Sunday, August 2, 2015
Rito de la Olla( FR, FT 438)- Carson National Forest
Last Sunday morning I headed out to fish this stream in the Carson National Forest close to Taos. Since we were staying at a vacation rental in nearby El Prado, I was actually on the stream before nine. The only hitch came on the section of FR 438 right after leaving NM 518. The road is horribly rutted and slow going, and most likely impassable to anything that isn't four wheel drive when wet. Luckily, it was dry, and after the first mile or so, the road improves significantly( frequently not the case with most forest roads where the further you drive in the worse they become).
At every pull-out along the way, there were campers and vehicles, so I ended up driving to the very end of the road. Here there is welded iron fence and NO VEHICLES sign. Once on the trail, it's obvious that it is merely a closed section of the same road,but nature is fast at work making it into a single track in woods. I plowed through the brush and saplings to get a look at the stream. I came out right at a blown out beaver dam, where there was small silty pond behind. The beavers appear to be hard at work to fix the situation. The very log I was standing on, a huge aspen( at least 25 inches in diameter) had been felled by rodent lumberman in recent days( the leaves were still green and lively looking). I saw a fish below, but none in the little pool. It didn't matter, if there had been fish there, I'd already scared them looming like a giant on that log.
The stream was bigger than I had imagined with a rushing flow of water the color of amber glass. It was colder than I would have thought as well, after a while, though, my feet got used to it. I wouldn't bring waders or hip boots here the pools, and calmer runs only came up to my thighs and you'll bushwhack through the brush a lot, but some kind of felt-soled wading boots might be nice. There was plenty of algae on the smooth boulders just ripe for slipping.
Early on, I only got a couple of half- hearted looks at the dry flies I was throwing. Letting one sink in a deep at a little bend that ran against a limestone wall, I got a bite. I switched to nymphs. Also, early on, I realized I was missing the tip for the last section of my Redington Wayfarer rod, so I decided to work back down stream to the truck to switch it out with my emergency rod( a super cheap, dual spin/fly jobber from Academy- also my very first fly rod) that I keep stored under the back seat. It's only a seven footer as well, which on a stream like this was an advantage, the shorter the better.
Switch made, I hiked upstream a ways before plowing through the brush again. It wasn't that hard to cast in some sections, but other spots where the creek narrowed and the willow branches met in mid stream about neck high were to be avoided. I had just gone around one of these, and was back up on the trail, when I came to place where the creek was very close to the trail, and there was a steep little path down the embankment. I went about my business slowly, trying to get to the stream with as little fanfare as possible. Successful, I knelt down partially behind some branches, and threw a beadhead prince nymph( the extra weight was needed to get it down in the swift stream) into a deep little pocket just upstream. A fish hit it hard and in a few seconds I had nice, fat 9 or 10 inch brown at hand.
I only caught one other fish, in another deep pool a little further upstream. It too, was a brown, a bit skinnier but about the same length, also caught on a beadhead nymph( I'm can't remember what exactly, but not another prince).This one gave a few leaps in a short but enthusiastic fight. I had fun though. I turned around at the first old wooden bridge, as the raindrops started. I checked out a roadside spot that had had campers earlier in the day on the drive back and was disgusted by the fact that there was not only toilet paper and other trash strewn about the place, but they had left their five-gallon bucket camping toilet there! I didn't inspect the contents, but given the toilet paper everywhere I'm sure it had been well used. I was glad that I had persevered to the end of road to fish well away from this sort of situation.
There were clouds of midges all over this stream,but no feeding that I could see on the surface. There was a small amount of active feeding just below the surface, I believe for some sort of moth-like emerger. This is a fun stream to fish, and I wished I had had more time to continue upstream to see what it held. Weekdays are probably best if one wants to fish the road section. Oddly enough, there seemed to be more water upstream, although that could be because of beaver ponds limiting the flow further down.