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Category Archive:   Trout


IMG_1201photo by David Feldkamp

I know this might sound absurd, but at one time fly fishing seemed to me to be one of the most rebellious activities one could participate in. Heading off alone with a “stick and string” to wander aquatic avenues felt like the ultimate way to raise the middle finger to this cultures growing desire to experience everything together, all the time.

In addition, fly-fishing had much of the attraction that drew me intensely to surfing and skateboarding years before, the chance for an individual to learn and refine a skill to a point that one’s personality bleeds into the technique and suddenly an individual style blossoms and grows. There’s probably an art in everything, but for me it’s most obvious at those moments when i find the perfect trim on a wave, grind the edge of a ditch, or unroll  30 yards of line right onto the nose of an startled gar.

For years my  younger brother David (below) and i were the only two in our family that shared this fly fishing passion despite the fact that our fisheries are wildly different, his being explosive, torpedo like steelhead in Oregon and mine being the mixed bag of warm water species found in central Texas. Despite these incongruities, upon seeing each other we quickly wade through the pleasantries before rapidly having our conversations to the common bond, the love of water, and the love of fish.

IMG_1189photo by Alex Freddi

Fast forward a few years (2009) and suddenly our dad, who was starting to wind down a long and honored career in the Air Force and post-military work, was throwing around terms like “mend”, “riffle” and “LDR”, a shock to the system and a pleasant surprise. Not long after catching the bug he began taking guided trips that David and i were lucky enough to be invited to on occasion. One of these much appreciated adventures happened to be a steelhead trip a few years ago where everybody on the trip landed a steelhead except for our dad which was especially unfortunate since nobody wants to see the person who picks up the tab get skunked. Fortunately that was corrected a few weeks ago when David, his friend Alex and our dad hit the Deschutes and more or less put our dad on to steelhead immediately, a rare and fortunate closure for all of us.

Along the way our youngest brother Andrew took up the sport, although i have a feeling there’s a little pressure to do so when all the other males in the family plan time spent together around fishing seasons more than holidays. He’s an incredibly smart and intelligent person which is likely why he has the sense to take a job and a career more seriously than i can possibly muster. Likely this means he’ll be rewarded for his drive by retiring early and fishing the world while i’m still working and fishing local creeks. If so he deserves it.

IMG_1191photo by David Feldkamp

I never could have imagined a decade ago that anyone else in the family other than David and i would be as passionate and over the top about something that in some ways is so incredibly rewarding, but in others so poignantly pointless. It seemed to good to be true, and surely (or so i thought) there was no way the universe could top itself.

Then my mom took up fly-fishing.

Since taking up fly-fishing she’s managed to land more fish (including this beautiful Greenback Cutthroat below) than i did in my first few years combined. Her and my father have spent the year hitting up some of their local watering holes in Colorado and she’s probably quickly outpaced not only her husband, but all her children in figuring out the technique while also finding her own style. I guess it makes sense, if you can figure out how to raise three usually decent, thoughtful and responsible (if sometimes distracted) human beings, you can probably figure out what it takes to get a fish to bite.

Strange.

It started as an act of rebellion, an attempt to keep everyone at arm’s length, and a way to escape from everyone including myself. Ultimately however, fly-fishing has caused me to do a complete 180˚ bringing me closer to myself and loved ones than i ever would have thought possible.

Thank you fly-fishing.

IMG_1195photo by Alan Feldkamp

 

I was trying to figure out how to introduce the passion behind this video from four young lads in Austria, and then i realized they already explained it quite well on their Vimeo page. Read, watch, enjoy!

Hello there!

Thank you for stopping by our profile.
We are four young men who enriches our everyday high-school life by fly fishing, exploring the nature with soft tunes and just relaxing and enjoying the vast wilderness that is just a few steps outside your door. We may not have the best gear or be the best fly fishermen but we have the ambition to make fishing videos for everybody. We have always wanted since this project started to encourage and inspire people to go fishing and discover the lifestyle around it. With our videos we want to show that money nor equipment should stop you from adventures.

Go check us out on

Facebook: facebook.com/fleyepro
Website: fleyepro.com

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Years ago, before Crested Butte became our de-facto vacation destination, Taos was the go to spot for my wife and i, mostly because it had culture for her and fish for me. At that time i was still new to fly fishing, and trout fishing in particular, yet i somehow managed to catch fish after fish on the Cimarron River, a spot that would permanently lodge itself in my mind as the archetypical small stream fly fishing stage.

While wandering and fishing those banks years ago and eaves dropping on fly shop conversations i repeatedly over heard words that rang of mystery, difficulty and legend.  The “Rio Costilla” alone was enough to pique my interest and cause my ears to stand on end, eager for more. By the time the poetic sounds “Valle Vidal” were whispered, barely audible, my eagerness for adventure reached a fever pitch that knew no bounds though i had no idea what the waters might actually be.

For a few years i was able to fish the Cimarron and make the occasional drive to fish the Costilla which was always met with difficult fish and spectacular scenery. However, for reasons that escape me now, we always seemed to wrap up our trips in the last days of June, days before the Valle Vidal was open for public access due to elk calving, and those waters were never plied by my curious nature. Instead, the words “Valle Vidal” echoed in the back of my mind for years, taking on an almost mythic status in my consciousness.

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So it was that during our recent trip to New Mexico i set aside the last full day for an exploration straight to the heart of the Valle Vidal to find out whether the actual spot, clearly a reality, could live up to the myth that had been built up in my mind.

Starting off on the relatively short 55 miles north from the Cimarron campgrounds i felt confident that fishing could be had well within the hour. Receiving cell phone coverage on the crest of a hill, just minutes east, i stared in confusion at my iPhone, apparently it thought it would take four hours to navigate the 55 miles? Hmm.

“The roads are so rural that it’s surely mis-calculating this trip.” i thought as i headed naively into the great unknown. Minutes later i pulled onto the one lane washed out dirt road that headed into the foothills and immediately stopped next to a public service sign, riddled with shotgun holes, and a fungus like rust that was slowly eating away at its stately stature. Still, with all the wear and tear it had, the stately sans-serif font of the sign cut to the chase in a confident manner that let you know it would employ the law if need be.

“Speed Limit 20 MPH.” Well shoot.

Fifty miles at 20 MPH is a long time, trust me.

I’m not going to admit to speeding, but i did manage to work my way into the scenic hills faster than the law indicated i should. Still, it was a long time.

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Pulling into the heart of the Valle Vidal i was surprised and elated to come upon an amazing pond called Shuree Pond nestled in between peaks from 10,000 to 12,000 feet high. The pond provided shore access all along its perimeter and had plenty of trout rising about 30′ out, all along the banks

After about a half hour, and five or so missed strikes (they were SO unbelievably fast), i finally set the hook on this healthy creature (above) that attacked and took the fly with a simple confidence that indicated it had never been fooled by something as simple as a hook shrouded in dark thread and microscopic feathers.

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An hour or so later, i pulled into a spot of the Costilla, deep in the heart of the Vidal. Rigging the rod and making my way to the river, it occurred to me that NOBODY was anywhere around. Cell phones were just dead weight and every bend in the river held numerous scenarios that could easily separate me from reality in myriad ways. It was a little unnerving for sure, but it also provided me with the overwhelming feeling that i wasn’t just in nature, i was temporarily absolutely and deeply a part of it.

The next few hours were a kaleidoscope of trepidation, clear water, imaginary bears, vibrant conifers and stained glass colored cutthroat. Worries and regrets melted away with every step along the bank, and every tug of the line. The ego slowly retreated to the back of the stage and i temporarily lost myself in the saturated greens and  blues that washed over me. It was bliss.

Sure it was a long road to get to that moment, both physically and metaphorically, but it was well worth the wait. Besides what’s four hours when you’ve waited all these years?

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For more information on fishing this unbelievable spot, please check out the following sites.

Southwest Fly Fishing Magazine – A great article on Comanche Creek in the Valle Vidal.

Taos.org – A wealth of information on the area from locals that know it well.

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Located in northern New Mexico, just a short drive east from the cultural hub of Taos, the Cimarron River is a small stream trout haven that will appeal to anyone that enjoys catching decent size trout on a 1-4WT rod in tight quarters. With eight miles of the river running through the public lands of Cimarron Canyon State Park providing 3,000 trout per mile the fishing ranges from easy, wide open spots with deeper pools, to the down right technical with brush everywhere, no room for a backcast, and clear and shallow water housing some incredibly skittish fish.

Because of the steep canyon walls, the river and the two lane road intertwine for the duration of the park, making it easy to hike and find new spots. Likewise, campgrounds are all easily accessible meaning that whether you’re introducing a spouse, child or friend to angling or camping this is the spot to initiate them, nobody will be disappointed, especially if they already like to fish.

CAMPING

If you are taking an RV or doing some sort of camping in the vehicle you arrive in, there are three options within the state park, Tolby, Mavericks, and Ponderosa.

  1. Tolby is the first campground below the Eagle Nest dam and by far the most popular, but in  my opinion the least desirable of the three RV parks. Sites are EXTREMELY close together with little or no tree coverage on most of the spots and chain link fences and maintenance sheds on the property quickly take away from the outdoor aesthetic.
  2. Ponderosa is the furthest campground downriver and seems to constantly be entirely made up of RV’s and for some reason, a generally older crowd. I’ve never stayed here, but quick observation showed most sites again providing little to no shade, a must at this altitude.
  3. Mavericks in my opinion, is the site to stay at if you either are using an RV or want to tent camp in a spot with a functioning bathroom and running water. The RV generators running here can be obnoxious if you happen to camp near one, but unless you are there on hectic weekends in the summer of a holiday, it’s pretty easy to find another spot. Almost all of the spots are shaded by conifers with a few of them tucked deliciously under giant trees.  There is instant access to the river as well as two ponds linked to the river that are well stocked with rainbows which all but guarantee that even a novice will catch a decent fish.

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If you happen to be part of the car camping set (like my family and i generally are) you will be richly rewarded by camping at the Blackjack tent area. In return to making the required 10-40 yard hike to a one of the 13 campsites, you’ll be rewarded with waterfront camping right next to the river and a hardy amount of shade thanks to giant pine trees. Unlike the other three campgrounds, reservations aren’t available for the Blackjack, but fortunately the fact that you must hike a few yards instead of just parking an RV means that there is almost always a spot available, especially if you show up mid-week. It also means less generators and screaming families and more peace and quiet along with an actual chance of seeing, or at least hearing, wildlife.

I can not stress enough how amazing this area is, you can wake up and walk ten feet in the morning light and be in cold water with trout taking your fly. The only “disadvantages” are that there is no running water and no restrooms with plumbing. Luckily this keeps many folks away and can easily be overcome by zipping down to Mavericks once a day for a special trip to the bathroom and filling up containers via their water spigot.

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AMMENITIES

  • Food and supplies: Golden Eagle RV Park in Eagle Nest (15 minutes away) has all the basics you might need (propane, bread, etc.) For a larger food and supply selection as well as amazing beer, wine and liquor options check out the Valley Market in Angel Fire (30 minutes).
  • Shower facilities: Short of driving almost an hour into Taos, the only option is Angel Nest RV in Eagle Nest. They don’t advertise showers, but if you pay the $5 in cash at the office you will be amazed at how good a hot shower feels after a week of not showering. Never underestimate the value of a warm shower.
  • Restaurants: In the immediate vicinity there are very few culinary options, and even fewer that are worth paying for. In Angel Fire i’d recommend Angel Fired Pizza for pizza and pasta (it’s one of two restaurants in two and the only one i’d recommend). If you’re in Eagle nest try Calamity Jane’s for basics like chicken fried steak, burgers, etc. If however you’re trying to have a nice meal out to celebrate, go to Taos. If your looking to celebrate a special day, or just want to treat your taste buds, there are countless options in Taos that are totally worth the drive

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FLY FISHING SHOPS

  • In Taos the go-to shop is the Taos Fly Shop operated by the Strait family, fly fishing legends in New Mexico and excellent people to boot. Find it annoying when fly shops in touristy towns act like pricks when asked about local fishing? Me too! That’s why this is still my favorite fly shop ever. Over many years and random visits they’ve always gregariously and enthusiastically shared local information as if i was the only person that asked about fishing for trout in the Taos area.
  • Closer to the Cimarron in Eagle Nest is Dos Amigos Anglers which has a much more stripped down selection, but still has the tools, help and information to get you on trout in the area.

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FOR THE NON ANGLER

  • Unlimited amounts of hiking trails abound this area, with Clear Creek being one of the highlights as it contains amazing scenery and waterfalls.
  • Red River, and Angel Fire have a few boutiques and art shops but the true jewel is Taos which has an astounding amount of art galleries, boutiques and restaurants that are all top-notch and can keep a non-angler busy for days (with the right amount of cash).
  • Santa Fe is just over two hours away and hosts some world-class restaurants as well as amazing amounts of museums and wineries on the way.

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