River of Contrasts

Red River (Map)

I gaped at the Red River, a mere 800 feet down from the rim at 7,000 feet, wondering if I could keep up with my 30-something year old guide. Fortunately the trail had a series of switchbacks that made the hike relatively easy and the hike was so worth it to see and fish this beautiful river, a major tributary of the Rio Grande.

Fall on the Red RiverThis is a river of contrasts. Set in some of the most beautiful scenery in the “Land of Enchantment” it still suffers from contamination from a molybdenum mine upstream in Questo. Remedial action is in place and fresh springs help to feed and cleanse the section of the river I fished (down the El Aguaje trail) but let’s put it this way – I wouldn’t recommend anyone eat any of the fish here (and it’s catch and release only anyway.)

Red RiverAlthough the river is a freestone (essentially, not-dammed) the springs feed in water that is 40-50 degrees so you can fish all winter. In the fall, many of the fish from the Rio Grande make their way up to spawn or hang out in the Red during the winter. I caught mostly wild brown trout throughout the day, and their colors are magnificent this time of year.

One of the highlights with my guide, Nick Streit, owner of the Taos Fly Shop, was hot tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. Who wouldn’t want to fly fish on the Red River?

Sunset on the RedTo make a great day even better, Mother Nature decided to treat us to an incredible sunset. Nick took me to the point that overlooks the confluence of the Red and Rio Grande rivers and I kept having to run from one end of the point to another as the light reflected on the mountains that surrounded us the west, south and east. I kept missing the right spot at the right time, but I did get a couple shots.

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