RSS Feed

Search...

Archive for June 2016


IMG_1470

It was a mad dash, Neal Cassady style, attempting to make the 12 hour drive between Austin and Eagles Nest, NM. I’d driven this route enough times to know that the twelve hours it was alleged to take would doubtless turn into fourteen due to either major construction, dust storms, or flooding roadways, all things i’d encountered in the past. I managed to avoid all of those this time, but just as i was approaching the eleventh hour of the drive with the sun setting, the tire on the pop-up camper i was towing blew out, the rim hit the pavement and the entire shit show i was comandeering slammed to a halt on the shoulder of a virtually trafficless two lanes road with minutes of light left. Fifteen hours total.

It was a less than ideal way to begin a week and a half fishing adventure, but luckily that misfortune was so frustrating that every single moment that followed was solid gold.

IMG_1475

The next day i awoke from the camper to news that the Cimmaron, which had been flowing at .05 CFS for days had been cranked up to 8 CFS to (luckily) appease water right holders downstream. Having fished this river many times over the years i was familiar with it between 30-50 CFS, more or less ideal flows for the small banks, so to see it at 8 CFS was a little disheartening, to put it mildly.

Initially stepping into the river on the periphery of the camp ground i was shocked to notice that the water barely made it past my ankles…not a good sign. Of course i knew the flows would be low, but standing there in what could only generously be considered a trickle, i started to wonder whether or not i should cash my chips in and abandon this much beloved stream for bigger possibilities north.

IMG_1474

As i was deliberating the options, a salmon fly landed on my hand and scarcely moved while  i fumbled for the camera and snapped photo after photo of this tiny beast. Minutes later i cast a similar sized Amy’s Ant into the riffle and landed the first trout of the trip, a beautiful brown (below) that put nice bend in the 7’4″ 3WT as it pulled and tugged, its shoulders working across the current.

Surrendering the technicolor trout back to the low and slow waters, my hand lingered in the flows as i realized that i needed to stay here and fish here. All the things that made it difficult, low flows, crystal clear waters, overgrown canopies, and skittish fish, would make me a far better angler if i would just put my time in.

IMG_1472

Fortunately that’s exactly what happened, as over the next few days i learned to spot pockets i never would have seen if the waters were higher and the previously seeming limitations turned into beautiful red spotted reward after red spotted reward reward. The waters may not have been ideal to begin with, but as skills were added to the quiver the odds seemed to become more and more stacked in my favor.

The Cimarron has always been one of my favorite since the very first year i started fly fishing, and thus the desire to return again and again. It was heartbreaking at first to see it so low, but as mentioned above, if you look at anything from the right angle it just might provide the promise you were looking for, if not more.

IMG_1476

It’s not easy by any means, other than the low flows much of it’s super tight and technical, but as with any challenge, ANYTHING caught here will help build your knowledge and confidence.

So if you’re in the neighborhood or looking for a breathtaking challenge, be sure to check it out. Not only are the surrounding hills drop dead gorgeous, the waters and fishing are amazing despite the conditions. Just be sure to tag a few hours onto either end of the journey, like the flows and the fishing, the travel can be just as uncertain.

IMG_1471

Want to check it out yourself?

Websites:

Doc Thompson’s High Country Anglers – basic overview, flows, and fishing reports.

Taos Fly Shop – “The” fly shop located in nearby Taos.

New Mexico Game and Fish – Official NM page with stocking information and fishing reports.

Past die Fische post on this river with information here

Accommodations: 

For camping alone the Cimmaron River i highly recommend the    Maverick campground for those looking for RV or pull in campsites. One half of the campground is reservable (herewhile the other half is first come first serve. If you have a tent and prefer more privacy i HIGHLY recommend the Blackjack tent area up the road which is a walk-in campsite that is all on a first come basis and one of the nicest campsites i’ve ever stayed at.

For groceries, ice, and other essentials the Lowe’s grocery store in Angel Fire can’t be beat. In addition to a great wine and cheese selection they also offer liquor and many random camping essentials.

Local guides / knowledge:

I’ve been fishing this area for years and have always stopped in at the Taos Fly Shop due to their impeccable guiding service, amazing wealth of knowledge, and incredible selection of flies and more. These guys are the real deal, folks 110% into everything fly fishing.

Fishing License:

You can pick up a license at the above mentioned Taos Fly Shop but if you want to get to the Cimarron and fish immediately you can purchase a license online here.

IMG_1035

 

Leaving in three days for southern Colorado, solitude and trout. This excellent video just helped crank the anticipation up to eleven! Time to pack!

From the folks at Frenzy, check out their Vimeo page here.

IMG_1463

One of the most rewarding aspects of this blog is turning people onto possibilities they didn’t even know existed, i.e. “You can flyfish for fish other than trout?”

A close second is turning people on to outstanding resources that provide them with information, entertainment or fuel to keep the stoke alive. A spectacular podcast i recently stumbled onto “Fish on the Brain” via iTunes does all three of these things and does them well!

In a way what they offer feels like a podcast version of this blog, essentially a bunch of fly fishing addicted folks that seem up for anything at any time that love to share what they’ve discovered with you.

The best part? Every conversation feels like you’re hanging out with friends discussing fishing over beers instead of being sold product or being pandered to.

Check them out and see if you don’t agree!

Podcast: iTunes   Webpage:www.fishonthebrain.com

IMG_1458

Wow.  Apparently the collective prayers, wishes, and rain dances of millions of people over the last five years have all been answered at once.

If ever there was a state of extremes, Texas in the last five years or so is it. After years of dry and depressing drought we can’t seem to make it a few days without finding ourselves in the endless loop of “possible flash flood” alerts coming at us from every direction.

With all the local creeks and rivers flooding and fishing near impossible on any water, i decided to make the rounds and see what my favorite waters looked like under the most extreme conditions in recent memory.

The first stop was Pedernales State Park, by far my favorite water (next to Barton Creek) and a spot that i’ve seen in many incarnations over the years. However, as someone generally looking for the best “fishing option” i’ve never hit this watershed up during heavy flows, obviously opting for fishable waters rather than flooded ones. With nothing to lose however, i pulled into the parking lot, stepped out of my car and heard the raging hum that one might otherwise hear standing on the tarmac of a big city air port. The roar was mesmerizing, and i wasn’t even close.

Pedernales Falls DryPedernales flows 10-100 CFS in the past.

IMG_0979Pedernales flows at 20,000 CFS on 06/02/16.

Coming around the bend in the trail, to the lookout i was floored…absolutely floored and shocked to see the falls i’ve known over the years turned into something that quite honestly was beyond comprehension. The normal 10-100CFS i had staggered through probably 100 times before had been completely drowned out and replaced by 20,000 CFS of water elbowing its way downstream pummeling everything in its path.

 

Planting myself on one of the few exposed rocks i just sat there and tried to comprehend the sheer power unfolding before me while simultaneously wondering how long it might be before this torrent would be fishable again.

In hopes of fish i drove to Mansfield dam, a favorite haunt, but one that likewise was completely shut off due to flows in the 40,000+CFS range flowing off the bottom of the dam. Because of the amazing flows and the fenced off closures i could only snap the photo below (behind a fence a long way from the flows), the angle of which shrinks these amazing flows completely. With three flood gates open, and each the size of a small house you can only imagine the chaos that was being manifested below the dam.

IMG_1010

Eventually, full of desperation to simply wet a line i ended up driving around most of Lake Travis, finding park after park closed due to the fact that the lake was 5-6 feet above the norm with no sign of things changing any time soon. Eventually, after an hour of driving i managed to find one park (Sandy Creek Park) that was open but with a large part of it (including the boat ramps) off limits. It was here that casually stepping over a knee high guard rail to look for a casting spot (and expecting to find terra firma on the other side) i managed to surprisingly tumble into waters well over my head, ruining another iPhone. After trying to dry the phone i managed to regain my composure somewhat, decided that technology was fleeting and then went on to make my first cast of the day with my 5WT and felt it suddenly snap in half.

Awwww hell.

Don’t get me wrong, i truly appreciate the crazy flows, if nothing else it’s a nice change of pace. Still, i love fishing because it helps me find a calm center in myself that i normally struggle to locate. It’s a little hard to find that zen when fences, flooding waters and “CLOSED” signs keep you from the thing you love.

Fortunately there’s one other thing that fly fishing has taught me that if i can practice might actually see me through to calmer waters.

Patience.

Be careful out there y’all,

IMG_1018