Brown trout, caught and released 6/18/2013, Rio Grande river
Many of our rafting guests ask us about the wildlife that may be encountered along the Rio Grande river. We tell them that there are beaver, muskrats, herons, geese, ducks, songbirds, deer, elk, bears, mountain lions, badgers, bobcats … and even otters. Of course, wildlife sightings are not that easy to come by. You can see beavers every evening however. I see them every time I go out after finishing up for the day in the New Wave Rafting Co. office. I always see them first appear in the riffles. I think they enjoy the feel of the water rushing over their bodies. Sometimes, as they move up or downstream, they come upon me unexpectedly, and surprise me with a loud tail slap. Speaking of fishing, that’s another kind of wildlife, isn’t it? Nowadays, the “wild” trout is the brown trout. Once upon a time it was the Rio Grande cutthroat, but the cutthroat lost out to the introduced brown and rainbow trout. The rainbows are stocked for “put-and-take” fishing, meaning they are expected to be caught soon after being placed in the river. The brown trout maintain their numbers by themselves, and they are in good supply in the Rio Grande. They are not that easily caught, however, often not being interested in eating, it seems. If you prefer dry fly fishing, as do I, then you will always be on the look-out for rising fish – that’s trout that are taking insects off the surface. This tells you, one, that they’re eating, and, two, where they are (because they tend to stay in the same place on the bottom between trips to the surface). So, if you drift an appropriate fly over that spot, you have a good chance of catching the fish. Yesterday evening, this well-built 15″ male brown trout grabbed my Elk Hair Caddis dry fly. As it happens, he hadn’t been rising (but he was in a shallow riffle, and “looking up” as we say), and he took the fly at the end of the drift or as it had just started to swing. I don’t know, because I had already looked away, preparing to cast again! The same happened with another fish earlier, which might be attributed to the fact that caddis flies will skitter on the surface, and attract attention to themselves. Trout also like to chase moving prey items.