Weekend Angler: Albuquerque
The Rio San Antonio originates high in the Jemez Caldera on the privately owned Baca Ranch. Once the San Antonio hits the Santa Fe National Forest boundary it is mostly public water with excellent fishing all the way down to the confluence with the East Fork of the Jemez at Battleship Rock.
The upper public reaches of this mountain gem flow through long wide-open meadows of plush grass. The stream is small here, so stealth and short casts are required to catch these skittish browns and rainbows.
Early spring may mean cool water, so afternoons typically fish better once the water temps increase and the blue winged olives (baetis) start hatching. By late spring, the Rio San Antonio can be crowded on weekends, but for adventurous fishermen, the lower stretches of the San Antonio mean solitude.
Below the small community of La Cueva, this gem turns into pocket water heaven, flowing through several miles of a steep, boulder-strewn canyon down to the confluence at Battleship Rock.
NM Highway 4 parallels the canyon stretch, and three main pullouts provide easy access. Indian Head, Hot Springs and Deep Canyon are nice sections that are well-marked. The river here has fast water with deep plunges, raging pockets, pickup size boulders, and the occasional small waterfall.
By May, the water should be clearing and flows dropping. Look for the giant stonefly hatch (Pteronarcys californica) through June. Fish the edge-waters and heads of pools for 10"14" wild browns and the occasional bigger brown. Big dries work well, but don't be afraid to heave some heavy stonefly nymphs into the deep runs and deeper pools.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication