Mark's Novel on Kindle

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Amy's Latest Athleta Article

http://www.athleta.net/chi/2011/12/07/heart-health/


Heart Health

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National MonumentI began thinking about this Chi entry several weeks ago while sitting in the Cardiac Critical Care Unit in Albuquerque after my mother-in-law’s unexpected, emergency triple bypass surgery.
This particular weekend I was supposed to be signing my name in the log at the top of another Colorado 14er with my sister-in-law, Tammy, a celebration of her newfound health.  Over the last year, she’s lost nearly 100 pounds, has completely changed her diet and activity level, and to top it off has started working as a flight attendant at 47 years old!  She’s on cloud nine.
But on this day we’re worried. My mother-in-law isn’t taking the normal path of recovery, she’s on a ventilator, and she looks so vulnerable.
Over the course of my mother-in-law’s 17-day stay in the CCU, I talked with a lot of doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, and I read a lot of heart health articles.  I was trying to figure out the best ways to take care of our heart.
One pharmacist told me that people need to be more in charge of their own health, meaning we need to pay attention to our bodies so we’re in tune when something isn’t right.  We are our own best advocates.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My class and their PSA videos to Stay in School

http://www.kacvtv.org/videocontest.html


Here's the link to the KACV videos for the Stay in School Video contest my advanced media class entered (for recognition and prizes.) Naturally, I'd like my class to show out. We appreciate your vote. Ours are: 

Individual: 

Amber Bray
Cynthia Garcia
Skyla Taylor

Group:

Willis/Traves

Class:  North Heights Mr. Williams

You can vote as many times as you want so feel free to get those fingers busy. Here is the link:Vote in the Video Contest for North Heights

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Great article on getting into scouting

Gina's first published article Check out my friend's first article -- she also has an app for iTunes about Scouting coming out any day now. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

while working on the book

Ran across this finishing up the latest book.         I don't know, I just like this pic of La Jara Creek. We didn't catch much in this stretch but we were the only anglers for 25 miles and we had a great campsite so it didn't matter.  Sometimes, it's really not about the fishing. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

16th Book Due Date Closing In

This is what it looks like, that crazy why-did-I-wait-so-late stage a week before a due date.  Notes, Pandora, Cab, cigar, 78 degree weather in my backyard.  Five rivers of forty-nine left to complete.  First coffeetable book, full-color pics and all.  I say it everytime but this one will be the one I'm most proud of.  Til the next one.  Due out this Spring -- 49 Trout Streams of Southern Colorado from University of New Mexico Press.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Writing and Writers

Tonight I had the pleasure of visiting Dr. Mike Bellah's Creative Writing class at Amarillo College.  I carried on and blathered about writing and me and fishing and me some more til they got tired of it and we got to why I really come to Bellah's class (and also allow him to buy me dinner) -- they student's esssays/novels/poems/screenplays/ramblings.  Great stuff.  The writing world's future is in good hands.  Reminds me of why I wanted to be a writer.  And still do.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

finishing up another book

mac and I have another book, this one due to the publisher by Sept 30.  49 Trout Streams of Southern Colorado.  The toughest part wasn't collecting information (meaning 'fishing') or taking photographs of all the streams (meaning 'fishing') but deciding which of the hundreds of streams and rivers made the final list.  This book is for University of New Mexico Press, due out in the spring and will have 3-7 color pics for each selected river. 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Booksigning at Maria's in Durango, July 27th

Amy and I will be signing books at Maria's Bookshop in downtown Durango, July 27th, 6:30 to 7:30 pm.  We'll be signing Top 30 Things to Do in Durango, as well as Flyfishing Southwestern Colorado, So Many Fish and Colorado Flyfishing: Where to Eat, Sleep and Fish.  If you're around, come visit with us.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another Day in Paradise (Santa Fe NM) La Fonda, Chimayo, Cross


In the last week of our research for our Santa Fe Guidebook --- We visited Chimayo (the Sanctuary, ate at Rancho de Chimayo), Santa Fe Opera, hiked up to the Cross of the Martyrs, took drinks on the Bell Tower of La Fonda to watch the sunset.   We had heard from some that the walk up to the cross was steep -- maybe if you are out of shape but it is a nice leisurely, switchback with stops kind of walk.   I did take home some blessed dirt from the Church.  I enjoyed a Santa Fe Pale Ale at La Fonda.  Doesn't get much better guys. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Casa Olivia, Kokopelli Real Estate

 I don't often plug a place to stay.  All too often, I stay in tents or in the Aliner or in dives.  I'm ready to plug something.

 Amy and I are staying for a couple of weeks in Santa Fe to research a guidebook on the City Different.  We are writing it for University of New Mexico Press.

I like writing with Amy.  She's a great shutterbug (and she just got a new camera -- a Nikon d3100) and a diligent researcher and is as pretty as the scenery. 

So we're doing this book.  We got invited to stay at Casa Olivia, a Kokopelli Real Estate and Property Management property.  Amy and I have traveled the world and stayed in some pretty impressive places. Enchantment Resort in Sedona. Hotel Aiguablava in Costa Brava, Spain. Various hotspots in British Virgin Islands. And the list goes on.  But it stops here.
 Casa Olivia.  Understated but elegant.  We pulled up in the driveway and thought, surely this isn't it, it's way way too nice for us. Nearly 3000 square feet.
This fabulous East side adobe home was originally built in the 1870's and was completely restored and remodeled in 2007. Located less than one block from historic Canyon Road and short walking distance to the downtown Plaza area. Across the street from the Santa Fe River, this home is ideal for scenic walks and meditation. The spacious vacation rental features four bedrooms and three baths. The main level master and guest bedrooms have separate bathrooms. Sleeps nine with an additional two on the pull-out couch. The kitchen and breakfast table area open into the dining room; a perfect set-up for entertaining and family gatherings. The comfortable living room has a large fireplace and generous seating space. The lower level offers privacy with a separate living area with two bedrooms and bath. The house is approximately 2,800 net square feet, very private and includes a completely enclosed large outdoor area with over-sized outdoor fireplace. Beautiful mature, manicured gardens with patio--ideal for entertaining, perfect setting for weddings! Dogs are allowed.
No cost for internet, I can wash clothes, I have privacy, I can cook breakfast, I have a grill ....
If you were to design the perfect Williams Family Home, this is it.  Walking distance to the Plaza.  Great eats and art and parks all around.  We don't want to leave. 

Kokopelli Real Estate and Property has more than 100 properties.  Sure, it's fun to stay at La Posada or La Fonda or Don Gaspar but here's the thing -- stay in Santa Fe for a few days.  Stay at a condo or house and split the costs with a fellow couple or family and enjoy the washing machine, the kitchen, the grounds, the privacy.   The decor is more real (is that a legit term? you know what I mean) Comfortable elegance. Rugged richness.  Santa Fe splendor.  You get what i mean, right? Spoiled but on my terms.

I am not leaving.  Squatter's rights!!!!

If you want to know more about Kokopelli Real Estate, check this out     Kokopelli Real Estate Rentals




Thursday, May 19, 2011

Check out a cool fishing site I've been lurking on for awhile

Wind Knots and Tangled Lines  Great site and they've got a friendly, obviously close, group of anglers that visit and comment.  I like that the blogger (Howard Levett) chooses to fish with vintage tackle, the fiberglass rods like I grew up using.  Next week, Mac and I'll be putting up an opportunity to win a book of ours (Colorado Flyfishing: Where to Eat Sleep and Fish) and my flyfishing app.  More on that later.  Give the blog a view and enjoy.

Monday, May 16, 2011

iPad and iPhone App Freshwater Flyfishing Tips from the Pros

iTunes Link to Freshwater Flyfishing Tips

The app is up and live in the App Store and has sold amazingly well in two days.  Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

app, book and fun stuff

Two cool things this week:

1) signed a contract with University of New Mexico Press to write 49 Trout Streams Colorado (South), the sister book to 49 Trout Streams New Mexico.  Will be writing / photographing with buddy Chad McPhail, of course.  We'll be traversing southern Colorado this summer getting new info and pics and generally causing havoc for trout. 








2) finished the first version of the app Freshwater Flyfishing Tips From the Pros, an adaptation of my Simon and Schuster book from 1997.  160 tips, 800 photos for now but with the next update, the app will have 250 tips and 1000 photos.  Above is a screen capture from the app. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

West Texas A &M STOP Filmfest

We entered four films in the West Texas A & M University Stop Filmfest.  We won two awards including Best in Category and Best Concept for Film.  Marisa's commercial about bullying (with Sarah O'Donnell in the hallway with the words stuck on her) won Best in Category.  Lyzi Wakefield's Little Red Riding Hood won Best Concept.  There were dozens and dozens of films entered. PDHS had 10 films entered. Lots of great young filmmakers in the Panhandle. Caprock, Randall, Canyon, etc. also participated.   I was proud as hell. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This app crap sucks

I'm working with Sutro Media to develop some apps and their site has been in "update" mode for a couple of days so I can't work on those apps. I'm also now an Apple App Developer for IOS and am trying to go through AppMakr.  This getting a key chain and portal stuff and certificates --- well, there's a reason I'm an English teacher and not a code monkey.  And this is supposed to be streamlined and easy for the dummies like me.  Jeez.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Perfect Fly Box

Latest article: The Perfect Fly Box
I fish more than most. It's a curse wading streams in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah. But hey, someone's got to do it. If you were to peek inside my fly boxes, you'd be shocked at how messy they are. I know where things are, and one reason is that over the years I've simplified my inventory. I've learned what works on these rocky rivers and what doesn't.
Like most of you, I grew up fishing regional patterns like the Bloody Butcher, House and Lot, Royal Coachman, and Renegade. Materials got better over the years, and patterns evolved. I like dry fly-fishing but tend to begin with a prospecting rig, usually a dropper rig that consists of a sizeable floater, usually a big Stimulator.
Attractor flies work great on the bouncy swift waters so typical of southwestern streams.
The trout don't have a long season, and they don't have long to make a decision about your fur-feather offering either.
You want something that will float, will hold up to repeated use and mostly, will catch trout.
So here's what my fly box for summer fishing in the Rockies looks like:
n Stimulators: This is my prospecting fly, my go-to fly, the fly I use more than any other in Southwestern waters. I like a few in each color: orange, yellow, green, royal and, surprisingly, black, all in size 12.
These will work early in the season to imitate stoneflies (golden, Salmon), as attractor flies and especially as the top fly in your dropper rig. Consider having a few in sizes 8,10, 14 and 16, too.
n Royal Wulff: You ain't a fly fisher if you don't have this pattern in your box. This pattern imitates most anything and is a super attractor fly, and the trout love it. Sizes 10-18.
n Ausable Wulff: Yes, this is a foreign pattern to the Southwest. That's one reason I like it so much. Created in the Northeast for their bubbly streams and timely mayfly hatches, this up-wing pattern floats well, is visible and imitates any number of Rocky Mountain mayfly hatches. It's especially good on long flats or runs. My favorite Mayfly pattern. Sizes 14-18.
n Goddard Caddis: I prefer this pattern to the ubiquitous Elk Hair Caddis because it works more consistently for me and the size 16 Stimulators work pretty much as an Elk Hair Caddis anyway. Sizes 12-16.
nDoc's Cork: Indestructible Stonefly pattern that works to imitate caddis as well. Rapidly becoming my top fly in my dropper rigs, especially on streams that have super stonefly action. Doc's Cork is also a fine attractor fly.
It's sturdy as all get out so you don't need but two or three in your box. Size 10.
n Green Trude or Red Quill Gordon: Your wildcard fly. Both are seldom-used, but the Green Trude is a nice change-up when nothing is working; the Red Quill is ideal for when those big, skinny mayflies dance over the water. Size: 12.
n Beadhead Crystal Woolly Bugger in black: One size fits all. Sometimes, when all else fails, and trout are just not hitting your other offerings, toss out this fly and strip-retrieve. You'll hammer 'em.
n Doc's Hopper T: Any hopper pattern will do, but this is my favorite. Come August and September, especially on meadow streams, you don't want to be without hoppers in your box. This one floats well, is easy to see and holds up to trout teeth. Sizes 6-8.
n Hare's Ear Beadhead: The most generic of all nymphs. The worker bee pattern. Get in sizes 12-18.
n Copper John Beadhead: Ten years ago, no one in the West used this killer fly. I catch more trout on a red Copper John Beadhead than all the other flies combined. Sizes 14-18.
n Pheasant Tail Beadhead: You could sub in a Prince Nymph beadhead or a Caddis pupa of some sort, but I have an affinity for this pattern.
Nice searcher or mayfly hatch fly. Sizes 14-18.

Apps

I'm now working on two apps for a third-party app developer.  The first is an adaptation of my book Freshwater Flyfishing Tips from the Pros (Simon & Schuster, 1997) --- I've added no fewer than 30 new flyfishing experts to this app.  Second, Amy and I will be creating the first of a series of guidebook apps for Colorado Mountain Towns (starting with Durango.)  Fun stuff. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

On Frozen Pond

Pond near the Bayfield Cabin.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

This summer, consider Little Blue Lake


Where is this little gem?  Northeastern NM, in the RCCLA land off the Valle Vidal.  One tough road but well worth the trip.  Find out more in the July issue of Southwest Fly Fishing magazine where Mark will have a feature article about this area and this lake. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fishing the Red River, New Mexico

Picture this: a snowy, March New Mexico day when it’s supposed to be getting warmer and we are six and we are about to descend into a six-hundred foot deep canyon.  Red River.  Three of us are flyfishers.  Doc, McPhail, me. One is a recent convert so we won’t call him yet a flyfisher. He is Crane.  Burly is the only true rookie.  We loves rookies.
Long hike in. We crowd the narrow trail, thin out then crowd again at switchbacks. Burly, at 6’ 2” doesn’t cover as much ground as 6’ 3” Crane.  His legs just don’t look as long.  Maybe Burly’s one of those ‘torsos-longer-than-they-should-be’ kinda guys.  Our descent into this increasingly-white wonderland/underworld is tentative, like going down the stairs of a friend’s dark basement to see if any of the rat traps have a new resident.   Plus, it’s cold as hell and getting colder.
I’ve seen the look before --- the ‘we’ve been walking an hour and we’re still not there yet’ look.  Their furrowed brows, especially Burly’s because he is bald so his forehead can really wrinkle up sharpei-good, showed that it wasn’t just the distance traveled or the steep incline but a concern for fishing in weather normally reserved for Malamuts.
Doc Thompson is my friend and he is a fishing guide.  Without asking, he gives flycasting lessons to Burly and Crane.  McPhail and I fish the Red, around the pewter-colored rocks.  Burly and Crane act interested in learning, give a moderately-decent showing and they are thrown to the Red. 
Burly fishes the confluence. He fishes downstream in the pocket water and has no chance in hell of catching a thing but he looks pretty good doing it.  He is wearing heavy neoprene waders which he later tells us chapped his inner thighs on his too-short legs. 
Crane is into it.  He has fished Rio Embudo once before and caught a trout so he thinks he’s an expert. He has his own rod, his own heavy neoprene waders, the kind with the wading boots sewn in, the kind that give you blisters on your shins and ankles and tops of your feet.  He is oblivious to his misery as the snow begins to bother our visibility. Hello Springtime.   
McPhail fishes upstream working around the big gray woolly mammoth-sized rocks.  He catches a big one and we rush to look.  Twenty inches at least and fat as the cigar that Burly smoked at Simpatico Lake near Bayfield, Colorado, the cigar so big and strong that it brought Burly to his knees after the hike and made him puke his guts out at the recreation center in the Forest Lakes subdivision.  Nice-sized rainbow, Mac. 
Doc catches an even bigger rainbow, colored so red and dark and green and fervent, the fish looked fake.  What Dreams May Come.  Twenty-two inches and several
So what we have here is a natural year-round trout fishery worth its weight in trout anywhere in the southwest. You can fish this gem when the snows are heavy or melting into sludge or when the summer heat hits, you need to visit the maelstrom of blue-green deep canyon waters of the lower Red River. From the rim at 7,000 feet elevation, the trails drop 800 feet into the canyon. At times, you feel like you are in a life-size terrarium, isolated in the red and green and tan and grey colors of the canyon with a narrow strip of blue sky hanging above the narrows at the rim.
Guide Doc Thompson never yells, quiet as the proverbial mouse, but he yelled at McPhail that cold afternoon in February to hurry up with the pics and put the hawg back in the water.  Doc’s protective of his fishery’s fish.  Bully for him. Mac was none too pleased though.  
The snow started big and wet, didn’t even give us time to argue about whether or not it was a good idea to hike out or not.  It was coming down like fleece, thick and white, heavy enough to cover my eyeglasses and paint us all alabaster in just minutes. 
            The hike that was treacherous downhill was even more so up, covered as it was by the snow.  We are Amarillo boys and although all of us are in good shape (if I say so myself), this was our first day in altitude so were sucking air with every labored step.  Watching Burly and Crane slug it out in those heavy sloppy waders was secretly funny. The hike out always takes a lot longer than the hike in and a lot longer than you think.
Burly didn’t catch a fish, didn’t come close. He whipped the water into a froth, caught up in the trees but by the end of it all, he started to get the hang of it. We had converted another angler to our band of brothers and the pain in my lungs felt okay, both when I breathed and when I laughed at the hoorahing back-and-forth as we wheezed up the trail.    

When the world above the Red River is a winter wonderland, the canyon is a refuge. And in summer, when the heat is like Hades, the canyon is cool and hidden from the oven above. When most every other New Mexico river is roily with spring runoff or inaccessible because of snowpack, you have the dependable Red. Descending along developed trails into the basalt-walled canyon is strenuous hiking, not for everyone. The views of the heavily-bouldered, freestone-river are eye-catching.  You just know there are some whoppers in those deep stairstep pools. 
And there are.  The lower Red River red is the primary feeder stream to Rio Grande, the main spawning tributary for wild browns, cuttbows and rainbows of the mighty river.  The Red holds its own healthy resident population of colorful wild browns and cuttbows but the prizes are those migrating lunkers, up from the big river to spawn in these spring-fed waters.
The river cut a canyon through the basalt over eons of time with its watery knife slicing ever downward.  The clear water churns over boulders, dropping off rocks and plunging into foamy pools.  Some of the rocks are as big as kiva ovens. Others are the size of watermelons.  And you won’t believe the size and depth of some of these pools even though the river isn’t all that wide.
Numerous warmwater springs feed the river below the hatchery keeping the water temperatures in the high 40s and low 50s in the fall and winter. In the summer, the canyon water around can reach mid-60s. These springs increase the volume of the river tremendously, tripling or quadrupling the flow. This is why the Red should be one of your top choices for spring and early summer angling.  Dependability. 
The Lower Red River is four miles of some of the wildest water in New Mexico. When you hear the term ‘lower Red River’, this refers to the Red River upstream from the confluence with the Rio Grande to a half-mile below the hatchery.  Four miles doesn’t sound like a lot of water but you won’t cover all this water in a day of hard fishing. These four miles fish like ten or twelve miles so productive is this fishery. Every pocket holds fish.
The Red River is one of those streams where you can do just fine on your own or you can do a lot better with someone looking over your shoulder; someone reminding you that despite the two fish you just caught in that big pool, you missed two other opportunities to catch even bigger trout.   That someone should be a guide. 
As Doc Thompson likes to say: it’s a whole different world down there. You will lose track of sense of time and where you are.  To fish the lower Red River you really need to want to fish it. This is not a drive-up river. You’ll need stamina, want-to. This is for those who need adventure in their flyfishing, or vice versa, one of the last of the wild rivers in the southwest, ideal for a getaway trip when all the tailwaters are full of neoprene-wading anglers from all parts of the world. 
Los Rios Anglers, 505-758-2798
Dos Amigos,Eagle Nest 505-377-6226
Los Pinos Fly Shop, Albuquerque NM 505-884-7501
High Desert Anglers, Santa Fe NM 505-988-7688
Van Beacham’s Solitary Angler, Taos NM 505-758-5653   

Fishing the Red River, New Mexico



Red River  
Location:  northern New Mexico
What you fish for:  rainbow, brown and cutthroat/cuttbow trout
Highlights and Notables:  Canyon stream, a real southwestern gem, pools and pocket water, resident wild trout, and when they get the urge big trout run up the Red from the Rio Grande. 



Picture this: a snowy, March New Mexico day when it’s supposed to be getting warmer and we are six and we are about to descend into a six-hundred foot deep canyon.  Red River.  Three of us are flyfishers.  Doc, McPhail, me. One is a recent convert so we won’t call him yet a flyfisher. He is Crane.  Burly is the only true rookie.  We loves rookies.
Long hike in. We crowd the narrow trail, thin out then crowd again at switchbacks. Burly, at 6’ 2” doesn’t cover as much ground as 6’ 3” Crane.  His legs just don’t look as long.  Maybe Burly’s one of those ‘torsos-longer-than-they-should-be’ kinda guys.  Our descent into this increasingly-white wonderland/underworld is tentative, like going down the stairs of a friend’s dark basement to see if any of the rat traps have a new resident.   Plus, it’s cold as hell and getting colder.
I’ve seen the look before --- the ‘we’ve been walking an hour and we’re still not there yet’ look.  Their furrowed brows, especially Burly’s because he is bald so his forehead can really wrinkle up sharpei-good, showed that it wasn’t just the distance traveled or the steep incline but a concern for fishing in weather normally reserved for Malamuts.
Doc Thompson is my friend and he is a fishing guide.  Without asking, he gives flycasting lessons to Burly and Crane.  McPhail and I fish the Red, around the pewter-colored rocks.  Burly and Crane act interested in learning, give a moderately-decent showing and they are thrown to the Red. 
Burly fishes the confluence. He fishes downstream in the pocket water and has no chance in hell of catching a thing but he looks pretty good doing it.  He is wearing heavy neoprene waders which he later tells us chapped his inner thighs on his too-short legs. 
Crane is into it.  He has fished Rio Embudo once before and caught a trout so he thinks he’s an expert. He has his own rod, his own heavy neoprene waders, the kind with the wading boots sewn in, the kind that give you blisters on your shins and ankles and tops of your feet.  He is oblivious to his misery as the snow begins to bother our visibility. Hello Springtime.   
McPhail fishes upstream working around the big gray woolly mammoth-sized rocks.  He catches a big one and we rush to look.  Twenty inches at least and fat as the cigar that Burly smoked at Simpatico Lake near Bayfield, Colorado, the cigar so big and strong that it brought Burly to his knees after the hike and made him puke his guts out at the recreation center in the Forest Lakes subdivision.  Nice-sized rainbow, Mac. 
Doc catches an even bigger rainbow, colored so red and dark and green and fervent, the fish looked fake.  What Dreams May Come.  Twenty-two inches and several
So what we have here is a natural year-round trout fishery worth its weight in trout anywhere in the southwest. You can fish this gem when the snows are heavy or melting into sludge or when the summer heat hits, you need to visit the maelstrom of blue-green deep canyon waters of the lower Red River. From the rim at 7,000 feet elevation, the trails drop 800 feet into the canyon. At times, you feel like you are in a life-size terrarium, isolated in the red and green and tan and grey colors of the canyon with a narrow strip of blue sky hanging above the narrows at the rim.
Guide Doc Thompson never yells, quiet as the proverbial mouse, but he yelled at McPhail that cold afternoon in February to hurry up with the pics and put the hawg back in the water.  Doc’s protective of his fishery’s fish.  Bully for him. Mac was none too pleased though.  
The snow started big and wet, didn’t even give us time to argue about whether or not it was a good idea to hike out or not.  It was coming down like fleece, thick and white, heavy enough to cover my eyeglasses and paint us all alabaster in just minutes. 
            The hike that was treacherous downhill was even more so up, covered as it was by the snow.  We are Amarillo boys and although all of us are in good shape (if I say so myself), this was our first day in altitude so were sucking air with every labored step.  Watching Burly and Crane slug it out in those heavy sloppy waders was secretly funny. The hike out always takes a lot longer than the hike in and a lot longer than you think.
Burly didn’t catch a fish, didn’t come close. He whipped the water into a froth, caught up in the trees but by the end of it all, he started to get the hang of it. We had converted another angler to our band of brothers and the pain in my lungs felt okay, both when I breathed and when I laughed at the hoorahing back-and-forth as we wheezed up the trail.    

When the world above the Red River is a winter wonderland, the canyon is a refuge. And in summer, when the heat is like Hades, the canyon is cool and hidden from the oven above. When most every other New Mexico river is roily with spring runoff or inaccessible because of snowpack, you have the dependable Red. Descending along developed trails into the basalt-walled canyon is strenuous hiking, not for everyone. The views of the heavily-bouldered, freestone-river are eye-catching.  You just know there are some whoppers in those deep stairstep pools. 
And there are.  The lower Red River red is the primary feeder stream to Rio Grande, the main spawning tributary for wild browns, cuttbows and rainbows of the mighty river.  The Red holds its own healthy resident population of colorful wild browns and cuttbows but the prizes are those migrating lunkers, up from the big river to spawn in these spring-fed waters.
The river cut a canyon through the basalt over eons of time with its watery knife slicing ever downward.  The clear water churns over boulders, dropping off rocks and plunging into foamy pools.  Some of the rocks are as big as kiva ovens. Others are the size of watermelons.  And you won’t believe the size and depth of some of these pools even though the river isn’t all that wide.
Numerous warmwater springs feed the river below the hatchery keeping the water temperatures in the high 40s and low 50s in the fall and winter. In the summer, the canyon water around can reach mid-60s. These springs increase the volume of the river tremendously, tripling or quadrupling the flow. This is why the Red should be one of your top choices for spring and early summer angling.  Dependability. 
The Lower Red River is four miles of some of the wildest water in New Mexico. When you hear the term ‘lower Red River’, this refers to the Red River upstream from the confluence with the Rio Grande to a half-mile below the hatchery.  Four miles doesn’t sound like a lot of water but you won’t cover all this water in a day of hard fishing. These four miles fish like ten or twelve miles so productive is this fishery. Every pocket holds fish.
The Red River is one of those streams where you can do just fine on your own or you can do a lot better with someone looking over your shoulder; someone reminding you that despite the two fish you just caught in that big pool, you missed two other opportunities to catch even bigger trout.   That someone should be a guide. 
As Doc Thompson likes to say: it’s a whole different world down there. You will lose track of sense of time and where you are.  To fish the lower Red River you really need to want to fish it. This is not a drive-up river. You’ll need stamina, want-to. This is for those who need adventure in their flyfishing, or vice versa, one of the last of the wild rivers in the southwest, ideal for a getaway trip when all the tailwaters are full of neoprene-wading anglers from all parts of the world. 
Los Rios Anglers, 505-758-2798
Dos Amigos,Eagle Nest 505-377-6226
Los Pinos Fly Shop, Albuquerque NM 505-884-7501

Monday, January 31, 2011

Link to our book

Looking at some spring fishing:  in the hopper?  Red River, Rio Hondo, Rio Grande NM, Gila Wilderness. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Playing the Spring Runoff Game in Southern Colorado


You know the drill:  spring has thawed, snow is melting off the mountains, you have your fishing gear in the truck and you’re ready to go.  But where do you go a-fishin’ in Colorado when most rivers are running high?  Of course, you can hit the usual crowded tailwaters like the Frying Pan, the Blue or the Taylor and fight for space with other disgruntled anglers or, and here is the gist of the article, you can try a new angle, some new waters. 
I’ve been there too many times before.  Tie flies all winter, clean my gear, check my rods and line, get out the maps and plan the first fishing trip; check the fishing reports, peruse the weather predictions, choose a fishery then haul all my gear to one of my favorite rivers only to have seriously underestimated nature.  The river is as swollen as Mrs. Doubtfire.  Nature 1, Me 0. 
To begin with, anglers give up too quickly on high water.  Roily. Muddy. Spate.  Sometimes the best conditions for catching the most trout or the biggest trout are during this kind of high water, especially spring runoff.  The fish are less wary and much hungrier, the stoneflies are in the air and on the water and you are not as visible a target to the trout as in stiller times.  You do have to toss heavy nymphs and you can’t fish dry flies and you won’t see many rising fish but if you work the water, the payoff is there. 
You don’t want to fish high water, now do you?  What are the interesting options in southern Colorado?  How do you maximize your fishing trip so that if one fishery is blown out, you have other nearby choices?  How to play the Runoff Game and win?  I’ve compiled a list of a few of my favorite waters in southern Colorado that are usually fishable when other better-known trout rivers are not.

Hermosa Creek

This tributary to the Animas River, located north of Durango, behind Durango Mountain Ski Resort, is tailor-made for dry fly enthusiasts. Hermosa Creek runs through meadows covered in wildflowers, in a wooded canyon, past thick green forests, its cold transparent waters coursing through true wilderness on its way to meet its larger sister. Hermosa is where the Durango fishing guides get away for a fun day off to pick pocket water for eager brook, brown and rainbow trout.
            It’s a good hike from the parking lot back into lower Hermosa.  The trail is hard-packed, not especially crowded nor is it sweet solitude but the trail is up and down; you are far from the river then up above the river looking down, then riverside.  And you want to walk past those lazy bums who quit hiking the minute they got to a close access.  Just keep on walking.  The fishing is so much better the farther you walk. 
            Hermosa Creek is drop-dead gorgeous. Pamela Anderson in her prime.  The water gurgles and percolates around grey-white rocks, dumps and drops into plunge pools, slashes under cut banks, wiggles and riffles, dances and dips.  Dry fly nirvana. 
            The trout are bigger than they ought to be in a stream this size. From time to time, lucky anglers land a trout eighteen-inches legit.  The average size rainbow and cuttbow you’ll catch will be in the 10-14 inch range, the brookies will be fat and bigger than you expect. Hermosa trout rise willingly to dry flies, hatch or not.  Just get a good presentation, decent drift over new water, and you’ll get a strike. 

East Fork Hermosa Creek
Another option for small stream fishing is the East Fork of Hermosa Creek, a feeder creek to Hermosa Creek that, at first glance, doesn’t look like much. Wrong.
This winding meadow stream is both easy and challenging, beautiful and maddening. 
This is great flyfishing water, packed with small, feisty, colorful brook trout and sometimes Colorado cutthroats. This is also challenging angling, the water nearly invisible, the trout skittish, the casting demanding. Undercut banks hide these brilliant but diminutive natives. East Fork is a spring creek that snakes slowly across thick grassy meadows and hilly slopes.  Every now and again, you’ll catch a twelve-inch cutt or a ten-inch brookie that makes you forget all the six-inch trout you’ve been catching.  And the colors on these wild trout are Technicolor crazy. 
            The East Fork, at ten or twelve feet wide at its widest, and is chockfull of fish.  When it’s running high, the creek spreads out all over the meadow and you can fish a 100-yard long area for hours with every lie a bounty.  Let all the other anglers drive across the East Fork to the parking lot and hike into big sister, Hermosa Creek while you fish the pockets and cut-banks and bank pools of the little sister. 

Williams Creek: 
Located north and west of Pagosa Springs, this tailwater that doesn’t look or act like a tailwater is a year-round producer.  Because this rocky stream flows from Williams Reservoir (consistent flows and temps), because there is so much public water (can’t argue with lots of water), because the road parallels most of the river (easy access), an angler can find numerous reasons to fish Williams Creek all year long, especially during spring runoff.  
The fishery has been up and down in recent years but has remained incredibly productive.  Despite heavy usage, you can always find solitude, your own long stretch of water.  Stay away from the obvious access points, park your car along the road and take a short walk to the river that runs beside the dirt road.  There you can fish in the canyon and the pocket water or you wade in the meadow water with its instream improvements. The scenery is as breathtaking as any in the San Juans especially up at Williams Reservoir
You’ll catch mostly rainbows and cutts in the lower reaches, brookies and cutts above the lake. A few years ago, you’d catch some whoppers every now and again from this small stream but lately, not so much. The average size trout isn’t worth bragging about but you can certainly have 20 to 30-fish days, flyfishers and spincasters alike.  Don’t forget to fish the inlet and outlet of the reservoir for cruisers.  To reach Williams Creek, head west from Pagosa Springs on Hwy 160, turn north for twenty miles on Piedra Road and don’t get freaked out when it turns into FR631. After you cross Piedra Bridge, the road follows the river. 

La Jara Creek:
             Take me seriously on these two warnings: 1) watch for rattlesnakes and 2) bring plenty of attractor flies in all shapes, sizes and patterns.   Along with the Cimarron River in New Mexico and Cebolla Creek near Lake City, the La Jara is one of the top wild brown trout fisheries in the Southwest and like the other two, the La Jara is great if you like catching wild browns on dry flies.  La Jara Creek is ideal as part of a three-pronged option with nearby fisheries, the Rio de los Pinos and the Conejos River. 
            La Jara Creek is not the prettiest river you’ll ever fish in Colorado.   Rocky, dusty, high desert.  The payoff? Big pools, lots of pocket water and slashing aggressive brown trout that will tear apart your flies.  The trout don’t typically grow large in this river below La Jara Reservoir but they are chunky and mean-spirited. 
When the snowpack is normal, La Jara dry fly fishing is superb from early May to early July.  The stonefly hatches in late spring, early summer are delicious. The caddis hatches are often heavy.  And the river isn’t just for flyfishers but fishes well if you like to fish worms or spinners, too.  Don’t discount the upper La Jara early especially if you can defeat the mud and snow to get back in there for isolated fishing. The trout are wilder and they take pretty much anything you toss their way.  Located west of La Jara and south of Alamosa. 


Rio de los Pinos:

I don’t want to put this one in this article but I’d be dishonest if I didn’t.  Writers like to keep these kinds of gems to themselves.  But getting back into the upper Rio de Los Pinos is so hairy, so serpentine, so remote, I’m not that worried you are really going to camp beside me. 
Oh, when you read about the cascading clear cold water, the miles and miles of perfect solitary trout water holding native Rio Grande cutthroat as pure as any Colorado river, and the brook trout as fat as small canned hams, you’ll want to take part in the adventure but it’s daunting.  The roads into the upper Los Pinos are potholed, muddy in the spring and early summer.  It’s easy to get turned-around. 
You’ll likely not see a soul on the upper reaches of the river.  I’m not talking about the crowded mile or two just above Trujillo Meadows for you will run into folks there but that seemingly-unending stretch that is reached from Forest Road 188 and its spiderweb of dirt road arteries.  The upper Rio de los Pinos is easily waded, picture-perfect with short deep pools, long runs, choppy riffles, undercut banks, big rocks and all kinds of other ideal trout habitat.  And for the topper?  These Rio Grande cutthroats are the prettiest trout on the planet, a jumble of    

Uncompaghre River: 
Below Ridgway Reservoir flows the Uncompahgre River, a few miles of rehabilitated tailwater, a stretch of obvious in-stream improvements and anecdotes galore of huge trout. The locals call it Jurassic Park for all the big dinosaurs they’ve caught in its green waters.  It’s really like no other trout fishery I’ve ever seen. 
Ridgway Reservoir is the lake-as-filter, and it effectively screens out the acidity and silt and helped this once-productive river return to normalcy after years of suffering from mining.  The fishing gets better year after year.
The fishing isn’t for every angler.  The park is a little theme park, cultivated and manicured with all the rehab work, the streamside sidewalks, the fancy campgrounds. You’ll be fooled by the dancing water thinking you can fish it like a typical freestone stream --- you cannot. You’ll have dreams of sugar plums dance in your head when you see the weirs and rocks, the tails of these pools but don’t fish exclusively there.  The big fish are typically brood fish and that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. 
Cut-banks are the key to catching these big fish.   You can catch fish in the pools but try these banks. The water along the banks is deep, cut way back under and that’s where you can do some real damage.  Swing a streamer under the bank or plop a splashy nymph or present a drag-free Blue-Winged Olive and whammo! You’ll catch a variety of trout including Colorado River cutthroat, Snake River cutthroat, rainbow and brown trout. 

South Clear Creek and North Clear Creek:             
Not many anglers have ever heard about these two productive streams, not even seasoned, avid anglers of southern Colorado.  On the map, they’re unremarkable, feeder creeks to the Rio Grande.  North Clear Creek flows through a big wide open meadow before it drops over cleverly-titled North Clear Creek Falls, tumbles through a rocky canyon before tidying up through campsites in a huge open park.  South Clear Creek has a barely-marked road and you won’t find any books or articles that can tell you much about it. 
So go there.  Fish both of them. Trust me. 
North Clear Creek holds athletic trout, fish that have lived in forceful water their entire lives.  A fourteen-inch rainbow caught in North Clear Creek is the fighting sizeable equivalent to a nineteen-incher on any other river. And they jump.  In the meadow section of North Clear Creek, brook trout are willing participants, bountiful and no bigger than 12 inches.  From the falls downstream, the river plunges into wicked deep pools, strong rainbows pop off your fly or lure and you have to lay down to get a good cast under overhanging limbs at times. 
South Clear Creek, when high, is a great trout stream.  You’ll need a four-wheel drive to get back to it and you’ll need sharp eyes to find the turnoff from Highway 149 onto this BLM land.  A mile before you get to the Rio Grande Reservoir turnoff, you’ll see a dirt road going east off the highway. If you get to the upper Rio Grande turnoff (FR 520), you’ve missed it so circle back.  The river has big browns and lots of brookies and only locals know about it.  You’ll reach North Clear Creek a few miles north on Highway 149 and it’s well signed. 




Flyfishing Mistakes Rookies Often Make


Rookie Longrodding Mistakes


            If you’ve been wanting to take up the sport of flyfishing and have thought it a tad too intricate or elite; if you learned how to flyfish when you were a kiddo and forgot half of what you learned and weren’t really all that good at the other half, or if you have thought to yourself while knee-deep in a New Mexico stream fishing with a spinning rod and Power-Bait that you’d like to have a different angling option, it’s not too late to learn.

            And the good thing is that almost anywhere you live, you have numerous options and lots of fellow flyfishing fools to help you learn. Over 20 million anglers in America flyfish annually and since we're so close to so many trout streams, you might as well take back up the sport so you can enjoy the scenery and sport.  Chad McPhail and I have a how-to-flyfish book coming out this summer (So You Want To Flyfish from Frederick Fell Publishers) that is meant for those anglers who are newbies or have tried it but haven't had success.  We think too many fly-anglers get overwhelmed by all the complexities.  Simplify things.  That said, here is a short list of rookie mistakes that you probably made when you gave it a go.  Read and learn:


·      Pay attention! Be careful when scrambling on rocks or walking along the bank while holding the fly in your fingers. All it takes is for a limb to snag the loose flyline and it’ll sink right into your fingers or hand. Secure the fly to your rod (hook keeper or in the cork handle) so you don’t have to waste time crying and bleeding all over the bank.

·      Part two of bad move?  Not de-barbing the hook.  When, not if, you hook yourself, for you most certainly will at some point, if you have not de-barbed your hook, you will be in for a big surprise.  Those barbed flies don’t back out easily.  You’ll lose flesh or if stuck in the right spot, it won’t be coming out rather it will have to be removed by making it go forward. That’s right.  You’ll push it through the skin so you can cut it with pliers.  Gross, huh? Well, there is a slightly –less gross method in the removing a hook section.

·      Watch a stretch of water for a minute before casting.  You’ll be able to see fish rising or feeding under the water and then you can formulate a plan of attack, how you’ll position, how you’ll cast, how you’ll drift.

·      Don’t use too much rod for the water and the fish. That’s a problem that’s hard to fix unless you are willing to drop cash on several rods. A lot of the beginner rods are 6-weight and that’s just too thick and stiff for your basic trout stream. The pitch for the 6-weight is that it’s versatile. You can fish for big bass and for small trout with the same rod. Truth is, you can. But you won’t want to. 4 or 5-weight is better for trout. Even a 3. The rods today can handle heavier fish even though they’re slimmer and lighter. You’ll feel the difference with a lighter rod when you cast and when you feel a take and play the fish.

·      Don’t wade where you should be fishing. We know. It’s fun to wade. That’s part of the appeal of flyfishing. But don’t wade unless you have to. The more you wade, the greater the chance you spook trout. Trout can hear and feel your “Sasquatch” footfalls from a long ways away. Think “Twinkle-toes,” not “Buffalo.”

·      Know where you’re stepping before you step. If you can’t see the bottom, maybe you’re in over your head. Slide your feet, always keeping one on the ground / river bottom. Shuffle. Sashay. Mosey, if you will. But whatever you do, don’t beeline rush it.

·      Don’t set the hook on a trout as you would on a bass. Otherwise, “Pop goes the weasel.” Lift the rod tip. That is all. 

·      Do not walk into some other angler’s water.  This isn’t sand bass fishing where all the boats circle round the one boat that is catching fish.  In flyfishing, anglers walk upstream on a river so you don’t want to jump in front of someone and make them have to get out and go around.  Be aware as you walk behind them – don’t get too close. Your footfalls, shadows and general presence cause problems for fish and anglers.

·      It’s easy to stand so close to the bank that you scare every trout within ten feet.  Don’t.

·      More power on your forward stroke (cast) does not equal more line being cast.  It means trouble.  Stay smooth and keep things tight, short, controlled.

·      If you stop to talk to an angler to pry info, respect them.  Don’t invade their space or time.  Most flyrodders are eager to share what is working (or not working) but don’t assume anything.  They may be sitting on the motherlode, working a huge fish, seeing the most prolific hatch ever, that sort of thing.  In that case, you can understand their proprietary nature.

·      Don’t wear your chest waders to fish a shin deep stream.

·      A store-bought fly costs 2 bucks.  If you get one stuck in the trees, and you will, look at the risk-reward factor.  Is it really worth it to cross the dark deep pool of which you have no idea the depth just to recover that fly that hasn’t been working any way?

·      Rookies will often cast to the same rising fish over and over without success.  They’ll change flies but the ones they select are too similar.  The trick often is drifting a dropper nymph or stripping a woolly bugger in front the trout.  Or going much bigger or much smaller with your fly.  Summary:  change depth or change size.

·      Bird’s nests.  For rookies, it’s just easier to cut the line and cut your losses. Start over and tie on new leader and a new fly.

·      You’ll find paths on any fished river.  That means that angler after angler tends to cast to the same pools, the same lies, the same water as the previous one. That also means that trout in waters that never see casts are never seeing flies.  Cross the river on the other side of the path and that way, you’ll get to fish fresh water.

 Be sure to look for our how-to flyfish book coming out next month:  So You Want To Fly Fish? 

Barnes and Noble Booksigning



We had a great booksigning at Barnes and Noble -- sold out all the Colorado Fly Fishing and most of the Top 30. 

ESPN radio interview by Chip Howard


ESPN Interview, part one and ESPN interview, part two

We visited for twenty minutes the other day with our buddy and ESPN radio personality, Chip Howard. We threw together some so-so video over it to give you something to look at while you laughed at our radio hilarity.

reader checks in

Got this email on Facebook. It's bound to happen --- restaurants and flyshops close or move or whatever. Still, you gotta include them

Bob PowellJanuary 30, 2011 at 7:38pm
Subject: Colorado Flyfishing
Mr. Williams,
Picked up your book, CO Flyfishing, while in Durango a few weekends ago. Very nice. A quick update for you: Darwin's in El Jebel is no longer open. Imagine our displeasure. My wife and I drove up from Palisade for a quick Sun. trip (she shops, I fish). We were craving Mac and cheese and crab. Not only did I get skunked on the Fork, but for lunch too. Ended up with the beer cheese soup in Glenwood; very good as well. At any rate keep up the good work. Your book has inspired me to plan a shorter version of your trip with my grown sons from Dallas. Thanks again. Bob Powell
P.S. If your interested you can find a fishing piece I wrote a few years back for Texas Magazine/Houston Chronicle/State Lines. Entitled 'It's Not Always About the Fish' RD Powell. Thanks for your good work.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Flyishing the Upper Roaring Fork, Colorado

video Going through some pics from two summers ago, the one where Mac and I spent traipsing across Colorado and I ran across a bunch of videos. We didn't take much care to video anything (it was more spur of the moment sort of a thing). Here's a nice wild trout Mac caught in the narrow upper waters of the Roaring Fork.