Hot Winter Fisheries

Red River, New Mexico

Location: Red River, New Mexico, in the northern section of the state.

Species: Brown, cutthroat, rainbow, and occasionally brook trout.

Equipment: 7½- to 8½-foot rods for 3- to 5-weight line. Hip waders are handy but hiking in while wearing waders is bound to be uncomfortable. Anglers might consider hiking in wearing hiking boots with a lightweight pair of wading boots and breathable waders packed in a daypack. If you do hike in waders, be forewarned they could easily get torn up from rocks and brush.

Notes: For anybody who has fished for big fish moving up from the Rio Grande in the fall and spring, then you know this hard-to-get-to fishery is one of the best secrets in New Mexico. And despite the crowds around the hatchery, the fishing is usually productive, especially in the canyon's stairstep pools below. Make sure to visit the public sections of the headwaters as winter turns into spring, and then again when the snow has melted.


The Red River is a pretty canyon stream that empties into the Rio Grande. In the river below the ski town of Red River, the stream cascades frothily through steep-walled chutes, drops into deep, turquoise pools, bounces through choppy pocket water and tumbles on its destiny with the Rio Grande.

The resident fish tend not to be sizeable, but the stream gets a couple of runs from migrant trout from its larger sister.

The appeal of the Red River is the solitude, the wild trout, and the fact that in the dead of winter, with snow all around on the Sangre de Cristos, fishing on the Red River can be a temperate, comfortable endeavor. Dry fly fishing in winter, I might add.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 8 Nov 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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