Fly Fishing the Rio Grande River in New Mexico: A Comprehensive Guide

I. Introduction

The Rio Grande River, one of the most iconic waterways in the American Southwest, runs through the heart of New Mexico, offering fantastic fly fishing opportunities for anglers in search of Brown and Rainbow Trout. With its stunning canyons, diverse fishing spots, and unique Southwestern charm, the Rio Grande River is a must-visit destination for fly fishing enthusiasts. In this guide, we will explore the best fishing spots on the Rio Grande River, local conditions, and additional attractions in the area.

Check out our in-depth review of fly fishing in New Mexico.

II. Rio Grande River Fishing Spots

A. Wild Rivers Recreation Area

Located north of Taos, the Wild Rivers Recreation Area provides a remote and scenic fly fishing experience.

  1. La Junta Point: This confluence of the Rio Grande and Red Rivers offers excellent trout fishing opportunities, with deep pools and swift currents.
  2. Big Arsenic Springs: A popular hiking destination with several fishing spots along the riverbanks.

B. Orilla Verde Recreation Area

This recreation area near Pilar, New Mexico, offers easy access to several productive fishing spots.

  1. Rio Grande Gorge: An impressive canyon with deep pools, pocket water, and riffles that hold good-sized trout.
  2. Taos Junction Bridge: A popular access point with ample parking, restrooms, and a variety of fishing opportunities.

C. Lower Rio Grande

The lower stretches of the Rio Grande River offer several public access points for anglers.

  1. Albuquerque Area: The Rio Grande flows through Albuquerque, providing urban fly fishing opportunities for Brown and Rainbow Trout.
  2. Elephant Butte Reservoir: A popular destination for boating and fishing, offering the chance to catch a variety of fish species, including Striped Bass and Catfish.

III. Local Conditions and Tips

A. Best Times to Fish

  • Spring (April-May) and fall (September-November) offer the most consistent fishing conditions, with cooler water temperatures and active trout.
  • Summer (June-August) can be productive, especially during the early mornings and late afternoons. However, water levels may be lower, and water temperatures can be high during the peak of summer.

B. Recommended Flies

  • Dry Flies: Parachute Adams, Elk Hair Caddis, Hopper patterns
  • Nymphs: Beadhead Pheasant Tail, Copper John, Zebra Midge
  • Streamers: Woolly Bugger, Conehead Muddler Minnow, Sculpin patterns

IV. Local Eateries and Breweries

A. Taos Mesa Brewing

  • A lively brewery with a wide selection of craft beers, live music, and a food menu featuring Southwestern-inspired dishes.

B. Gutiz

  • A cozy restaurant in Taos, offering a unique blend of Latin and French cuisine, using locally-sourced ingredients.

C. Chokolá Bean to Bar

  • A chocolate boutique and café in Taos, with an array of artisanal chocolate treats, pastries, and drinks.

V. Accommodations and Lodging

A. Taos Valley Lodge: A Cozy Retreat in the Heart of Taos

  • A comfortable lodge in Taos with well-appointed rooms and easy access to the Rio Grande River and local attractions.
  • Taos Valley Lodge is a charming and comfortable accommodation option nestled in the picturesque town of Taos, New Mexico. With its well-appointed rooms, convenient location, and warm hospitality, this lodge serves as the perfect home base for travelers looking to explore the natural beauty and cultural attractions of Taos and the surrounding region.
  • Upon arrival, guests are greeted by a welcoming atmosphere and friendly staff, eager to ensure a pleasant stay. The rooms at Taos Valley Lodge are tastefully decorated, featuring a blend of Southwestern charm and modern amenities, including complimentary Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and coffee makers. Rooms are spacious and well-maintained, providing a cozy and restful retreat after a day of exploration and adventure.
  • The lodge offers a variety of room options to suit different needs, from standard rooms with comfortable queen or king-sized beds to deluxe suites with additional features such as kitchenettes and private balconies. Guests can also enjoy the outdoor seasonal pool and hot tub, ideal for relaxing and unwinding under the New Mexican sky.
  • One of the standout features of Taos Valley Lodge is its convenient location. Situated just minutes away from the historic Taos Plaza, guests have easy access to a variety of local attractions, including the Taos Art Museum, Taos Pueblo, and the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. The lodge is also a short drive from popular outdoor destinations, such as the Taos Ski Valley and the Carson National Forest, making it an ideal choice for adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike.
  • Taos Valley Lodge offers guests a comfortable and inviting accommodation option in the heart of Taos, New Mexico. With its well-appointed rooms, friendly service, and convenient location, this lodge is an excellent choice for travelers seeking to experience the unique charm and beauty of Taos and its surroundings.

B. Wild Rivers Recreation Area Campgrounds

  • Multiple campgrounds within the recreation area, offering tent and RV camping options with beautiful views of the Rio Grande River.

VI. Local Attractions

A. Taos Pueblo

  • A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Taos Pueblo is an ancient Native American community that has been continuously inhabited for over 1,000 years. Guided tours are available, allowing visitors to learn about the history and culture of the Taos people.

B. Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

  • An engineering marvel, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge offers breathtaking views of the Rio Grande River and surrounding landscapes. There are parking areas and observation platforms for visitors to take in the stunning scenery.

C. Taos Art Museum: A Treasure Trove of Southwestern Art

  • Showcasing the work of artists from the Taos Society of Artists and other regional creatives, the Taos Art Museum offers a glimpse into the rich artistic heritage of the area.
  • The Taos Art Museum is a captivating cultural institution located in the heart of Taos, New Mexico, showcasing a diverse collection of art from the celebrated Taos Society of Artists and other regional creatives. With its focus on the rich artistic heritage of the area, the museum offers visitors an engaging and educational experience that highlights the unique blend of cultural influences that have shaped Taos and the surrounding region.
  • Housed in the historic Fechin House, the Taos Art Museum boasts a charming and intimate atmosphere that invites guests to explore its numerous galleries at their leisure. The beautifully preserved adobe building itself is a work of art, featuring intricate wood carvings, hand-painted ceilings, and traditional New Mexican architecture.
  • The museum’s collection spans a range of styles and mediums, from traditional landscape paintings to more modern, abstract works. Visitors can expect to see pieces by renowned artists such as Ernest Blumenschein, Joseph Henry Sharp, and E. Martin Hennings, among others. Each piece offers a unique insight into the lives and perspectives of the artists who called Taos home, as well as the natural beauty of the region that inspired their work.
  • In addition to its permanent collection, the Taos Art Museum also hosts rotating exhibitions and special events, ensuring that there is always something new to discover. The museum’s staff is friendly and knowledgeable, eager to provide information and answer questions about the artwork on display.
  • The Taos Art Museum is a must-visit attraction for art enthusiasts and anyone interested in the rich cultural history of Taos and the American Southwest. With its diverse collection, historic setting, and welcoming atmosphere, this museum offers a rewarding and enlightening experience for visitors of all ages.
  • Address: 227 A Paseo Del Pueblo NorteTaos, New Mexico 87571
  •  http://www.taosartmuseum.org
  •  575-758-2690
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VII. Conclusion

The Rio Grande River in New Mexico is a captivating destination for fly fishing enthusiasts, providing a range of fishing spots and opportunities to catch Brown and Rainbow Trout. With its stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage, the area surrounding the Rio Grande River also offers a variety of attractions, eateries, and accommodations, making it a well-rounded and memorable experience for visitors.

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