This year’s caddis hatch on the upper Rio Grande should be great for fishing if the warm days and low water flows continue.
“It’s looking good,” says Nick Streit of the Taos Fly shop.
Low snowpack levels in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado means less high and muddy runoff in the big river. And that makes for good fishing especially during the annual caddis hatch, when millions of the bugs emerge from the water to mate along the river.
Streit expects the hatch could start as early April 1 and suggests anglers be ready to go fishing when the time is right. Anglers should call or monitor their favorite fly shop’s fishing report to keep abreast of the latest news about the hatch. Once the hatch begins, anglers are urged to fish it early on or when it’s waning and move farther upstream as it commences.
The key is to avoid fishing it during its height because there are so many bugs on the water that an angler’s fly may be end up being ignored.
Late afternoons are the best time to fish on the Rio Grande, and a combination elk hair dry fly with an caddis emerger pattern suspended below it is a good set up to use. Skating and twitching the dry fly across the surface is a good method for attracting strikes from fish.
For more information about fishing the Rio Grande, check out the article “Lure of the Gorge” published in the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish magazine “New Mexico Wildlife” which can be seen online at wildlife.state.nm.us.
The big river’s best fishing can be had between the county line takeout off N.M. 68 above Embudo up through Pilar and above and below the John Dunn Bridge at Arroyo Hondo.
Ivan Valdez of the Reel Life Fly Shop in Santa Fe says anglers also can float the river to get at even more fish in hard to reach areas of the river. Reservations are being accepted at both the Reel Life and Taos Fly Shop for professionally guided, overnight trips on the river during the hatch.
Caddis occupies almost every healthy river or stream in the West and is a primary food source for trout and other fish. A fishable caddis hatch on the Rio Grande provides anglers with a great opportunity to catch fish from what is widely regarded as a typically stingy river.
Karl Moffatt is a longtime New Mexico journalist and avid outdoorsman who posts regularly on his blog at www.outdoorsnm.com.