Copyright 2020 James Marsh
Fly Fishing the Rio Chama River - Abiquiu
Reservoir Tailwater - New Mexico
Fly Fishing the Rio Chama River - Abiquiu Reservoir
Tailwater, can be great provided the discharges from the
dam are suitable. The water is often too high but if it's
being discharged at good rates and the levels are good,
trout fishing is usually good. The Rio Chama has some
nice sections of riffles, runs and pools. It also has
some islands that divert the water into channels and add
interesting areas of good habitat for the brown trout.
There's about five miles of public access on one side of
the stream and just over two miles on the other side.
Wading can be a little tricky due to the algae but this
means the pH levels of the water is good for aquatic
insects. This tailwater even has a good population of
stoneflies, including Golden Stoneflies which is quite
unusual for tailwaters. It's fairly easy to wade other than
for its slick bottom. You do have to be extremely cautious
about the discharges. They are very erratic.
Access is great from a road that follows along the river for
over two miles. There are several places to park and fish
the stream. Wading conditions all depends on the
discharges from the dam.
The State of New Mexico stocks the stream heavily with
rainbow trout and there are some large holdovers to be
caught. The dry fly fishing can even be good at times,
something again, not all that common for tailwater trout
There are some very good hatches of Blue-winged Olives
and Pale Morning Dun mayflies on the Rio Chama. There
are other mayflies and al;so plenty of caddisflies and
stoneflies. The majority of the caddisflies are
Short-horned sedges, Green Sedges and Spotted
Sedges. The stoneflies consist mostly of Little Yellow
Stoneflies and a not so common species short-winged
Golden Stonefly. Midges are also very important,
especially during the colder months of the season
Terrestrial insects can become important food to imitate
during the summer and early fall months. Grass hoppers,
ants and beetles are plentiful along the banks of the
winter and they often get into the water for the trout to eat.
Most of the fish are probably caught on nymphs and
streamers. Sculpin are the most plentiful fish species in
The season last year-round
Spring is a good time for fly fishing the Rio Chama River
Abiquiu tailwater because of the hatches of aquatic
Summertime fishing can be good provided the releases
are suitable. The water levels are often too high to fish.
The water remains cool.
Brown trout spawn in the Fall and presents a good time to
catch a large one.
Winter fishing can be good provided the weather isn't too
cold. The water temperatures below the dam are usually
good all winter.
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Photo Courtesy Steven Lamb
Photo Courtesy Steven Lamb
Rio Chama River
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 $100 are shipped via
Fishing Report Updated 03/20/20
(Bottom Of Page)
Rio Chama River - Abiquiu Tailwater Fishing Report
03/03/15 This will be the start of our first fishing report on this stream. They will continue on a
03/17/15 No reports from anyone fishing but conditions and discharges have been good
this past week. Let us hear from you.
03/24/15 Two good reports from customers catching several browns on our Matuka sculpin
03/31/15 No reports came in but condtions remain good.
04/07/15 One nice report from a customer using our small BWO nymphs. Several trout were
04/21/15 No reports from anyone fishing but discharges and stream levels remain good.
05/05/15 Two good reports from the past two weeks. Customers catching several browns on
Sculpin streamers, and BWOs.
05/19/15 More good reports and lots of hatches including stoneflies, caddisflies and a few
mayflies. Call or write us for a list.
06/09/15 There have been good wading opportunity but rain is now forecast. Lots of
hatches taking place and lots of fish being caught by the few that have been fishing.
06/16/15 Flows at 828 cfs, or too strong for wading.
07/07/15 Stream levels are back down with less discharges. Two good reports from the past
07/14/15 No reports but conditions remain good.
07/20/15 One good report this past week, but look out. Lots of heavy rain coming.
08/04/15 Good conditions, but watch the discharges. There a chance of rain every day. That
will help the fishing as long as the discharges are not high.
08/11/15 There has been some heavy discharges but wading anglers have been able to
fish this past week. There is more rain in the forecast.
08/18/15 We didn't receive any reports for last week. Stream levels are fine.
09/01/15 The discharges are a little high for wading right now, but they should fall back
down. Otherwise, conditions are very good. The link on your upper left will check the levels.
09/08/15 Discharges are great for wading right now, but be sure to check them. No reports
from anglers fishing the past week. There are still PMDs hatching,& lots of caddis.
09/22/15 There is a chance of rain for the next week, so you can look for them to be
running a lot of water through the dam. Be sure to check the discharges.
10/06/15 You need to catch the tailwater when they are not running water to be able to
wade. Brown trout are in the pre-spawn mode and very aggressive. Streamers are working.
10/13/15 Stream levels have been high due to a lot of rain. Great conditioons when they
are not running a lot of water.
10/27/15 Stream levels have been above normal most of the time during the past week.
Right now they are not running any water. You muist check the discharges to know whether
you can wade the river or not.
11/03/15 Good wading levels have existed the past few days. Blue-winged olives are
hatching again and conditions couldn't be much better for this time of the year.
11/17/15 The river is blown out with very high discharges from recent rain. There's a winter
storm warning through tomorrow (snow) and things should begin to settle back down.
11/24/15 Keep a close check on the levels. It is fine at this time but there may be some more
heavy discharges. The water has cleared up.
12/08/15 The tailwater is high, flowing at 1160 cfs at 4.03 feet or way above normal, stained
and will take a while to clear up. Likely high discharges for the next few days.
12/22/15 They are still running a lot of water through the dam and it may continue. There is
snow in the forecast every day through next Saturday. Midges and Streamers are the flies
you need to be using.
12/29/15 The discharges have been down for the last few days and it looks like they will
remain low. Midges and Winter stonefly nymphs should produce well with the good flows.
01/12/116 The discharges are back low and wading is possible but make sure you check the
levels before driving very far to fish. Little change should occur with only a little chance of
snow for two days this week. Fish midges, in tandem, near the dam.
01/26/16 Good stream levels exit now and should remain low but make sure you check them.
The weather is clear this coming week and conditions are very good. Midges, cream and red
pupa and larva, winter stonefly nymphs and the Brown sculpin are the flies you need to use.
02/09/16 stream levels are up just a little but it is still safe to wade if your careful. They will be
dropping back soon. Midges and winter stoneflies are the insects you need to imitate.
02/23/16 The discharges and stream levels are continuing to run high. There is a winter storm
warning in effect through tomorrow, then turning warmer. Watch the stream levels.
03/08/16 Discharges and stream levels are low and the water clear. Midges, creams and reds,
winter stonefly nymphs, and blue-winged olive nymphs are the insects to imitate.
03/22/16 The stream levels are still low with very low discharges. Stay low and make good
presentations. Sight casting is possible.
03/29/16 The low water levels continue with little chance of it changing. Stay low and hidden.
Sight casting to fish is possible. Midges, little Brown stones and little BWO are hatching.
04/12/16 The discharges are up just a little and that helps but the stream level is still low and
stealth is required. One customer is catching trout sight casting to them.
04/26/16 The discharges and stream levels are currently low and wading is easy. You do have
to watch the discharge schedule through, it is subject to change fast. Our customers have
been catching trout fairly regular with the lower water conditions.
05/10/16 The stream levels and discharges are down and wading easy right now. Customers
are reporting catching lots of trout. Several hatches are taking place. Send us and email with
the dates you plan on fishing and we will send you a list of flies. email@example.com
05/24/16 Stream levels 4.44 ft. at 1500 cfs. That is too high to wade and it is also highly
stained. The high levels are due to the spring runoff.
06/07/16 The discharges are still very high and the water highly stained from runoff. The
freestone river is beginning to drop and hopefully, it won't be long before it is back in good shape.
06/21/16 The discharges and stream levels are down low, allowing for easy wading and good
fishing. There are lots of Pale Morning duns, Pale Evening duns, Spotted Sedge, Green
sedges, and Little Yellow stoneflies hatching.
07/05/16 The discharges are about right and stream levels in good shape. We got one good
report this past week but should be getting more soon. Lots of hatches are taking place and
the outlook for the coming week very good.
07/19/16 The discharges are running high, too high to safely wade right now. You will just have
to keep a close check on them.
08/02/16 Discharges are running high again, with little wading opportunity. All you can do is
watch the streams levels. It will be good when the discharges get a little lower.
08/16/16 The flows are up pretty strong making wading tough in most sections. The levels are
likely to fall back down soon, so watch them. Fish the current seams with BWOs nymphs, early
morning with Matuka sculpin streamers. Olive and Black are working.
08/30/16 Two good reports from the past weekend. Stream levels are about normal and lots of
caddisflies are hatching. Tricos are also hatching. Terrestrials are working as well.
09/20/16 The river is at 533 cfs, which is high. Normal is about 330 cfs. It isn't safe to wade in
most places. These high levels are unlikely to change this coming week. There is rain in the
forecast everyday. You will just have to watch the stream levels.
10/04/16 The stream levels are back down and running at a normal level. There are
Blue-winged olives, October caddis, Mahogany duns and some other insects hatching.
10/11/16 Two good reports from the past week. Good brown trout fishing using Brown sculpin
streamers. Good discharge rates and stream levels.
11/01/16 Discharges and stream levels are a little high, flowing at 212 cfs. Blue-winged olives
are hatching good. Streamers like our Matuka sculpin, olive and black, are catching larger trout.
11/15/16 Stream levels are back up a little too high to safely wade but they are falling. Watch
them and fish when they fall. Brown sculpin streamers and Cream midges and BWOs.
11/29/16 The discharges and resulting stream levels have been very low. That has allowed
angler to wade about anywhere they wanted to. We received a good reports from the past week.
The Brown sculpin streamer has been catching some larger size trout.
12/13/16 The discharges and stream levels are just a little above normal for this time of the
year. Midges and Winter stonefly nymphs are hatching good.
12/27/16 Stream levels are back in good shape thanks to low discharges. Conditions are good.
Use winter stoneflies, black fly pupa and larva, and Midges, creams and reids.
01/10/17 The is a chance of snow about everyday with highs from 31 to 36. The stream levels
and discharges are fine. Use mdges,Creams and Reds, with the larva/pupa fished in tandem.
01/24/17 The discharges and stream levels are still a little high, but wading is possible if your
very careful. Midges are hatching good. Winter stoneflies are hatching good. Fish the Cream
midge larva and pupa in tandem. We now have these pre-rigged in nylon and fluorocarbon.. .
02/07/17 We are getting some good reports of catches. Discharges and levels have been low
and the water easy to wade most of the time. Sculpin streamers, Brown and White belly are
catching some of the larger trout. Otherwise, fish the Cream or red midges.
02/21/17 More good reports from customers fishing this past weekend and week. Stream levels
are sill allowing plenty of wading time. Use Sculpin streamers and Red and Cream midges.
03/07/17 Our customers have been reporting some good catches. The discharges and water
levels have been low the past few days but are back above normal. Fish when it falls back out.
04/04/17 The discharges and flows are high, 1600 cfs at 4.62 ft. Normal is about 450 cfs. We
don't think these high levels will continue for a long time, so keep checking back with us.
04/25/17 The flows are at 1780 at 4.83 ft., or very high. All you can do is check back with us
and watch the levels.
05/09/17 Discharges and stream levels are down to just a little above normal. You can wade
provided you use caution. There are some hatches underway and more starting up.
05/23/17 The discharges and stream levels are a little high, too high for wading. They are at
1810 cfs at 4.93 ft. Ideal levels is 800-1300 cfs.
06/06/17 The discharges and stream levels are down and the stream in good shape for
wading at this time. There are lots of insects hatching. PMDs should start anytime now.
06/20/17 The discharges and stream levels are low making wading easy and safe. There are
a large number of hatches including Pale Morning and Pale Evening duns, lots of caddisflies
and others. It is a good time to fish the river.
07/11/17 Discharges and levels are a little high, making wading tough to unsafe. Lots of
hatches are taking place and anglers catching lots of trout when discharges allow wading. It
should be dropping down very soon.
07/18/17 Discharges and stream levels are still a little high but okay otherwise. Lost of hatches.
08/01/17 The discharges and stream levels are down and a lot of trout are being caught. Our
customers sent in two good reports the past three days. There are lots of insects hatching.
08/08/17 Conditions are back in good shape. We didn't receive any reports from the past week.
08/22/17 Stream levels are up some a little above normal. Be careful wading. There are some
small BWO hatches, PMD hatches,and spotted sedge hatches.
09/12/17 The discharges are currently high and flows at 809 cfs. Good flows would be from
400 to 500 cfs. It should fall back down fast, so just check back on the stream levels soon.
09/19/17 The discharges are just a little high at 564 cfs at 3.16 ft. It can be waded in places with
caution. Lots of BWOs, Spotted sedge, Western Ginger Quills, little Yellow stones and other
insects are hatching.
10/10/17 The river is flowing at 893 cfs at 3.63 ft. That is very high, too high to wade anywhere.
10/24/17 The river is still high, at 457 cfs at 2.98 ft.. Streamers should work but it is too high to
wade safely right now. Check the levels and fish as soon as it drops some more.
11/01/17 The stream levels and discharges are still a little high, too high to wade safely in
most places. You can fish much of the stream from the banks.
11/15/17 Discharges and stream levels are very high right now, but should be dropping back
down soon. It is too high to fish at 802 cfs at 3.52 ft.
11/23/17 The flows are at 832 cfs and 3.55 ft, or very high. All you can do is watch the levels
and fish when it drops.
12/07/17 The river is extremely high, or blown out. Sorry, but you will have to wait. It should
start falling soon.
12/14/17 The discharges and stream levels are very high, too high to fish. Watch the levels
and when the river gets back down it should be very good.
12/21/17 The discharges and stream levels are down to near normal, and conditions otherwise
good. Cream and blood (red) midges, sculpin streamers, and Winter stoneflies are working
01/04/18 The discharges and levels are currently just a little above normal and can be waded
with caution most places. Winter stoneflies and Midges are hatching and trout being caught.
01/17/18 Stream levels are in good shape and plenty of hatches taking place. Fish the midge
larva and pupa rigged in tandem for the best results. Fish winter SF nymphs near the bank.
01/31/18 The discharges and stream levels are normal and trout are being caught. Midges,
creams and blood midges (red) are hatching. Winter stoneflies are hatching.
02/14/18 The tailwater continues to be in good shape with low discharges and good stream
levels. Midges and Winter stoneflies are hatching. Aquatic worms and Sculpin streamers work.
02/28/18 The discharges and stream levels are in good shape, running a little low but good
wading conditions. Midges, winter stoneflies, sculpin, and little BWOs are the foods to imitate.
03/13/18 Conditions are good, with low stream levels and easy wading. Midges, little
BWOs, winter stoneflies, Skwala stoneflies and Sculpin are the foods to imitate.
03/21/18 Stream levels are low from low discharges. Wading is safe and easy but still use
caution. Skwala stoneflies, midges and little Blue-winged olives are hatching.
04/04/18 The discharges and stream levels are a little above normal. Use caution wading.
Hatches are taking place and trout are being caught.
04/19/18 The discharges and stream levels are normal and wading safe provided caution
is used. Good hatches of Skwala stoneflies, Blue-winged olives, midges, and March
05/03/18 Discharges and stream levels are a little below normal and the river is good
shape and easy to wade. There are lots of hatches taking place and dry fly action is good.
05/24/18 The river is running a little low with low discharges. That makes it safe and easy
but still use caution. There are lots of hatches taking place and trout being caught. Send us
an email for a list of flies.
06/07/18 The discharges and stream levels are normal and wading is safe with caution in
most areas. There are some great hatches taking place. Pale Morning duns and many other
species of insects are hatching.
06/28/18 Rain has really helped and discharges and stream levels are in good shape. Lots of
hatches are taking place.
07/19/18 Stream levels are back in good shape and we are getting some good reports. There
are good hatches still taking place and terrestrials are also working.
08/16/18 Discharges and stream levels are up a little above normal but otherwise, good
conditions. Trout are being caught in good numbers. Good little Yellow stone and PMD
hatches along with two species of caddis.
09/06/18 The stream levels are low, flowing at 297 cfs. Wading is safe and easy with caution.
You have to stay low and./ or hidden from the trout. There are some good hatches taking place.
09/30/18 The discharges and stream levels are just a little above normal. Wade with caution.
There are still some good hatches taking place and our sculpin streamer patterns work great.
10/17/18 The discharges and stream levels are a little high, too high to wade many places, but
otherwise, in good shape. There are some very good BWO hatches taking place.
10/31/18 The discharges and levels are in good shape and good numbers of trout are being
caught. Midges, BWOs, Mah duns, are hatching. Sculpin streamers work great for big browns.
11/19/18 The stream levels are running near normal thanks to lower discharges. Wading
should be safe and easy with caution. Trout are being caught in good numbers. Blue-winged
olives, Cream and Red or blood midges are hatching. Our articulated streamers are catching
some large trout.
11/26/18 The discharges and stream levels are still low but wading safe and easy. Trout are
being caught in good numbers. Our sculpin streamers are catching some good ones.
12/03/18 More good reports came in. Streamers like our Brown sculpin are catching some
larger size trout. Midges, creams and reds, and some Blue-winged olives are hatching.
12/17/18 The river is in great shape with good water levels and lots of trout being caught,.
Midges, BWOs, and Sculpin are the foods you need to imitate.
12/24/18 Conditions are still good. The discharges and resulting stream levels are still a little
low but trout are being caught in good numbers. Send us an email for a fly list.
01/02/18 The discharges and stream levels are in great shape and good number of trout
are being caught. Midges, winter stoneflies and sculpin streamers are working.
01/09/19 The discharges and resulting stream levels are in good shape and lots of trout
being caught by the few anglers fishing. Fish as near the dam as legal for the best results.
Midges, creams and reds, with the larva and pupa rigged in tandem is working best.
01/23/19 Excellent conditions remain and good numbers of trout are being caught. The water is
a little low, so stay hidden as best you can. Midges, reds and creams, are working but need to
be rigged with the larva and pupa in tandem.
01/30/19 The discharges are low and stream levels low.BWOs, Midges, Black flies and winter
stoneflies are hatching. Stay hidden, and you can catch trout.
02/13/19 The flows are up and the tailwater in good shape. Lots of Blue-winged olives, little
black caddis, black flies, midges and winter stoneflies.
02/28/19 Discharges and stream levels are just a little above normal levels. Sculpin streamers
should work very well. Little Brown stoneflies are starting to hatch.
03/08/19 The discharges and stream levels are up. You will have to be careful and use
caution when wading. Trout are being caught. Fish the upper section near the dam.
03/25/19 The discharges and levels are a little high but okay with a drift boat. It would be tough
to wade most places. Good little Brown stonefly hatches and BWOs taking place.
04/12/19 Lots of insects are hatching including little Black caddis, March Browns and many
more. Good numbers of trout were being caught but the discharges are up now and the levels a
little too high to wade.
04/24/19 The discharges and stream levels are currently too high to wade safely but it should
be droping back down soon. There are some good hatches taking place. Fish as soon as it
05/05/19 The discharges and stream levels are back up high but it should fall out fast. Check
back with us soon.
05/19/19 The discharges and levels are back high, too high and stained to fish. Fish when it
drops back down again. Stay in touch, as we will keep you informed.
05/26/19 Stream levels are still a little too high to wade safely in some places but otherwise, the
river is in good shape. There are some good hatches taking place.
06/06/19 Stream levels are high but should be falling back down very soon. Trout are being
caught in good numbers when the levels are okay for wading.
06/14/19 The stream levels and discharges are very high, too high to fish safely at this time.
Watch the levels and fish when it drops. Fish are being caught when the flow allow safe wading.
06/21/19 Stream levels are still very high, too high to wade safely. They should be shutting
down the heavy discharges very soon.
06/30/19 Discharges and stream levels are still high, too high to wade or fish well. What the
levele and fish as soon as it drops. There are good hatches taking place.
07/07/19 The stream is flowing just a little high but safe to wade with caution and still falling.
There are good hatches taking place and good numbers of trout being caught.
07/14/19 The stream is flowing a little below normal and lots of trout are being caught by the
few anglers fishing it. There are good hatches taking place. Send us an email for a list of flies.
07/22/19 Good conditions exist. Good discharges and level with clear water. Lots of insects are
hatching and lots of trout are being caught by our customers.
08/09/19 Discharges and stream levels are low and wading safe with caution. Good hatches
are taking place and our customers are catching good numbers of trout.
09/23/19 The discharges and stream levels are normal and we are getting a lot of good
reports. There are good hatches taking place and our sculpin streamers are also working
10/22/19 The stream levels are down, but still above normal. We are getting good reports.
Midges are hatching and Sculpin streamers are working.
10/30/19 Great conditions. We are getting good reports from customers fishing. There are
still some good hatches and our streamers are catching some large trout.
11/20/19 The discharges and stream levels are very high. Fish as soon as they fall back
down. Good numbers of trout were being caught before the high water.
01/19/20 Sorry for the missed reports. The discharges and stream levels are low and lots of
trout are being caught, including some big ones. There are good hatches taking place.
Shoot us an email for a recommended fly list.
02/09/20 Stream levels are normal and the water in good shape. We have received some
good reports from customers fishing. This should continue.
03/02/2020 The river is flowing a little below normal and in good shape. There are March
Browns, Skwala stoneflies, midges and BWOs hatching. We are gettng good reports.
03/20/2020 Stream levels are low but that makes wading safe and easy. You may have to
use caution to keep from spooking the trout.