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 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 [Map], 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 14 inches, 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 [Map] 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 inches, 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, 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 clears the overhanging grass and lands gracefully on the crystal-clear water.
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
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 ones, if the angler is careful.