The Rio Grande River is one of the major rivers in the southwest United States, along with the Colorado River. It’s the fifth-longest river in North America and runs a total length of 1,896 miles. The Rio Grande starts its journey from the snow-fed mountain streams of the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. It flows in a south to southeast direction through New Mexico and forms the border between the United States and Mexico before depositing in the Gulf of Mexico.
Because the river is so long, it’s hard to generalize the experience of visiting or fishing here. In some places the river is 60 feet deep, in other places it’s barely moving with seemingly inches of water. Your location will determine the type of fishing and species you encounter on your Rio Grande fishing adventure.
Anglers in Colorado have the benefit of fishing the Upper Rio Grande, without a doubt some of the best fishing in the state. The river and nearby tributaries are slow-moving waters that are perfect for fly fishing for trout. Cutthroat trout and rainbow trout are just two species found here in good numbers, but keep in mind that catch-and-release is required for these species.
Cutthroat trout is a favorite among freshwater anglers, an excellent catch that can fall to different techniques. Spend a day fly fishing the pools one day, and traditional casting the currents another. Fly fishing in particular is a technique that is relatively easy to learn but takes years to master. Schedule your fly fishing trip around when the waters warm-up (usually mid-June) and you’ll see lots of trout activity. The season typically runs until temperatures drop again. Along with cutthroat trout, anglers can find brown and brook trout as well.
Between the cities of South Fork and Del Norte is an area known as “Gold Medal Water.” The area is ripe with plants and vegetation, creating a habitat where trout thrive. It’s earned a reputation as one of the best fishing grounds along the river. The size and numbers of brown trout alone bring anglers from far and wide to fish this particular section of the Rio Grande.
For a stress-free day, consider fishing the Upper Rio Grande River with a local guide. There are certain areas where only artificial lures or flies are allowed, and there are catch-and-release policies to consider. When fishing with a professional local fishing guide, they will know all the regulations and can make sure you’re following the protocols of the area. All you have to worry about is reeling in your next prize catch.
As the Rio Grande treks towards the Gulf, there is a transition from cold mountain spring water to the arid and dry regions. Throughout New Mexico and Texas you’ll see more anglers wade fishing or fishing from the banks of the river. The fishing on this part of the river is open year-round and anglers will also get to see some of the most beautiful scenery as you trek out to your fishing destination.
One fishing ground along the Rio Grande that anglers frequently visit is Big Bend National Park. See the views of the Chihuahuan Desert from the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, or hike to Santa Elena Canyon, another scenic overlook. This 800,000-acre park is unique in that it has mountains, deserts, and a river. This part of the river is best for catching flathead, channel, and blue catfish. We recommend visiting in the spring and fall months when the temperatures are cooler.
Falcon Lake is a reservoir along the Rio Grande River that has some of the best bass fishing in the Lone Star State. The United States-Mexico border cuts through the middle of the lake, so make sure you have appropriate licensing from whichever side you launch from. The many inlets of the lake provide lots of places for largemouth bass to feed and hide. Local anglers know to expect 5 to 6-pound bass throughout the lake. Use live shiners or shad for the best results.
No matter where on the river you choose to fish, you’re sure to have a great day. Grab your rod and tackle and enjoy your next Rio Grande fishing excursion. From Colorado to Texas there are great fishing grounds along the river. Whether it’s the Gold Medal Water or Big Bend, anglers are catching fish and making memories!
Fish the Upper Rio Grande for a personal best trout, or try the Falcon Lake reservoir in Texas for largemouth bass. The Rio Grande does translate to “Large River”, and for good reason. If you’re not sure where to start, fish with a local guide. Search FishAnywhere.com where you’re staying, and find the guide of your choice. Who knows… your next personal best could be just a cast away.