The sign welcoming travelers to New Mexico declares "Land of Enchantment." Most people who drive across the state will have a truck stop experience that adds a grain of salt to this motto. If you like to fish and don't mind doing it the hard way, Northern New Mexico is exactly what the sign says. Park at a public recreation area, follow the fence all the way to the end, then take a game trail west for a few miles. You'll get to a section of river that feels absolutely private (minus the access fee and roving trespass enforcers). Trout haven't been stocked in the river since the 1970's. They have the native attitude. Dodgy and darting from the shadow of your fly line. They hover two inches under your best cast for long enough to drive home real criticism of the fly and how it was presented.
Caddis are hatching. They skate along the water, depositing larvae into the oxygen rich riffles in a canyon north of Chama. Stay in the shadows, throw a tight loop, and swing the rod tip downstream when the fish rises.
At the end of the day, you feel like your roll-cast is tuned. A five-mile hike back to the truck at 8,000 feet puts an exclamation point on middle-aged office life. On the upside, it earns without question beer and elk chops at the saloon in Chama.
North of the New Mexico border trespass rights are gold. In Colorado the standard program is to hook up with an outfitter and pay a daily rod fee. It feels like buying your first rock concert ticket. You can't escape the feeling that this is meant to be free and maybe sneaking in wouldn't come up on the great judgment day. It has the same "you never know what's going to happen next" adrenaline when you pass through the gate.