Re: July trip to New Mexico & Colorado
Hi, Edwardo I can lend a hand on the southern part of Colorado as well as my two cents on having the lady along.
I first want to say this trip you have planned is nearly identical to the one I had planned and executed a number of years ago. You both will have a blast and fantastic time! This trip is how I discovered and feel in love with the southern part of the state. We did not travel as far north as you have planned, but plan to do so in the next couple seasons.
I too had a lady in-tow and was worried about the fishing, camping and all the other things that could make the experience simply a one-off. I was hoping she would love it, and I figured if she did then there would be more camping and fishing for me. What I did learn was they either have it or not. I'm lucky, my lady does in fact love the wilds and the little fish we stick with our sharp hooks. So, it is a good thing to mix in sight seeing and hikes (shhhhh, some hikes can lead to fishing). With all of that said, ladies who love it also love to be pampered.
That is a fact. The ladies on this forum should agree. So, my advice is to make sure to take a day off here and there for some down time as well as a nice meal that is indoors (ie nice restaurant). Plus splurge on a B and B or nice hotel for a couple nights. The shower and bed will go a long way after a night of tent ripping winds or bucket loads of rain. Other than that go for it!
Now, on to the fishing. Since you are both relatively new fly fishers and looking to learn as much as possible remember the value of a good guide. A good guide will help keep things fun, educational and smooth sailing. It is very hard, no matter how much patience you have to help teach her the sport, make sure she is tangle-free and into fish, or at least in fishy water. Plus you will find you did very little quality fishing of your own. A cluttered mind is never productive on the trout stream. Focus down days, camping and fishing on streams that are full of gullible brookies and small rainbows. Use guide days to learn new water, figure out tricky waters, be spoiled on private waters or float a river you would never be able to.
As for you locations; skip Ridgeway Sate Park, as stated by jeepster ii it is windy, exposed and far from romantic. Keep heading south and invest more time in the southern part of the state. I would also shift from Molas Lake (on the map it is very close to the Animas, but a massive canyon must be scaled to get in there) Consider camping down Old Lime Creek Road. Sweet stream that is a tributary of the Animas that offers stunning scenery and nice fishing for small trout. Hopper dropper and you'll be into them no problem. Avoid on weekends, because it does see some traffic despite being a rough road. By the way, what vehicle will you be driving? Pretty rough road FYI. (IM me and I'll give you better details and directions in to this spot) There is also a great hike off this road to a small alpine lake called Spud.
The other fisheries you have picked sound good. I have only fished the Conejos a couple times but it was lovely with great public camping. The Rio Grande is a blast, I would recommend treating yourself to a float. Flows will be down by then with solid hoppers and dropper fishing. But you could also wade it on your own, plus there are some fun tributaries I have fished when I'm not float fishing. Animas is a good one but very temperamental. Have a good guide there for sure. Same goes for the San Juan below the dam. At least the first day so you can have an idea how the special two fly nymph rigs should look. There could also be some solid dry fly fishing. I did hit an ant hatch that was very exciting. Thought I had it all figured out then the fish went back to micro nymphs! Pattern and setup are key for those rivers. The other waters in northern New Mexico you mentioned I'm looking to explore down the road myself, so I'm looking forward to hearing how things go for you in those areas.
As for the guide side of things I got very lucky and had the same guide spaced out over a few different fisheries through out our big trip. He assured me I was in good hands, plus my girlfriend (now wife) at the time would have a nice time. He was right, she out-fishes me every time out now! If only I was a better listener. Patience and the ability to teach are paramount for a good guide/client experience. We did in fact get lucky. Honestly, the guide I fish with in that area not only made our first trip such a success, he has made each and every one since a memorable one.
My advice; call Will at Animas Valley Anglers. You'll probably get his father who helps with bookings and ask for Will's number. I'm sure he will pass it along. Will will set up the best possible trip and give you the best advice based on what you both are looking for. He will space the guide days out and pick the best waters for you explore on your own. I have also fished with his other guides when Will was already booked or we had extra anglers like my grown children or friends and found them to be just as patient, friendly and skilled as Will. They all seem to be friends on and off the water. Can not hardly wait to hear the stories from your trip. Please share your experiences here with us all. Sorry for the long winded post. Go get 'em and tight lines! -Reed
ditch, creek, stream or river...let me cast