By GEORGE MORSE
Sports And Outdoors
Los Alamos Daily Post
One of the consequences of the restrictions on activities involving large crowds during the COVID-19 crisis has been a significant increase in people heading outdoors to camp and fish.
With no professional sports or youth sports like Little League games to attend, families are packing up and heading into the mountains to enjoy the outdoors. More fishing licenses are being sold than ever before.
On the one hand, this is great, as people are learning to enjoy the beauty of nature and the outdoors. It’s a double-edged sword. It has also led to an explosion of trash being left behind. From across the state, complaints of over-crowding and piles of garbage are coming in.
Trash bins have been filled to overflowing and people are leaving garbage piled up beside them. Human waste adds to the problem. Some people have even taken to emptying the contents of their SUV waste systems along the side of the road rather than go to dump stations.
The concept of “Pack it in, pack it out” seems to have been forgotten or just ignored.
Carson National Forest officials recently closed the El Rito Campground after being overwhelmed with the amount of trash and human waste left behind. New Mexico’s State Parks have been closed since March to overnight camping, with some of the more popular areas like Fenton Lake State Park and Bluewater Lake State Park still closed to all activities.
Most developed campgrounds on National Forest lands are open, but they are being overwhelmed.
Anglers and campers need to take some responsibility if we want to continue to enjoy the outdoors. Leave your camping area clean for the next camper. Come prepared with what you will need to pack it out. Be sure to bring the tools you will need to dispose of human waste properly.
We need to take care of our natural areas in order that we and future generations can continue to enjoy them.
The best fishing currently in the Jemez Mountains is in the area’s streams and rivers. Most are running very low and have not been stocked. The Jemez River is flowing at just 3.75 cubic-feet-per-second. They all contain wild brown trout.
Most of the stockings have been in the Rio Cebolla near Fenton Lake. It was stocked Aug. 11 with 820 rainbow trout.
The Rio San Antonio near La Cueva was stocked Aug. 11 with 750 rainbow trout.
San Gregorio Lake is open but has not been stocked recently. It may still be fair for any remaining rainbow trout from earlier stockings.
Abiquiu Lake is open for fishing 24/7. There is no overnight camping. The lake level is low and four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended for the launching of boats as the ramp does not reach the water. Fishing has been fair for smallmouth bass and walleye. A 32-inch walleye was caught recently. Night fishing for catfish should be worth a try.
The Chama River below Abiquiu Dam is running at 700 cubic-feet-per-second. This is a medium-to-heavy flow and fishing could be fair. The water here is usually murky. There are stocked rainbow trout here and some big, wild brown trout.
The limit here is two fish per-day. It was stocked Aug. 13 with 2,208 rainbow trout.
Streamflow in the Chama River below El Vado Dam is 697 cubic-feet-per-second. This is a medium flow and makes for good fishing conditions for the stocked rainbow trout and wild brown trout found here. The state-record brown trout was caught here. It was stocked Aug. 10 with 2,178 rainbow trout.
The State Game and Fish Department stocked 4,085 Rio Grande cutthroat trout averaging 4.7 inches in size July 15 in the Chama River below El Vado Dam. It was stocked again July 21 with another 6,061 small Rio Grande cutthroat trout.
These were “put-and-grow” stockings to try to establish a fishery for cutthroats here. These fish should grow to catchable-size by next year. Please release them if caught and give them a chance to grow.
El Vado Lake State Park and Heron Lake State Park are open daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The fishing from the bank has been fair for smallmouth bass, brown trout and carp at El Vado Lake. The fishing has been fair for rainbow trout at Heron Lake. No reports on the fishing for kokanee salmon and for lake trout. Heron Lake was stocked Aug. 5 with 4,590 rainbow trout.
The Chama River above El Vado Lake is starting to drop again after recent rainfall .Stream temperatures are warm at 66 degrees. The best fishing will be found below Heron Lake where cold water from beneath Heron Dam enters the Chama River. The water here can quickly get muddy during thunderstorms. If water clarity is okay, fishing should be fair-to-good.
The streamflow in the nearby Brazos River was 15.6 cubic-feet-per-second. The fishing should be at least fair-to-good for stocked rainbow trout and wild brown trout.
El Rito Creek, a small stream that flows through the town of El Rito, was stocked July 28 with 1,960 small Rio Grande cutthroat trout averaging 4.7 inches in size. Please release these trout and give them a chance to grow.
Laguna del Campo near Los Ojos was stocked Aug. 7 with 50 rainbow trout averaging 16.8 inches in size. Weed growth is probably getting heavy in this little lake. It is limited to anglers 14 years old and younger and anglers 65 years old or older. The limit is three fish per-day and the lake is open sunrise to sunset.
The Canjilon Lakes are fishing well thanks to recent stockings of rainbow trout and Rio Grande cutthroat trout. The lakes were stocked Aug. 3 with 1,001 catchable-size rainbow trout and stocked Aug. 4 with 257 rainbow trout averaging 17.3 inches in size. These little lakes are likely getting very weedy.
The fishing has been slow at the Trout Lakes near Cebolla. They have not been stocked in several weeks.
The Lagunitas Lakes were stocked several weeks ago and the fishing is slow-to-fair. The campground is open. Anglers might try fishing the small streams in the Cruces Basin Wilderness Area.
Hopewell Lake between Tres Piedras and Tierra Amarilla had been fishing well. In addition to recent stockings of rainbow trout, there was a stocking of Rio Grande cutthroat trout and it also contains wild brook trout. Anglers have the possibility of catching three different species of trout here. There have been problems with water quality here and it will not be stocked again until September when the weather cools down.
The Rio de los Pinos Wildlife Management Area near the Colorado border is open. The fishing has been just fair for stocked rainbow trout and wild brown trout. It is open for day-use only. Fly fishing might be your best option. Recent rains have improved streamflow here, but it is still low.
Santa Cruz Lake Recreation Area near Chimayo is open for day use Thursday-Sunday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. There is no overnight camping. It has not been recently stocked and the fishing could be slow as the trout have likely retreated to deeper water. The streamflow in the Santa Cruz River above the lake was 14.8 cubic-feet-per-second.
The streamflow in the Rio Grande is very low at just 163 cubic-feet-per-second at Taos Junction Bridge. The fishing has been fair for rainbow trout and brown trout. Fly-fishing conditions have been good. Smallmouth bass are also being caught. Remember that there is a 12-inch size limit on smallmouths.
The Rio Pueblo near Penasco is low again at 6.34 cubic-feet-per-second. The fish are concentrated in the deeper pools.
The fishing has been fair-to-good for stocked rainbow trout and some wild brown trout. .
There is still a good flow in the Red River at 34.0 cubic-feet-per-second below Red River Fish Hatchery. Flows have dropped above Questa. It is being heavily-stocked. It was stocked Aug. 10 with 3,331 rainbow trout. The west Fork and the East Fork of the Red River were each stocked Aug. 10 with 301 rainbow trout. The fishing has been good.
Eagle Rock Lake near Questa is a small lake right off the highway and receives heavy fishing pressure. It was stocked Aug. 4 with 499 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 54 rainbow trout averaging 15.1 inches in size. The fishing is fair-to-good as long as the stockers last.
The Shuree Ponds on the Valle Vidal near Costilla were stocked June 18 with 500 rainbow trout averaging 15.2 inches in size and stocked again July 16 with 500 rainbow trout averaging 14.7 inches in size. They received a third stocking July 28 of 500 rainbow trout averaging 15.0 inches in length. The Shuree Ponds opened for fishing July 1 and the fishing is limited to artificial flies and lures having a single, barbless hook. The limit is two-fish-per-day. The fishing should be good Eagle Nest Lake State Park is open Thursday-Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The fishing has been good for rainbow trout.
The fishing for northern pike has been fair-to-good. The fishing for perch should be fair-to-good with worms. Anglers trolling for trout should pick up a few kokanee salmon. Weed growth may be starting to get heavy here. Eagle Nest was stocked Aug. 5 with 18,769 small rainbow trout.
Cimarron Canyon State Park is open Thursday-Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Cimarron River was stocked Aug. 11 with 1,904 rainbow trout and Aug. 13 with 3,036 rainbow trout. It also contains wild brown trout. The Cimarron Gravel Pit Lakes at Maverick Campground were stocked July 30 with 352 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 45 rainbow trout averaging 15.0 inches in size. Streamflow in the Cimarron River below Eagle Nest Dam has been increased and it is now flowing at 34.4 cubic-feet-per-second.
The fishing should be fair at Stubblefield Lake for largemouth bass, walleye and catfish. Water levels here may be getting low. The state-record channel catfish was caught at Stubblefield Lake.
Trout fishing at Maxwell Lake 13 on the Maxwell Lakes National Wildlife Refuge will be slow due to warm water temperatures. The trout here are mostly good-sized holdovers and they have moved to deeper water. There are also largemouth bass and catfish here. The state-record yellow perch was caught at Maxwell Lakes.
Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton is open daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The fishing for rainbow trout has been good at Lake Maloya and fair at Lake Alice. Lake Maloya received heavy stockings of rainbow trout last week. It was stocked Aug. 10 with 3,100 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 400 rainbow trout averaging 15.6 inches in size. It received a heavy stocking Aug. 13 of 7,007 catchable-size rainbow trout. Lake Alice is a smaller lake and has not been stocked recently.
Clayton Lake State Park is open Friday-Sunday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The trout fishing here has been slow and it has not been stocked recently. There are also some big walleye, catfish and some largemouth bass here.
The Charette Lakes between Wagon Mound and Springer have been fair for stocked rainbow trout with some holdover trout. There are also yellow perch here. Springer Lake has been slow-to-fair for northern pike and catfish.
Coyote Creek State Park near Guadalupita is open Friday-Sunday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Coyote Creek was stocked July 23 with 801 rainbow trout. The Coyote Creek Pond was stocked with 598 rainbow trout. The fishing has been fair-to-good.
Storrie Lake State Park is open Thursday-Sunday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. It has not been stocked recently and the trout fishing is very slow. There are also catfish here.
The Gallinas River near Las Vegas is running a little lower at 2.31 cubic-feet-per-second. The trout are concentrated in the deeper pools. The fishing is fair. It was stocked aug. 11 with 1,001 rainbow trout. The Gallinas Ice Pond was stocked with 200 rainbow trout.
Conchas Lake State Park is open Friday-Sunday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The fishing has been fair-to-good for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, white bass, bluegill and crappie.
Ute Lake State Park near Logan was closed Aug. 12 after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. The closure is temporary. No reopening date has been set. For updates on the status of Ute Lake and other state parks, check the New Mexico State Parks website: enmrd.state.nm.us/SPD/
At Pecos Canyon State Park, roadside day-use fishing areas are open daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mora, Burt Clancy, Terrero and Willow Creek areas open Thursday-Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Open to New Mexico residents only. This area receives very heavy fishing pressure. The Pecos River was stocked twice last week with a total of 1,531 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 50 rainbow trout averaging 16 inches in size. There are also wild brown trout here. The streamflow is at 30.6 cubic-feet-per-second.
The Mora Fork of the Pecos River was stocked Aug. 12 with 199 rainbow trout. Cow Creek in the Pecos drainage was stocked Aug. 12 with 499 rainbow trout.
The Cowles Ponds are open again and were stocked Aug. 4 with 161 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 40 rainbow trout averaging 16.0 inches in size.
The Pecos River at Villanueva State Park has been stocked with channel catfish. Villanueva State Park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Santa Rosa Lake State Park is open Friday-Sunday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The lake is very low and muddy. The boat ramp does not reach the water. Fishing is slow-to-fair for walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie and catfish.
Over in the Four Corners, Navajo Lake State Park is open daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The fishing should be good for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and northern pike. Fishing for catfish should be fair. Trout fishing should be slow-to-fair with the trout hanging out in deeper water. This lake has the best kokanee salmon fishing in the state. They are usually caught by trolling at the proper depth. Fishing is usually best in deep water near the dam. Check with the marina to see if they have information as to what depth the kokanee are being caught at.
The streamflow in the San Juan River below Navajo Dam has increased and is at 971 cubic-feet-per-second. The trout fishing has been good with a variety of fly patterns in the Quality Water. They have been catching some big brown trout in the Quality Water. The fishing has been good in the Bait Water below the Quality Water with flies, lures and bait. The Bait Water was stocked Aug. 4 with 3,422 rainbow trout.
Tingley Beach in Albuquerque is now open. It was stocked July 30 with a total of 573 channel catfish, so the fishing should be picking up here. It has been fair for catfish and bluegill. It was stocked July 14 with 50 largemouth bass averaging 15 inches in size.
The drainage canals in the Albuquerque area are not being stocked with rainbow trout. Fishing for catfish, carp and a few largemouth bass has been fair. The Rio Grande in Albuquerque is running well below normal. Fishing has been fair for catfish and carp.
Escondida Lake near Socorro was stocked July 30 with 270 channel catfish averaging 18 inches in size. It was stocked July 14 with 40 largemouth bass averaging 15 inches in size. The fishing has been fair-to-good.
Elephant Butte Lake State Park is open Thursday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The fishing has been very good for white bass. The fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and walleye has been slow-to-fair. The fishing for catfish is good.
Lake water levels are dropping significantly as they are letting a lot more water out than is coming in.
The Rio Grande below Elephant Butte Dam is flowing at a heavy 1,390 cubic-feet-per-second. The fishing has been fair for catfish and white bass.
Caballo Lake State Park is open Thursday-Sunday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The fishing has been fair for white bass, walleye and catfish.
In the Ruidoso area, the trout fishing is slowing down a bit at Alto Lake. There are also catfish and largemouth bass here.
Alto Lake was stocked July 30 with 129 channel catfish.
The trout fishing is still holding up at Grindstone Reservoir. It was stocked Aug. 3 with 3,001 rainbow trout. There are also smallmouth bass here and the fishing for bluegill has been good.
These lakes are administered by the City of Ruidoso. They are limiting the number of cars that can be admitted each day. Ruidoso residents are given preference. The Ruidoso River is running low at 0.81 cubic-feet-per-second. Fishing should be okay in the deeper pools for stocked rainbow trout. It was stocked Aug. 4 with 850 rainbow trout.
The Timberon Ponds were stocked Aug. 4 with 251 rainbow trout. These little ponds are also stocked with catfish. They were stocked July 30 with 129 channel catfish. If you have a second-rod stamp, rig up one rod for catfish and the other rod for trout and you might be able to land fish of both species.
In the Silver City area, the trout fishing has been slow-to- fair at Lake Roberts. The water is too warm and the trout lethargic. This is a designated trophy-bass water with a daily limit of two largemouth bass 18 inches in size or longer. The fishing for catfish has been fair. The bluegill fishing has been good.
Bear Canyon Reservoir is open. The trout fishing is about over here. The best fishing is for catfish, crappie and largemouth bass.
Bill Evans Lake is open. Trout fishing is likely over here too. This is a designated trophy-bass water with a daily limit of two largemouth bass per-day 18 inches in size or longer. The state-record largemouth bass was caught at Bill Evans Lake. There are also catfish here.
The streamflow in the Gila River is dropping. Some big flathead catfish have been caught in the lower Gila River. There are also channel catfish and smallmouth bass here. In the upper reaches and in the forks of the Gila River, the fishing is for rainbow trout, brown trout and some Gila trout.
The fishing at Quemado Lake has been fair-to-good for rainbow trout. It was stocked Aug. 3 with 3,910 small, 8-inch rainbow trout. This is a “put-and-grow” stocking so try to release these trout now to give them a chance to grow.