Remember these words: Questa, N.M. You heard it first here. Well, maybe not. If you saw the gorgeous photo essay by my friends Josh Duplechian and Toner Mitchell in the winter issue of TROUT magazine, maybe you heard it first there. Or maybe you saw the film “Querencia” — perhaps the most beautiful film Josh has ever done. But you need to hear about this place. More importantly, you need to visit this place. And you must fish here. Perhaps above all, you must fish here.
A few years back, I might not have said that. Back then, the Questa molybdenum mine was the primary source of employment there. It was a mining town, like lots of other mining towns in New Mexico and across the interior West. But then two things happened: In 2013, President Barack Obama established the 242,000-acre Rio Grande del Norte National Monument near Questa. Then, a year later, after repeated cycles of boom and bust, the mine closed down. It was a watershed event.
There are plenty of people who can guide you when you fish near Questa. They’re great guides and awesome TU Business Members. But I’m calling out one in particular: Chris Michael from Rio Grande del Norte Outfitters in Questa. You saw his face on the cover of the Winter 2020 issue of TROUT magazine. If you saw the film “Querencia” you saw him there, too. But that’s not enough. You need to be there. You need to be a part of what’s going on in Questa, with Chris and with the community and with the fish. I think Chris says it best himself: “It’s more of a spiritual accomplishment for me to go down to the Rio Grande and find a Rio Grande cutthroat. To know that they’re progressing, that’s the dream.”
The dream is coming true for guides like Chris and for the community of Questa. When the mine shut down, the people of Questa had to decide what their future was going to be. They could no longer count on the mine to provide jobs. With support from Chevron Mining, Inc., the LOR Foundation, Trout Unlimited and dedicated village leaders, Questa is building an economy based on outdoor recreation, traditional agriculture and light industry. The wild and native trout in the surrounding streams and lakes are thriving. And there are people coming to Questa to fish for them.
Like every other community, Questa is a work in progress. But the fishing is there, if you want to come experience it. A friend of mine once said that a good guide is in the transportation business. He or she should be transporting your heart and mind to places they haven’t been before when you’re out there on the water. Chris Michael knows how to do that.
Rio Grande del Norte Outfitters, LLC
Questa, NM 87556
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