Flyfishing: New Mexico’s Biggest Trout Stream

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As quickly because the Adams fly settles on the water, it disappears beneath the floor. The eat, refined and fast, catches me off guard. I elevate my rod, and the road goes tight. The trout tears towards the far financial institution, after which carves downstream, shimmering above the graceful stones of the stream mattress. I’m after an enormous high-desert rainbow, and this fish is hugging the underside as if it has some heft. However as I play it to the web I can see that it’s no trophy.

Earlier than I can launch the fish, my spouse, Caroline, hooks a fighter 30 yards downstream and back-steps from the financial institution, easing it in. The commotion has little impact on the remainder of the fish; one rise ring after the following spreads throughout the river, as daylight pours into the canyon. At locations alongside this stretch of the Rio Brazos, in far northern New Mexico, the river is not more than 4 or 5 ft throughout, and this pool isn’t a lot wider. However I’ve by no means seen so many trout rising in such a small piece of water.

Neither Caroline nor I’ve visited New Mexico earlier than, a lot much less fished its mountain streams. With little thought of what to anticipate, we arrived in Albuquerque the morning earlier than, blinking within the scorching June solar, and drove north into the mountains, watching the purple desert give solution to aspen and spruce. We’d deliberate the journey to have fun having made it by our first 12 months of marriage, which hadn’t precisely gone easily.

The lodge caretaker had insisted that he meet us at a pull-off an hour from the property, so we may comply with him the remainder of the way in which. I balked at first, positive that we may handle, however as we trailed him for 30 miles down a mud highway, into the 1½-million-acre Carson Nationwide Forest, I noticed that he was proper—all this land would have swallowed us. By nightfall we’d arrived on the Brazos River Lodge, an idyllic previous ranch turned looking and fishing camp, settled earlier than the institution of the nationwide forest that surrounds it. Caroline and I had resolved our variations, largely, however my hope was that a couple of days on this wilderness would solidify that we have been on the identical staff once more.


Land a Blow

After plucking a dozen trout from the outlet, Caroline and I comply with the river by broad grassy meadows, bordered by cliffs and steep slopes of the canyon. This a part of the West is completely overseas to me, with its sheer rock faces and arid, rolling plains. Although the Brazos and its sister streams alongside the Colorado border—the Rio Chama, the Rio Grande, the Vallecitos River—don’t command the identical recognition as many Western hotspots, it doesn’t take lengthy to appreciate that, on this usually missed a part of the area, the fishing isn’t any much less spectacular. What the fish lack in heft they make up for with spunk and wealthy coloring; I used to be assured, although, that these waters maintain their share of overfed rainbows, too.

We quickly come to a different pool, and, as we method, I can see a trout holding alongside the close to financial institution. We’ve solely two days to fish the Brazos, and I don’t wish to waste a single solid. I shoot my fly into the present and watch it glide downstream. Because the fish takes, I jerk up the fly, making an attempt to set the hook. However I’m too keen. My line flails by the air. I assume that I’ve spooked the trout, but it surely rises once more a second later. I get management of my line, make a pair false casts, and launch the Adams fly once more. It touches down; the trout breaks above the water. I snatch the fly again—and my rod bows. The fish sputters into the air, and I hustle to reel it in, fearing it’d throw the barbless hook. It battles all the way in which to the web, preventing more durable than its 16 inches warrant.

In the meantime, Caroline wanders downriver, and, after a couple of minutes of casting, hooks into, what I can inform from the bend in her rod, is a strong trout. I stroll down and watch as she lands and unhooks it. “You’re catching extra fish,” she says, letting the rainbow slide from her arms. “However I’m catching all the massive guys.”

She’s making an attempt to fluster me, and succeeds. It doesn’t assist that—although I’ve extra information of and expertise flyfishing—she’s a naturally higher angler than I’m. She simply has a contact. “You may simply be a nasty fisherman,” she as soon as informed me, solely half kidding. “That doesn’t make you much less of a fisherman. Only a dangerous one.”

I don’t have lengthy to attempt to present her up, although, for rain clouds which have lingered within the distance all morning all of the sudden transfer over the canyon, sending us scrambling for the truck. The downpour doesn’t let up till nearly nightfall. We spend the final hour of daylight pulling little brookies from a pond close to the cabin, which solely makes me wish to get again on the river that rather more.


Ace within the Gap

The following morning we begin on the identical pool as we did the day earlier than. Because the temperature rises, we catch one trout after the following on dry flies. Throughout the canyon, perhaps 1,200 yards away, an elk herd grazes among the many cliffs. A pronghorn lingers on a bluff close by. I quickly notice that if there’s a really massive trout on this spot, one in every of us would have caught it by now, so we resolve to work downriver to cowl as a lot unfished water as we are able to.

Over the following couple hours, rain clouds accumulate within the distance, obscuring the solar. The trout cease rising, so we swap to nymphs. I’m nervous a few repeat of the earlier afternoon, about being pushed off the water. We don’t spend lengthy at a pool if bites don’t come fast, and I quickly abandon hope of catching a heavyweight rainbow. With a wall of clouds transferring in, I wish to catch as many fish as I can earlier than the rain floods the river and ends our time on the Brazos.

One other hour passes, and now, a mile from the truck, we all know we’ve got to get again or we’ll get caught out within the storm. We zip in our strains, and we make it inside 100 yards of the truck when it begins to downpour. We dry off contained in the truck and eat the sandwiches we’ve saved, watching the rain drum in opposition to the windshield. The day is over. We’ve caught dozens of fish, little question, however I can’t assist however really feel irked that the journey has ended this manner. What a lame purpose to chop quick a visit—rain. With no finish to the storm in sight, Caroline and I think about heading again to camp, however, in the long run, we resolve to attend it out. We’ve come 1000’s of miles to fish the Brazos, and, frankly, we’ve got nothing higher to do than to look at the sky and hope it clears.

Regardless of the storm, that is probably the most enjoyable we’ve had collectively as newlyweds. Our first 12 months of marriage was robust. I’d urged us to maneuver 1,000 miles from house only a month after our wedding ceremony. We have been alone in a brand new metropolis, a vacuum to search out fault with one another. However right here, on the Brazos, there’s little to do however fish and to speak about fishing. And that we are able to deal with.

With lower than an hour left of daylight, as we’re about to go again to camp, the rain all of the sudden lets up. We race again to the river, splashing by the flooded meadows. We cease at a protracted, slim pool within the shadow of an enormous rock formation that we skipped earlier within the day; it’s the one gap we’ll have time to fish earlier than sunset.

We tie on nymphs and drift them alongside the far financial institution. Inside 10 minutes I catch three rainbows on the rear of the pool. As I launch the final of them, Caroline, who’s had no luck, edges me out of the way in which—stealing the spot. She drifts her rig by the run. Nothing. However on her second strive, her strike indicator all of the sudden sinks. Panic fills her face. This can be a severe fish, and she or he is aware of it. The trout expenses to the highest of the pool, and Caroline struggles to chase after it, so as to preserve it from breaking off. The fish darts between the close to and much banks, almost hanging the road within the grass. I keep a step behind, making an attempt to encourage her however largely simply getting in the way in which.

After a pair minutes, the trout slows and appears as if it’d surrender. However when Caroline will get it shut, it tears away, unzipping a lot of the road she managed to work in. She chases after it once more, and one other two minutes go earlier than the trout surrenders for good. As Caroline coaxes it towards the web, I get my first good look. The fish is a soccer rising from the water. At 6¼ kilos, it’s a trophy anyplace, however particularly for this mountain stream. Beaming, Caroline holds it up for a photograph, and I swear I’ve by no means seen a fatter trout.

She releases the fish, and it disappears into the present. We strive the pool for one more 20 minutes, and I handle to land a 5-pounder, an enormous fish, however nothing to rival Caroline’s hawg. When it turns into too darkish to see, we stroll again to the truck, flipping by photographs of the fish on my cellphone. I’m nonetheless reeling from her having stolen the monster. I wish to be upset, I actually do. I wish to maintain it over her head and make her really feel dangerous about it. However she hasn’t stopped smiling since she landed the fish, and we’ve got a truce now.

We method the truck. These couple days within the backcountry have gotten us again in rhythm, however I do know that they haven’t modified who we’re. Tomorrow morning we’ll go away as principally the identical individuals. We’ll battle once more, like several couple—it’s inevitable. We’ll bicker about household and cash and work. She’ll get homesick, and I’ll not at all times be there for her. However, in time, we’ll get higher at being collectively. And one factor is for positive: Tonight we won’t battle about this fish. Tonight we are going to have fun.

To e book a fishing journey, contact Brazos River Lodge at (602) 329-2443.


RELATED: Six Prime Excessive-Desert Trout Streams

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