5 Reasons More Women Should Fly Fish

1) End of Stereotypes

Throughout my lifetime, albeit a very short lifetime so far, it always seems astounding to people that I enjoy fly fishing as much as I do. I can’t help but wonder: Is it because I am young? Is it because I am a woman? Is it a combination between the two? Sadly, I believe that being a woman interested in an outdoor sport is still something that is considered outside of the gender roles. IMG_2290It’s hard to understand my friends and family who are shocked or laugh when I tell them how interested in and serious about fly fishing I am. This cannot be anything more than a gender stereotype, that women are not outdoorsy. Women, ladies, girls, it is important to fly fish and talk about your love of fly fishing because this community needs to grow in order to end the stereotype of women as “indoor people.”


2) Mother Nature

Nature, throughout history has been defined as feminine:

Gaia, Mother Nature
  • Mother nature
  • Gaia, the ancient Greek mother of Earth
  • Isis daughter of the earth
  • Durga the Hindu goddess is mother of the universe!
  • Nu Gua in Chinese mythology had the head of a human, but the body of a fish, it is she who built and fixed the Earth when damaged.
  • Asase Yaa, for the Akan people of West Africa, is mother earth, and the upholder of the truth.

    Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt
  • Artemis, Goddess of the hunt, the most skilled bow hunter.

Reference Article from Time Magazine about Earth Goddesses Here



Fly fishing is one of the greatest forms of stress relief and peace. Anxiety and depression are not things to joke about, but there are many people who say that spending time in nature and it’s silence and stillness is one of the greatest methods to aide in these two very serious problems. I agree wholeheartedly.


For myself, there is nothing better than looking forward to a day of fly fishing. During finals at school or a stressful day at work,  nothing helps more than the thought of standing in a river with my line in the water.

Fly fishing also benefits the body, fly fishing is a form of exercise. In order to reach good water and good fishing there is oftentimes a long walk or hike in. Especially here in New Mexico, there are not many ponds or rivers in backyards. My arms look amazing after the summer when every weekend I was fly fishing. Calf and foot muscles develop strength during wading after maneuvering slippery rocks. While it is not usually a high intensity workout, a full day of fly fishing is as much of not a bit more of a work out that a short run or walk.Regardless of how many calories it burns, fly fishing is definitely my preferred work out.
4) Patience and Gentleness

Women are usually more patient and gentle than our male counterparts. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen men lose fish because they don’t let the fish run until the fish is tired. My Dad gets so mad because I let fish run so well, and he so often loses fish because he sets the hook to early, or doesn’t tire out the fish enough. Women are natural fly fishers, we totally have what it takes and more!

Also I’d like to include here a little bit of science. So often I have people, especially women, ask me why I like to hurt the fish, and what is the point of fishing if I don’t eat them. It is hard for me to remain cordial and not tell them to go do some research before judging the catch and release fishing system.

Fish do sometimes die if they are out of the water too long, or they swallow the hook or are hooked badly. These are worst case scenarios and personally no fish I have foul hooked or caught badly have died, they all swam away quickly. We always make sure the fish are able to swim away. However, when a fish does die, that fish becomes food for the other big fish rather than the little fish, allowing those little fish to grow into bigger fish. This fish starts to feed the massive ecosystem of the river. While this does mean mankind has interfered, it doesn’t hurt the supply of fish. Catch and release fishing areas are actually saving our river systems from over fishing. IMG_1152Lastly, lets talk fish pain. We never want to cause a fish or any anima pain, and it will make many people out there happy to know that fish cannot feel pain. Their brain lacks the part that creates the feeling of pain.


“Fish have the simplest types of brains of any vertebrates… pain depends on a neocortex and other specialized brain regions in the cerebral hemispheres…. Fish, in contrast, have many small cerebral hemispheres that lack neocortex….The small, relatively simple fish brain is fully devoted to regulating just the functions of which a fish is capable. A fish brain is simple and efficient, and capable of only a limited number of operations.” –Dr James D Rose,  PhD in Zoology and Physiology, Focus Study: neurological issues.

I feel that this science part was important. In my experience, this is one of the reasons some people hold back from trying the sport. I hope that answers some questions, and remember I am not a scientist, but I am an English major who did her research and this was the general consensus. I simply encourage everyone to do their research before putting something down.

After all the boring science lets get back to the main lesson here: be patient, be gentle, and keep tight lines everyone!
5) More Access for Women

If more women become interested in fly fishing, women will simply have more access to the same benefits of the sport that men have. For example, if there are more female guides and female owned fly shops, women fishing and traveling alone, would feel safer and probably go out fishing on their own much more.

For myself, this would be huge. I can only fish one place alone and feel comfortable because it is never crowded, and I am very familiar with it. If I was traveling to a new place on my own, a female guide would make me feel a little safer. With that said, I probably would have no problem setting up a guided trip with a male guide. I would tell people where I was and of course travel smart, but some women would be held back by the thought of being in the middle of no where on her own with a stranger of the opposite sex.

If more women start fishing, even more women will start fishing. I encourage everyone, men and women to start fishing because it is a wonderful sport, but women, you can do it too! Don’t let gender roles or fear stand in your way.


Work’s Cited
Time Magazine. http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/completelist/0,29569,2066721,00.html
Science Daily http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130808123719.htm
World Fishing Network http://www.worldfishingnetwork.com/news/post/is-fishing-cruel-do-fish-feel-pain

10 Reasons Why Fly Fishing in the Off-Season is Better

First and Foremost, I apologize for not writing in so long. The month of October was a bit crazy for me. I went on vacation then came back to 5 midterm papers and two exams. Also I started planning my wedding and booked all of my main vendors! It was such a relief. I hate planning anything, at least anything but fishing trips.

One of my favorite things about this beautiful place I live in, is the transition the from the hot green New Mexico summer to the beautiful golds and oranges of the fall. The greatest craving I get during this transition is a great bowl of green chile stew as well as a full day of fishing. So if you are a winter lover like me, get out there and catch some fish! Here are 10 of my reasons why I love to fish in Fall and Winter:

1. Cold Water and Fat Fish Trout prefer colder water. Towards the end of summer the fish are lethargic and existing in minimal numbers due to the dangerously warm waters that we see in late July and throughout August. By the time the weather cools off and the water cools with it, the fish are ready to start biting again. The fish have been eating all summer due to the mass amounts of hatches that summer monsoons bring. Catching a fat, 12+” brown trout in a tiny mountain stream is a blast!

Cebolla River--October
Cebolla River–October

2. Adios Warm Weather Only Fishers The weather is getting colder, and most of the tourists who fish are gone, and the warm weather only fishermen and women are headed back to their safe warm home while awaiting the warmer weather of the next summer. There is nothing wrong with being a warm weather only fisher-human. Fishing in the cold is hard. I never used to fish except in the summer. Now that I have the right gear, a stronger will, and the desperation to get out and fish, fishing in the cold weather is much easier. It’s not that I don’t love people, I do! I just prefer not to see people on the river while I am fishing.

My siblings and I in the Cebolla
My siblings and I in the Cebolla “River” Valley in the Fall

3. Beautiful Fall The Weather is colder, the leaves are changing, and the summer rains are long gone. There is nothing more beautiful that the gold and bronze colors of the Fall here in New Mexico. The golden leaves against deep green of the pines as the leaves begin to change. The contrast of the golden dried out long grass against the earthy browns and greens of the stream.  The Cebolla stream valley is one of the most beautiful places I have fished in the early fall. You can see from the picture here that the aspens are turning orange and that the grass is a dried sandy brown. This valley is located in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico behind the Seven Springs Hatchery. It is the perfect place to begin your fishing adventures in the summer and end them in the late fall before the snow closes the road.

First time Fishing the San Juan was in January!
First time Fishing the San Juan was in January! “Burrr- Cold”

4. Snowy Scenery I’m not sure if it is only because I am a desert rat from New Mexico, but when I see snow, it makes me extremely happy. The cold is a monster for fly fishing. Keeping your hands and fingers warm is impossible, you dread every snag, and pray that you won’t have to reach your arm in and pry your fly off of a branch or rock in the river. My first time fly fishing in winter was in January at the San Juan and it was icy cold. There were so few fishermen in the braids I couldn’t believe it! Usually you see a person on your right and left, no matter where you are on the river. Fishing in January was a whole new experience. It was quiet, cold, and it felt like it was just my Dad and I on the river alone. Although it was cold for us, the weather was perfect for the fish. It was this January fishing venture where I caught my first fish over 12 inches!

5. Clear and Gentle Water Now that the mountains are cold, the summer run off is over, and the sediment has all settled, the water is clear as can be and the current is not too daunting. The clear and gentle water means you can say goodbye to the bulky strike indicator and use a dry dropper combo on its own. By taking off that extra weight on your cast, you can plan sneaky, beautiful, well-placed casts into the perfect eddy to catch that fat fish.

6. Fall Hoppers The weather has cooled off and the grasshoppers are slowing down, but the fish are still hungry. There is nothing greater than seeing a fish literally gulp at a big grasshopper dry-fly. I have seen tiny 5 inch fish grab at a big hopper. I have seen a big 20+ inch fish gulp at a hopper. Fall fishing with a grasshopper dry-fly is a blast if the fish are biting at the top of the water.

7. Post Fishing Reward There is nothing better than getting packed up after a long cold day of fishing and heading to the nearest place to get a beer or even a nice warm hot chocolate.

Broncos, I Love you, but Sundays are for fishing. Sorry, Kylie
I Love you, but Sundays are for fishing.

8. Football Keeps the NFL Fans Away Everyone who knows me knows that I would rather be out on the river than stuck at home. I am a Broncos fan, my grandparents live in Denver, they’ve had season tickets for centuries, my Dad watches every game,…. blah blah blah….. Take me fishing instead! I’ll put it on the DVR if I really want to watch it. A lot of other people are not like me. For example my fiancé hates having to watch games after they happen because he already found out the scores. People who are die-hard NFL fans will most likely spend Sundays at home. If you do not mind the cold of fall and winter fishing, go on a Sunday.

9. Sales Sales Sales In the winter most fly fishing shops and companies do big sales, whether it is just an off-season sale or the full on Black Friday blow out, fall and winter is the best time to find great deals on fly fishing gear. Also be sure to check Groupon, Living Social, and Amazon local for guided trips that are on sale during the off-season.

10. Fall and Winter are Just Better than Summer I may just be an anti-summer, cold weather loving, type of girl, but to me it is much better to be cold than hot, and I think the fish agree. I always catch more fish in cooler weather than warm weather.

Lastly, I just wanted to let you all know that I have convinced Diego to let us do a super outdoorsy and adventurous honeymoon. We will be driving to Yellowstone for a few days and camping either in a car or in a tent and the from their drive up to Glacier National Park and stay in a cozy cabin. I am curious if any of you have camped Yellowstone and fished, and if so where is the best place to tent/car camp near great fishing in August?

How to Fly Fish the San Juan and be Successful

This weekend my Dad and I decided it would be a good weekend to drive from Albuquerque to Farmington, NM to fly fish the San Juan river. We left Saturday morning and fished through the afternoon, and fished all day Sunday. Our experience on each day was a little different because of the different locations at which we chose to fish. The difficult part about fishing the San Juan is technique truly does differ depending on where you fish, the quality of the water, and what the fish are biting.

San Juan River, NM February 2015 26.5 inches
San Juan River, NM February 2015 26.5 inches

First, I am going to tell you a little bit about the things you need to Fly Fish the San Juan. To fish the San Juan you need a light, long, soft, yet durable rod. I fish with this 9′ Sage Rod I got from my Dad. It is soft, that means it bends well with a fish on, it is light, but it is also designed to cast well through the wind.

I can tell you first hand that this rod is one of the best rods you can have to bring in quality water sized fish! I fought a fish for half an hour, on a drift boat, with a guide back in February with this rod. I tell you it was on a boat and with a guide because those conditions and that help make fishing easier. If I had been wading and without the extra pair of hands/ ability to follow the fish, I’m not sure I would have landed it. All of us (Dad, the guide, and me) believed that if I had not been using my sage, this fish would have snapped off my line.

Abe's Fly Shop 1791 NM-173, Navajo Dam, NM 87419
Abe’s Fly Shop
1791 NM-173, Navajo Dam, NM 87419

Secondly, flies are super important! On the way up it is important to  stop by a fly shop near the San Juan and ask them what seems to be working fly wise. My dad and I have always stopped at Abes. They are friendly, have a large array of flies, and they know what is doing well. At Abe’s, we bought about $80 worth of supplies including, leader, tippet, and teeny- tiny flies. I always find it kind of funny that these big fish can be caught on such tiny flies.

Water Filter Used to Drink From the River
Water Filter Used to Drink From the River

The last few things you need are waders, sunscreen, and drinking water. You cannot fish the San Juan without waders. Also, New Mexico weather is so ridiculous it can be hot sunburn weather in February all the way to the end of October. On that note, I am not good about drinking water when I fish, and I need to be better. One of the things that helped this trip was my Dad brought his water filter. This was nice because we didn’t have to weigh our vests down with bottled water. I was nervous at first, but the water tastes delicious, and truly is clean after filtering with this bad boy.

This trip to the San Juan was a lot different than our February trip. This time we waded both days, and we were not with a guide. I did not catch the catch of the week, but every fish I caught was over 15 inches. It was an absolute blast!

On Saturday, our first day, we decided to fish below the Texas Hole at the Muñoz campground/ day site turn off. It is easy to recognize this spot because at the parking lot there is a giant green pump house. This site does require quite a walk to the great fishing on the back channels. At this fishing site you have the choice to fish the main channel or the back channels. We chose to to fish the back channels, and we chose right.

Dry Dropper Set up with Tiny Flies
Dry Dropper Set up with Tiny Flies

While fishing the back channels at the Munoz site, I started with a dry dropper combo. I set the two flies 16-18 inches apart and used one split shot at the knot of the leader and tippet to give it some weight and get it to the bottom of the river to the big fish. Above that, I put on a small strike indicator. A strike indicator is absolutely necessary. You WILL NOT feel these fish bite. This is a lot of weight to cast out. The first few casts will probably be sloppy, mine were, but after a few casts it will begin to feel normal. The key for me is to be sure to pause when I bring my cast back behind me, so that the line can fully straighten before casting forward into the river. The picture here on the right gives you an idea of how small the flies are in comparison to my finger nail.

Midge Hatch
Midge Hatch

After a one mile walk and some wading, my Dad and I found a good spot with plenty of fish. The water quality was superb, we could see the fish at the floor of the river, which of course means, they can see us. The best part of the back channel spot we found was the bugs. You grow to love these annoying little creatures as a fly fisher. The midge hatch was going crazy the minute we got started fishing at 12:00. This picture doesn’t even do it justice, they were everywhere and the fish were going wild!

Notice how clear the water is, you can clearly see my boot.

Munoz Fish in the Net
Munoz Fish in the Net

Although the fish were biting off the top more and more as the hatch continued, I was not tempted to switch to a dry fly. I was getting plenty of bites from the bottom. We fished for 4 hours, pretty much in one area. In that time I caught and landed 5 fish. That is not too bad considering the fish I was catching were big fish! Every fish I caught was taking on average, 8-10 minutes to bring in. I have a lot of patience once I hook into a fish. I let them tire themselves out rather than reel them in quickly. My Dad is the opposite. He lets them run a bit and then gets them in quick. I like  love fighting a fish. I am pretty good at it, and love the feel of that line zinging out as the fish runs and the sound of the reel spin when I am reeling. Letting the fish run and taking my time is how I have become a successful fisherwoman on the San Juan. Stay tuned for a video of me fighting a fish!

At around 5 we finished fishing and decided to begin the long walk back to the car. We could not find anything but game trails to follow, which led to us bushwhacking our way through reeds taller than me, and bogs stinky as can be. Eventually, a very sore Mike and Kylie arrived at the car and decided that we needed beer. My Dad had a fantastic idea that we should drive from Farmington to Durango and get dinner and beer at Steam Works Brewery.

You can what alcohol percentage I opted for by the small glass.
You can guess what alcohol percentage I opted for by the small glass.

They had my favorite type of beer, a sour beer. Their sour beer is called the Ale Sabor and it was AMAZING! At a pretty high percentage of alcohol, I felt all my soreness go away after 2! I could have drank the whole barrel it was so good! The food was equally as fantastic. We had the nachos as an appetizer and I had the fish tacos, which were magical. After dinner we went back to out hotel in Farmington and prepared to wake up early the next morning and fish some more.

Day 2– Sunday

On Sunday, we decided that we should fish somewhere else, and continue learning how to fish the San Juan. We still had enough of our teeny tiny flies to keep fishing. Our starting point was at the Texas Hole, WHICH WAS PACKED! The Texas Hole is the most popular fishing spot at the San Juan. It is where every guided trip starts, where all the boats can take off, and has something like 10,000 fish in less than 1/2 a mile (according to a guide we used). We were not able to fish this spot and decided to go above the Texas hole into the braids. I did not have any luck in the braids. I waded on, finally my Dad and I got to the main channel and we were able to find a good spot. We could see the fish in the shallows right ahead of us. I was practically on the bank fishing. I was using roll casts so as not to get snagged in the bushes and trees. Suddenly, my Dad started catching fish before me. Let me make myself clear– this is miraculous, he never catches a fish before me! As you can imagine I was pissed! I could not figure out what he did that I wasn’t already doing. His answer was just as frustrating. He told me “I guessed. I just lift my rod every few casts to make sure I don’t have a fish on.” Yes, my Dad caught the first fish by guessing. At that point I too tried this ridiculous strategy. I had zero luck. My Dad caught two more.

My Dad, proud, rubbing in his first catch.
My Dad, proud, rubbing in his first catch.

Completely frustrated I set up a cream colored dropper on my line, and decided to cast into a little bit deeper water right off the shallows. I saw my strike indicator stop moving just a tiny bit and set the hook! BAM! Fish on!

Fish Number 1 on Day 2
Fish Number 1 on Day 2

Here is the crazy thing, the strike indicator never left the surface of the water. It barely moved, in fact, my clue was the strike indicator DID NOT move. I could not figure out how the fish could do this. The size of this fish and the size of the flies gives me the answer. These big fish simply wrap their mouths around the fly and when they open back up, the fly isn’t in their lip because I didn’t set the hook. Their big mouths can just gulp bugs.

In a sense you do have to guess which strike indicator movement is a bite. On this second day of fishing, the fishing was so much harder, and before I caught this fish and figured out what to look for, I was so frustrated. Day 1 we caught a big fish an hour. Day 2 I had caught 1 fish in four hours. Now I was ready for them! I had figured out the strike indicator clues, and I was ready to catch fish.

My plan worked and I hooked into a big fish! I was fighting the fish so long my Dad took the chance to video tape it on his phone so that I could post it here. The video quality and filming isn’t the best, but my Dad’s commentary is pretty funny.

Fish Caught after a fierce and exhausting battle!
Fish Caught after a fierce and exhausting battle!

Lastly, I want to recommend Rainbow Lodge and Resolution Guide Service for anyone interested in taking a guided trip to the San Juan. Steve Gill is the amazing guide that we used back in February. He was so unselfish and knowledgable about fly fishing the San Juan. Also, I am pretty sure there is a picture of me and my record fish on the wall!

Thanks Everyone for taking the time to read, and hopefully watch the video. Please continue to share and tell people about my blog. I love seeing new readers everyday!

Fly Fishing Knots and the Dry Fly/ Dropper Fly Set Up

Take a look at the video to see how to tie a couple of important fly fishing knots. I will be going over the double surgeon’s knot and the clinch knot. These are the two knots I use most frequently and the only two I am absolutely confident teaching people to tie. After learning these two knots in the video, read on about the dry fly/ dropper fly set up, and when it is a good option to fish with.

The Dry Fly/Dropper Fly set up is not as difficult as it sounds. Yes, its an extra hook in the air you have to worry about casting, but it also gives fish a bigger menu. The dry fly can be used as a strike indicator or as a floating meal for fish feeding off of the top. The dry fly alone is how I do most of my fishing in the smaller mountain streams here in New Mexico. The dropper fly is a smaller, weighted down, sinking fly that is great for catching the big fat lazy fish who feed off of the bottom. Using a small dropper and a strike indicator is how I caught my massive 26.5″ rainbow trout on the San Juan in New Mexico. The dropper is usually a tiny bead head nymph of some sort. I’m not kidding, its tiny! I caught that 26 incher on a black bead head smaller that my pinky nail.

San Juan River, NM February 2015 26.5 inches
San Juan River, NM February 2015 26.5 inches

Both the dry fly, and the dropper fly can be used independently. as I’ve said, but they can also be used together in what many people call the dry/dropper combo. The combinations that I use most are the dry fly and emerger combo, and the attractor dry fly and nymph combo. When you are not sure what the fish are biting, you are getting sporadic and infrequent bites, or simply not landing any fish on the dry fly alone, this is a great time to try the dry fly/ dropper fly combo in any of its forms. It is also a great way to fish when the fish are only wanting to eat tiny flies. It is really important that when you are fishing a dry dropper setup that you have floatant to keep your dry fly on top of the water. You do not need to add a bobber or other strike indicator, that is more weight on your line than you need. Your dry fly is your strike indicator.

When you are making the decision to two-fly it, you need to assess what type of fishing situation you are in, and then make decisions about the way you want to fish. For example if you are wading near the bank into some faster moving water, you will want to set your dry fly closer to your dropper on the tippet. When there is a strong current, having your dry fly and dropper 8-12 inches (20-30cm) apart gives you a lot more control. This is also a great option if you are casting toward shallower banks. The harder part is when you are casting into deep, slower moving, wide water. In this case, you will want to have 18- 24  inches (45-60 cm) of tippet in between your dry fly and your dropper. While there is less control of your line, there is no fast moving water to misguide and entangle your line, just be sure that you are casting up stream.

Before all of this, you have to decide which type of flies to use. The best way to do this is to pay attention to what is hatching, and what is in the water. Take a moment to turn over a rock and see what is there and whether any adult aquatic insects are emerging (emergers) toward the surface. If you can’t see an active hatch, emergers, or other signs of surface life. Then use the attractor fly and nymph combination  since the nymphs are not usually on the surface. I hope this gives you a beginners introduction to the dry dropper combo. The best way to learn is to get out there and do it. That is the best way of learning to fly fish–DO IT!

Most of the places I fish and write about are locations that really only need single dry flies. I am still learning and gauging when it is the appropriate time is to use each method of fly fishing. Like everyone else, I’m still learning more and more every time I get my line in that water. If you have more questions than the ones I’ve addressed please ask your question in the comments, and I’ll answer to the best of my knowledge! I’m truly loving writing and sharing my fly life with all of you! Stay tuned, and please follow the blog by leaving your e-mail so that you can get an update when I’ve posted something new!

Valles Caldera National Preserve Fishing

Valles Caldera National Preserve, located in the Jemez mountains of New Mexico is a prime spot for outdoor activities. The preserve is an amazing place to go for the day to hike, fish, drive, or bike. The cost is $20 a vehicle for a back country pass, and it is so worth it! The only time of year I have been is during the summer. Its up higher in altitude so it remains relatively cool, and there is always the chance of an afternoon rain. The sights and views are nothing short of fantastic, even with the burn scar the preserve suffered back in 2011.

My first visit to Valles Caldera was June of 2014, my Dad and I went to try it out after hearing about the beauty of this place. We chose to fish the San Antonio, which starts in the northernmost part of the preserve and flows west. It starts out as a narrow stream, not more than a a yard or two wide, at times even less. Further down the stream it widens and gets a little more shallow. In order to fish this small stream you have to feel comfortable casting into a small stream. Your cast will make or break your fishing in the small streams. Stealth and accuracy are your best friends.

First Fish at the Valles Caldera San Antonio
First Fish at the Valles Caldera San Antonio

First thing you’ll notice is the width of the stream, although it is narrow, there are good enough holes, up against the banks, for the fish to hide out. The key is casting from further away from the stream, and longer upstream than you typically would in such a small stream. My Dad won’t agree with me, and neither will “expert fly fisherman,” but I don’t think you need to let your fly drift to far downstream. I tend to only hook fish the minute my fly hits the water. Keep in mind I have only fished Valles Caldera in the summer months. The fly needs to be dry and big enough for you to see it, but not so big the small brown trout can’t grab the hook. You WILL NOT always feel the fish bite, there are some small fish in there! Watch the water, watch your fly, and wait for a fish mouth to gobble it up. Polarized sunglasses are a must have when you fly fish anytime any where so that you can see the water and that fish mouth.

When I fish the Valles Caldera I use a dry fly. Usually a grass hopper or a mayfly. Honestly though, if it has a tail or legs, and you can see it, give it a try. If after 20 minutes you haven’t had a single bite, switch it out for something different.

That View, Those Rain Clouds, Perfect Stream Fishing
That View, Those Rain Clouds, Perfect Stream Fishing

The best fishing I did in Valles Caldera was this summer, and I was fishing with different variations of elk-hair caddis and mayflies, all dry. One of the reasons the fishing was great was the time of day. I always try to start fishing before 10 AM. I think of it this way, the fish like to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner just like us, and of course they’ll take a snack if it is prepared beautifully.  In the morning they bite, and at around 2-3 PM something is usually hatching, and that is prime time fishing. I’ve also heard, but not yet tried, night time fishing. Apparently brown trouts turn into voracious hunters when the sun goes down. Okay, back to my trip, the other reason it was such great fishing was the weather. Rain brings fish. I don’t ask questions, I just know that I catch fish when it rains. The dark clouds, the blazing lightning, the roaring thunder, and the cool rain scared people off, but not me. I came to fish, and I was not ready to quit. I put on my poncho, prayed that the lightning didn’t hit the bright yellow girl holding a nine foot metal rod, and kept fishing. It was so worth it! I was catching fish after fish. They were all average 8-10″ browns. They were hitting quick and hard.

Later in the afternoon, post rain, a hatch opened up. I couldn’t tell you what it was. My insect education isn’t quite there yet, but what I can tell you is that it had a tail and was most likely a may fly. Now, most people will tell you to match the hatch to your fly and you will catch fish, but I get a little more creative than that and usually do okay. These small stream fish are not too picky, and do not see as much action as the big river, quality prize fish get. I matched the color, and cast my dry elk haired caddis into the stream. It is bigger and bushier than a mayfly, and the fish loved it! It would hit the water between a pile of a drowning mayfly, also known as a fish all you can eat buffet, and the fish would choose the elk hair caddis instead! It was a NY strip steak versus a filet!

Mouthy Fish, Great Size
Mouthy Fish, Great Size
Not too Bad for a Small Stream
Not too Bad for a Small Stream

Anytime I have fished the Valles Caldera I have caught 10-30 fish ranging from 4 inches to 12 inches. If you are looking for size, Jemez stream waters are not the place to fish. If you are looking to catch fish back to back to back, and have a hell of a view while you are doing it, then Valles Caldera is the place to go!

Cows are frequent on the road and near the stream.
Cows are frequent on the road and near the stream.

I know I need to stick to my strengths, and mainly tell you about fly fishing, but I think I have told you enough of my Valles Caldera fishing secrets. I have to show you a few other reasons why visiting the Valles Caldera is such a rewarding thing to do. I live in New Mexico. I was born and raised here, and I had no idea this diamond in the rough existed. New Mexico is just one of those places, it always has something more beautiful, more special, and more unique around every corner.

When we went to the Valles Caldera it was Elk calving season. All the elk mamas were having their babies. Valles Caldera has one of the largest, if not the largest, elk population in New Mexico. We had the chance to see a baby elk and a mama grazing, and when that mama elk saw our car she took off running to draw us away from her calf and the calf dove into the long grass, to hide until she returned. It was a beautiful moment to witness.

There are also a ton of grazing cattle who call the preserve their home in the summer. Believe me when I say, they are not afraid of people, or cars. They will invade your space while you fish, and take over the whole road while you are walking or driving through. When I got close enough to moo at them on foot, they did eventually run away. Also, notice that this is a dirt road. It is not always a smooth ride, and if it perchance rains, you will need all-wheel drive. Plan on an hour drive from the ranger station to the stream.

Now the best part of my 2014 trip to the Valles Caldera with my dad was not the fishing. Wait! Don’t curse me, The picture explains it all! On our way back to the entrance from fishing there were three horses waiting for us at the gate. My Dad and I are horse crazy, well animal crazy.

Friendly Car Intruder
Friendly Car Intruder

We want all the animals to be our friends, and when we saw those horses we couldn’t resist! We rolled down the windows to give the horses apples and breakfast crackers, and it was an amazing mistake. One of the horses would not leave me alone after his apple treat, and stuck his entire head in our car, and nudging my head for more apples.

Needless to say, Valles Caldera is a magical place. If you are a nature lover, if you need

Average tiny browns, not big, but lots of catches.
Average tiny browns, not big, but lots of catches.

some rest and relaxation, if you want to catch and release a ton of fish, then the Valles Caldera is a place you need to go visit. I encourage everyone to be a tourist in your own state, province, country, and even city. Doing things like this make for a great adventure!

Thanks again for reading, and please continue to share my blog. I am really starting to get excited when I post and see more and more people who read about little old me, and little old New Mexico fly fishing!

Last bits of important fishing advice: when fishing protected waters always use single barbless hooks. This is better for the fish and gives other people the chance to catch the fish you return to the water! Always have a state fishing license, and lastly, I wish you good fishing, cast your heart out, curse when you miss a bite, and smile when you hook ’em!

Why to Love Fly Fishing

I thought I would do a different kind of piece this time. Rather than write a how-to, or a description of one of my fishing ventures, this time I am sharing a creative piece I wrote describing why I love to fly fish.

Last semester I was taking one of the most challenging and rewarding classes I’ve ever taken, called Stylistic Prose. One of the challenges my professor gave us was to write a short paper without using any of the forms of the verb “to be.” That includes the words “is” and “was” and “are”. Can you imagine talking that way?! What an enormous challenge! I wrote that paper and found out my writing was immensely improved and action-packed. Alright, alright, enough geeking out! The point is this is my fly fishing piece in this style.

Here it is, why I love to stand in that cold water all day fly fishing:

Scenic River shot of the Green River, UT. Most beautiful place I've fished.
Scenic River shot of the Green River, UT. Most beautiful place I’ve fished.

Fly fishing succeeds as a stress release and a quick escape for people worldwide. The sport of fly fishing revolves around the use of your wrist, cautious finesse, and understanding the river. The fly should never whip the water, instead, it floats through the air and falls gracefully on the water. This positioning of the fly on the water replicates the moment when a bug would fall from the tall grass above, onto the river beneath. The fly line, carried by the ebb and flow of the water, moves from eddy to eddy awaiting a bite from below. Ah-ha! You see the fly dive beneath the water, and the time comes to set the hook. At the elbow, bend the arm back away from the water in order to establish a firm snag on the fish’s mouth. While holding the rod in one hand, use the other hand to manually pull the fish on the line towards you. As the fish pulls, jerks, and leaps, release line, and gather it again. To achieve ultimate success without losing the fish, or your fly, you must tire the fish and force him to exert all his energy. At last, after precious time and energy elapses, the fish sways in the water close enough to net. Finally, you grasp the fish in your hand, and gently remove the hook from its mouth. This small victory lasts less than a minute. A few short moments and the fish bolts from your hand into the river ahead. The river calls and beckons, and you cast the line back into the water, re-casting and casting, until the next fish bites.


See you next time!

10 Fly Fishing Must Haves To Get You Up and Fishing

Gear is the second most important part of fly fishing. The first and most important is the respect and love of the outdoors. If you love the outdoors and respect all that it bears us, then you have the first key ingredient to becoming a successful fly fisher. After you have that down, you do have to invest in your new found hobby, and buy some pretty important gear. It is no secret that fly fishing is an expensive hobby. Lucky for me, I started young enough that my dad was the person who took the hit to his wallet. However, I have mastered finding good deals for myself and my Dad when it comes to gear.

First and foremost I am going to start by telling you the places where I find the best gear and deals. Number one on the list is  Orvis. Orvis always has a sale, and their women’s waders are SUPER reasonable compared to places like Cabelas and Bass Pro. Number two is Charlie’s Sporting Goods, right here in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Charlie’s is not only local, but they are also great about keeping up to date with the local fishing, what is biting, and where the fish are. I LOVE supporting them. Third is Bass Pro. I can almost never find women’s outdoor clothing for a reasonable price, but Bass Pro always has a sale rack that has decent clothes and accessories for a decent price.

Now, not all of the gear I have is from these top three locations. My Dad and I have found gear all over the internet, even E-bay! I am not going to tell you about all the gear I carry, because it is six years worth of gear, and some of what I started with isn’t what I use currently. What I am going to share with you is my list of the top ten “must haves” for beginning a fly fishing journey.

Number 1 Rod and Reel (w fly line)

My Favorite! Sage Rod!
My Favorite! Sage Rod!

My first rod was not this sage. It was a much smaller rod, and it is still the one I use most in the small New Mexican streams, but this is my all time favorite rod. It is technically my dad’s, but I have commandeered it! This baby is what I use when I fish the big river in

New Mexico, the San Juan . This 9′ sage rod is the best rod, and I have chosen this particular rod to post, because it really is a perfect, use anywhere, rod. Just keep your eyes out for sales because sage rods are no joke! Sage rods can get all the way up in the $700 range! Yikes! The picture here shows the rod info in case people are wondering dimensions.

With your rod you need your reel and the reel needs to be hooked up with fly line. It is actually the fly line that is the most expensive. Orvis fly line is pretty pricey, but the brand White River is a great option. It is not the cheapest, but also not super expensive. My Dad has purchased Lamson reels more than any other reel, and they’re the reels that I have the most experience with. They average about $60. Not bad at all!

As a beginner, your best bet is to avoid buying everything separately and get a fly rod starter kit, you can find them starting off at about $60. They include the whole shebang: fly rod, reel, and fly line!

Number 2 Leader and Tippet

Now this is where it gets super fishy and complex, the leader and the tippet are really similar, but are for totally different things. The leaders are the monofilament strands that allow the fly line to connect to the fly. The tippet is the thinner strand that connects the fly to a dropper. A dropper is a smaller fly that will sink (ideally) beneath the water for the hungry fish at the bottom to gobble up.

LeaderThere is a lot to learn about what leader to use when. Here is how I remember it: fish in shallow water, like small New Mexican streams, are far more easily spooked by a fly line landing on top of them than a leader landing on top of them. Using longer leaders in shallow water is better. Not what you would expect, but true. Here is why New Mexico is really difficult, we have shallow water and small streams! Typically in small streams you want shorter leader, but if it is shallow you don’t want the fish to spook. I tend to always use a nine foot leader. When in doubt go to a local fly shop and ask which would be best.

Number 3: Vest and Attachments

Vest Forceps and Nippers

Trust me you want  need a vest to hold all the gear you will have for fly fishing. The attachments are easy, you are going to want forceps and nippers. Forceps tighten to your hooks to help you get a grip on the hook when you need to, for instance to get a hook out of a fish that your fingers just can’t get to. Nippers look and act like nail clippers. All you need to know about vests and attachments, is they are cheap. Places always have these items for really reasonable!

Number 4 Fly Box and Flies

This part is expensive, but simple. Buy a sale fly box from a place like Orvis and then go buy the most popular flies from discountflies.com. When you get close to the place you are fishing, stroll into the local fly shop and ask what the fish are biting and BUY THOSE. The shop owners usually know the secrets! Flies are serious business. Those little suckers sell for a buck and some change. Ya, a hook and fuzz costs that much, but hey, if it catches me a fish it is worth every penny!

Number 5 Wading Boots and Neoprene Socks

Simms Boots
Simms Boots

Now this is arguably not a necessity, but I feel that for safety reasons they are absolutely necessary. Wading boots are designed to keep your feet grounded on those slippery rocks. Simple water shoes and sandals do not have that. For this reason alone it is on my “must invest” list. Again with these, look for deals. Some boots can get pretty pricey. These Simms boots with metal spikes are my favorite (the other pair had felt bottoms). With wading boots you need neoprene water proof socks. These keep your feet dry and happy! Excuse my dirty boot picture, but now you know I do actually use them!

Number 6 Hat

Sun and water with a glare, trust me you want to keep the sun and your hair out of your face.

Number 7 Polarized Sunglasses

These help you to see the water so that you can gauge when a fish bites.

Number 8 Safety Gear

Coola Sunscreen from Birchbox
Coola Sunscreen from Birchbox

As my safety gear I always have waterproof matches, my Bear

Grylls flint and steel lanyard, and my Bear Grylls knife. Can you tell I think Bear and I should be friends? Along with this gear I also have sunscreen in my vest. I AM a girl, and I AM really picky about what sunscreen I put on my face and body. I love coola sunscreen. I actually received these cute samples in my monthly birchbox and stuck them straight into my vest.

Sun Bum Sunscreen
Sun Bum Sunscreen

I also have some oil free sun bum sunscreen for the body. All of these smell nice ( not nice enough to attract bugs) and are gentle on the skin. Lastly, you can’t predict the weather, always have a poncho in your safety supplies.

Poncho in a vacuum sealed bag to save space!
Poncho in a vacuum sealed bag to save space!

Number 9 A Giant Duffle Bag

This will keep all your gear in one safe place! Seriously, plan on it being giant. Here is the one that my dad and I use. I could fit in it!

Fly Fishing Duffle
Fly Fishing Duffle

Number 10 Floatant

FloatantThis is how you catch fish. Your dry- fly needs to stay on top of the water and not sink. Floatant gives those top-feeding fish a tasty looking morsel. To treat those fish to your fly, you need to keep it dry with floatant. After every 5-10 casts you will be adding floatant to your dry fly dry. I personally do not like anything but this powder kind. The liquid ones are a pain because you have to brush them on. Try finding the floatant that you can just shake.

Optional Number 11 Waders

San Juan Fishing in my Simms Waders--IN WINTER!
San Juan Fishing in my Simms Waders–IN WINTER!

Now Number 11 is ONLY if you are fishing a big river that may require you to get in the water waist deep. If this is your fishing location, invest in some waders. Orvis has waders under $200, which is an AMAZING price for waders. I am so oddly shaped (short, curvy, little feet) that my dad bought me some custom sized Simms waders as a gift when we first started fishing. If you can’t find your size AND you are truly serious about fly fishing then the Simms Custom Fit Waders are a perfect choice!

That concludes my top ten (eleven) must haves for fly fishing. If you are interested in fly fishing, my hope is that this list gives you an idea of the investment that fly fishing requires, as well as easy and reasonably priced options to help get you started. If you have questions leave a comment and I can respond to the best of my abilities. I hope I have sparked your curiosity to the wonderful world of fly fishing.

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