Copyright 2018 James Marsh
Fly Fishing On The Middle Rio Chama
River In New Mexico
The Rio Chama River starts at the Sargent Wildlife Area
boundary in Colorado near the New Mexico border and
flows downstream through the Rio Chama Valley for
about twenty-five miles. All of this is private property
except for a four-mile long MNDGF easement south of
the town of Chama. This section is mostly "put and take"
and is heavily stocked but it does have holdover trout.
Fly fishing the Rio Chama River is great in places. This
section of the river sometimes called the Middle Rio
In addition, we have a separate website page on the Rio
Chama El Vado Reservoir tailwater and another page
on the Rio Chama Abiquiu Reservoir tailwater We also
have a page on the Upper Rio Chama in Colorado.
Below the twenty-five mile segment of water south of
Chama that's mostly on private property, the river
enters the Rio Chama State Wildlife Area. Only Dirt
roads enter the RCSW area and they can get very
muddy during rains, so a 4 wheel drive may be required.
The State Wildlife area is eight miles long with a four
mile long canyon section in the middle of the area. You
have to hike in to get to most of the water. This is an
excellent stretch of pocket water that runs though a
gorge with plenty of wild browns and holdover rainbows.
There's one tributary sizable in this section - Willow
Creek. It flows into the Rio Chama River from Heron
Reservoir not far above the El Vado Reservoir.
This section of the river provides the best fishing. It also
has some terrific hatches of stoneflies, caddisflies and
mayflies. Dry fly fishing can be excellent at times in the
gorge section's pocket water. The brown trout spawn in
the Fall and some large ones can be caught on
streamers and nymphs.
Various species of Blue-winged olives, Pale Morning
Duns, Pale Evening Duns, Dark Red Quills, Tricos, and
Speckled wing Quills are some of the most plentiful
mayflies. Spotted Sedges, Green Sedges, Little
Short-horned sedges, Little Black Caddis and October
Caddis are the most plentiful caddisflies. Little Yellow
stoneflies, Golden stoneflies and Winter stoneflies are
the most plentiful stoneflies. During the late spring and
summer months, terrestrial insects become important.
Ants, beetles and hoppers work good in most sections
of the river.
Kokanee Salmon run upstream to spawn in the River
from the reservoir during the last part of September. Fly
fishing the Rio Chama River can be a lot of fun during
Please not that the upper three miles of the Rio Chama
State Wildlife Area is managed as special trout water
and requires barbless hooks. You are allowed to
squeeze the barbs down on the hooks.
The lower Rio Chama River in this section ends where it
flows into El Vado Reservoir.
The season last year-round
The fishing is best before the runoff begins and just
after it ends.
Summertime can be a good time to fish the canyon
area. The water is generally very cool in the canyon
Fall is the best time to catch the large brown trout due
to the spawn.
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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.
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (email@example.com)
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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
Fishing Report Updated 05/03/18
(Bottom Of Page)
Middle Rio Chama River Fishing Report:
03/03/15 This will be our first middle Rio Chama
fishing report. They will continue weekly.
03/10/15 The river is back down near a normal
level and you should be able to catch plenty of
trout. Let us hear from you.
03/17/15 Two good reports from the past week
from customers. BWO nymphs, Brown sculpins
03/24/15 Another good report. Good
conditions and stonefly hatching taking place.
03/31/15 More trout reported caught on Little
Brown Stonefly nymphs this past week.
04/07/15 One good report came in this
past week. The river is very low and you
must stay hidden.
04/21/15 Little Brown stoneflies are
hatching along with BWOs. Low water
levels, so stay hidden. Some rain coming.
05/19/15 Sorry for the late reports. Fishing has
been very good recently. Lots of trout caught
and lots of hatches taking place.
05/26/15 No reports from last week but
conditions remain very good. Several
hatfches are underway.
06/09/15 Lots of hatches taking place and
lots of trout being caught. Three good
reports from the past two weeks.
06/16/15 Terrestrials, ants, beetles
and hopper will soon be the ticket..
06/23/15 Runoff is still underway with
high, cold water.
07/07/15 Stream levels are back in good
shape and plenty of hatches, mostly
PMDs, and Spotted Sedges.
07/14/15 Warmer temps for water and air,
but otherwise, conditions remain good.
07/20/15 Two good reports, good stream
levels and some hatches taking place.
Lots of heavy rain forecast. .
08/04/15 Stream levels have been up
and down but staying in good shape and
trout are being caught regularily.
08/11/15 The levels went up high but fell
very quickly to their normal low levels.
More rain is in the forecast.
08/18/15 No reports from the past week.
09/01/15 There is a chance of rain about
every day and that should help big time.
Two good reports from the past week.
09/08/15 The river is running high right now.
Levels will have to drop for you to fish. Keep
a close check on the link to your upper left.
09/22/15 Lots of rain in the area, and will
be for the next week. Be certain to check
the stream levels. A little stain in the water
will help the streamer fishing.
10/06/15 Stream levels are currently
running high, too high to wade. Give it a
couple to three of days.
10/13/15 There has been a lot of rain and
the stream levels are still high. Keep a
close check on them.
10/27/15 The stream level is back just
above normal. You can wade it most places
if you are careful. Blue-winged olives and
October Caddis are hatching.
11/03/15 The river is in great shape right
now. You can wade just about anywhere and
Blue-winged olives have started hatching.
11/17/15 The river has been running very
high the past few days. There's a winter
warning today and tomorrow and things
should begin to clear up and the levels fall.
11/24/15 The river is back in decent shape
with clear water and good levels. No reports
from the past week.
12/08/15 The river is flowing at 1070 cfs at
7.47 feet or very high. It will be a few days
dropping and clearing.
12/22/15 The stream levels are down a little
but still too high to wade. Keep a close
check on them. Lots of snow in the forecast
and the melt will keep the water stained.
12/29/15 Stream levels are back in good
shape. The put n' take section is producing a
lot of trout.
01/12/16 The levels are still in good shape
and anglers are still catching a lot of trout in
the put n take section. Use little BWO nymphs.
01/26/16 Stream levels are back near normal
for this time of the year and the weather
warmer with little precipitation expected.
02/09/16 Conditions are normal for mid
winter. The water is averaging about 38
degrees, which is cold. Midges, both red and
cream, are the best fly choice.
02/23/16 The water is warmer, about 39 but
there is a winter storm warning through
tomorrow, then clear and warmer.
03/08/16 Stream levels are low and in good
shape. The water is still a little cold and little
Blue-winged olives, midges and winter
stonefies are the most important insects.
03/22/16 The little brown stoneflies are
starting to hatch along with the Blue--winged
olives and midges. Stream levels are low.
03/29/16 Low water conditions are making it
tough on some. Stay low and hidden. Little
Brown stoneflies are starting to hatch.
04/12/16 The river is still very low. You can
catch trout and plenty of them. You just have
to stay well hidden and make good
presentations. Little BWOs are hatching.
04/26/16 The freestone section of the river is
low right now, but there is snow or rain
forecast everyday for the next week. You can
catch trout, but use stealth and stay hidden.
05/10/16 Stream levels are still in good shape
and anglers are catching trout. Lots of hatche
are taking place. Send us an email with the
dates you plan on fishing and we will send
you a list of flies: email@example.com
05/24/16 The stream levels are high and the
water highly stained from runoff. They are at
2120 cfs and 8.82 feet.
06/07/16 The stream levels are down to 990
csf at 7.36 which is still high but falling and
hopefully, will be back in good shape soon.
06/21/16 Stream levels are low and in good
shape, easy to wade. Lots of bug hatching
and our customers are catching trout.
07/05/16 The middle Chama is in good shape
with lots of insects hatching. The stream
levels are low and wading is possible about
07/19/16 The river is currently very high to
blown out. Lots of caddis, PMDs, little Yellow
stoneflies and more, but you will have to wait.
08/02/16 Stream levels are high and need to
drop down for good fishing opportunity. Keep
a check on the levels (link is above on your
08/16/16 Stream levels have been good but
back up high. You will need to wait until it
falls out some to wade. Dark Red Quills and
Tricos are hatching, along with lots of caddis.
08/30/16 Stream levels are still relatively high,
or too high to safely wade in most places.
09/20/16 The stream levels are high, a little
too high to wade safely in many places. There
is rain in the forecast everyday for the next
week and this is not likely to change much.
10/04/16 Stream levels just came back down
to a normal level and fishing opportunity
should be good right now.
10/11/16 One good report from the past week.
Brown trout are entering pre-spawn stage. Use
Brown or White Belly sculpin.
11/01/16 Stream levels are staying a little
above normal. Wading is possible in places.
Blue-winged olives are hatching.
11/15/16 The stream levels are a little high
but falling. Watch the levels and fish when
they get a little lower.
11/29/16 The stream levels are a little high
but we recommend fishing one of the two
tailwaters on the Chama. The freestone
section is very cold.
12/13/16 The stream level is fine but the water
is only in the mid to high thirties. Fish one of
the two tailwaters instead.
12/27/16 The water is too cold in the freestone
section with lots of slush ice. Fish either of the
two tailwaters. They are linked above.
01/10/17 The situation is about the same as
the last report. Fsh either of the two tailwater.
They have warmer water.
01/24/17 This section is still too cold with
slush ice. Fish the tailwaters. The warmer
weather never quite got it warm enough to fish.
02/07/17 Conditions are much better with
water temps about 36 degrees. Fish midges,
creams or reds and Sculpin streamers.
02/21/17 Conditions are good with good
stream levels and warmer water. Use Midges,
creams and reds, and sculpin streamers.
03/07/17 The stream levels are back up just a
little above normal. The water is about 38
degrees. Fish Cream or Red midges and
Sculpin streamers when there is low light.
04/04/17 The flows are at 1350 cfs at 7.83 ft.
Normal is about 360 cfs. We don't think the
levels will remain high very much longer, so
keep checking back with us.
04/25/17 The flow are at 2400 cfs at 8.87 ft.,
or far too high.
05/09/17 The stream level is down to just a
little above normal and the river in good
shape. Lots of hatches are underway and
more starting up.
05/23/17 The stream levels are high and the
water a little dingy. It is flowing at 2190 cfs at
8.69 ft., or too high to wade safely.
06/06/17 The stream levels are down just a
little above normal and the water almost
clear. Insects are hatching good.
06/20/17 The stream levels are low but easy
and safe to wade. There are lots of hatches
taking place including Pale Morning duns and
07/11/17 The river is in good shape with okay
levels and lots of hatching insects. PMD,
Spotted and green Sedges, Golden and little
Yellow stoneflies, and more. Good conditions.
07/18/17 Fish the State Wildlife area below
Chama. It is cooler and better than the 25 mile
upper section of the river at this time.
08/01/17 Excellent conditions. The stream
levels are low and easy to wade. There are a
lot of trout being caught and lots of hatches.
08/08/17 Stream levels were high and the
water stained for a few days but back down
08/15/17 Good conditions continue with good
wading opportunity and lots of trout being
08/22/17 The stream levels are still in good
shape. There are some nice hatches and
terrestrial imitations are also working.
09/12/17 The stream is currently near normal
at 73.9 cfs at 1.84 ft. It is best below 100 cfs.
We didn't receive any reports from anyone
fishing this past week.
09/26/17 Flows are at 26 cfs which is fine. We
received two good reports from customers
fishing this past week.
10/10/17 The flows are at 14.9 cfs at 1.37 ft.,
which is a little low. We didn't receive any
reports from anyone fishing this past week.
10/24/17 The river is in okay shape with some
good trout being caught in the wild trout
section and a lot in the stocked section.
11/01/17 The stream levels are in good shape
and lots of trout are being caught in all
sections. There are some good hatches
taking place. Send us an email for a list.
11/15/17 Two good reports from the past
week. Stream levels are good. Lots of trout
are being caught.
11/23/17 The stream levels are high. Fish
when the river drops back down.
12/07/17 The river is back high again but
falling. We don't think it will be long before it is
back in good shape.
12/14/17 The stream levels is down and in
much better shape. Midges, Creams and
blood midges (red), and sculpin streamers.
12/217 Stream levels are down near normal
and trout are being caught in good numbers.
01/04/18 Lots of trout being caught in the
stocked section but the wild section is turning
out some nice trout as well. Good levels exist.
01/17/18 The river is in good shape with
good stream levels and lots of midges
hatching. Fish the larva and pupa in tandem.
01/31/18 The stream levels are in good
shape but the water is cold. There is no ice
and trout can be caught onmidges.
02/14/18 Conditions are good, with good
stream level and slightly warmer water.
Midges, Winter stoneflies are working.
Sculpin streamers are catching the larger
02/28/18 The stream is in good shape with
good stream levels. Midges, winter stoneflies
and Sculpin are the foods to imitate.
03/13/18 The stream levels are a little low but
otherwise, in good shape. Skwala stoneflies
are starting to hatch.
03/20/18 Good conditions and stream levels
continue. Skwala stoneflies are hatching good.
04/04/18 The water is getting warmer and
more hatches are taking place. Lots of little
Brown and Skwala stoneflies, midges and
04/19/18 The freestone section is a little low.
Stay hidden from the trout. March Browns
are hatching good.
05/03/18 The river is in good shape with
lots of hatching insects. Good numbers of
trout are being caught.