Blue Stream Fly Fishing
Fly Fishing Report for:

Chama River - Below El Vado - New Mexico

Hatch Chart - Best Access/Spots - Local Fish - About

Water Flow Chart

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Using Water Flow Charts & Weather Reports: Begin with our water flow charts to grasp stream velocity and volume – look for stable or rising trends to pinpoint ideal fishing times. Learn to interpret sudden spikes or drops, which can indicate potential challenges. Next, consult our weather reports to understand ambient conditions. Pairing the two, you can anticipate fish behavior, choose the right gear, and select the best fishing spots. Use these tools together for a holistic approach to your next fishing adventure.

In-Depth Weather

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Directions To Location

Hatch Chart

Month Hatch Time of Day Recommended Fly Sizes Popular Fly Patterns
January Midges Afternoon #18-22 Griffith's Gnat, Zebra Midge
Stoneflies Warmest Part of Day #8-12 Pat's Rubber Legs, Prince Nymph
February Midges Afternoon #18-22 Griffith's Gnat, Zebra Midge
Stoneflies Warmest Part of Day #8-12 Pat's Rubber Legs, Prince Nymph
March Blue Winged Olives Afternoon #16-20 Pheasant Tail Nymph, BWO Dry Fly
Midges All Day #18-22 Black Beauty, Zebra Midge
April Blue Winged Olives Afternoon #16-20 BWO Emerger, Pheasant Tail Nymph
Caddisflies Early Morning/Late Evening #14-16 Elk Hair Caddis, X-Caddis
May Caddisflies Early Morning/Late Evening #14-16 Elk Hair Caddis, X-Caddis
Mayflies Afternoon #14-16 Adams, Hare's Ear Nymph
June Stoneflies Night #8-10 Stimulator, Golden Stone
Mayflies Afternoon #14-16 Parachute Adams, Hare's Ear Nymph
July Caddisflies Evening #14-16 Elk Hair Caddis, Goddard Caddis
Terrestrials Mid Morning/Afternoon #10-14 Hopper Patterns, Ant Patterns
August Terrestrials Mid Morning/Afternoon #10-14 Beetle Patterns, Hoppers
Tricos Morning #20-24 Trico Spinner, Trico Dun
September Terrestrials Mid Morning/Afternoon #10-14 Ant Patterns, Hopper Patterns
Blue Winged Olives Afternoon #16-20 Pheasant Tail Nymph, BWO Dry Fly
October Blue Winged Olives Afternoon #16-20 BWO Emerger, Pheasant Tail Nymph
Midges All Day #18-22 Griffith's Gnat, Zebra Midge
November Midges Afternoon #18-22 Griffith's Gnat, Zebra Midge
Stoneflies Warmest Part of Day #8-12 Pat's Rubber Legs, Prince Nymph
December Midges Afternoon #18-22 Griffith's Gnat, Zebra Midge
Stoneflies Warmest Part of Day #8-12 Pat's Rubber Legs, Prince Nymph

While we strive to ensure the precision of our hatch charts, some reflect broader river region insights. Through ongoing partnerships with local guides and fly shops, we’re committed to refining our data. Should you notice any inconsistencies or have feedback, we welcome you to reach out. 

Best Fishing Spots

The Chama River below El Vado is a treasure trove for fly fishing enthusiasts with several excellent spots:
  • El Vado Tailwater: Immediately downstream from El Vado Dam, this area is well-stocked and fish can be caught year-round.
  • Cooper’s El Vado Ranch: A pay-to-access spot that offers over 3 miles of private water with large rainbow and brown trout.
  • Chama River Bend Lodge: Another private stretch of river, ideal for fishing at the height of the season.
However, some spots require careful navigation for the best experience:
  1. The free-draw section between El Vado and Heron Lake often runs dry and may not always be suitable for fishing.
  2. Portions of the Chama Wilderness can be reached via Forest Road 151 but this is recommended only for experienced mountaineers.

Best Access Points

The Chama River, located below El Vado, provides many excellent access points for avid fly fishers. Here is a list of the best access points:

  • Cooper’s El Vado Ranch: A great starting point offering a variety of trout species.
  • Chama River Canyon Wilderness: While remote, this location offers excellent fishing opportunities.
  • Below El Vado Dam: Fish directly below the dam for high chances of success.
  • Rio Arriba Game and Fish Access: Easy public access point with varied fish species.
  • Christ In The Desert Monastery: Reachable by a primitive dirt road and it offers a peaceful fly fishing experience.

Remember, varying water levels can affect fishing conditions considerably, so adapt your approach accordingly and always follow the rules and regulations of each site.

Local Fish

  • Brown Trout: Known for their hard fights and beautiful colors, Brown Trout are a popular target for fly fishers on the Chama River.
  • Rainbow Trout: They are stocked frequently and can be caught in good numbers. They offer a good fight and are perfect for anglers of all skill levels.
  • Brook Trout: Generally smaller in size, Brook Trout can offer a unique challenge to anglers. They are often found in colder sections of the river.
  • Mountain Whitefish: Though not often targeted, Mountain Whitefish can provide a fun change of pace for anglers. They can be caught on a variety of fly patterns.
  • Cutthroat Trout: A native species, the Cutthroat Trout are particularly revered among fly fishers. They are not as abundant as other species, but catching one is always a special experience.
  • Arctic Grayling: Known for their unique dorsal fin and silvery coloration, Arctic Grayling are a prized catch. While not as common, they can sometimes be found in the Chama River.
  • Pike: Pike are the top predator in the Chama River. They require heavier tackle and are a thrill to catch due to their aggressive nature.
  • Golden Trout: Known for their beautiful golden flanks and red stripe, Golden Trout are a rare and valued catch.

About The River

The Chama River is a prominent natural treasure situated in the beautiful state of New Mexico. Originating from the San Juan Mountains in south-central Colorado, it is a significant tributary of the Rio Grande, measuring 130 miles in length.

The portion of the river ‘Below El Vado’ is popularly known for its recreational offerings.

  • It’s a highly acclaimed site for fly-fishing, with a wealth of trout species.
  • It’s also one of the go-to places in the region for white-water rafting because of its unperturbed gradient.
The Chama River has a fascinating historical significance too. Simplified tools, grinding stones and pottery pieces found in the area testify that the banks of the river served as a shelter for Indigenous tribes, thousands of years ago. Today, the Chama River ‘Below El Vado’ is a living testament to the rich New Mexican culture, history and mesmerizing natural landscape.

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