Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing the Rio de los Pinos New
The Rio de los Pinos, or river of the pines, is a remote
high country trout stream. The river's headwaters are in
the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado. It flows
into New Mexico and makes a loop that's about twenty
miles long before crossing back into Colorado. This
section of the river flows through pine forest, a few
meadows and some deep canyons. The Rio de los Pinos
terminates at the Rio San Antonio, a few miles south of
Antonito, Colorado.

More than half of the twenty mile section in New Mexico
flows through the Carson National Forest. About eight
miles of it flows through private property. Part of the
stream, the Rio de los Pinos Wildlife and Fishing Area, is
managed by the New Mexico Department of Game and
Fish. This section lies at the east end of the stream near
the private property section.

There are some cutthroat trout in the headwaters of the
stream below Duck Lake in Colorado but the New Mexico
section contains mostly wild browns and brook trout and
stocked rainbows. The stream is surrounded with high
grass and willow  trees in many areas of it upper end but
it is quite different where flows through the Toltec Gorge

You can access the upper end of the Rio de los Pinos
near the Toltec Canyon via the Toltec and Cumbres
Scenic Railroad. It is located at the Chama Railroad
Depot at Antonito, Colorado. You can make
arrangements with them to drop you off and pick you up
at the Osier Station. You will have to hike down in the

Beaver Creek flows into the Rio de los Pinos near its
upper end. It is formed by the confluence of Diablo Creek
and Cruces Creek, both of which are located in the
Cruces Basin Wilderness. Beaver Creek gets its name
from its populations of beavers that form dams along the
stream. These small streams hold mostly brook trout.
They can be accessed at a trailhead at Osha Canyon
located off NM state highway #87.

Forest Service Road #284, off US Highway #285,
provides access to the lower section of the Rio de los
Pinos. There are campgrounds and a few miles of stream
access available from the road. The trout in the lower
section, consisting mostly of browns and rainbows,
average a larger size than those of the upper section.
The stream is larger and consist of pocket water with
some deeper pools and runs.

Be sure to check the special regulations (subject to
change) of the Carson National Forest portion.

Aquatic insects are fairly plentiful in Rio de los Pinos. You
will find blue-winged olives early in the year and again in
the early fall. Pale Morning Duns are also plentiful from
May through June. There are some Dark Red Quills,
Mahogany Duns and other mayflies that  hatch in May
and June.

Caddisflies are plentiful and mostly consist of Green
Sedges and various species of Spotted Sedges. They
hatch off and on from May through September. There is
also some Little Yellow Stonelfies in the fast water
sections that hatch from late My though June. There are
others but not in plentiful quantities. During the summer
months, ants, beetles and grass hoppers are plentiful and
imitations of them work well.

The season is open year-round.
Early, before runoff in March can be good. Late May
through June is usually a good time for fly fishing Rio de
los Pinos.
Early Summer is usually good. Some sections can get a
little on the warm side in July and early August.
Late August through September is probably the best time
to fish the stream.

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Type of Stream
Freestone Stream

Rainbow Trout (mostly stocked)
Brown Trout (wild)
Brook Trout (wild)

Small to Medium

Northern New Mexico

Nearest Towns
Los Pinos, New Mexico
San Miguel, New Mexico
Antonito, Colorado
Vallecitos, New Mexico


Easy and plentiful in the lower
section. Tough in most of the upper
area with some deep gorges

Non-Resident License
State of New Mexico

National Weather Service Link

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