By Larry Kelly
Most of us treasure that wonderful moment when we first learned to fish.
A campfire tale where the story of your first fish continues to be relived.
Several local guides agreed time spent with rod and reel is a gift to both the student and the teacher. One guide compared it to learning to ride a bike. Somehow, some way, the kid puts it all together and begins that first ride on his or her own.
The thought of walking down a trail never before seen only increases the anticipation. The promise of a pool of water, where that special fish awaits only builds up the moment.
The chance to explore by simply shuffling a few steps in the stream, like turning the page of a good book, opens the inquisitive nature of our being. The building of anticipation comes from a holler of “fish on” and the tug on the rod signals the fish has begun the battle. The celebration of the fish netted, photographed and released, or perhaps savored at the evening meal, becomes the climax of the memory.
Several fly shops do business within the Enchanted Circle. There is a reason for this: the Taos area offers some of the finest trout fishing waters in the country. Numerous areas are specifically designed for the young person and are stocked by the New Mexico Game and Fish Department.
One of the great places for the young angler is the Red River Fish Hatchery (wildlife.state.nm.us/fishing/fish-hatcheries/). Located just 20 miles north of Taos, the hatchery has a kids’-only fishing pond as well as guided tours to learn all things trout. The town of Red River is another ideal area for beginners as well as those more experienced. Fishing along the Red River throughout town is excellent, with some of the best angling under bridges and around bushes. All fishing is open unless marked otherwise. Both the river and town ponds near the Lift House are stocked. For those that might want to combine a fishing trip with a boat ride check out nearby Eagle Nest Lake (eaglenestchamber.org/, (575) 377-2420).
One of my favorite places to go are the Shuree Ponds, located on the Valle Vidal, a 100,000-acre unit of the Carson National Forest east of Costilla. The ponds are open July 1 through Dec. 31 and are stocked with 15-inch or larger rainbow trout. One pond is reserved for anglers under 12 years old. The daily bag is two, 15-inch-or-longer fish. These are ideal float tube waters. The streams are catch-and-release and are good for cutthroat trout. The views are spectacular. It is an ideal family adventure (kineticheart.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/travel-file-shuree-ponds-new-mexico).
I recommend you visit with fly shop guides in the area. The Taos Fly Shop and Sipapú Ski Resort (sipapunm.com) offer free fly-fishing casting lessons beginning in May. All of the area fly shops offer guided trips, and for many, the money is well worth it. They can customize a trip to your specific needs. You can rent all the equipment needed, as well as obtain recommendations for where to go and what methods are best.
For even more information on fly-fishing in New Mexico, visit the Enchanted Circle Chapter of Trout Unlimited at ec-tu.org.
New memories are out there just waiting to be caught.
Larry Kelley is a member of the Enchanted Circle Chapter of Trout Unlimited, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blue Yonder Fly Fishing
Cutthroat Fly Fishing
Solitary Angler (Tom Harper)
226C Paseo del Pueblo Norte
Taos Fly Shop (Nick and Taylor Streit)
338 Paseo del Pueblo Sur
Zia Fly (Spencer Seim)
Fagan’s Guided Fly Fishing
500 W. Main St.
Red River Angler and Sport (Sloan Convington)
320 E. Main St.
Eagle Nest Fly Shack & Lodge
Doc Thompson’s High Country Anglers
Land of Enchantment Guides