Red River Rainbow Trout
Copyright 2018 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Red River New Mexico
The Red River is a tributary of the Rio Grande in northern
New Mexico. Its headwaters flows from near Wheeler Peak
in the Carson National Forest to the Rio Grande. The
locals divide the Red River into two areas. Section one is
the section above the town of Red River. Section two is
the section below town. Fly fishing the Red River can
range from easy to difficult depending on when and where
you fish.

The upper section of Red River is a relatively small
stream that flows through a canyon to the town of Red
River. It is easily accessible from state highway #586. It is
stocked on a regular basis with rainbow trout. There are a
few brook trout as well as wild brown trout but the majority
are rainbows.

The lower section of the Red River flows below the town
of Questa. It's a heavy pocket water stream that flows
through a four, mile-long canyon. It has a good population
of wild brown trout and cuttbows.

The stream can be accessed without any trouble from the
Red River Fish Hatchery which is located on the stream.
The other access areas requires hiking down to the river.
Hiking isn't easy. It requires effort because it's steep and
rugged country. The stream isn't that easy to fish but is
great when you get into the right locations. This section of
the stream is a BLM Wild and Scenic River area.

The majority of the trout are wild browns. They probably
average about 12 inches but there are much larger ones.
In the late Winter and early Spring, cuttbows migrate into
the Red River from the Rio Grande River. It is best fished
before the spring runoff which usually takes place in late
April. Fishing isn't that great during the Summer but gets
better in the Fall.

The wild browns aren't near as easy to catch as the
stocked rainbows in the upper section of the Red River
but they are not very picky. Fly Fishing the Red River's
fast, pocket water, plunges and runs makes it difficult for
the trout to get a good look at your fly most of the time.
We do recommend matching the natural nymphs, larvae
and adult flies that hatch. That will produce the best

Blue-winged Olives hatch from January through March.
Pale Morning duns hatch in April and May. Little Yellow  
stoneflies hatch from June through July. There are also a
few Golden stoneflies that hatch in June.

Different species of Spotted Sedges hatch from February
through April and again from late July through October.
Green sedges hatch in April and May.

Terrestrial insects are plentiful during July, August and
September. Imitations of ants, beetles and grass hoppers
work well during that time period.

The season is year round.
Springtime is the best time for fly fishing the Red River.
The water usually gets too warm.
Fall can be the best time to fish. The brown trout spawn
during the Fall.
The best fishing starts in mid February and last through
the late Winter into Spring.
Type of Stream

Rainbow Trout (Stocked)
Brown Trout (Wild and Stocked)
Cuttbows (Hybirds)


Northern New Mexico

Nearest Towns
Red River



Non-Resident License
State of New Mexico

National Weather Service Link

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Photo Courtesy Steven Lamb
(Bottom Of Page)
Fishing Report Updated 06/28/18
Red River, New Mexico - Fishing Report
06/12/14 A customer reported catching several browns and rainbows this past
week. Stream levels are good but a little low and a few hatches are taking
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.  
06/25/14 Two more customers ordering flies for the Red River. One has been
doing well catching plenty of trout and one hasn't fished it yet.
10/18/14 Two good reports from the Red River from anglers catching several
nice trout. Brown trout are getting into the spawning mode and our
sculpin is working good.
12/05/14 No reports but the fishing should be very good. This river stays warm
enough to fish when many are too cold. Let us hear from you.
12/15/14 We received one good report from a customer. He caught several
trout using BWO nymphs and midges. Streamers also produced for him.
12/22/14 Midges are producing well on the Red River. Use red (blood) midge larva
and pupa imitations in tandem with pupa on top.
01/06/15 Another good report from a customer using our midges and brown sculpin
01/13/15 No reports but conditions remain good.
01/20/15 One of our regular customers reported he is catching some nice trout using
our cream midges.
01/28/15 Good weather and stream levels continue and anglers are catching trout.
02/03/15 No reports from anglers during the past week.
02/10/15 Two good reports from customers using our Brown Sculpin streamers.
They were catching some fairly large trout - 12-16 inches.
02/17/15 We didn't receive any reports from anglers this past week, but conditions
remain very good.
02/24/15 No reports from the past week. The water is very cold.
03/03/15 Still no reports. The stream is currently running high.
03/10/15 Stream levels are back down near a normal level and conditions much
better otherwise. Let us hear from you.
03/17/15 Still no reports from anyone fishing. The conditions remain excellent. ?????
03/24/15 One report from a customer catching a few trout on our BWO nymphs and
Brown sculpin. Good water levels and stream conditions
03/31/15 No reports but conditions remain very good.
04/07/15 Low stream levels but good weather. One local reported catching a few
trout this past week.
04/14/15 Low water levels requires you to stay low and hidden from the trout. You should
catch trout if you manage to stay hidden.
04/21/15 No reports from last week but conditions remain good. Some needed rain in the
05/05/15 Two good reports came in during the past two weeks. More needed rain is in
the forecast. Blue-winged olive nymphs, duns, spinners and Sculpin streamers work.
05/12/15 One report from a customer catching several trout this past week.. Good levels
and some hatches taking place. Little Black Caddis hatching.
05/19/15 Several hatches taking place. Good conditions, but no reports from anyone fishing.
05/26/15 Still no reports but good conditions remain. Let us hear from you.
06/09/15 We have some good reports from the past week. Rain is forecast for this next week.
06/16/15 One good report from the lower river canyon section. Dark Red Quills hatching.
07/07/15 The upper Red River is settled down from runoff and back in good shape. Mostly
PMDs and Spotted sedges.
07/14/15 No reports from the past week but conditions remain very good.
07/20/15 Flash flood warnings with heavy rain coming. It will be blown out.
07/28/15 Back in good condition. Lots of hatches and trout being caught. Good levels.
08/04/15 There's a chance of rain every day for the next week. That will help the fishing.
08/11/15 Increase in the stream flows has helped the "catching". More rain is forecast for
the coming week.
08/18/15 Fish were caught in both the upper and lower canyon sections the past week.
08/25/15 There is a good chance of rain this week and that should really help improve the
conditions. Two good reports came in from customers this past week.  
09/01/15 The fishing is still slow but give it another month and it will be great. Normally,
October is very good.
09/08/15 The weather is just to hot right now. High water temperatures means slow fishing.
09/15/15 No reports from the past week but the much cooler weather and lower water
temperatures should make conditions much better.
09/22/15 Badly needed rain is in the area and will be most of the week. Be sure to check
the USGS stream levels. A little stain in the water will help the streamer fishing.
10/06/15 The stream is high right now but falling fast. Cutthroat Trout are moving up into
the river to spawn.  
10/13/15 Brown trout are in the pre-spawn stage and very aggressive and territorial. Now
is the time to catch a big one. Our Brown Sculpin streamer works great for this.
10/20/15 Stream levels are still in good shape for the Red River. Keep a close check
because there is rain in the forecast.
USGS Stream Flow Data:
Below Fish Hatchery, near Questa
10/27/15 The river was up above normal flows for a couple of days the first of last week but
back in good shape. Blue-winged Olives are hatching.
11/03/15 Stream levels are currently normal but they may rise soon. There is rain in the
forecast for the next three days. Keep a close check on them.
11/10/15 It is gradually getting a little colder each day. The stream levels are about normal.
The colder the water, the better the fishing as a general rule.
11/17/15 There are a lot of brown trout up the Red River spawning and some post-spawn.
The Brown Sculpin fly is a great fly to use for them. It won't be long before the rainbows start
spawning. Conditions are good with BWOs and Midges hatching.
11/24/15 No reports from anyone fishing last week. The river was up some and off color but
back to normal and clear.
12/01/15 Still no reports but the water was high. It is colder, air and water temperatures. Small
Blue-winged olive nymphs and midges are the flies you should be fishing.
12/08/15 One good report from a customer,. He is using midges and the Brown Sculpin
12/15/15 Little Winter stoneflies are starting to hatch. Fish the adults only when you see the
females laying eggs but fish the nymphs anytime.
12/22/15 There is some rain and snow in the forecast and that may increase the stream
levels and stain the water. Right now, it is in good shape but watch the levels.
12/29/15 Stream levels are usually just a little above normal. Our customers are catching
plenty of trout using Midges, mostly cream and red (blood), with larva/pupa fished in tandem.
01/12/16 The Red River is in its prime right now, with lots of stocked trout being caught
and lots of fish moving up into the river. The Brown sculpin streamer fly is doing great
along with little Blue-winged olive nymphs.  
01/18/16 More good reports from customers fishing the Red this past week. The weather is
much better and stream levels as well.
01/26/16 Good stream levels exist and no rain or snow is in the forecast. Conditions are
good. Red midges, little BWO nymphs and Winter stonefly nymphs are the best flies to use.
02/09/16 Stream levels are staying in good shape and there's no rain or snow in the
forecast. The water temperature is a cold 36 to 38 degrees and midges and Winter stoneflies
are the insects you should be imitating.
02/16/16 The weather is going to be getting much warmer and the water temperature should
start to come up. This will help the overall "catching".
02/23/16 There is a winter storm warning through tomorrow. The stream is flowing just a little
above normal and fishing should be good by the end of this week.
03/08/16 Stream levels are up a little above normal and Sculpin streamers should be the  
best flies to use. It is drops, midges and winter stonefly nymphs should work as well.
03/22/16 You need to pay close attention to the discharges. See the USGS link above on your
left. They are running heavy flows at times.
03/29/16 The lower canyon section is fishing best at this time. The water is low and you will
need to stay hidden. Little Brown stoneflies are hatching.
04/05/16 The stream is still low but there is some rain forecast for the weekend. This should
help. The water is getting a little warmer and you can expect some caddis to begin to hatch.
04/12/16 Good conditions exist and trout being caught. Little BWOs are hatching and
sculpin streamers are catching some of the larger trout.
04/26/16 Low water levels have been a problem at times, but that should change this week.
05/10/16 The stream levels are still high. The weather is much warmer and lots of hatches are
taking place.
05/24/16 Stream levels are high due to runoff. They are flowing at 209 cfs, at 5.40 feet. Normal
is about 40 to 60 cfs.
06/07/16 The flows are at 234 cfs at 5.37 feet. Normal about 60. You will have to wait and
watch the levels until they get back down.
06/21/16 The stream levels are back down and our customers are catching some trout. Lots
of insects are hatching and the dry fly fishing good.
07/05/16 Good conditions with good stream levels and lots of insects hatching. The late
afternoon caddis egg laying activity is bringing a lot of fish to the net. Fish early mornings and
late afternoons and you should do well.
07/19/16 Watch the water temperature. It is marginal and if above 67 degrees, we don't
recommend fishing.
08/01/18 The upper Red River stocked section is crowded much of the time. The lower Red
River which requires hiking is by far the best option. Flows and levels are in good shape.
08/16/16 Stream levels are up right now and there's some more rain forecast. Watch the levels.
The water is a little cooler and that will help once the levels fall.
08/30/16 The stream levels are down to normal and in good shape. Tricos and lots of
caddisflies are hatching. We received one good report this past week.
09/20/16 The stream levels are low but about normal for this time of the year. This is likely to
change in the near future. There is a  chance of rain everyday for the next week. Watch the
levels. Otherwise, conditions should be good.
10/04/16 Stream levels are normal and in good condition. There are some BWOs, Mahogany
duns and October Caddis hatching. Good conditions all the way around.
11/01/16 The stream levels are in good shape and our customers are catching trout. There are
Blue-winged olive hatches taking place. Sculpin streamers are getting the larger trout.
11/15/16 The river is in very good shape. The weather is mild (snow this weekend) and trout are
being caught by our customers in good numbers.
11/29/16 The weather and water is cold, with a water temperature of about 39 degrees. I
would select a tailwater to fish until these conditions change.
12/13/16 Winter stoneflies and midges are hatching but the water is still very cold. Fish slow
moving water and near the bottom.
12/27/16 Stream levels are fine but the water is very cold with some slush ice. It is possible to
catch trout, but may be slow. Fish midges, with the larva and pupa in tandem.
01/10/17 The water is a little warmer than the last report, but not much. Midges and Winter
stoneflies are the only insects hatching. You can catch trout, Fish from noon to mid-afternoon.
01/24/17 Spawning cutthroats and soon, rainbows, will be moving upstream to spawn. Snow
should end today and conditions become cold, but ideal.
02/07/17 We are getting some good reports from the lower river. Fish streamers like our Brown
sculpin when it is cloudy or early and late, otherwise fish Cream or Red midges, with the larva
and pupa rigged in tandem. We now offer these pre-rigged for those who have small fly trouble.
02/14/17 More good reports. Fish near the dam using midges with the larva and pupa rigged in
tandem. Streamers like the Black or Olive Matuka sculpin are working when it is cloudy.
02/21/17 The stream levels are still in good shape and our customers continue to catch some
very good trout. The Sculpin streamers are getting the larger trout. Midges, are getting the most.
03/07/17 The stream levels are in good shape again and our customers are catching some very
nice trout. Use Sculpin streamers like the Brown or Black Matuka sculpin, or Red midges.
04/04/17 The discharges and flows are a little high but our customers have been catching
some very nice trout and good numbers of them. Condition looks good this coming week.
04/25/17 The river is flowing at a high level, too high to wade. It is also dingy. Give it some time.
05/09/17 The discharges are still strong and the level high. Wading isn't safe at these levels.
Fishing will be good when the levels reside.
05/23/17 The stream levels are down and in good shape. Wading is easy and safe in most
places. There are lots of Blue-winged olives and Spotted sedge caddisflies hathing.
06/06/17 The discharges and stream levels are low. You have to stay hidden from the trout.
There are lots of insects hatching including Pale Morning Duns.
06/20/17 Conditions are very good. There are lots of hatches taking place and the discharges
and stream levels are low and the river easy to wade. Fish the faster water in the canyons.
07/11/17 The water is getting a little too warm. If you fish, fish early mornings.
07/18/17 Sorry I ended last week's report so abruptly.  I should have mentioned it is okay below
the hatchery and Questa in the four mile long canyon. It is getting warm in the afternoons above
the town of Red River.
08/22/17 Conditions have improved some. Fish right below the hatchery for the best results.
09/05/17 We are still recommending fishing just below the fish hatchery. The water is still a
little warm in the middle and lower river.
09/12/17 Conditions are improving with good stream levels and better weather. We received one
good report from a customer this past week.
09/26/17 Stream levels are okay and trout are being caught below the hatchery. Streamers,
sculpin patterns, and our new Red and Pink Aquatic worms worked good for one customer.
10/10/17 Stream levels are a little high but okay with caution. The water temperature is down
and fishing conditions much improved. We received two good reports from the past week.
10/25/17 The discharges and stream levels are up just a little above normal level. There are
BWOs, Mahogany duns. Cream and Red midges hatching. Sculpin streamers are catching the
larger trout.
11/01/17 The stream levels are still just a little above normal but safe to wade provided caution
is used. There are some very good BWO hatches taking place.
11/15/17 Stream levels are just a little above normal and the river in good shape. Good numbers
of trout are being caught. Fish the upper section of the river.
11/23/17 Stream levels are up some. We were getting good reports from below the hatchery.
We haven't received any reports the past few days.
12/07/17 The river is in good shape with good stream levels. There are lots of cream and red or
blood midges hatching. Fish the larva and pupa rigged in tandem. Sculpin streamers are also
01/04/18 There are good numbers of stocked trout being caught. Wild trout are moving
upstream and some being caught as well. This is a choice destination right now.
01/17/18 The upper river is low, but you should still be able to catch trout. The larger wild trout
are moving upstream. Midges and Winter stoneflies are hatching.
02/14/18 Discharges and stream levels are in good shape. The water is a little warmer than it has
been. Midges, creams, reds or bloods, and light greens are hatching. Winter stonefleis are
hatching. Aquatic worms and Sculpin streamers will also work..
02/28/18 Stream levels are good again and good numbers of trout are being caught. Midges
is still the most important food to imitate but sculpin streamers will get the larger trout.
03/13/18 Stream levels are normal and the water clear. We are still getting good reports from
both the lower and upper sections. Midges, little BWOs, aquatic worms, sculpin, winter and
Skwala stoneflies are hatching.
04/04/18 The stream levels is at a normal level and the water getting warmer and the trout
more active. Midges, Skwala stoneflies, Blue-winged olives,are hatching. Aquatic worms and
sculpin streamers are catching trout.
04/19/18 The stream levels are in decent shape and good numbers of trout are being caught.
There are some March Browns hatching as well as the BWOs, midges and Skwala stoneflies.
05/03/18 There are Spotted sedges, Blue-winged olives, and Pale Morning duns hatching. Dry
fly action is good. Now is a good time to fish the river.
05/24/18 The stream levels are low and the stream easy to wade in most places, but still use
caution. There are lots of insects hatching. Send us an email for a list of flies.
06/28/17 The stream levels are low but otherwise, conditions are very good. There are lots of
hatches taking place and trout are being caught. Fish near the dam and stay low and hidden
as best you can.