If you’re looking for a place that is quiet, has amazing views and chopped full of Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout look no further than the Rio Cebolla in the Jemez National Forest in northern New Mexico. The fish size is not that spectacular but the numbers of fish and difficulties of not spooking them adds a challenge.
Most people start their journey in the largest city in New Mexico which would be Albuquerque. As you head north out of Albuquerque you’ll exit in Bernalillo and head northwest on US550. About 25 miles from there you come to the small town of San Ysidro. You’ll turn on to state road 4 and head north into the Jemez National Forest. You’ll continue on until you get to state road 126 on your left and turn there. You’ll stay on that road until you hit the Seven Springs Fish Hatchery. Turn into the fish hatchery and drive down the dirt road for approximately 2 mile until you hit a gate and then it’s all walk in access.
From here you’ll have to walk another mile up the path if you’re looking for Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout. There is a fish dam on this river that is supposed to prevent the brown trout from coming up river to interfering with the state fish of New Mexico. Below this dam you’ll find tons of small brown trout that are feisty and hungry and love to take a small grasshopper fly. Problems are that the river is very small and depending on the time of year the grass doesn’t help your flies drift properly
Once you get higher up toward the fish dam you’ll find where the Rio Grande Cutthroat roam free. Right on the other side of the dam you’ll find a small pond full of jumping trout and they should all be Cutthroat.
I enjoy stream fishing much more than still water so I usually fish above the pond but the pond has lots of fish in it. The stream has little bends and small pools to hunt for native cutthroat. You’ll hear them splash coming up for food and they are spooky but they are quite abundant and you’ll enjoy catching them on light tackle. Fish smaller flies because some of the fish will still hit your bigger flies but are to small to fit the hook inside their mouths
While you’re up in that area you can enjoy a dip in several hot springs around the forest and see cool formations like Soda Dam. Which has a cool little waterfall but if you don’t like the rotten egg smell of sulfur I wouldn’t suggest it. All in all New Mexico has one of the most beautiful scenery I have seen in my years fishing. So head down and come for the fishing but stay for the amazing New Mexican cuisine. You can’t beat hatch green Chile. You’ll be addicted once you try it