The source waters for two major streams in the Jemez Mountains can be found in the heart of the Preserve—the San Antonio Creek and the East Fork of the Jemez River. Both streams are formed by pure, cool water that naturally percolates to the surface through a series of ancient springs. As these rivers meander through lush meadows, numerous bows and pools have become home to thousands of trout.
The San Antonio Creek [M], which resides in the San Antonio Valley in the northern part of the preserve, runs in a westerly direction. Replete with Brown Trout of various sizes ranging up to around 14”, the stream offers a variety of fishing challenges. The flowing water is generally clear and there are few trees and shrubs to offer cover for a fly fisher. At the upper end the river is narrow, in some areas only two feet wide. Precise casting and stealthy approaches are needed. At the lower end the river widens, with long stretches of shallow water rippling over gravely beds.
East Fork [M] flows southwesterly from its headwaters in the eastern end of the Valle Grande, the big valley found on much of the southern third of the Preserve. Similar in character to the San Antonio Creek, this stream contains a combination of Brown and Rainbow trout in sizes up to 18”, especially on the eastern end. A variety of fishing experiences awaits anglers, including many bows that deeply undercut the bank, inviting a precise placement of a fly to draw some of the bigger trout from their lairs. Several miles downstream from the source water, a narrow feeder, Jaramillo Creek [M], enters the East Fork. The confluence of these waters provides a natural feeding area for trout. The Jaramillo itself, although narrow, contains many large trout that await a lure that has successfully traversed the overhanging grass and lands gracefully on the crystal-clear water. Further downstream, the East Fork of the Jemez River flows across the main entrance road (VC01), to the Preserve, and into a secluded valley as it makes its exit from the property. In this area the river widens, deepens, and slows, creating large bows and pools, home to a few large trout.
The Preserve now offers a varied program to accommodate public access to these wonderful streams. The program has been designed to provide maximum flexibility for varied personal needs and to protect the unique and outstanding fishing resources for the future. There is a bag limit for each stream and for 2008 only, catch and release will only be permitted on the East Fork of the Jemez River as well as the Rio Jaramillo. All fishing is done with single, barbless hooks and artificial lures only. Live bait is not allowed. Also, to minimize the possibility of Whirling Disease, a virulent virus that can quickly devastate a trout population, waders and privately owned nets are not allowed. Nets will be loaned to anglers upon request. Generally these restrictions do not significantly impact fishing as the streams have many narrow areas that allow easy crossing and most of the fish can be landed without a net—even the bigger one—if the angler is careful.
To fish the San Antonio Creek [M], prospective fishers must compete for a fishing spot via a lottery system for specific fishing dates, each of which is listed. Chances can be purchased for $5 each and are placed in a pool for each available fishing time. Up to ten fishers are selected from the pool for each available date and each winner can invite up to three guests to join him/her on the fishing trip. Each angling group is assigned a specific section of the San Antonio to fish and each angler, whether or not he/she fishes, must pay an access fee. Anglers are transported between the Valle Grande Staging Area and the stream and each team is given a two-way radio for communication in the event of an emergency or adverse weather that requires a quick exit. Click on this link for more information about purchasing chances and fishing the San Antonio Creek[M].
Reservations to fish the East Fork [M] are available directly to the public, without any lottery. Up to ten fishing spots will be open for each listed date and can be purchased directly up to 24 hours before the listed fishing dates. Fishing spots can also be purchased on site, if slots are available. If more walk-in customers arrive than there are available slots, winners will be chosen on the spot by drawing names from a hat. Click on this link for more information about purchasing reservations on the East Fork [M].
Prospective fishers may wish to consider using the service of a qualified fishing guide. A prospective fisher should contract directly with a guide for these fishing services. All financial arrangements, including rod and Preserve access fees, will be arranged between these two private parties. The guide will also arrange access to the Preserve and any other outfitting needs. Once a fisher has chosen to contract for a qualified guide’s services, no additional fees will be paid directly to the Preserve. Click on this link for more information about qualified guides and how to become one.