By: Chris Shaffer

Most rivers and streams in Northern New Mexico have finally receded to favorable levels and anglers are catching limits of trout following heavy stockings by New Mexico Game & Fish. This pattern should continue through early October as water levels continue to fall. Action at the Chama River remains impressive even amongst heavy pressure.

On the Chama pressure isn’t normally an issue for anglers with good bait. When we were here a few weeks ago we filmed Pautzke Outdoors in a tad more than an hour, catching and releasing three limits of trout between three anglers. We didn’t catch anything bigger than 12 inches, but had a blast seeing bobbers go down every few drifts. We caught all rainbows, although a few anglers told us they’d caught browns in recent weeks.


This was our first time fishing the Chama River. In fact, we didn’t have a clue where to go. Instead, we stopped at Henry’s True Value in Tierra Amarilla and asked them for advice. Fortunately, they agreed to drive us to a general area where trout were stocked in exchange for a 12 pack of Tyee salmon eggs. We hopped in the car, followed them for 10 minutes and ended up in a heavily visited RV park that was littered with anglers. I handed off the jars of eggs and a few jars of Fire Bait and we started fishing with fewer than two hours of sunlight left.


It took less than five minutes for us to catch the first trout. Armed with six-pound test, a small float and size 12 Eagle Claw single salmon egg hook, we floated Silver Label and Chartreuse Garlic salmon eggs and Rainbow Fire Bait and caught trout often. The key was catching a few trout and then switching to a different color once they became conditioned. Once we switched the bite persisted.


You aren’t going to find serenity on this section of the Chama. Fortunately, frequent plants keep inventories high, which in turn makes those looking to place a few trout in the skillet happy. Keep in mind, you’ll find plenty of campers from Texas and Oklahoma here and even some from Arizona. Pressure is going to be high. Good bait is a must. We proved that.


It shouldn’t be too difficult to find where the trout are. They are going to be holding in pocket water, behind boulders and in pools. As water levels continue to fall these areas will be even easier to locate. If you can find any of these areas expect large congregations of trout, just not many big ones. Traditional nine to 10 inch stockers remain the norm.


Editor’s Note: To watch the newest episode of Pautzke Outdoors, filmed on this section of the Chama River please click on the following link: Pautzke Fire Bait is available in all New Mexico Walmart locations and at True Value locally.