earlier casts. With much difficulty, as my gear and my body were tangled in the small trees, I managed to finally, gently drop a fly  right at ground zero above the  fish, only to have them scatter as if I had dropped a five pound rock. Then I fell. Hard.  Dignity and backside bruised, I trudged on with no luck with the few casts I bothered  to make. Soon, I was back at my car. Update: A third visit in August,2016  found better off color water, with no algae and  colder temperature, but still no fish.

 On the way home,  I saw some kids fishing in Tularosa Creek right in Mescalero.  I decided to check out the water where the creek goes under  US 70 at Round Mountain. The small creek was flowing strongly as it usually does and was only slightly off color. I could actually see to the bottom in the shallower runs. Several years ago and recently( August, 2016) I fished this creek starting at the bridge and going upstream and then downstream. The water was has ranged over three visits from opaque to quite clear, and the current is always strong.  I gave up  in less than an hour.It occurs to me that the gradient in this stretch, and the fact that it's just a long run makes this section not a particularly good trout water. There's nowhere for them to hold. Further upstream on the little orchard properties and farms it may be more level and have a few bends in it. Still, there could be a few fish hiding beneath the undercut banks, or holding on the bottom below a small falls,but I've had not luck casting to these areas.

People do come down to this cottonwood and willow shaded retreat to drink beer( as evidenced by their trash) dip their toes and maybe catch a fish. Downstream there is good path to follow for quite a ways. There have been logs  hammered into the bank that stick out into the stream in the hopes that branches and sediment will build up and  provide structure but so far this hasn't occurred. The water is reasonably cold even though you're in the desert at this point. Every year I drive over Tularosa Creek, I tell myself that I should come back and give it another shot, say, in November when the cottonwoods have gone to gold. Maybe this year I will. NOTE: Tularosa Creek is not posted in this area, but I believe it is private property. Ask permission and /or respect posted signs upstream and downstream.  I'm not sure if non-tribal members are allowed to fish this stream on the reservation. Inquire before doing so.

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