By GEORGE MORSE
Los Alamos Daily Post
Sports and Outdoors
The 2018-2019 fishing season began Sunday, April 1. Anglers will need to purchase a new fishing license for this season.
Licenses may be purchased from vendors across the state or obtained online by visiting the State Game and Fish Department’s website: onlinesales.wildlife.state.nm.us
Streamflows throughout Northern New Mexico remain below normal which makes for good fishing conditions on streams that otherwise would be swollen with spring runoff this time of year. Streamflows will likely stay below normal due to the meager snowpack after a dry and warm winter.
The exception is the Chama River below Abiquiu Dam where the streamflow has increased to 367 cubic-feet- per-second.
The fishing here has slowed down as the heavier flows result in murky water. The fish are still there, but the fishing is more difficult. It’s best to check the daily streamflows in this location on the United States Geological Survey (USGS) website before planning a trip here. The streamflows will likely increase as the demand for irrigation water rises during the upcoming growing season. The limit on the Chama below Abiquiu Dam is three fish-per- day.
The walleye fishing is starting to pick up at Abiquiu Lake and will likely get better as the water warms up. It’s still a little early for the smallmouth bass to be very active, but you can pick up some bigger bass this time of year if you are patient.
There are some big trout in Abiquiu, both rainbows and browns. Anglers trolling crank baits for walleyes sometimes are surprised by the strike of a good-sized trout this time of year at Abiquiu.
The Chama River below El Vado Dam still has a low streamflow and the fishing here is fair. Normally, the upper Chama River above El Vado Lake is swollen with runoff this time of year, but this year it may be fishable in April. The section of the Chama from the outlet at Heron Dam upstream 2.9 miles in the Rio Chama Wildlife Area is limited to flies and lures with a single, barbless hook. The limit is two fish-per- day. Downstream from the outlet at Heron to El Vado Lake is open to all angling methods.
The fishing from the bank at Heron Lake has been good for holdover rainbow trout with Power Bait and roe sacks. Still no reports of lake trout being caught at Heron.
Fenton Lake near Los Alamos has had very good fishing for rainbow and brown trout this spring. The nearby Seven Springs Brood Pond fished well last week. This pond is limited to kids 12 years-old and younger. The youngsters caught some nice rainbow trout and brown trout here last week.
The Jemez River was stocked March 28 with 867 rainbow trout. Because of the low flows fishing here has been good.
The Rio Las Vacas in the Jemez Mountains was stocked with rainbow trout on March 28 and the fishing should be good where these trout were stocked. Both these streams have wild brown trout and you might hook a cutthroat trout in the Rio Las Vacas.
The Rio Grande is running well-below normal for this time of year. The fishing has been fair-to- good. Fly fishermen should take advantage of the low flow, which is unusual for this time of year. There have even been some mayfly and caddis hatches on the Rio Grande. There is a well-known caddis hatch in May on the Rio Grande and maybe it will start a little earlier this year because of the low flows and warmer weather.
One of the changes this year on the Rio Grande is that the limit on trout from the Taos Junction Bridge north to the Colorado border is now two fish-per- day.
Santa Cruz Lake near Chimayo has been heavily-stocked in recent weeks. The Department stocked another 4,085 rainbow trout March 27 and the fishing has been very good here. There are some big holdover rainbow trout and wild brown trout in this lake.
The fishing for rainbow trout from the bank at Eagle Nest Lake has been fair-to- good. Eagle Nest was stocked with 22,356 rainbow trout averaging just seven inches in size March 29. These fish are what are called “Put-and- Grow.” The hope is they will feed on the natural trout foods that are in Eagle Nest and grow to a bigger size. If you catch any of these smaller trout try to release them. There are plenty of bigger fish in Eagle Nest Lake.
There were some big northern pike caught last week at Eagle Nest. Pike spawn this time of year so they should be cruising the shallow water. Do not release any pike you catch back into the lake. If you are fishing for pike, be sure to use a short steel leader to protect your line from these toothy critters.
The fishing in the Cimarron River below Eagle Nest Lake was slow, as was the fishing in the Gravel Pit Lakes. The fishing here will pick up once these locations are stocked by the State Game and Fish Department.
The fishing at Maxwell Lake 13 on the Maxwell Lakes Wildlife Refuge has been good. Normally, the fish are of good average size in this lake. It was stocked March 28 with 2,000 rainbow trout, so you might catch more stocker-size fish (10 inches) now.
Both Lake Alice and Lake Maloya in Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton were stocked with rainbow trout last week.
Lake Alice received 250 rainbow trout and Lake Maloya received 1,250 trout. The fishing has been good at Lake Maloya.
Monastery Lake near Pecos was stocked March 28 with 250 rainbow trout and the fishing has been very good here. The Pecos River, like other streams in Northern New Mexico, is running low for this time of year and the fishing has been fair-to-good.
The Rio de los Pinos, which would also normally be swollen with runoff, has been fishing well. This is a good time of year to catch some bigger-than- average trout in the Los Pinos. This river hugs the border of Colorado north of Tres Piedras.
To reach it, you have to drive into Colorado and turn off Highway 285 to San Antonio. You then drive back into New Mexico and the town of Los Pinos. This river is heavily-stocked during the summer with rainbow trout and has wild brown trout.
In the Four Corners area, Lake Farmington was stocked March 29 with 1,641 rainbow trout. The fishing has been good here.
The streamflow on the San Juan River below Navajo Dam is scheduled to be increased to 550 cubic-feet- per-second. This will not likely affect the fishing that much. The Quality Waters have been fishing well with a variety of fly patterns. The Bait Waters below the Quality Waters were stocked March 28 with 4,652 rainbow trout. The fishing here has been good.
The fishing at Tingley Beach in Albuqerque remains good, but it was not stocked last week. The winter stocking of rainbow trout in Southern New Mexico continues but will likely come to an end soon. Time to stop fishing for stocked trout and start fishing for catfish and bass here in Southern New Mexico. This year, Bill Evans Lake and Lake Roberts near Silver City have been designated as trophy bass water. The limit here will be two bass-per- day.