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Archive for June 30th, 2016


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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