Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Agua Chiquita Creek-Lincoln National Forest

My wife gave me a copy of Fly Fishing in  Southern New Mexico( inscribed by Rex Johnson,with whom I would communicate and eventually meet many years later, though my wife met him the day she bought the book) the first summer we lived here back in 1998.  This book would hold a powerful sway over me for many years.Little did I know at the time that trout fishing in our half of the state would change so dramatically over just a couple of years, or that processes that would render several of the streams described in the book obsolete had already begun to take place. I diligently began visiting the places listed  that were the most readily accessible for day trip fly fishing. Of course, the distances traveled for  day trips in New Mexico probably seem a bit outrageous  to folks from other parts of the country, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.
      One of those early trips found me investigating the tiny Sacramento River and the tinier Agua Chiquita Creek in the Lincoln National Forest. It was August. I saw a few tiny black forms below the concrete spillway on the Sacramento. Further downstream, in Timberon and beyond, it was  pure mud. I did try a few casts, but it was pointless. Over at Agua Chiquita, the water was clearer. I tried my luck in the section  below Sand Springs. There were some good pools,but there was no action. I did see one brookie before I gave up. A subsequent visit, either later that year or the following year had me believing that one  I saw may have been the last of the tribe. Now,there was nothing, just as I had found over at Tierra Blanca Creek( another stream mentioned in the book) in the Gila's Black Range. Fires,persistent drought, and rogue cattle grazing put an end to trout in Agua Chiquita, if not at that time, then soon afterwards.
     The last few years our  Gila /Rio Grande Chapter of Trout Unlimited had been studying and working on the stream with idea of establishing a population of Rio Grande Cutthroats.The Forest Service also began building a pipe fence to exclude cattle in certain sections towards that end as well.The notion has since been abandoned due in large part to the fact that during the entire period of study and work there has been very, very little water in the stream. When I visited a few weeks ago, the stream looked as I first saw it: beautiful with green grass, little falls and pools. It had finally been replenished by a week or more of late season September rains and was looking like it should hold trout. But it doesn't right now. Perhaps if the rain and snow come back like they should, it will once again.


rexjohnsonjr said...

"The following is an account of the streams in southern New Mexico as of 1995. What the streams will be like ten years from now is anyone's guess."-- I could clearly see a downward trend, and a gradual desertification of the mountains, when that book was published, but I had no idea how bad things would get, nor how quickly. Very sad. One could hardly justify another book.

devon said...

I have to agree. It seems likes there's nothing(or very little) left. We formed a TU chapter just in time to have most of the trout disappear from the southern half of the state.

Yahidiot said...

There are still trout in the Agua Chiquita if you know where to go. Don't know if they have "re flourished" since the 90's or what, but if you know any of the locals or ranchers in the area, talk to them. If they take a liking to you, they'll tell you where they are.

Unknown said...

Which locals? What part of the stream?