Copyright 2013 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's 130 mile long major tributary to the Rio Grande River.
High sandstone bluffs line the Chama Wilderness Canyon
providing a beautiful setting for the fishing. This stream is
a tailwater that flows from El Vado Reservoir Dam.
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
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.
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Rio Chama River
Photo Courtesy Steven Lamb
Photo Courtesy Steven Lamb
|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. Call or email us with a budget for
flies and we will select them and get
them to you in time for your trip.
Shipping is free in the U. S. Orders
over $50 are shipped Priority Mail.
Recommended Tackle & Gear
5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 & 12 ft., 5 or 6X, Nymphing:
71/2 ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rod:
Perfect Fly Superb Five or Ultimate Six
For 5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Loon Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.