• New Mexico and Colorado, Spring Trip with Adam

    Spring Trip New Mexico and Colorado 2011

    It was a strange one, this past 2010-2011 La Nina winter. New Mexico saw the coldest temperatures it has experienced in 15 years but we received very little moisture with it. Colorado was bone dry too going into March, and Conejos River Anglers up in Antonito was talking about ice out and low, fishable water by late April. But this was not to be. From mid-March to late April southern Colorado was hammered with storm after storm. They received an entire winter’s worth of moisture in about 5 weeks. Unfortunately, all of the storms went just north of the New Mexico/Colorado border, as they often do.

    I passed this on to Adam as we planned our spring trip but we were determined to get out and fish anyway. Adam bought his ticket and three weeks later in mid-June I was picking him up at the Albuquerque Sunport. The Wallow fire in Arizona had been burning up everything for miles and Adam had seen it clearly from the plane. He stated that it was massive and some of the places we had camped in the White Mountains in the past were completely destroyed.

    We had planned to spend Thursday fishing the Valles Caldera National Preserve but when we got there to fish we discovered that even when it should have been high from runoff there was hardly any water at all. We fished the wide open caldera for several hours with very little success. It was beautiful and we saw large herds of Elk in the distance but the fishing was poor. We packed up and head up toward Colorado to the Conejos Country, my home waters.

    Adam fishing the East Fork of the Jemez, Valles Caldera Preserve

    On our way we had to drive down out of the mountains and through the Los Alamos area. It was tinderbox dry. As we came down from the caldera we could see way across the Rio Grande valley to the Sangre de Cristo range just outside of Santa Fe. The Pacheco fire which had started a few days before was belching smoke miles into the atmosphere.

    We camped that night about ˝ mile from the Conejos River near Horca, CO. It was a good night’s sleep and we were up early and headed for the fly shop in Antonito. We learned that the Conejos River was high as were some of the tributaries but the Lake Fork and the Rio de Los Pinos were experiencing near perfect flows. We bought some of the recommended flies and headed to the Los Pinos. I have thought about fishing the Los Pinos a few times before but somehow never did. I am really glad we did this time.

    Rio de Los Pinos

    When we arrived at the river we noticed one guy headed upstream but everyone else was at the small, nearby reservoir. By the time we had suited up to fish the guy was already coming back out. This was encouraging as neither of us like to fish behind someone else.

    What happened over the next 5 hours was magic. Adam let me borrow a Tenkara rod and we hit pure trout gold. We hiked and fished, fished and hiked, ate lunch, lounged, and fished some more. We did not catch a lot of fish but the 8 or so fish we did land were big ones, and catching 14”- 16” wild, high country trout on a Tenkara rod is truly a thing of beauty. It was an afternoon neither of us will soon forget.

    Adam's First Brown

    Adam's Second Brown

    Fish on

    Brown close up


    Tenkara and Brown

    Adam with the day's only Rainbow


    We spent that night at a cabin in Platoro, lounging, checking flies, and preparing for the next day, as we were going to fish the Lake Fork of the Conejos. The Lake Fork is designated “Wild Trout Water” by the state of Colorado and it contains pure strains of Rio Grande Cutthroats. The Cutthroat is my favorite trout, and fishing for Rio Grandes is a real blast. Plus the scenery is always spectacular.


    Tenkara Pirates

    Adam checking flies

    At this point an interesting word or two on the Lake Fork is necessary. This fork of the Conejos River flows through beautiful, high meadows from a high country lake known as Big Lake. The Lake Fork area is known by the locals and those who have spent a great deal of time here as Sasquatch country. Over the years many people have had encounters in this area-including close proximity sightings-with these usually reclusive, retiring North American primates, so much so, that the Skyline Lodge in Platoro sells Conejos Sasquatch t-shirts. I have had my own eerie, midnight encounter in this area as well.

    Wild Trout Water, Lake Fork of the Conejos

    We were up a little late that Saturday and it was my fault for having one too many Mooseheads, but we finally got things rolling. We reached the trailhead and hiked in to the beginning of the Special Trout Water. After a relaxing lunch streamside we split up and started fishing. We fished the afternoon separately and this was enjoyable. It was sunny, breezy, and warm, but not hot. After a few hours we hooked back up and relayed accounts of the Rio Grande Cutts we had each landed.

    Lunch beside the Lake Fork

    Native Rio Grande Cutts

    That night we ate well and turned in early and then left the following morning. On the way back down the Rio Grande valley we noticed that a huge fire was burning up near Los Alamos, right in the area we had passed through only days before. It too was massive and a monstrous column of gray/black smoke was billowing miles into the atmosphere. This fire, the Las Conchas fire, caused all of the town of Los Alamos, including the National Lab, to be evacuated a few days later and turned out to be the largest fire in New Mexico history.

    Adam and I have fished together quite a bit over the years and we have had some great times. This trip was no different. It was one of those trips to be recorded in that imaginary record book that many trout fishermen keep in the back of their heads. A few days later we exchanged emails. In a brief note Adam mentioned that he was still having dreams about it. Me too, bro.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: New Mexico and Colorado, Spring Trip with Adam started by Brooktrout View original post
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. adam's Avatar
      adam -
      Cool my brotha.You are one cool cat.Now I think I'll write my story about you.I got peectur of Brooks.
    1. Brooktrout's Avatar
      Brooktrout -
      Quote Originally Posted by adam View Post
      Cool my brotha.You are one cool cat.Now I think I'll write my story about you.I got peectur of Brooks.
      thanks. sounds good. looking forward to reading your perspectives mon.