Brown Trout
Brown Trout
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
Fly Fishing the Rio Chama River New
Mexico - El Vado Reservoir Tailwater
The Chama River (also called Rio Chama) is Wild and
Scenic River that flows through the Chama Wilderness
Canyon for about six miles in northern New Mexico. The
stream originates in Colorado in the San Juan Mountains.
It is a 130 mile tributary to the Rio Grande River. High
sandstone bluffs line the Chama Wilderness Canyon
providing a beautiful setting for the fishing. This section of
the stream is a tailwater that flows from El Vado Reservoir

This river holds the New Mexico record for brown trout.
Brown trout average from 12 to 18 inches in the Chama
River tailwater. Some exceed 20 pounds. The stream has
a good population of caddisflies, midges and mayflies.
Most of the trout are caught on nymphs and streamers
but the dry fly fishing can be good a certain times of the
year during hatches. Much of the time you are better off
with streamers. By the way, water color doesn't have to be
clear. Fish can be taken in water slightly off color and that
happens often. Anglers should pay special attention to
the dam discharges prior to fishing. They fluctuate wildly.

Mule deer, elk, coyote, black bear and other animals can
be seen while fishing the canyon. Access to the river is
provided via state highway #112 off of U. S. Highway #84.
This leads to Tierra Amarilla Ranch which has cabins and
a very small parking fee. It's best to hike downstream at
least a mile or two. There are other ways but they are
difficult and may require a 4 wheel drive vehicle. They are
involved so you would need to acquire a good topo map
of the area.

The Chama River has some very good pocket water as
well as long runs, pools and riffles. It has plenty of large
boulders. It flows range drastically from slow to very fast. It
may change several times during the day.

The best part of the season starts in March and April.  
Summertime usually means high water.
Springtime is the best time for fly fishing the Rio Chama
River hatches.
The water stays cool in the canyon all summer long and
fishing remains good.
Fall can be the best time to fish. The brown trout spawn
during the Fall. October and November are prime months.
The river runs off color much of the winter and late fall
and early spring.
Type of Stream

Rainbow Trout (stocked with some
Brown Trout


Northern New Mexico

Nearest Towns



Non-Resident License
State of New Mexico

National Weather Service Link

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Rio Chama River
New Mexico
Photo Courtesy Steven Lamb
Photo Courtesy Steven Lamb
Rio Chama Fishing Report:
03/26/14 A customer, local to the area, ordered more of
BWO flies and reported he is catching browns on a
regular basis.
In addition, we have a separate website page on the  
Middle Rio Chama and another page on the Rio Chama
Abiquiu Reservoir tailwater  We also have a page on the
Upper Rio Chama in Colorado.
Fishing Report Updated 04/16/14
(Bottom Of Page)
04/02/14 Two good reports of catches (brown trout) this
past week. Both were using our Sculpin steamers and
BWO nymphs.
Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.

2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.

3. Email us (
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.

All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
Priority Mail.  
04/09/14 More good fishing reports came in last week.
Trout are being caught on our
Brown Sculpin streamers
and BWOs.
04/16/14 Great fishing conditions with some nice trout
being reported caught. BWOs and our Sculpin
Streamer patterns are working for our customers.