Understanding Where Warm Waters Halt in New Mexico

I’m too damned old to waste my time on solutions to the Fenn Treasure Hunt that don’t include some basic assumptions.

For example, I have assumed that the Fenn’s treasure chest is hidden in New Mexico. I’ve explained why in an earlier entry. While that decision could be criticized, it cannot be debated. It’s my assumption, and I cling to it like a grizzly bear does to a chubby, tasty flatlander.

I have also assumed that “warm waters” as used in the first clue of Fenn’s Poem (Begin it where warm waters halt…) is Fenn’s gracious, poetic, and pretty damned transparent nod to the the New Mexico State Game and Fish Department Fishing Rules and Information pamphlet. He is, after all, a lifelong, devout and dedicated fisherman, and would be familiar with them

Since I’m about to jump into them, you can download a copy (in Adobe Acrobat) format of the 2017 Fishing Proclamation (as the Rules are referred to) here. (I update this information annually.)

First, the phrase “warm waters,” in the context of fishing, is unique to New Mexico. No other Rocky Mountain state uses the phrase in the context of fishing.

Second, while it is common knowledge that trout thrive in waters just either side of 55 degrees, there is nothing in anything the NMG&FD publishes that defines hot, warm, cool or cold waters in terms of temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius. You will, on the other hand, find lists, with appropriate images, of warm water species and cold water species on the NMG&FD website without any reference to water temperatures.

CaptureaThird, you can find the definition of warm waters on page 16 of the above referred to publication. In the first paragraph it says, “Warm waters include all streams, lakes, and ponds, except those designated as trout waters (pages 24–25, 31).

Thus, the distinction, in the context of New Mexico fishing, is not between warm waters and cool waters, or warm water species and cool water species.

It’s between warm waters and Special Trout Waters, irrespective of temperature or specie. And, all the designated trout waters are listed on pages 24 and 25 of the above referred to document.

For example, using the entry for the Cimarron River Special Trout Water near the bottom of page 24:

One trout only, at least 16 inches. Cimarron River from the east end of Tolby Campground downstream 1.4 miles to the first U.S. Hwy. 64 bridge.”

CimarronRiveraTherefore, in this case, warm waters halt at the east end of Tolby Campground, at which point Special Trout Waters begin, and continue downstream 1.4 miles, at which point warm waters begin and continue downstream to the Cimarron’s confluence with Ponil Creek.

Now you know where to start your search in Cimarron Canyon. Am I a nice guy, or what?

By going through the list on pages 24 and 25, you can determine where many of the warm waters in Northern New Mexico halt.

Helpful hint: Don’t waste your time with Cabresto, Doctor, or Jack’s Creeks.


There is one other thing.

Due to the unique manner in which warm and Special trout waters are interrelated, there are 11 other locations in the mountains North of Santa Fe that meet the above definition of where warm waters halt, but are not listed on pages 24 and 25.

But, those are my secret.

2 thoughts on “Understanding Where Warm Waters Halt in New Mexico

  1. Toby, you definitely have presented a good case and certainly could be right; and if I lived in New Mexico I would feel the same way if for no other reason than its accessibility.

    A good case can also be made for Yellowstone and Wyoming.

    Some say the last place a hustler like Fenn would hide the chest is in a place that he has spoken of or has obvious attachments to.

    I’ve always liked the area around Salida Colorado (which happens to be just above the 7,000 foot elevation) for one of my spots. Some of the best trout fishing on the planet is in the Arkansas River around Salida. Lots of places with interesting names around there like “Texas Creek” which just happens to have a small landing strip.

    One of my favorite sayings is “The greatest obstacle to discovering the truth is being convinced you already know it…….I just can’t make a good enough case for one place to rule out all the other places.

  2. Toby,
    I am also in the NM camp and used to cling to WW being the state fishing designation as well.
    I have had to drop that line of reasoning because some basic facts finally sunk into my brain.
    First, if you’ll get a map of the NM area and begin to mark off all waterways that would fit the WWWH designation you are suddenly confronted with so many possibilities to check out that
    it just does not make sense in light of Forrest’s description of the poem. If the poem is the map and will take you straight to the chest with no guess work and nothing accidental about it, as f has said, then the clues will not be taking you to hundreds of different possible locations – but rather just one.
    I realize that you can narrow down the possible WW halt location a bunch by eliminating the areas you cannot drive to but there are still a lot of possibilities. At one time I had them all marked out on a map with pushpins. Then I realized this attack was a wild goose chase.
    I think I have WWWH figured out and it is indeed only one unmistakable location (close to Taos). Forrest is deeper with his words than I originally thought. Even though “where warm waters halt” means what it says, I think you’ll find that it is also a way of saying something else as well. Therein lies the solution I feel I have discovered.
    Why don’t I have the chest then? Well I live in Taos and think I am pretty close to finding it.
    Late this fall (just before the snow) I even thought I might have gotten as far as the darn blaze
    but its location does not fit the clues as far as I can tell. Anyway, once you start down the canyon the rest of the clues (or at least some of them) may not be as simple as a first blush reading would indicate and may need to be looked at much closer, as was WWWH, for a clearer interpretation.
    So, I have great hopes for the Spring hunting season!

    I also agree with you on the point of being too old to fool around with solutions that don’t stick with the basics. So many people are so far out with their ideas that its just plain foolhardy.

    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Don’t Overthink It!

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