By: Chris Shaffer
The Pecos River is one of the most heavily fished rivers in Northern New Mexico. Located a short distance from Santa Fe and Albuquerque anyone who trout fishes comes here. Fortunately, the stocking truck arrives frequently. If the New Mexico Game & Fish didn’t stock it as aggressively as they do it’s likely the river would be fished out in a week.
Keep in mind this is a put-and-take fishery and it’s been one of our favorite places to film Pautzke Outdoors due to the availability of public access. The system can handle an insane amount of anglers, and it does weekly. Fortunately, peak runoff is past us. The river is primed for an excellent holiday weekend of trout fishing. The state has loaded it with trout and the river has pulled back from peak flows making this an ideal time for fishing.
While anglers do catch the occasional big trout, most are nine and 10-inch rainbows and people seem to be ok with that. Most anglers catch planted rainbows. Meanwhile, on our last trip we couldn’t stop catching wild browns. The state doesn’t stock browns. On the other hand, they naturally reproduce in the river and are available. Most are going to be six inches. In fact, an eight incher is a nice one, but they maintain beautiful colors. We caught two dozen the last time we filmed Pautzke Outdoors – and released them all.
We didn’t catch them by accident. If you want to catch browns, Natural Deluxe and Yellow Jacket salmon eggs are the ticket. Browns devour these natural color eggs as they did when we employed them here. It’s best to fish them on a single Eagle Claw salmon egg hook and with two or four pound test. Keep in mind these browns are small. Therefore, a smaller profile works best. We used a single Natural Deluxe or Yellow Jacket rather than several on a hook, which is even better now that the water has started to clear more.
Ironically, the day we fished the game warden was surprised to see how many trout we caught. Pressure was high and the river hadn’t been stocked yet that week. Most anglers he checked were struggling. When we showed him photos of several dozen trout he was surprised (we didn’t keep any). He was even more shocked when we pulled out the Fire Brine shrimp and Fire Bait we were using. He said he’d never seen anglers use colored and brined shrimp.
Brined shrimp is a favorite meal for trout, but it’s new to New Mexico. Fishing it couldn’t be simpler. Fire Brine firms up the shrimp, colors it to attract trout and makes it more durable meaning it doesn’t get mushy and spoil quickly. We went to a grocery store the night prior to buy shrimp and then soaked them in the brine overnight. We used Blue & Chartreuse Fire Brine and couldn’t keep the trout from biting them. The trick is to break off a small piece, roughly the size of your pinkie thumbnail. Anything much larger is too big. We fished the shrimp under a Trout Magnet bobber and you should too. Remember shrimp don’t float. With a bobber you’ll keep them drifting in the strike zone naturally.
When we got tired of catching trout on the shrimp we switched over to Fire Bait. Most New Mexican anglers fish dough baits off the bottom. Meanwhile, we drifted it on the same set up as the shrimp. As long as you use a Water Gremlin BB split shot a few inches above the Fire Bait it will sink and drift with the flow of the current into the strike zone. This method is more effective than letting it sit on the bottom where it’s likely to get snagged.
To see how to use this technique check out our new episode of Pautzke Outdoors filmed on the Pecos here: https://youtu.be/a_3cUVQIe2o.
Trout can be found from Pecos on upstream to the end of the road. The entire system has been heavily stocked. As always, large pools will harbor the biggest congregations of rainbows, but don’t be afraid to target pocket water, riffles and overhanging banks. All these areas can and will hold trout. Use the above mentions methods and you’ll have a limit of fish in no time, even with the large crowds expected.
Editor’s Note: Pautzke Natural Deluxe, Yellow Jackets, Fire Brine & Fire Bait is available at all New Mexico Walmart locations and online from various retailers.