A double-crested cormorant feeding on a rainbow trout at Tingley Beach. Courtesy/NMGF
In this time of change, the Department would like to encourage anglers to continue COVID safe practices; it is a great time to mend equipment, stock tackle boxes and prepare for upcoming fishing trips.
In the weekly fishing report, provided by Dustin Berg of Go Unlimited (supporting disabled anglers) and the Department of Game and Fish, we will continue to share tips and tricks to help you be ready and to safely go on your next adventure.
With state parks reopening, many people are preparing to go fishing. It is important that respect and being informed are a part of those preparations. Let’s keep this forward momentum positive.
Be prepared and respect each other
When going to a lake or river, respect social distancing. Stay as far away from other people as possible. The fishing is usually better away from the crowd anyway. In the angling community, there is an unwritten rule that you give your neighboring anglers space. How much space? At a minimum, far enough apart that your fishing lines cannot reach each other, at least 30-feet, but hopefully more. If two or more fishing lines are close enough to reach each other, they can become entangled. That could cause a terribly frustrating situation and unnecessary conflict.
Aside from the potential for creating a combative fishing environment, fishing too close together defeats the purpose of many angler’s journey into the great outdoors. Anglers often seek solitude with nature and respite from the hustle and bustle of the city life. Let’s not bring that hustle and bustle into the great outdoors by parking ourselves too close to each other.
The further away from the crowds you get, the more natural your surroundings become. This can be great for fishing. The fish are usually more at ease and likely to be fooled by an angler. Fish can travel long distances, and they will if they feel over pressured. Disperse into the lower pressured areas and be rewarded for your efforts.
Tips from the wildlife and rewarded efforts
A nice quiet spot on the bank of a river or lake is a great piece of temporary realty. If there are not a bunch of people around, you might be pleasantly surprised by an impromptu wildlife viewing to parlay with your fishing adventure. If you watch closely, wildlife behavior can give you telling hints as to where fish are congregating. For example, diving ducks and fishing birds feeding on minnows tells you that there is a congregation of prey fish species in the area. These are the same prey fish species that larger predatory fish are feeding on.
By watching the birds, you can visualize what might be happening underwater. In this example situation, both the birds and predatory fish are feeding on the same minnows – and that would probably be a good spot to try your lure.
From home, it is good to research areas for future angling expeditions. You can locate access points, and, by viewing satellite images, identify nice spots to fish from. In today’s era of technology, satellite images can be very helpful in identifying structures that could potentially hold fish, such as rocky ledges, coves, points that protrude into the lake, slack water in a river bend, etc. Google Earth is an awesome tool to explore for satellite images and more.
Take time to go over your gear and make sure it is in good operating condition. One common mistake anglers make is using old fishing line that has expired past the point of being able to wrangle in a fish. It is an easy mistake to make. Father time and exposure to sunlight will eventually cause a fishing line to lose its integrity. Once fishing line is well past its prime, it can break easily at knot points or even just anywhere along the line. Before heading out (and with time to go purchase new fishing line if need be), pull a few feet of line out from your reel and give it a hard tug to see if it is strong enough for your angling intentions. You should also try tying a hook or lure on and giving that a good tug to test the line strength at a knot point.
Bonus no brainer – remember, hand sanitizer and soap are good for getting that fishy smell off your hands and keeping the coronavirus off, too. Please use both if you have them.
Be respectful of the environment
In New Mexico, we have beautiful streams, rivers and lakes that we encourage people to enjoy. Part of enjoying these places is to enter, experience and not destroy. Encourage others to be stewards of the land. Lead by example. It is devastating to these locations when people show up and leave their trash.
Besides the point that leaving your trash turns an otherwise natural environment into an unsightly litter box, it passes on a terrible lesson to the next generation of outdoorsmen. It also harms wildlife. If two out of 10 people leave their trash, and 500 people visit the area, it equals a lot of nasty waste left in the outdoors. There are many wild animals that rely on our state’s limited water sources that might consume or become entrapped in leftover trash. These animals die from such negative overlaps in culture. Think of them. Think of the people who look up to you.
Lead by example and take the easy steps to haul your trash back to the city to dispose of it. Do it for your own outdoors enjoyment and the sake of everything in our great outdoors.
Learn more about Leave No Trace here.
If you have personal tips and tricks that you would like to share with your fellow anglers as we wait out the current restrictions, please email Dustin at email@example.com.
Social distancing is a challenge for all anglers; the itch to go fishing just keeps growing. But this is a time for all New Mexicans to pull together for the overall health of all our citizens and stay home. The Department reminds anglers it is their responsibility to be aware of closures and contact land managers for properties of interest when restrictions are lifted.
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – https://www.blm.gov/new-mexico
- U.S. Forest Service (USFS) – https://www.fs.usda.gov/about-agency/covid19-updatesNew Mexico State Lands – https://www.nmstatelands.org/resources/recreational-access/
- New Mexico State Parks – http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/SPD/
- New Mexico Open Gate Properties – http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/hunting/maps/open-gate-program/
- New Mexico Wildlife Management Areas – http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/conservation/state-game-commission-lands/
- Angler and outdoor recreationists should consult their local government’s website for information regarding specific city and town fishing access.