Weekly Fishing Report: Feb. 20

By GEORGE MORSE
Los Alamos Daily Post
Sports and Outdoors
 
The warm weather last week opened up more fishing locations for anglers in Northern New Mexico.
 
Many lakes that had been closed to fishing because of unsafe ice conditions now have open water that allows for bank fishing and it has been good.
 
Hopefully, anglers called ahead and took advantage of these conditions, which are unusual for February. During this time of year, the fishing is often better during the middle of day when the sun has warmed the water a little bit. In addition, any ice that may have formed overnight or early in the morning has a chance to melt when the sun is on the water. This is one time of the year where the early bird doesn’t necessarily get the worm.
 
Most of the ice at Eagle Nest Lake is gone and there is plenty of open water for bank fishing. There were no reports on fishing success but it should be at least fair if not good in the open water areas. Although it is unlikely that there will be any ice fishing this season at Eagle Nest, it still may get cold enough again for thin ice to form and shut down the bank fishing, so call ahead at (575).377.1594 to check on conditions.
 
There never was an ice-fishing season this season at Eagle Nest. This may be a first. I can’t remember a year when there was never any ice fishing at Eagle Nest.
 
Fenton Lake near Los Alamos is another lake where the ice has melted and there is open water. Fenton Lake was stocked Feb. 6 with 836 rainbow trout and the fishing has been very good. Call ahead to check on conditions at (575).829.3630.
 
The fishing at Lake Maloya at Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton has been very good in the areas of open water. Lake Alice, also at Sugarite Canyon State Park, was one of the few places that offered ice fishing this winter. The warm weather has melted the ice to where it is now unsafe and Lake Alice has been closed to fishing. To check on the fishing conditions at Sugarite Canyon State Park, call (575).445.5607.
 
Heron Lake has had open-water fishing all winter and the fishing has been fair-to- good for good-sized holdover rainbow trout to 20 inches.
 
An angler recently asked me why the State Game and Fish Department hasn’t been stocking Santa Cruz Lake near Chimayo. There has been no stocking of fish at Santa Cruz for some time. However, there should be plenty of holdover trout at Santa Cruz, so it might be worth a try. Remember, the state-record rainbow trout was caught here.
 
There have been no reports on the fishing success at Santa Cruz for many weeks, so I guess everybody is waiting for the hatchery truck to come by.
 
If you really want to go ice fishing, there was a good report from Cabresto Lake, which is a small lake at high elevation near Questa. Cabresto Lake is not stocked but does have a population of wild brook trout and a few cutthroat trout. The road to Cabresto Lake likely requires a four-wheel drive vehicle this time of year and could be difficult to negotiate.
 
Some of the best fishing locally continues to be in the Chama River below Abiquiu Dam, where they have been doing some heavy stocking of rainbow trout. The flow here is really low at just 32 cubic-feet- per second. The fish are concentrated in the deeper pools near where they have been stocked. Remember the daily limit here is three-trout- per-day. There are some big, wild brown trout in this section but no reports of them being caught. The big browns are likely laying low with all the activity this area has been experiencing.
 
There were no recent reports on how the fishing has been in the Chama River below El Vado Dam. The flow here is low at 99 cubic-feet- per second and the fishing should be good.
 
The Rio Grande is running a little above normal for this time of year, probably due to melting snow from the warmer weather. The fishing has been fair. One spot that might be worth trying is below the County Line takeout area near Rinconada. The Pilar area might be good because a lot of the stocking of rainbow trout takes place here. The Orilla Verde Recreation Area also has some good spots to try.
 
The Red River below Questa near the Red River Trout Hatchery was stocked Feb. 9 with 700 rainbow trout averaging nearly a foot long. The fishing has been fair in the Red River.
 
Although there are no reports from Monastery Lake near Pecos, a recent stocking Feb. 7 of 250 rainbow trout would indicate the lake is ice-free and the fishing should be good.
 
In the Four Corners area, the San Juan River below Navajo Dam has been good in Quality Waters with a variety of fly patterns. The fishing in the Bait Waters below the Quality Waters has been fair-to- good. A river enhancement project is still going on and the stretch of the San Juan between Simon Point Day Use Area and Crusher Hole Day Use Area is still closed to boat and foot traffic. Over 20,000 rainbow trout averaging six inches in size were recently stocked in the Quality Waters, where the fishing is Catch-and- Release. Be sure to carefully release these smaller fish if you catch one so they can grow into the big trout this area is famous for.
 
Tingley Beach in Alququerque continues to receive heavy stockings of trout. Some bigger-than- average rainbow trout averaging 15 inches in size were stocked here Feb. 8 by the State Game and Fish Department. The drainage canals in the Albuquerque area are also still being stocked and the fishing has been good.
 
The winter stocking of rainbow trout continues at the small, municipal lakes across Southern New Mexico and the fishing for them is good. Catfish are stocked in these lakes during the summer and the warmer temperatures are causing these fish to start biting again. If you have a second rod stamp, you might rig one rod with Power Bait or salmon eggs for the stocked rainbows and rig the other rod with worms or stink bait to try for catfish.