5 DAY FORECAST
PRIME FEEDING TIMES
The Rio Chama, a major tributary river of the Rio Grande, is located in the U.S. states of Colorado and New Mexico. The river is about 130 miles (210 km) long altogther. From its source to El Vado Dam its length is about 50 miles (80 km), from El Vado Dam to Abiquiu Dam is about 51 miles (82 km), and from Abiquiu Dam to the mouth of the Rio Chama is about 34 miles (55 km).
The Rio Chama originates in south-central Colorado, just above the New Mexico border in the San Juan Mountains and Rio Grande National Forest. The main stem Rio Chama begins at the confluence of two short headwater tributaries called West Fork and East Fork. The West Fork flows eastward from the Continental Divide. Across the divide lies the Navajo River, one of the headwater tributaries of the Colorado River. The East Fork extends a few miles into Conejos County, Colorado to a source near one of the headwater tributaries of the Conejos River. The confluence of the forks lies just within Archuleta County, Colorado. From there the Rio Chama flows generally south. After a few miles the river enters Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, and flows by the town of Chama. The tributary Willow Creek joins the Rio Chama after being impounded as Heron Lake by Heron Dam. Willow Creek flows from the dam about 1,000 feet (300 m) to the Rio Chama. A couple miles below that the Rio Chama flows into El Vado Lake, a reservoir created by El Vado Dam.
From El Vado Dam the Rio Chama continues flowing south, entering Chama Canyon and Santa Fe National Forest and the Chama River Canyon Wilderness. It is joined by Rio Cebolla from the east, then Rio Gallina from the west. Then the river enters Abiquiu Lake, the reservoir created by Abiquiu Dam. The tributary Rio Puerco joins the Rio Chama in Abiquiu Lake.
Below Abiquiu Dam the Rio Chama flows generally east, skirting the edge of Carson National Forest. It flows by the town of AbiquiÃº, located at the mouth of Abiquiu Creek, after which it turns to flow generally southeast. Near the villages of Chili and La Chuachia the Rio Chama is joined by two of its primary tributaries. The Rio del Oso joins from the west then, within less than a mile, the Rio Ojo Caliente joins from the northeast. From there the Rio Chama flows several miles southeast to join the Rio Grande near San Juan Pueblo, or Ohkay Owingeh, about 5 miles (8.0 km) north of the city of Espanola and approximately 30 miles (48 km) north of Santa Fe.
The Rio Chama and its tributaries offer excellent fly fishing for trout. Ten miles of the Rio Chama, above the mouth of Wolf Creek (4 miles (6.4 km) below the New Mexico border) is private land requiring land owner's permission to fish the Rio Chama and Wolf Creek. The Rio Chama at this point holds wild browns with cutthroats in Wolf Creek and rainbows in both streams. The Rio Chamita flows into the Rio Chama, 9 miles (14 km) below the Wolf Creek confluence with the Rio Chama. Access to the Rio Chamita is from a dirt road one and a half miles north of the town of Chama.
North of Chama on NM 17 there is good trout fly fishing. There are special regulations on this stretch of the Rio Chama. Fifteen miles south of Chama on US 64/84 is the confluence of the Rio Brazos with the Rio Chama. Most of this run of the Rio Chama is on private land, except for a 4-mile (6.4 km)-long stretch south of Chama.
Below its confluence with the Rio Brazos, the Rio Chama offers several miles of excellent fly fishing to the tailwaters of Heron Lake and El Vado Reservoir. The Rio Chama, is very wide at this point, with large runs, pools, and large boulders that create excellent fishing opportunities for rainbow and wild brown trout.