Northern New Mexico’s best fall fishing destinations

As with all trips to the rivers in New Mexico this time of year, a word of caution: Check the weather conditions. Late-season monsoon rains are still possible, which can lead to flash flooding and rapidly changing conditions. Temperatures can fluctuate drastically as well, so be sure to dress in layers and protect exposed skin from cold and sun. Always remember to carry your state-issued fishing license. A year-round license is good until March 2020. Check with your local fishing outfitting service for licensing, gear and more tips.

Rio Grande between Pilar and Taos

The summer runoff for snowpack has made the water levels in the Rio Grande rather high for most of the season. Flows are starting to subside, making it a prime location for fishing south of Taos to Pilar.

Chama River between Chama and Abiquiú

Fishing downstream of Chama Dam near El Vado is great this time of year. The flows are dropping substantially. The best times to fish that portion of the river are early in the morning and later in the day.

Pecos River (Santa Fe National Forest north of the village of Pecos)

Fishing in the Pecos this time of year can be a boon if summer traffic in the area left little to be desired. Mid-morning to early afternoon is a peak time to snag some brown trout. Be mindful of spawning fish along the banks as you wade through the river. Enjoy soaking in the fall scenery.

Jemez River, south of Jemez Reservoir

Your best bet along the Jemez is early morning or late afternoon. The flows have dropped substantially. Higher elevation streams can be much colder than low-lying areas, so dress accordingly.

Cimarron River (Cimarron to Eagle Nest)

Making the 2½-hour trip from Santa Fe to the Carson National Forest and the Cimarron River can be rewarded with a handful of brown trout and some of the best scenery in the region. The entire length of the Cimarron River from Cimarron to Eagle Nest is teeming with browns this time of year.

— Thomas Hill

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