Fishing the ditches

I had a fascinating conversation this morning with the guy in the hat, who was out with his family fishing where the Middle Rio Grand Conservancy District’s Central Wasteway drops water out of the Albuquerque irrigation system, back into the Rio Grande.

Fishing the Central Wasteway

I’ve been bicycling to this bridge three or four times a week recently, because it’s one of the best places to watch the changes in the rising Rio Grande. With a big snowmelt building, we’re seeing some of the highest flows in years, and I’m missing none of it.

I’ve been talking to our UNM Water Resources students about a cormorant I’ve seen off the bridge, fishing at the confluence between irrigation system and river – a boundary between nature and not nature. Perhaps. Today was the first time I’ve seen humans fishing there. Apparently it’s a good place for fish.

The guy in the hat gave me a marvelous rundown of the best places to fish in the MRGCD ditches. I didn’t have anything to take notes (Note to Fleck: carry the damn notebook when you’re riding!), but I do recall that one of the best fishing spots in the valley is the ditch behind the Walmart at Dennis Chavez and Coors in the South Valley. I remembered this particularity because my friend Scot lives across the alfalfa fields (one of the valley’s last big farmed patches) from Walmart.

Apparently if he was so inclined, Scot could fish out the ditch behind his house, as well as irrigate.

The cormorant fishing off the bridge is interesting. In the decade or so I’ve been birding the riverside woods, I’ve noted an increase in the number of cormorants. I hypothesize that they’ve been drawn by the stocked fishing ponds a mile to the south, and are now spreading out to the river.

“Nature,” writes Robert Macfarlane in the delightful Landmarks, which my sister, Lisa, gave me for my birthday, “is not now, nor has ever been, a pure category. We inhabit a post-pastoral terrain, full of compromise and modification.”

I think one of the fish the guy in the hat told me about was carp.


  1. Yep, that ADA accessible bosque crusher fine trail made this bridge possible. I’m glad it works for all you walkies, too 🙂

  2. Am missing personal views of the great river rise, but your stories/photos help. As for the great fishing hole behind the Walmart at Rio Bravo/Coors, the only down side has to be there’s very likely more fishing of plastic Walmart bags out of the water than fish. The great blue herons make up for that (and are also indicators of how good the fishing is).

    – Scot

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