New Mexico's Trout-Fishing Secret: The Cimarron River


Northeastern New Mexico between Eagle Nest and Ute Park.

Tailwater, but with a freestone character, containing riffles, pools, some pocket water, undercut banks, beaver ponds, and lots of underwater cover. The Cimarron is not navigable.

USGS Ute Peak, Eagle Nest.

From Santa Fe, travel north on 84/285 to 68 towards Taos. Travel east on 64 to Eagle Nest. The Cimarron River is about a five-hour drive from Denver. Take I-25 South across the New Mexico border. South of Raton, drive west on Highway 64. From Albuquerque, take I-25 North to Springer, then go west on Highways 58 and 64 to Cimarron. From Taos, go east on Highway 64 for 55 miles. There are numerous pullouts along the road.

In Eagle Nest, The Moore Rest Inn (505-377-6813).
In Ute Park, Pine Ridge Motel (505-376-2960).
In Angel Fire, Angel Fire Resort (505-377-6401).
In Cimarron, the Cimarron Inn (505-376-2268).
Public streamside campgrounds include Tolby Creek, Maverick Creek, Ponderosa, Blackjack Tent Area. No camping streamside except in designated camping spots.

Over 50 pullouts along the road provide ample access for anglers. The first half mile below the Eagle Nest Dam, usually called the"Holy Water," is private but available to anglers for a fee. (This spot can hold among its rocks and pools many healthy 15" and 16" Browns, with a few in the 20"-22" range. The Holy Water is not the only spot on the river that holds fish in that size range, but they are much more widely dispersed in the other sections of the river.) From the border of the Holy Water it is eight miles downstream to the western boundary of Ute Park.

Open year-round, but the best times are pre-runoff, then again in mid-May to September.

7 = to 8 =-foot rod for 2-5 weight line.

Elk Hair Caddis 12-18, PMD 14-18, Yellow or Gold Stimulator 10-14, Baetis 16-20, Adams 12-18, Hoppers 8-12, Foam Beetles 12-14, Foam black ant 12-14, Royal Wulff and Trude 10-16, Orange Asher 12-16, Humpy 12-16, Goddard Caddis 12-16, Yellow Sally 12-14, Mathews X-Caddis 12-16, Irresistible 12-16, Renegade 12-16, Hare's Ear 8-16, Prince Nymph 12-16, Pheasant Tail 14-18, Scuds (orange, gray, olive) 14-16, Zug Bug 12-16, Brassie 14-18.

The first two miles of the Cimarron (from Tolby Creek CG downstream to the first bridge crossing) are subject to special regulations. In the Special Trout Waters, anglers can use only artificial flies and lures with barbless hooks. You can only keep one trout, which must be over 16 inches. I encourage anglers to release all wild brown trout. Check the regulations for current information. Near the small town of Ute Park, the Cimarron enters private land, so be aware. And do not fish on water that flows through the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch. It's off limits. The rest of the river correlates with standard state regulations. Current bag limit is five fish.

Wild brown trout and stocked rainbow trout. A nine-pound brown was caught in the special regulations area in 1997.

Heavy brush and overhanging tree limbs will snatch your flies.

The Palisades. And the great insect hatches, especially the stones in late May and early June.

Doc Thompson's High Country Anglers in Cimarron (505-376-9220).
Reel Life in Santa Fe (505-995-8114) and Albuquerque (505-268-1693).
Starr Angler (505-754-2320) in Red River.
Los Rios Anglers (505-758-2798) and Dos Amigos in Eagle Nest (505-377-6226).
Los Pinos Fly Shop in Albuquerque (505-884-7501), High Desert Angler in Santa Fe (505-988-7688), and Los Rios Anglers in Taos (505-758-2798).

Cimarron Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 604, Cimarron NM, 87714 (505-376-2417).
Eagle Nest Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 322, Eagle Nest NM, 87718, (505-377-2420).
New Mexico Dept. of Game and Fish, Villagra Bldg., P.O. Box 25112, Santa Fe NM, 87504 (505-827-7882). Road conditions:1-800-432-4269; Fisheries division: 505-827-7905.
New Mexico Dept. of Tourism, 1100 St. Francis Dr., Joseph Montoya Bldg., Santa Fe NM, 87503 (505-827-0291; 1-800-545-4020).

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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