The Red River originates in the Wheeler Peak Wilderness Area above Red River, New Mexico. The Red is New Mexico’s largest tributary to the Rio Grande.
There are two distinct sections on the Red River, the Upper Red and the Lower Red.
The Upper Red River flows along Highway 578 and continues through the town of Red River. This section is heavily stocked with rainbows and has wild browns and includes a 3-mile section of designated Special Trout Water. The Upper Red fishes best May through October.
The Lower Red River is a 4-5 mile stretch from Questa, New Mexico to the confluence with the Rio Grande. This wild canyon section features pocket water, riffles, plunge pools and short deep runs. Easier access is at the Red River Fish Hatchery parking lot, ideal for a half day. The better fly fishing requires hiking down one of two trails in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Area of the Rio Grande, west of Questa, NM. Wild brown trout and some rainbows averaging 10-14 inches inhabit the Lower Red plus a few 15-16 inchers. In the winter nice cuttbows migrate into the Lower Red from the Rio Grande. The main fly fishing season is September through mid April, with fall and spring being best. The summer can be hit or miss with runoff and rain.
The majority of the trout are wild browns. They probably average about 12 inches but there are much larger ones. In the late Winter and early Spring, Cuttbows migrate into the Red River from the Rio Grande River. It is best fished before the spring runoff which usually takes place in late April. Fishing isn’t that great during the Summer but gets better in the Fall.
The wild browns aren’t near as easy to catch as the stocked rainbows in the upper section of the Red River but they are not very picky. Fly Fishing the Red River’s fast, pocket water, plunges and runs makes it difficult for the trout to get a good look at your fly most of the time. We do recommend matching the natural nymphs, larvae and adult flies that hatch. That will produce the best success.
Blue-winged Olives hatch from January through March. Pale Morning duns hatch in April and May. Little Yellow stoneflies hatch from June through July. There are also a few Golden stoneflies that hatch in June.
Different species of Spotted Sedges hatch from February through April and again from late July through October. Green sedges hatch in April and May.
Terrestrial insects are plentiful during July, August and September. Imitations of ants, beetles and grass hoppers work well during that time period.