Despite the hot weather, hunting season is less than a week away. The archery seasons for elk and deer will open Sunday in many of northern New Mexico’s big-game hunting units.
The hot weather may make for tough hunting conditions. Hunters will have to make an extra effort to get the meat cooled down and packed out quickly to prevent spoilage should they be fortunate enough to harvest an animal.
It’s a bit early for the bull elk to be bugling a lot as they do during the rut. The bugling activity will increase later in the season. Although more challenging and difficult than hunting with firearms, some of the biggest elk in the state are harvested early in the season by bow hunters.
In addition to the big-game seasons, hunting for several species of small game also will open Sunday. These include seasons for blue grouse, squirrel and dove.
Hunters who applied for licenses in the big-game license lottery drawing this spring should already possess a Game Hunting license that authorizes the hunting of small game.
If you did not apply in the big game lottery drawing, you will need to purchase a Game Hunting license to hunt small game.
Blue grouse are large game birds weighing up to three pounds. They are found primarily at elevations above 8,000 feet, normally in mixed aspen and pine forests.
They are delicious eating. They get their name because as they mature their color turns a dark slate grey that is almost blue. They are also called dusky grouse.
The bag limit is three-per-day and six in possession. Blue grouse season extends until Nov. 30 and may be harvested by big game hunters if encountered during the big game seasons if hunters possess the proper license.
Squirrel species include Abert’s (also known as tassel-eared), red, gray and fox squirrels. Abert’s and pine squirrels are the ones commonly found here in Northern New Mexico. Abert’s are good-sized squirrels mostly silvery-gray in color.
Pine squirrels are much smaller and a chestnut brown. Squirrels are not commonly eaten, but have tasty white meat similar to rabbit. The limit is eight-per-day or 16 in possession. Abert’s prefer ponderosa pine forests, while pine squirrels are usually found a little higher up Douglas fir. The species habitats often overlap.
There are three species of dove hunted in New Mexico. Mourning and white-winged dove are native species that are considered migratory birds, since the majority of them winter in Mexico and farther south.
The Eurasian-collared dove is an invasive species that does not migrate. They are easily-distinguished by the collar of feathers around the base of their neck.
The limit for mourning and white-winged dove is 15-per-day with 30 in possession. There is no limit on Eurasian-collared dove and they may be hunted year-around.
Riparian habitats along the rivers are prime areas for dove hunting. Dove like to feed on grains and one of their favorite foods are wild sunflower seeds.
Hunters will sometimes encounter band-tailed pigeons while hunting for grouse and squirrel. They may be shot if the hunter possesses a free permit available online. They are much-less common then they used to be. They are also considered migratory birds. Acorns are a favorite food and they are often seen near patches of scrub oak.
For more detailed information on small-game hunting, the 2019-2020 New Mexico Small Game Rules and Info publication may be viewed and downloaded online at the Department’s website: wildlife.state.nm.us. Printed copies may be picked up at license vendors across the state.
With the Labor Day weekend coming up and the College and NFL football seasons about to start, now is the time to get out for one last fishing and camping trip before you spend your weekends glued to the television watching football. The State Game and Fish Department will likely be making some heavy stockings of trout this week at the more-popular spots in anticipation of the heavy fishing pressure.
Although the hot weather normally slows the fishing down, there were plenty of nice trout caught last week. The Game and Fish Department stocks lots of good-sized trout every week in Northern New Mexico and there are plenty of 15-inch to 20-inch trout swimming around thanks to these stockings.
Among the waters that received stockings of good-sized trout are:
Fenton Lake at Fenton Lake State Park was stocked Aug. 21 with 350 rainbow trout averaging 15.2 inches in size and stocked Aug. 22 with 200 rainbow trout averaging 18.3 inches in size. In addition, 2,642 catchable-size rainbow trout were also stocked. The trout fishing has been good using spinners.
The Seven Springs Brood Pond north of Fenton Lake was stocked Aug. 21 with 449 catchable-size rainbow trout and stocked Aug. 22 with 100 rainbow trout averaging 18.3 inches in size.
Holy Ghost Creek in the Pecos River drainage was stocked Aug. 19 with 400 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 10 rainbow trout averaging 15.7 inches in size.
Monastery Lake near the town of Pecos was stocked Aug. 21 with 901 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 120 rainbow trout averaging 15.7 inches in size.
The Cowles Ponds near the town of Cowles on the Pecos River were stocked Aug. 21 with 190 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 40 rainbow trout averaging 15.7 inches in size
The Pecos River between the towns of Pecos and Cowles was stocked twice last week with a total of 3.000 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 36 rainbow trout averaging 15.7 inches in size.
The Mora Fork in the Pecos River drainage was stocked Aug. 20 with 400 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 10 rainbow trout averaging 15.7 inches in size.
The Red River below the town of Questa near the Red River Fish Hatchery was stocked Aug. 20 with 600 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 100 rainbow trout averaging 15.9 inches in size. The Red River above Questa was stocked Aug. 19 with 1,999 catchable-size rainbow trout.
The Red River Hatchery Pond was stocked Aug. 20 with 401 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 100 rainbow trout averaging 15.9 inches in size.
In addition to these stockings, Hopewell Lake between Tierra Amarilla and Tres Piedras, the Canjilon Lakes, Eagle Rock Lake near Questa, the Cimarron Gravel Pit Lakes at Maverick Campground and Lake Maloya in Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton have all had earlier stockings of good-sized trout and some of these big fish should still be swimming around.
The fishing has been fair-to-good for perch at Eagle Nest Lake. The fishing for rainbow trout and northern pike has been fair.
Streamflows are holding up well this summer and the fishing has been good.
The Chama River below El Vado Dam was stocked Aug. 20 with 1,060 rainbow trout. The fishing has been good. The streamflow was 605 cubic-feet-per-second.
The Chama River below Abiquiu Dam was stocked Aug. 19 with 2,040 rainbow trout. The streamflow was 411 cubic-feet-per-second and the water is murky. The fishing, likely for the stocked rainbows, was reportedly good with yellow flies.
The streamflow in the upper Chama River above El Vado Lake was 57.2 cubic-feet per-second at La Puente and 30.2 cubic-feet-per-second above the town of Chama. It was stocked Aug. 19 with 1,887 rainbow trout.
The streamflow in the Rio Grande finally dipped below 1,000 cubic-feet-per-second and was 822 cubic-feet-per-second below Taos Junction Bridge. The water seems a bit clearer and although there were no reports, it could be worth a try.
The Rio Cebolla near Fenton Lake was stocked Aug. 21 with 401 rainbow trout. The fishing on the East Fork of the Jemez River has been good with spinners
The streamflow in the Rio Pueblo near Penasco was low at just 10.2 cubic-feet-per-second. The fly-fishing has been good.
The fly-fishing on the Rio de los Pinos north of Tres Piedras near the Colorado border has been fair-to-good.
Some big rainbow trout were caught by fly anglers in the Cimarron River below Eagle Nest Dam last week. The fly-fishing has been fair-to-good.
Over in the Four Corners, the streamflow in the San Juan River below Navajo Dam was a heavy 1,510 cubic-feet-per-second. The flow is due to be increased to 1,700 cubic-feet-per-second Tuesday. Despite the heavy flow, the fishing has been good in the Quality Water using a variety of fly patterns. Larger fly patterns are working well below the Texas Hole. No reports on the Bait Water.
The kokanee salmon fishing at Navajo Lake remains good although the fish have moved deeper. Anglers are trolling spinners tipped with corn at 50-to-70 feet deep. The pike fishing has been fair-to-good in the Pine Arm. The bluegill fishing has been good.
The fishing at Tingley Beach in Albuquerque has been fair for catfish. The fishing for bass and bluegill in the Albuquerque area drainage canals has been fair-to-good.
Elephant Butte Lake has been very good for white bass. The fishing has been good for catfish and fair for walleye.