Two of my favourite New Mexico rivers to fish are the San Juan River and Cimarron River. This story is concerning the Cimarron. The Cimarron River is in Northeast New Mexico and emanates out of Eagle Nest Lake. Positioned on the japanese fringe of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this dry fly gem flows eastward via Cimarron Canyon State Park alongside US Hwy 64. After flowing into a number of different rivers this water in the end reaches the Mississippi River. New Mexico Recreation and Fish estimates almost four,00zero catchable sized wild browns per mile, that is unquestionably the healthiest wild brown trout fishery within the state and one of many healthiest within the southern Rocky Mountains. A lot of the wild browns are 10-14 inches with the occasional huge boy. This fishery isn’t well-known however can nonetheless get a little bit crowded near the roads throughout mid summer time.
I can simply get to the Cimarron inside a one-day laborious drive from my Fly Store close to Tyler, Texas and be fishing late that afternoon or early the subsequent morning. The excessive mountain surroundings is gorgeous and the fishing is nice.
My story begins in the midst of June 2002. Throughout June, the stonefly hatch is in full swing on the Cimarron and massive browns will eagerly assault a dimension 14 or 16 Stimulator with regularity. That is my favourite time of yr to fish this river. That is dry fly fishing at its finest.
Sadly, if you happen to bear in mind, this was throughout the time wild fires have been engulfing many elements of New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona. The Cimarron Canyon State Park was surrounded by a few such fires.
I arrived on the Pine Ridge Resort, solely a few mile from high quality fishing water, late Monday night. This can be a quaint little four-room resort nestled close to the doorway of the state park. After checking in, the resort proprietor instructed me that the park was closed and had been since Friday. Due to the hearth risks, it was closed to all the things together with tenting, mountain climbing, picnicking and YES… fishing. Each park pull off was barricaded in shiny yellow. It looks as if each different tree had a Park Closed signal nailed to it. I could not imagine it. I had pushed 12 hours strait to spend some private time dry fly fishing and… would not you recognize it… No Fishing. I used to be sick. If in case you have ever wished to see a giant man cry this may have been an ideal alternative.
There have been no different locations close to by that I may fish until I had a information to fish some non-public waters that have been close to by. I known as my good buddy, Doc Thompson, of Excessive Nation Anglers. Doc is the perfect fly fishing information for the small streams of Northeast New Mexico together with some non-public areas of the Cimarron. He was booked. No likelihood for me to fish any non-public water.
I used to be contemplating slicing my losses, packing up my gear and heading dwelling with my tail tucked between my legs after I noticed the park ranger flip into the motel car parking zone. I eagerly approached him, defined my predicament and pleaded with him to be merciful on this misguided Texan. He indicated that there was little he may do. He was ordered by higher-ups to shut the park. The world was very dry and the worry of the forest hearth spreading was at an all time excessive. He lastly gave me a minuscule window of hope when he mentioned that if the wind did not decide up or change instructions throughout the night time he would ask if he may open the park the subsequent day. No ensures. There was solely a small likelihood of issues falling my method however I made a decision to attend it out and see.
The following morning, bight and early, I walked to the resort house owners desk with my fingers and toes crossed. “Nice information” the proprietor mentioned, “you may fish.” The park ranger known as the resort and instructed the proprietor to go inform Tex he can fish. The ranger opened the park to fishing solely. Nobody may camp, hike or picnic. Fishing solely. Better of all, he left all the barricades and Park Closed indicators up. My head started to buzz with this situation. Might or not it’s true? Is it attainable that any the place on this nation there’s a stream that is filled with huge browns, stuffed with fish desirous to slam dry flies, has had no fishing for 5 days, has Park Closed indicators on each different tree and has shiny yellow barricades at each pull off? Is that this actually occurring? And most of all… is that this actually occurring to me? YES… it was!!!
I virtually broke a leg and a fly rod attending to river so fast. I used to be the one particular person fishing this 12-mile stretch of high quality trout water. The ONLY particular person. The river has had no fishing strain for 5 days. None. Notta. Completely zero. What a powerful alternative. I hit the water at eight:00 am. Figuring out that the stonefly hatch would started at a bout 9:00 am, I tied on a dimension 16 yellow Stimulator with a Copper John dropper on my 2wt rod. For the subsequent hour, the catch was 50/50 on the dry and nymph. When the hatch began, I eliminated the nymph so as focus on the dry. My stimulator was repeatedly demolished by hungry trout. The hatch began round 9:00 am and ultimately tapered off round 2:00 pm because the day warmed. Throughout that point, I landed greater than 40 good brown on a dry. Most of them have been within the 10 to 12 inch vary. Some a little bit smaller and a few a little bit larger. The entire time, I noticed no different particular person on the river. I used to be in whole fly fishing bliss. Later that afternoon, because the temperature started to drop, they began hitting laborious once more and did so till simply earlier than darkish. I misplaced rely of the full variety of fish that I caught that day. After a whilst you simply give up counting. The fishing was phenomenal and the solitude was even higher.
Through the day, after I would take brake at my parked Jeep for a shot of Joe or one thing, folks would drive purchase giving me the stare of disgust. I may see their lips mumble one thing like, “that fool Texan… cannot he learn the indicators?” I used to be under no circumstances excited about setting them strait. I wished your entire state on New Mexico in addition to the entire large world to assume the park was utterly closed and should by no means open once more.
That night, again at my room, the tough realities of that summer time have been vivid. I sat on my entrance porch and watched the helicopters and different giant plane drop a great deal of water on the forest fires that have been scattered alongside the mountainside. Large partitions of smoke draped the horizon. I could not assist however grow to be sorrowed due to the destruction that was unfolding earlier than my eyes. When it was too darkish to see, I retired to the confines of my room.
Later that night time, as I lay packed tight in my cozy little mattress, I discovered it tough to sleep. As my thoughts drifted from the fires outdoors and danced with ideas of my day of fishing, I giggled as I felt myself swelling with contentment. My angling expertise stored working via my thoughts. I could not assist however surprise what the subsequent day would carry. Would my fly fishing solitude come to an finish? Guess what… it did not.
I hit the park early the subsequent morning to be confronted with the exact same situation. The indicators and barricades have been nonetheless in place and nobody was in sight. Utilizing the identical flies and methods I loved equal success as I had the day earlier than. It wasn’t till late that afternoon did I see the one different automobile within the park. The phrase was lastly out. By then, it was OK. I loved a number of hours of excellent fishing the subsequent morning earlier than heading again to Tyler.
Is there an ethical right here? I do not know. It was defiantly a fishing journey that I’ll always remember. On reflection, nevertheless, it appears actually unlucky that my memorable fishing journey was on the expense of a lot. The southwest misplaced an terrible lot of excellent forest and helpless wildlife throughout that horrible time. Properties have been gone and energetic hoods have been destroyed. I suppose the saying stays true, “somebody’s luck is normally at another person’s expense.”