By: Chris Shaffer
Cooler days, cold nights, less fishing pressure and lower water levels are inviting Northern New Mexico anglers to fish the region’s lakes, rivers and creeks. The Red River is always popular yet the middle section behind Eagle Rock Lake tends to be overshadowed by the Lower Red below the hatchery and the Upper Red River near the town of Red River. This middle section offers easy access with the chance to catch pan-size planted rainbows in the easy to navigate section adjacent to Eagle Rock Lake.
For first timers the best section of water starts in the pools above the upper bridge above Eagle Rock Lake and extends for about 50 yards below the lower bridge near the lake parking area. Once you get more than 50 yards downriver you’ll have to contend with private property and overgrown banks. There are roughly a dozen quality pools in this section and plenty of runs and small pockets to plunk eggs into.
In the spring this section can be a chore to fish due to high flows from snow runoff. However, in the fall levels are perfect for trout anglers. Hardcore anglers and first timers can find success. We normally walk the trail along Eagle Rock Lake and begin at the well-defined pools near the bridge. About 25 yards past the bridge you’ll find several holes that are normally good for a rainbow or two. Then, we’ll walk downriver taking turns at the rest of the obvious holes and runs between the two bridges.
A few weeks ago when we filmed Pautzke Outdoors here we stuck to using the new Fire Balls, exclusively. Pink Shrimp, Red and Red with Glitter were the staples. Because the water was clear we only used one Fire Ball at a time.
My buddy Dustin Slinker caught and released nearly three limits of rainbows in two hours here. Most of them were 10-12 inches, but we did catch a few up to nearly 16 inches, which was a surprise. All the eggs were fished on small Eagle Claw single salmon egg hooks and drifted under a float to keep the egg from getting hung up.
We caught a few trout in the pools between the bridges. However, the majority of them came below the lower bridge, in a thick canopy most anglers avoid. You have to work harder to catch trout down here simply because it’s not open and treeless like the section between the bridges. Rather than overhand casting you’ll need to roll cast or drift the bait downriver without casting. Doing so, however, can bring larger trout in, as you’ll see on this episode of Pautzke Outdoors: https://youtu.be/K57qqMB5Odo.
Here we used a Fire Ball, dropped it in the water under a float, opened the bail and let it drift downriver. You’ll want to let line out as it cruises past the undercut banks and trout that are taking cover in those slots. We started with the Red with Glitter, caught a few and then switched to Pink Shrimp Fire Balls when the trout became conditioned to them. We even used Silver Label for a few casts after they stopped grabbing the Fire Balls and caught a few more.
Editor’s Note: Pautzke’s new Fire Balls are available in all New Mexico Walmart locations now in Red and Red with Glitter. All colors are available online at Amazon and FishUSA.com.