by Mike and Tina Stallard
We were delighted and surprised to win the NMT Raffle for a two night stay at the MW Bar Ranch in Northern New Mexico, on the Rio Costilla and the gateway to the Valle Vidal. We had never visited this part of New Mexico, and we were eagerly anticipating our visit which we arranged for mid-October. The weather turned crisp and a light snow fell early that month, but for our getaway weekend the weather was forecast to be sunny and cool, with light winds, and a full moon.
About an hour north of Taos, just south of the Colorado border, we turned east on NM 196 and winded our way through this charming valley to arrive before sunset at the MW Bar Ranch. What a beautiful sight to see this gorgeous two story log cabin with its stately green tin roof, nestled in the cottonwoods, framed by pink hills overlooking the Rio Costilla.
We were warmly greeted by our gracious hosts Mary Ann Walz and Lawrence Montoya, and enjoyed learning about the history of their bed and breakfast, the local area, and recreation opportunities. Mary Ann and Lawrence have been in business for nine years, and have enjoyed the quiet life in the countryside and entertaining a variety of guests, including fisherpersons, hunters, artists, hikers and seekers of solitude. The ranch is located in the Rio Costilla valley, and is home of a variety of wildlife including deer, elk, bear, turkey, ruffed grouse and golden eagles.
The ranch has two rooms in the main lodge and a separate cabin which we had reserved. The cozy cabin has a comfortable queen bed, a well appointed kitchen with all the utensils and cooking supplies we needed, a private bathroom, and a wood burning stove which kept the room warm and comortable. We enjoyed sumptuous breakfasts with our hosts and listened eagerly to their tips about fishing in the area, including the private stretch of the Rio Costilla in their backyard.
This small river flows from the Costilla reservoir on the Vermejo Park Ranch, south through the meadows of the Valle Vidal and then heads west though a small canyon to the private lands of the Rio Costilla Cooperative Livestock Association (RCCLA) and the farmlands further west. Flows from the reservoir are regulated and slow to a trickle in October, and resume in spring. The Valle Vidal section is only open to fishing from Jul-Dec, to relieve pressure on and allow spawning of the native Rio Grande cutthroat. The section of the river through the RCCLA is open year round, thanks to an agreement with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. Comanche Creek is a small tributary of the Rio Costilla, and offers exciting fishing in this small stream with undercut banks and small pools. The work of NMT is evident in the many elk exclosures on various sections of this stream.
We had a delightful time exploring the area which included ample opportunities to fish for the Rio Grande Cutthroat trout. Even though the flows were low, and sections of the river were iced over, we were successful in luring a few of the colorful cutthroats with small beadhead nymphs.
This bed and breakfast is highly recommended for a relaxing respite in the country, either for fishing, hiking, wildlife watching, or simply a quiet getaway. We are grateful for the support of Mary Ann and Lawrence to NMT, and we encourage you to visit them at your next opportunity. More information is available at http://mwbarranch.com/.
In late September, we visited the San Juan for our annual float trip. We were delighted by the cool weather and the clear water. Recent rains have washed out the muck and slime from the flats, and fish were easily visible to up to four foot depths. The trees were just beginning to turn and the evenings were crisp, but there were bugs aplenty.
The river improvements made have cleared up the Chutes section and Last Chance Riffle. These were completed two years ago, and include rock structures and large boulders to keep the river water churning which helps scour the streambed and keep silt and sediment suspended to be carried further downstream. This section had excellent rocky streambeds, which held some impressive trout, including a 21 inch brown male in spawning colors caught on a size 22 black midge pattern.
We also inspected the recently restored wetlands at the Munoz Day Use Area. According the the Department of Game and Fish about 50,000 willows, rushes and sedges were planted to provide habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife.
The parking lot at the day use area was open and provided access to the Lower Flats and Baetis Bend, and the trails along the stream were also still open, allowing access to upstream and downstream sections of the river.
Biologists with the Department of Game and Fish say closing the wetlands will allow the newly planted vegetation to become strongly established.
By Larry Trussell
I just returned from one of the most enjoyable fishing trips that I have experienced. At the NMT Conclave in March, I put all of my raffle tickets into the guided trip offerings, and was fortunate enough to win an all day, guided trip for two on the San Juan provided by Rainbow Lodge & Resolution Guide Service.
I talked my brother into going with me and when we started making arrangements, our first inclination was to drive to Aztec, NM and spend the night at a motel. Then, in the morning, drive to the river and meet with our guide. After discussing these arrangements with my brother, we decided to stay on the river at the Rainbow Lodge. I can’t tell you how happy I am that we made the decision to stay at Rainbow Lodge instead of spending the night in Aztec.
When we arrived at the lodge, Steve provided us with a tour of the lodge and our suite, introduced us to the chef, and discussed the dinner menu. That’s what I call hospitality. The accommodations and service were first class, and they certainly went above and beyond to make sure that we enjoyed our stay.
We enjoyed having separate bedrooms; it helped each of us to get a full night’s uninterrupted sleep. Also, I can’t say enough about the meals that we enjoyed. The steaks were cooked to perfection and the service was impeccable.
My brother usually fishes only when the trip involves business development. But we went there to fish period. However, even he enjoyed the fishing and hospitality so much that he wants to return and enjoy it again. Our guide, Mark, did such a good job of putting us on fish with the right setup that by the end of the day we were physically worn out from catching so many large, healthy fish.
I want to thank Rainbow Lodge and Resolution Guide Service for offering the trip at the Conclave. I was really fortunate to win it and I and would recommend them to anyone wanting to fish the San Juan.
[Rainbow Lodge and Resolution Guide Service]
From September 2013 newsletter
An email is all it took. I needed a reason to go fishing.
I had been busy at work, and I had even worked 2 of the previous 3 Saturdays. So Pat’s email about the Salmon Flies on the Guadalupe was all it took.
So I loaded up the car with my gear and headed to work (some habits are hard to completely break I guess). I planned to head for the Guadalupe for the afternoon. It was midweek (Thursday) just before a holiday (Labor Day), so I figured it would not be crowded. Although there were several others fishing, no one was close to the stretches further from the road that I prefer. The river was bustling with activity… bug activity. There were caddis, mayflies, some midges, and those delightfully clumsy Salmon Flies. They were large enough to make you duck when they “flew” overhead. Both sets of wings were easily seen when they were airborne. And the fish knew they were there. For 2 hours the fish were fed eagerly. A size 10, then 8 and the 6 orange bodied, hair and hackled anything was all it took. Some rainbows, and lots of browns were caught and released. And when the frenzy quieted down, an orange and partridge wet fly brought lots of juveniles up, and a black murderer fooled several other mature fish. Then, a large hard bodied ant fooled a large (17″) brown from under a log. It was a memorable day. And an email was all it took.
by Pat Mileshosky
Sure, why not, I’m retired with time on my hands and a few bucks in my pocket. I’ve been there before, several times in fact. Okay, I’ll do it. I’ll take Mike Maurer up on his invitation to return to the Green River. The Green is a tail water fishery below Flaming Gorge Dam in the far northeast corner of Utah.
Walt Ratcliff picked me up early Saturday morning and we were off… next stop Vernal, Utah where we would meet several of the other fellows making the trek. A few, like Mike Maurer, Walt Ratcliff and Brad Musick had been making the spring trip for better than 25 years. I made the trip two or three times many years ago before life got in the way.
We arrived in Dutch John the next morning and stashed our gear in the same room I had stayed in way back when. The same room that 25 years earlier Dick Blumershine, Steve Weiss, Mike Maurer and I were woken up at 1:00 am by a noisy family who had arrived in the room next door. Their kids ran around carrying on for about an hour before finally turning in. Finally, quiet… until 5:30 am when all hell broke loose again. When I made it into the kitchen I watched Dick open and SLAM every kitchen cabinet on the adjoining wall for the better part of ten minutes. When he finally finished he turned to me and simply said “payback”. That evening the folks next to us were quiet as church mice.
Walt and I got on the river in the early afternoon only to be told that the Blue Wing Olive hatch had just petered out. Funny how that seems to happen. I still spent a couple of hours trying to coax a trout up with my dry fly. No joy.
The evenings are always stoked with an abundance of alcohol, good food, alcohol, banter and more alcohol. This week would be no different.
The next day the cold weather blew in. Wind, rain, snow and freezing daytime temps put a damper on our return to the river so we went in search of the several lakes around Dutch John. Noel Savignac, Dave McCurdy and I decided to take a look at the Matt Warner Reservoir where Mike Maurer, Ron Kubika and a few others had a tremendous time the day before. We fished the smaller of the two boat ramps where we discovered that the trout were beginning their spawning ritual. This seemed to hold true only at the ramp and the general consensus was that this was the location where the fish had been planted years earlier thus their return to this location. The cold wind also roiled the bottom kicking the bugs loose from the vegetation and helping us take up to thirty fish each on tiny nymphs. The amount of fish helped make up for the cold wind that blew all day.
The following day several of our group went farther afield and found Crouse Reservoir which provided huge fat fish in fair numbers on tiny nymphs. We arrived later in the afternoon just as the fishing was tapering off. Next year I’ll make a point of fishing Crouse for a full day and hope that the fishing is as great as it was that day.
The last day of our trip proved to be a warm windless day that the bugs found to their liking which was to the liking of the fish. Noel, Dave and I wandered upriver to Coney Island to await the hatch which got under way in the early afternoon. Oh what a sight, big heads lazily sipping mayflies to their hearts content. This was one of those times that it took willpower to let the fish take your fly and turn down before setting the hook. The take was so slow it was easy to pull the fly away from the trout if you got too excited. We all caught several large Rainbows and Browns before the flies stopped their trip to the surface. What a way to end my return to the Green after a twenty five year hiatus. I sure won’t let so many years pass before I return.