By GEORGE MORSE
Los Alamos Daily Post
Sports and Outdoors
The weather is warming up and the wind is blowing, heralding the start of spring. A post on Facebook said that they’d seen the first hummingbird of the season, so it’s time to clean up the feeders and set them out for these little buzz bombs as they migrate back up north from their wintering grounds in Mexico and Central America.
Fruit trees are blooming all over the Espanola Valley and along the Rio Grande. Apple trees have yet to bloom but it won’t be long.
It’s been one of the driest winters on record and the snow is going, going and soon to be gone in the mountains. That’s reflected in some of the streamflows in Northern New Mexico. The Rio Grande at Taos Junction Bridge was flowing at just 238 cubic-feet- per-second Tuesday (4/10) versus a normal flow of 708 cubic-feet- per-second for this time of year.
These low flows will be an absolute boon to fly fishermen. With reports that the caddis hatch has begun on the Rio Grande, the low water will make for ideal fishing conditions. The wind will be the only drawback as this can make casting difficult. Fishing in the morning may be your best bet as the wind seems to pick up a lot in the afternoon. Using a dry fly like the elk hair caddis combined with an emerger pattern is an effective technique this time of year. Fly fisherman should take advantage of these conditions, as they may not happen again soon.
You don’t have to be a fly fisherman to enjoy the fishing conditions on the Rio Grande. They’ve been catching trout on spinners and nightcrawlers too. Expect the flows in the Rio Grande to rise soon, as the tributaries from the Sangre de Cristos that flow into the Rio Grande are running near to a little-above normal.
On the Rio Chama, the flows are a mixed bag. Above El Vado Lake on the upper Chama, flows are running higher at La Puente and the fishing will be difficult. A good place to try the Chama is the Public Fishing Area located just below the town of Chama. This area was stocked April 2 with 676 rainbow trout. There are also some holdover fish here and the higher flows will have them actively feeding, so you might hook some bigger fish.
Also stocked April 2 was the nearby Brazos River, which received 772 rainbow trout. There are no reports from here and the water may be high. Again, the higher flows may trigger some feeding activity from bigger, holdover trout.
The Chama below El Vado Dam is running fairly low and this area was stocked April 2 with 572 rainbow trout. There are also plenty of wild brown trout here. The fishing has been fair. Below Cooper’s at the Water Gauge Station to the confluence of the Rio Nutrias the fishing is catch-and- release using flies and lures with a single, barbless hook.
The fishing on the Chama River below Abiquiu Dam has slowed down, but the flow of 204 cubic-feet- per-second is still pretty good for fishing. The water here is murky, so be patient as the fish have trouble finding your bait. There are some big brown trout here and this is a good time of year to catch them. Note-the limit on trout from this section of the Chama used to be three fish. That has been changed and the limit is now two fish.
The fishing in the reservoirs along the Chama is picking up. The smallmouth bass fishing at Abiquiu Lake was fair-to- good last week. The walleye fishing is still a little slow, but it should pick up as the fish come out of spawning and start to feed. There was a big rainbow trout caught last week.
The fishing at El Vado Lake was fair for brown trout and there are some big fish here. El Vado is an older reservoir and is heavily silted in. It is full of suckers and carp. Fishing for smallmouth bass at El Vado has been fair.
The bank fishing for nice-sized rainbow trout at Heron Lake has been good. There was finally a report of a small lake trout being caught. This is good news because it means the lakers are still reproducing naturally in Heron. The State Game and Fish Department stocked over 400,000 small kokanee salmon April 4. Heron Lake used to be the premier kokanee salmon fishery in the state, but low water levels have hurt this fishery. Perhaps it can recover this year.
Laguna del Campo near Los Ojos was scheduled to be drained last year, but pressure from the local community to keep the lake open led to a change of plans and the lake will remain open. It was stocked April 2 with 193 rainbow trout and again April 5 with 402 rainbow trout. It is open to fishing to anglers 15 years-old and under and 65 years-old and over.
This lake is periodically stocked with bigger-than- average rainbow trout from the nearby Los Ojos Fish Hatchery. It opens for fishing May 1.
Closer to Los Alamos, the fishing at Fenton Lake has been very good and should be even better. The Department stocked 2,108 rainbow trout April 3. In addition, another 173 rainbow trout averaging almost 17 inches in length were also stocked. There are some nice brown trout in this lake as well.
The Seven Springs Kids Pond has been fishing well and both rainbows and browns are caught here. The fishing in the Cebolla River above Fenton Lake has been good. The Jemez River is running high and the fishing has been slow.
The fishing at Santa Cruz Lake near Chimayo has been good and they’re catching both rainbow and brown trout. Both lures and baits have been catching fish at Santa Cruz.
Heading over the mountains to Northeast New Mexico, the fishing at Eagle Nest Lake is fair-to- good from the bank for rainbow trout. They are catching a few northern pike. Leave your boat at home for now, as the lake is still closed to boating.
The fishing has been good at the Maxwell Lakes for recently-stocked trout as well as some nice-sized holdovers.
Lake Maloya at Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton has been good for trout and the hot bait remains salmon peach Power Bait. Still no reports from Lake Alice, also at Sugarite. It should be good here as well.
The fishing should be good at Clayton Lake State Park, as the lake was stocked April 3 with 3,600 rainbow trout, as well as another 400 rainbow trout averaging nearly 15 inches in size. Be sure to check out the dinosaur tracks at Clayton Lake if you visit there.
Morphy Lake at Morphy Lake State Park near Las Vegas was stocked April 5 with 2,994 rainbow trout and the fishing here should be good.
Storrie Lake State Park near Las Vegas received a stocking of 4,051 rainbow trout and another stocking of 450 rainbow trout averaging nearly 15 inches in size April 2. The fishing has been good.
The upper Pecos River above the town of Pecos received its first stocking so far this year of 2,500 rainbow trout last week. The lower Pecos below the town was also stocked with 999 rainbow trout. The flow on the Pecos is rising but is still well-below what it would normally be this time of year.
Over in the Four Corners area, the flow on the San Juan River below Navajo Dam has been increased to about 600 cubic-feet-per- second. The fishing in the Quality Waters remains good with a variety of fly patterns. The fishing in the Bait Waters has been fair-to- good.
The bass fishing is picking up at Navajo Lake for largemouth and smallmouth bass. They’ve been catching a few trout. This time of year they hook some big brown trout at Navajo Lake. Few fishermen target this species and they are mostly hooked incidentally while fishing for other species.
If you’re in the Aztec area you might wet a line at Tiger Park Pond. The lake was stocked April 3 with 1,364 rainbow trout and with 150 rainbow trout averaging almost 17 inches in size.
In Albuquerque, Tingley Beach continues to be stocked weekly and the fishing has been very good. The Department stocked 125 trout averaging nearly 17 inches in size April 3 at Tingley Beach. The fishing in the drainage ditches in the Albuquerque area remains good but should be slowing down soon as the winter stockings have ended.
The fishing for winter-stocked rainbow trout in Southern New Mexico is also slowing down as the stockings come to an end. On the plus side, the fishing for warmwater species like bass and catfish should start to pickup as the water warms up.
The fishing for white bass and walleye has been very good at Elephant Butte Lake near Truth or Consequences. The bass fishing has been good. There was a report of a big striped bass caught at Elephant Butte last week.