Tag Archives: Fenton Lake

Friday The 13th… Where Is That Rabbit’s Foot?

No color touch up here, this is the real deal.

I was at a point this weekend where I had no idea where to go or what I wanted to target. The rivers have been very low and it has been more and more difficult to stalk my prey. I went to a local shop to buy some fly tying material and ask around about some hot spots. Well, my personal choices were the San Juan, Chama, and Jemez. It was suggested to me to go to the San Juan. I like the place and all, but it was going to be VERY nice this weekend for weather and thousands of people were going to come out of the woodworks to get the good places. It wasn’t ideal to be fishing elbow to elbow this weekend. I opted out of big fish for some mountain fish. More specifically, Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout. Not those diluted ones either, some of the purest strained fish in the state.

Along the way I stopped at Fenton Lake to get my line wet and haul in some stockers and test out the ties. Success! I caught the evening session and it went very well. So well, that I came up with a stocker fish on every other cast. When it became too late to fish after the actual sunset, I packed up and headed back to my car. along the way, I was attacked by a dog while its owners just stood there watching it take place. I thought it was just sniffing my leg and it bit down. Mind you this wasn’t a brutal type thing, I just kicked the dog off of my leg and moved on. The real problem came when the owner said, “Why did you just let him bite you like that?” I just about lost it. When I got back to my car I drove closer to my target destination to camp.

The beaver ponds were full of these guys.

I woke up and the temperature was floating in the high 20’s, the grass and mud were frozen allowing me to access some beaver ponds without waders. I hate hiking in waders. The fishing was good and it motivated me to press on toward my final destination. The sun was still hiding behind the valley and I found myself stopping in slivers of sun to warm up. Still very cold. I could not wait to hook into one of the cutthroats and hiked at a speed just shy of running. There were going to be no monster fish this day, but it was possible. I made it. It took about an hour to find the right technique for catching these little guys, and another to time the strike perfectly. They only held the fly for miliseconds and they only gave me one shot. The day went well and zebra midge (that is a work in progress) worked great.

I also made a friend while fishing. A Red-tailed Hawk that looked like he was in his share of bouts with other animals as did I on this weekend. Even though it was Friday the 13th and I was attacked by a dog, the hawk and I pressed on (even though I was uninjured and only came out with some torn pants, the hawk looked in worse shape).

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Let The Games Begin

As you may already know, last weekends trip brought me back to the Jemez mountains. My brother is a fan of lake fishing and so am I to a degree. A fan of Fenton lake, not so much. Talk about over fished and over harvested, this place is the first thing that comes to mind. Regardless, the lake is well stocked and happens to be on the cusp of Seven Springs Hatchery, one of the few pure strain Rio Grande Cutthroat providers in the state. Needless to say, Fenton is also stocked with them on occasion. Since the lake is on a river system that has cutthroat, it is stocked with triploid rainbows to block further dilution of the strain. I for one, am a fan of triploidy. Why? Well, they grow larger faster, there is no cross breeding, they are way more gullible (some studies show that the optic lobe and cerebellum are nearly 20% smaller than that of a stream born fish), and they fight a bit harder (assuming all of their fins are intact). Fun to catch, but better to eat. I say keep stocking the place and promoting the park. The rangers there this weekend were very strict, checked all licenses, and issued fines to cars that did not pay. I say go them.

"My God, it's full of cars"

New Mexico is plagued with bad fisherman and I don’t think the state was hard enough on some policies in the past. This was the first time I had been asked to produce my license outside of Tingley in at least 10 years.

I hope these people don't mind their picture...

We arrived shortly after 7:00am and already people were lining the shore, getting the best spots before the crowd wiggles its way between you and your fishing buddies. We parked in the free parking zone and were on our way to the lake. We figured that we would start by the dock/dam and work our way up to the inlet. I figured, this time of year, the holdovers and fish born in the lake would pile up in the inlet for the spawn. On the dam, the stocker pods would still be lingering around the place they were dumped in the lake. There would be enough fish here to break the ice with that first fish. Nate was the first to get one and he got it on the second cast, and the third cast, and the fourth cast. Leaving me with no fish. My 8wt. was rigged with a leech and that goose biot from last time and a short cast (rather than the 70′ of line I was putting on the water hoping for the big one) gave me my first. As Nate switched flies to one of the woolly buggers that I tied the night before, I was up to 12. Then the brotherly competition was on and it wasn’t long before he caught up to me. This called for drastic measures. Two fly rods, one dead drifting the leech combo, and one twitching a woolly bugger.

Good bug!

These fish weren’t even remotely shy and would pull at least 6′ before letting go, then they would give you a second chance, if the first 4 seconds wasn’t enough. This came in handy for me because my drifting rod was laying on the ground next to me. This was the first time that I have seen a 10″ fish pull an 8wt. rod into the water. The fish were hitting really hard and were very active. Around noon, the fishing slowed way down. Nates next fish would prove why.

Nate releases his cutthroat.

Usually around midday the cutthroats begin to scan the shoreline in search of the minnows, and that was the ticket for the woolly bugger. Nate was confused as he fought the fish, wondering what it was and why it acted so curiously. Afterward, he decided that it was best if he added a spinning rod with powerbait. He tipped the scales in his favor. At noon, we were tied at around 30 fish each. From then on I got about 20 more fish to his 40. Bringing the total number to 70 for Nate with 2 cutthroat, and 50 for me with 1 brown toward the late part of the day. I contend that powerbait fish didn’t count and he was throwing my bugs around, thus all the fish he caught counted as my own. Giving me the “W” (plus it’s my blog, Nate). Can you feel the brotherly love? Seriously though, Nate always out fishes me, he has a knack for finding spots that are loaded with fish, and it is usually me that nabs the big fish of the day. He’s the only fishing buddy in the world that I can trust his gut over hard scientific fact.

It's heavy for the size...

A word on the brown trout: I have seen pictures of monster browns that are pulled from this lake once every year. These fish are usually 28″+ and very fat and healthy. I tried to dig up these pictures, but they were never posted on the internet. I knew the pictures were fact, but a fish this size makes a lot of eggs. Over the past few years, I had NEVER caught a brown in this lake and it was very hard for me to believe in this “Loch Ness” type story. Now, my story has changed and I can quit blaming Game and Fish for the typo (although, there are still many waters on the “Fishing Map” where fish are omitted or are said to be there and do not exist Ex: browns in Bluewater creek and the lack of mention of brook trout in Canjilon among MANY others).

The day became windy and we decided not to camp, I missed my chance for some big cutthroat in other water, but I’m going to save the secret spot for the weekend of the 15th. Until then, I think I’m headed back to the enchanted circle for some High Mountain fish thanks to the inspiration from AZ Wanderings. Speaking in that regard, I know I have a few loyal readers by now and I have to thank them for visiting the other blogs that I have linked under the blogroll and thank them again for reading my blog in general.