Reminiscences of an Old Fly Fisherman

By Wes Bigney

Rigging

When I get to the destination and am assembling the rod and lining up the guides I stand the rod against a rock or tree.  I never lay it on the ground or against the car to be stepped on by an errant foot or eaten by an auto door.  After I have run the line through the guides I do not coil any line on the ground where I can step on it and cut it against a stone or gravel.  I make sure the ferrules are seated.

The Rod and Handling

The taper transmits force to the various parts of the rod depending on the amount of force applied.  So a little force bends the tip and more force transmits to heavier parts of the rod right down to the grip.  This applies whether casting or retrieving the line.  Much has been written about casting and I want to address retrieving, where the action is!

In retrieving mode the rod tip should be held close to the water and pointing in the direction the line lies.  Holding the rod tip up makes a belly from the tip down to the water.   When a fish strikes, the slack in the belly must be taken up before the hook can be set.  This split second can allow the fish to spit out the hook.  Holding the rod down makes the line straight to the hook, causing immediate hooking.  Also, holding the rod down and pointing down the line gives you a telegraph from the hook to your hand.  After some experience you will be able to tell if a line hesitation is a fish or a snag and you won’t have to wait for the snag to start moving to know it’s a fish!  Never set a reel drag up tight!  That eliminates the drag and makes a direct connect of reel to line thus eliminating the clutch action that the drag was designed for.

Simultaneously with hooking, the rod tip should be raised so that the grip is pointing up at forty-five degrees.  This puts a bend in the rod which is a shock absorber and it prevents the fish from making direct stress on the leader tippet reducing the chance for break off.  If the fish is large enough that you can’t get the grip up at forty-five degrees – let out some line until you get the grip into position.

Stripping the Line In

Assuming you’re right handed and retrieving the line with your left hand – the line should come back from the stripper guide to the middle finger of your right hand.  When your left arm is fully extended and you want to pull in another arm length of line, you come back to the middle finger of the right hand, which the line slides through all of the time you are retrieving.  You close that middle finger to keep the line from sliding back out after you have retrieved it or a fish is pulling it.  The middle finger keeps the line where you know it is at all times.  You never reach up to the stripper guide to pick up the line unless it has dropped from the middle finger and you are replacing it.  The middle finger is also a sensor that feels every foot of line that passes through it for knots, nicks or debris that may cause problems casting or retrieving.

Imparting Life

Fish generally bite living food and living food usually is moving.  Therefore, when retrieving a line it is to your advantage to make it act alive.  Stopping and starting a lure erratically makes it look desirable to a fish.  If you have been retrieving in the same style for several minutes and not elicited a take – ALTER YOUR RETRIEVE and/or change flies.  Don’t get in a rut.  Change position or cast to a different spot.  I have seen people fish the same spot for hours without success.  Keep moving, keep exploring, and keep changing lures.  A successful fly in one spot may not be successful in another spot.

Just because the water is moving, it doesn’t exempt you from also moving the lure.  If your lure is drifting with the current it looks dead.  You must give the lure some life by either twitching the rod tip or retrieving the line in short jerks.

You can cover different depths by letting the fly sink longer or shorter before retrieving. Try counting to return to the depth you have just fished.  If you were retrieving from the count of ten and had a take, you can get pretty close to that depth by going to ten again.  Fish often hang in a comfortable thermo cline.  Still water settles into temperature levels (the deeper the cooler it is).

There are a couple of situations I would like to mention. When you come to a chute between two rocks or other objects, a good way to fish it without walking around and ignoring it is to stand a short distance below the outflow and cast right up the middle of the chute with a weighted fly.  Then strip fast so that the fly is moving through the chute FASTER than the current.  This usually elicits a hard strike by a fish that most fishermen bypass.

One day I was out to my belt on the San Juan and at the bottom of a run channel.  I casted up the channel and hooked a fish.  He shot straight down the channel and went between my legs.   I was out too deep to keep my balance and lift a leg to free the line.  I finally sidled into shallow water and freed the line and landed the fish.  Moral: don’t stand in the middle of a run, stand on the edge and cast to the middle.

Another situation that merits mention is when a fish flashes and appears to have missed your fly.  Make ONE more cast with the same fly to see if the fish wants a second chance. If there is no take remove the fly and replace it with a different pattern about the same size.  Present this as quickly as possible and generally the fish will take it.  Don’t keep flailing the water with a rejected fly!

When you are casting a wet fly or nymph across the stream to the far side, the current will take your fly downstream.  Move your rod in an arc so it will always be pointing at your fly and your line will be straight toward the fly for better hooking a strike.  A dry fly used in this situation must be handled differently. When you put a dry fly on the far side your floating line will lay on two or three different currents, each moving at a different speed.  You will have to make extra slack in the line because each current will pull the line so there will be some long “s” curves in the line.  This acts as a corrective action keeping the fly from dragging across the current like a motor boat.  The big difference is you have to watch the fly to see a take and lift the rod to straighten the line to set the hook.  You generally can’t impart any action to the fly without sinking it.  This is opposite to a wet fly where you want to give it life and movement.  A good technique is to put a dry fly on the nearest current and fish it, and then work further currents where it will be harder to control the fly and keep it floating.

Wind

Wind is a fisherman’s friend on a lake.  Wind sweeps a lake surface like a broom and it pushes everything that has accumulated on the surface toward the windward shore.  Since wind is non-directional the windward shore can vary from day to day.  So on any given day the place to fish is the shore with the wind in your face.   Never mind easy casting with the wind at your back – here you have to punch out the line into the wind but it pays off.  (See Scum Lines for a variation.)

The fish cruise just off shore picking up whatever looks like food.  Frequently the fish are at a depth of only a foot.  In order to fish at that depth and that close to shore the fisherman must stand back from the edge by about a rod length.  One can also cast parallel to the shore from a greater distance.  By walking up, wading out and then casting, it puts the fly into deep water and beyond the fish’s feeding range.  When fishing a lake, check the wind direction and head for the shore the wind is hitting.  It will take some effort to cast into the wind, but it will be worth it.  If the wind is coming against a steep bank and not a sandy shore the fish will still be there up against the embankment.  In this case cast parallel to the bank and two to four feet out.  Keep moving the fly to attract a cruising fish’s attention.

A number of years ago I had a conversation with Gary LaFontaine (a researcher, fly innovator, and writer) now deceased.  I said the best place to fish at anytime is in the delta of a feeder stream since it washes in food.  He corrected me to say it is the second best place and the best place is at the outflow.  He had found that there is a minute current in a lake which carries food toward the outflow.  I agree with his finding but, depending on the amount of inflow, evaporation, and use of the water, there may not be any outflow and no current.

There is another part of a lake that attracts fish: where a feeder stream comes in and carries in food.  There is an aspect of feeder streams to consider.  Depending on the time of year, the inlet deltas may have fish congregating to go up the streams to spawn.  They may not be active feeders at the time but some will still bite.

Scum Lines

This is where two currents come together (either wind or water) and it forms a line on the surface which contains bubbles, debris and food.  The fish have discovered this and follow these lines which can be found on a river or a lake.  I was fishing at Spinney Reservoir in Colorado and the wind was fierce and blowing in my face but I was standing where a scum line was hitting the shore.  I forced a fly into the wind and slapped it onto the scum line before the wind could blow it back. I let it sink a little and was retrieving with my rod tip pointing down the line.  I had a solid take and then nothing.  When I got the line in, there was no fly.  I put on a new fly and repeated the cast.  Again a solid take and then no fly. I decided to try again, but to hold my rod to one side instead of pointing down the line.  This would leave some spring in the line and the take wouldn’t be so solid against the leader.  It worked and this take produced an eighteen inch rainbow.  The fish didn’t have either of my two previously lost flies in its mouth.  There are some large Northern Pike in the lake so I surmise it was one or two of them with big mouths full of sharp teeth that sliced my trout leaders.  Sadly, this episode ends here because I had to leave to make a prior commitment in Denver.  Anyway, I never pass up a scum line.

Wading

If you are wading in a stream or river you can fish the overhanging edges on each side.  Cast up and across so the fly hits the edge and will fall into the water.  Sometimes there is just overhanging grass and sometimes it is an undercut bank housing a single large fish.  A big clumsy fly works well for this because it looks like a terrestrial stumbling into the water.

One day I had crossed the back channel in the Quality Water on the San Juan, which was about hip deep.  Then I was out fishing the main channel.  I was walking along the edge and hit a small willow shoot that a beaver had chewed off.  This sharp top made a hole through my wader ankle and my first step into the water filled up my foot.  Now I have a problem in getting through the back channel to get to the car to repair the hole.  There was nothing to do but “go for it”.  The water ran up the leaky leg, got to my crotch and then ran down and filled the dry leg.  When I got through the channel the water drained out of the leaky leg but kept the other leg full – and heavy!  That last quarter of a mile to the car was a real one leg experience.

When I’m in moving water, I cast upstream first and retrieve faster than the current.  Then I cast across the current and pull in across the current.  Then I cast across letting the fly sink and retrieve up at a forty-five degree angle and last come straight up with slow, short jerks.

I usually don’t use weighted flies because I feel the weight dampens the action applied by the currents.  So I use shot clamped onto the leader about eighteen inches above the fly.  This way the shot carries the fly down but it can still move with the current.  However, in opposition to this weighted theory I offer this tale.  I was with Doc Jones (long gone to the Happy Fishing Grounds) and we had zigzagged down the trail leading to the lower Red River just above where it joined the Rio Grande.  The area is populated with many boulders and the Red runs somewhat heavy and fast sculpting pockets in them.  Doc was out fishing me about three to one when I finally swallowed my pride and asked what he was using.  He pulled out and offered me the business end of his line.  There was a brown Woolly Worm about size twelve with a split shot slid down tight to the knot for the fly, essentially a weighted fly.  I had the same thing except my weight was up the leader.  Go figure!

Here’s another weight tale.  Several of us climbed into the Rio box to fish.  We were all picking up an occasional fish except one fellow.  I finally asked to see how he was set up.  He was using a Brown Hackle Peacock which is what most of us were using, but he had no weight on it.  I clamped on two BB shots and said to try that.  He said, “I’ll be hooked up in the bottom.”  I said, “You might get hooked to a fish, also!”  He was standing on the edge of a run about two feet wide and twelve feet long.  He worked the weighted fly through the run and started to holler.  He had hooked about a fourteen inch Brown.

The upper Rio has a lot of broken water where fish can hold then dart out to pick up food and move back to hold.  Studies have found that trout don’t move very far off holding position to feed.  Therefore, a fly should be placed pretty close to a potential hold to get the response you want.  Speaking of studies, it has also been found that top water feeding only occurs about fifteen percent of the time.  That percentage is why I usually fish wets.

Desperation has led me to convert a sinking line and wet fly to a dry rig when I come upon a rising fish (not a hatch).  I use twenty to thirty feet of line and false cast a number of times.  This dries the line and fly.  If I lay this out with a soft touch I can get a thirty second float before it all sinks.  That is enough to get a take from a rising fish.

One of my favorite flies is the black Woolly Bugger and it has become my starting fly.  I fish it differently depending on the water (lake or river).  In a lake I use it without weight, but I use a sinking line, and when I cast it I count to ten and retrieve it relatively fast.  This is because it generally represents a dragon fly nymph whose method of movement is by jet, which means it tends to dart not swim.    This movement incites action to keep up with it and the take feels like the fish is swimming alongside it.  If the ten count doesn’t entice a strike, I work my way deeper by tens until I guess I’m near the bottom.  If this doesn’t work I change position.  If I change position a couple of times unsuccessfully it’s time to change flies.

The Early Days

In about 1939 when I was in my early teens, we were still affected by the Depression.  Most fishermen had one outfit that was used for everything.  My dad had a fly rod and gave me one he had retired to get me started.  His was a Shakespeare and mine was a South Bend, both nine feet.  We fished fresh water in southeastern Massachusetts and on Cape Cod for trout, bass, pickerel, and crappie.

The lines we used were size “D” oiled silk level.  Tapers were too expensive: an EDF was about $20.  The silk lines had no memory and you could coil it in your hand or on the ground and it would cast without tangling.  The level lines came in four, twenty-five yard coils all connected and the merchant would cut off as many coils as you wanted at about $3 each.  The lines we used were made by Newton Line Co. and were called “Streamline”.  These had some types of flexible finish that belied the term “oiled”.  The finish never peeled as opposed to some lines that peeled something akin to cellophane.  It jammed in the guides when one tried to cast it.

The leaders for the fly fishermen were supposed to be cat gut maybe, but were some kind of gut anyway.  The suppliers sized and then moistened them to make them pliable so they could be knotted into several lengths (6, 7 ½, 9, and 12 ft. were the usual lengths).  Then each leader would be coiled into about 4 inch coils and dried and packed in cellophane envelopes.  Before you could use one of these it had to be re-soaked so you could tie it to the line and to a fly.  If you didn’t get it moist, it would crack in the tying process.  Special 4 inch cans were made to hold two pieces of wet felt that you put the leaders between to soak while driving to the fishing spot.  Then, as now, we selected the leader length based on depth, clarity, and openness of the water we were to fish.

The gut leaders were not very strong when you got above two or three X, the knots wore out and broke after three or four fish were caught.  Frequently, we automatically broke off a fly and retied it after landing a few fish.  The weak knot problem led to development of some complicated knots.  We solved it by just breaking and retying, but would always worry that the leader would not hold if we had hooked a large fish.

Most flies during that time and earlier were quite colorful and exotic feathers were used in tying them.  Those feathers, for example golden pheasant crest and jungle cock, were too expensive for me and I just left them off the patterns I was tying.  I tried to make jungle cock out of other feathers but with little success.  Most of my flies never had jungle cock.

Dry and wet flies were frequently the same, but tied to be wet or dry.  So a dry had an upright feather section, split wings, and hackles at right angles to the hook because the hackle points tend not to cut through the surface tension (all clean water has this characteristic).  The hackle points suspend the fly on the surface until the tension is broken.  A wet tie had the feather section wings flat, back to back, and pointed back along the shank.  The hackle was a small clump under the eye as chin whiskers.  The material used for both flies was frequently identical because dry materials were scarce.

I think some of the gaudy patterns were made as attractors while the dull patterns were to be imitators, and a water logged dry fly along with wet flies was taken as nymphs.  I saw my dad practically destroy a dry fly with his knife and then use it successfully as a wet fly.

When I was growing up brook trout still populated many of the streams and a few ponds.  We were always pleased to get a brookie – they were so beautifully marked and they were great to eat since they were more of the salmon than the trout family.  They generally seemed to take different flies than trout.  We found that either red and white, or yellow and white buck tails with silver bodies worked the best.

The brookies were so productive they tended to overpopulate and that stunted them so they rarely got over ten inches in our streams.  In recent years Massachusetts experimented with stocking them in some of the deep clear water lakes.  Most of the lakes of this type were created by glaciers and don’t have inlets or outlets.  The brookies grew large but were unable to spawn for lack of running water.  Brookies are still stocked but without regard to reproduction.

Minnows

In the east there were more varieties of pond minnows than we have out here in the Rockies.  The fish fed on them regularly which led to our fishing streamers to imitate the minnows and we had great success.  The ghost flies were used extensively (black, grey, green, and brown).  My favorites were black and grey ghosts and I tied them extensively for myself and friends.  Since the ghosts were streamers they were made to look like and fished like minnows.  These were tied on sizes 6, 8, and 10, on 4x and 5x limerick style hooks.  The wings were two or four hen hackles laid together to imitate the minnow body.  If there was a tail it was short, but they always had chin whiskers.  If we could apply an eye we did.  This involved using sections of guinea hen, loon tippets, or small sections of various other tippets (breast feathers) with a dot of black paint applied for an eye.  These streamers enticed practically the whole range of fresh water fish that were in our area.  When we had a take while lake fishing, most of the time we couldn’t tell what we had until we could see it.

Since the lakes had no current we had to give the streamers life in the retrieve.  The relatively fast retrieve generally gave the flies the nervous “get out of Dodge” movement to solicit strikes.  Even if we were in a boat trolling a streamer, we continued to give the fly life with extra jerks while moving.  A fly moving at a steady, constant speed is not natural.  I have used this technique successfully while trolling a Woolly Bugger out here in the west.  I have also seen people trolling Christmas Tree spinners at a steady speed waiting quite unsuccessfully for a strike while I was getting strikes.

Herring were a great and abundant food source.  In the spring large schools of adults (12 – 15 inches) worked their way from the ocean up streams to lakes where they would spawn.  The fish in the lakes loved those babies (1 ½ – 2 inches long).  The herring were rather flat sided and shiny silver with a black back.  I made imitation streamers with silver tinsel bodies and white hen hackle wings and white turkey marabou for a tail.

When the small herring moved out of the lakes to the ocean, they made large schools for protection.  The mackerel, blue fish, sea trout, and stripers had a field day tearing into those schools.  My friends and I had much sport using my imitation herring fly when the big black bass and the pickerel were feeding in the lakes.

New Equipment

We continued to use our fly rods to fish in salt water, where the stripers kept getting larger each year and not so for the other fish which stayed out and in deeper water as they grew larger.  The stripers started getting into our backing and we started looking for fly reels with more capacity.  (The salmon reels were too big and over balanced our fly rods.)  My dad, an old time mechanic, decided that we could split a fly reel and put spacers in to widen the spool for more capacity.  I think we used Shakespeare Au Sable model reels to enlarge.  We could wind on fifty yards of backing and seventy-five yards of level E line spliced to it.  Generally, as long as we could stay tied to a fish we could eventually land it.

The most productive time for us to get stripers was at night at the incoming and top of the tide, using sea worms.  Days were not very successful and we failed to click on to big streamers for school stripers (schoolies).  Eventually, (I think it was in the 50s), the fly materials suppliers came out with long plastic strips to tie big streamers (8 – 10 inches long).  These acted much like marabou and gave the big streamers a lot of live action.  Heavier fly rods in the 8, 9, and 10 weight were made for salt water use.  New larger capacity reels with advanced drags were also produced.  The new flies and rods to deliver them made daylight striper fishing quite successful if speedy retrieves were employed.

The war effort engendered new materials: steel and fiberglass rods and nylon lines.  This revolutionized our lines, leaders and backing materials.  It also required new knots that wouldn’t slip.  The end of the leader had to have an overhand or “S” knot to pull up against the main knot to stop it slipping and untying.

The nylon lines had memory and when you stripped line off the reel it laid on the ground in 4 inch coils like a Slinky toy.  We had to pick up five foot lengths and stretch flex them to lay straight.  Coils in a fly line were bad news because you had to pull the coils straight before you could set the hook of a fly – if you had a stack line the fish frequently got free.  Also, when we used nylon braided line as backing it would stretch with a large fish pulling on it.  The line companies came up with a pre-stretched line to solve this problem.

The steel rods were pretty good but had to have copper added to prevent rusting and fracturing.  The steel fly rods tended to keep vibrating after a cast and didn’t have the dampening action of bamboo.  Bamboo became expensive since none was coming out of China as a result of the war.

I remember that black bass flies were generally large trout flies.  The patterns were identical although there were a few separate bulky bass bugs with spun deer hair and some balsa fly rod poppers.  The preferred retrieve for these bass flies was to cast it out and let the rings of the fly hitting the water dissipate to quiet water.  Then one jerk to initiate another set of rings and let them dissipate.  Sometimes nothing hit, but when you got a hit it was usually explosive and gave you quite a shot of adrenaline.

There was a small pond of about five acres that was full of bass and covered with lily pads.  We had a small wooden row boat that we put on the pond and paddled out a short distance.  Then we used a hair bass bug with a weed guard and tumbled it over the lily pads.  This retrieve produced explosive hits that would throw our bugs several feet and result in no hook ups.  If there was a hook up the fish was immediately tangle in the pads and we had to paddle over to release it.  The hits were all we cared about.

A correct retrieve in the correct location can be the making of a great day on the water.

Image from Max Pixel

Resolution Guide Service

By Tina and Mike Stallard
From the September 2017 newlsetter

Once a year, we take a guided float trip on the San Juan as a treat to compensate for Albuquerque traffic, demanding bosses, and daily chores. We usually take our trailer and camp for a few days in Cottonwood Campground, a lovely and quiet spot near the river and less crowded than the campground near the reservoir.

This year we booked a trip with Resolution Guide Service and a dinner at Rainbow Lodge, one of NMT’s sponsors. We planned the trip for early September, a beautiful time for the San Juan, with medium-low flows of 700 cfs (normal for this time of year) and cooler weather, but always with a chance of afternoon thunderstorms.

Steve.jpgWe met Steve Gill, owner of Resolution Guide Service and Rainbow lodge, and learned that there should be very few boats on the river this Sunday, after a very busy few weeks.

Our guide Brad, an experienced guide of many years, a slim and energetic, laid back man with the countenance and eye of an observant and knowledgeable fisherman, had us on the river shortly thereafter. With so few boats he was able to position us just below the tailout of the braids and Audie’s Run on the upper end of the Texas hole.

Fishing with a small San Juan worm of Brad’s design and construction, with a small midge emerger below, we were soon into fish and kept pulling them out every few minutes. These were healthy and colorful fish, better looking than we’ve seen in past years, a testament to the improvements in the management of this river. The catch-n-release went on for over an hour, when the action started to taper and a few more boats started sidling up to our zone. Brad floated us down the Upper Chutes fishing along the way, anchoring occasionally when he spotted feeding fish holding in riffles, runs, and holes.

Our fun was briefly interrupted for a needed lunch break of homemade roast beef sandwiches, potato salad, pickles, chips and brownies (NM style, not CO version).

tina with fish.jpgResuming our fishing now with a baetis and midge emerger, we kept hooking up with plenty of rainbows and a few browns as we got into Baetis Bend and Chuck’s Corner. At one point Tina hooked a fish which looked fairly large and was putting up a fight running up and down the river and back and forth across the boat. As it came into view, Brad got quiet, jumping out of the anchored boat and into the shallow water with his net. He was not letting this one escape, a beautiful and good sized rainbow.

We continued fishing down the river, the action slowing a bit through Death Row and Cannon Run. As we passed Simon Canyon, we were happy to see much less silt than past years, and some nice pockets behind the large boulder structures placed into the river by Game and Fish. We caught a few as we floated the rest of the way to take out at Crusher Hole.

After a nap and change of clothes at the camper, we headed to Rainbow Lodge for our dinner reservations. Steve, Steve’s father, and another cook prepared a hearty meal of grilled New York strip steak, salad wedge with Blue Cheese and bacon, sauteed asparagus, baked potato and grilled pineapple with ice cream for dessert. We enjoyed learning about Steve’s journey to become owner of the Guide Service and Lodge, and his father’s story of living and working in Gallup for many years. The conversation went late into the evening, and our hosts were engaging and entertaining. Steve also showed us the rooms they rent at the Lodge, very large 2 bedroom apartments that could easily sleep 4, maybe even 6. They would be a great deal for a family, or a guys (or gals) trip. For more information about the guide service or the lodge, visit their website http://www.sanjuanworm.com/

Shady Lakes Closing Shop

A local attraction known for fishing will officially be closing its doors on 30 October.

Jan Phillips is one of the owners of Shady Lakes, which has been a part of the Phillips family since 1962. Even though the Phillips family is closing the door on Shady Lakes, Jan hopes whoever ends up buying the fishing hole can keep the tradition going. The owners have yet to put the property on the market. Shady Lakes was originally just a bait farm when it was first purchased by the Phillips family in 1962. Once they bought it, they quickly converted it into what it is today.

shady-lakes.jpg

The Cow Creek Ranch Fishing Day

Fishing on Cow Creek

Fishing on Cow Creek

On 1 June,18 of the 20 lucky winners of the club sponsored lottery to fish Cow Creek Ranch met at 6:30 a.m. at the Lowes on Paseo Del Norte’s parking lot. Car pools were organized and we set off for Cow Creek Ranch. Knowing that folks would get separated driving the interstate, we all met at the Glorieta/Pecos exit where many of the anglers had a cup of coffee from a coffee truck. The truck is like a food truck except it serves all kinds of coffee drinks at lower prices than Starbucks. We departed the exit and traveled caravan style past the village of Pecos to the end of the paved road to gravel washboard, to the dirt road, over a stretch of rocky road, to the recently graded ranch road.

After rendezvousing at the Ranch, Lanier Hartnagel, the owner of the Ranch explained to the group the rules of fishing on the Ranch including how to release a fish that has been caught. She also explained to the group that this was a special deal we had been given since she only allows people to fish on the Ranch with a guide. Waters on the Ranch had been divided into twelve beats, these were assigned to the group with two anglers assigned to each beat during the morning. In the afternoon, the anglers were told to fish wherever the wanted with the understanding that should not infringe upon water being fished by another angler.

Just about everyone caught fish with some catching more that others. Some probably caught the largest rainbow trout of the their life. Many fat 20 inch plus trout were landed and one angler, who fished the stream reach above the developed water, caught four species of trout.

An afternoon rain put a damper on some of the fishing, but once it stopped the fishing activity was back to normal. It did however, make for some muddy roads on the way home.

In talking with many of the group members, all were positive about the event and would like to see having the Club do it again. At our most recent Board of Directors meeting we discussed the event and how it should perhaps be changed in the future if we have it at Cow Creek Ranch. Should we do a lottery with the stipulation that the winners pay part of the cost? Should we scale back the number of participants? We would like your input and ideas on the issue. So your thoughts, PLEASE.

For me, it was an enjoyable outing, but was at times like herding cats. I hope all of you who participated had a great time.

Jerry Burton, President NMT 

 

Valles Caldera Fishing for 2016 Season

valles-caldera-may2016

Photo by Roger Blake

The East Fork of the Jemez, Jaramillo Creek, the Rio San Antonio, and the Rito do los Indios are open to fishing year round, as long as they are not frozen.  Vehicle access requires a Backcountry Vehicle Permit, and 35 permits will be issued daily on a first-come basis at the Valles Caldera visitor center until 30 September.  The free permits are for general access to the backcountry and there is no special quota for anglers. There is no additional cost for the Vehicle Access Permit beyond the general entry fee for the Preserve. A valid New Mexico fishing license is required and all waters fall under the NMDG&F Special Trout Water regulations. Additional details are at: http://www.nps.gov/vall/planyourvisit/fishing.htm

Note that anglers should be prepared for bear encounters, since the recent black bear attack on a women marathoner. The National Park Service recommends that “if a bear approaches you, stand up tall and make loud noises- shout, clap hands, clang pots and pans. When done immediately, these actions have been successful in scaring bears away. However, if attacked, fight back! Never try and retrieve anything once a bear has it. Report all incidents to a park ranger.” Additional safety recommendations for the Valles Caldera are at https://www.nps.gov/vall/planyourvisit/safety.htm

 

Quagga and Zebra Mussels Close in on New Mexico

From the January 2016 newsletter

New Mexico is on the verge of an invasion of nonnative plant and animal species that threaten the health and quality of our waters. Although New Mexico is only one of 6 states in the Continental US with no evidence of infestation, Zebra and Quagga Mussels have been found in lakes and streams of all our neighboring states, most recently the Quagga mussel has been found in the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam at Lee’s Ferry. We all will need to play our part in helping to avoid their spread.  If you visit any of these infested waters, below are suggestions for decontaminating waders, boots and other paraphernalia that may carry spores, parasites or other hidden species which may escape into or from the local watershed are below:

Because aquatic nuisance species are generally microscopic in nature, it very difficult to ‘see’ whether you have properly cleaned your equipment (vectors) including fishing gear, boots, wader, float tubes, vest, sandals, socks, line, reel, boat, canoe, and even vehicles…. The EPA, and other environmental agencies which have had a bigger role in establishing the decontamination procedures for several states and federal agencies ARE RECOMMENDING THE USE OF BLEACH to decontaminate as well as Cleaning and Drying. Use a solution of Common household bleach (Clorox), and fresh water in a container of adequate size for this procedure. A 2% solution is adequate to disinfect gear of all pathogens of hard and soft sided objects. 13 oz of Bleach to 5 gallons of water or 2.5 oz to one gallon will make you a 2% solution. … Hard items must soak for at least one minute, no less. Five is best. Soft items such as felt soles, clothing, sandals, or anything else that takes time to dry out should be left for thorough saturation. 15-30 minutes will suffice. … Once items have been saturated and allowed to sit in the solution for the correct amount of time, it is time to rinse off. Take another bucket with fresh water and rinse the items until no smell of chlorine is present on the item when you use Bleach. Now allow the gear to completely dry.

For more information:
http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/
http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/fishing/fishing-regulations/aquatic-invasive-species/

El Niño Visits New Mexico

From the January 2016 newsletter

el-nino.pngA warming trend in the Pacific has spawned a wet season for the Southwest, including New Mexico. Every one of the state’s river basins have an above-average snowpack, according to the initial water supply forecast by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Last year, the snowpack was well below 100 percent in most of New Mexico’s mountain ranges. December’s snowfall pushed precipitation totals for the month to 137 percent of the 30-year average. December marked the first time that New Mexico was reported as drought-free on the drought monitor map compiled by agencies that keep track of river flows, soil moisture and other data.

The snowpack in the Rio Grande Basin, which includes the western slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the eastern side of the Jemez Mountains, reached 134 percent of average. Last year, the snowpack at this time was 76 percent of average.

The Pecos River Basin snowpack, at 159 percent of average, is more than twice what it was last year at this time. The Rio Hondo basin was at 181 percent compared to 72 percent last year.