By GEORGE MORSE
Sports And Outdoors
Los Alamos Daily Post
Happy New Year!
The big news this week is that Eagle Nest Lake has been opened for ice fishing. This is the best and most popular lake for ice fishing in New Mexico. It is well-stocked with rainbow trout. This year it has been more heavily-stocked than previous years.
During the summer, concerns that ash from the Calf Canyon/Hermit Peak fire could pollute the Lisboa Springs Fish Hatchery near Pecos saw the State Game and Fish Department clear out all the trout from Lisboa Springs. Most of them were stocked at Eagle Nest. There should be plenty of trout for ice anglers to catch.
Most of these trout were of sub-catchable size, but there were some catchable-size stocked as well. Eagle Nest is a good-sized lake and relatively fertile, so trout here can carry over and grow well if they are not caught right away. Consider releasing the smaller trout because Eagle Nest is capable of producing big trout with firm orange meat.
There are also yellow perch and northern pike to be caught. Perch are a small panfish that seldom grows longer than 12 inches. They are prolific and if you locate a school you can catch a lot of them. Although small, they have very tasty, firm white meat. Properly fileted, breaded and fried, they make for good eating.
Northern pike are voracious predators that can grow to over 40 inches long and over 20 pounds. They are very bony, but properly cleaned most of the bones can be eliminated. The firm white meat can then be fried, baked or broiled. Because they are so predatory and will eat stocked trout, if you catch a northern pike at Eagle Nest you have to keep it. They cannot be released back into the lake. There is no daily limit.
There are also some kokanee salmon. Although not often caught, they can grow big. A new, state-record kokanee was caught last year at Eagle Nest. They are excellent eating.
There will be an Ice Fishing Derby held at Eagle Nest January 28. This event is very popular and draws hundreds of anglers. Cash prizes will be awarded. For more information, contact friendsofeaglenestlake.com or the Eagle Nest Chamber of Commerce.
Santa Cruz Lake near Chimayo has good fishing and normally does not freeze. It was stocked Nov. 21 with 2,052 rainbow trout. There are also some big wild brown trout. The Overlook Campground is open. The lake is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. Lake water levels are holding their own thanks to monsoon rains keeping flows in the Santa Cruz River above normal. With the cooler temperatures, the trout may be moving to shallow water. The boat ramp is open. Santa Cruz Lake does not allow ice fishing. For updated conditions, check the Bureau of Land Management website or call (505).351.1438.
The Bureau also manages the Orilla Verde Recreation Area along the Rio Grande at Pilar. Camping iis on a first-come basis. No reservations. The Rio Grande streamflow is 432 cubic-feet-per-second at Taos Junction Bridge. This is higher than last week and below normal. The water is murky. The Rio Grande at Pilar was stocked twice last week with a total of 34,390 sub-catchable rainbow trout. There are some big, wild brown trout. Northern pike are caught on big streamers in the Pilar area during the winter.
The Rio Grande at Pilar was stocked Sept. 14 with 58,484 fingerling Rio Grande cutthroat trout.
From the Colorado state line downstream to the Taos Junction Bridge, the limit is two-trout-per-day in the Rio Grande. The Rio Grande Gorge above Pilar was stocked Nov. 22 with 248 rainbow trout.
Fenton Lake State Park is open for camping. Lake is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Camping by reservation only. It is heavily-stocked with rainbow trout. It also has some wild brown trout and some Rio Grande cutthroat trout. It was stocked Dec. 14 with 554 rainbow trout. It was stocked Dec. 12 with 665 catchable-size cutthroat trout. Only two cutthroat trout may be kept as part of the five fish daily limit at Fenton. It is frozen. The ice is unsafe and it is closed to fishing for now. For more information call (575).829.3630.
The Rio Cebolla, which flows into and below Fenton Lake, was stocked Oct. 20 with 399 rainbow trout.
The fishing has been good in the Jemez River. The streamflow is 28 cubic-feet-per-second. This is higher than last week and above normal. It has wild brown trout. It was stocked Dec. 14 with 1,000 rainbow trout.
The Rio San Antonio, a tributary to the Jemez River near La Cueva, was stocked Oct. 6 with 749 rainbow trout.
The Rio de las Vacas, another tributary, was stocked Oct. 20 with 500 rainbow trout.
These smaller tributaries are likely icing up.
The Seven Springs Brood Pond, also known as the Kid’s Pond, is open. The fishing is for anglers 11-years of age or younger. It was stocked Oct. 20 with 449 rainbow trout. It was stocked Dec. 12 with 217 catchable-size Rio Grande cutthroat trout. The limit is three trout-per-day. It could ice over this coming week if not already.
Eagle Nest Lake at Eagle Nest State Park is now open for ice fishing. It was stocked April 19 with 82,237 fingerling kokanee salmon. A new state-record kokanee was caught at Eagle Nest last year. Kokanee salmon snagging season began Oct. 1 at Eagle Nest. Snagging is spotty at best at Eagle Nest. Snagging season ends Saturday. Ice fishing should be good for rainbow trout, yellow perch and northern pike. It was stocked Dec. 15 with 7,839 sub-catchable rainbow trout. For more information and current ice conditions, call (575).377.1594.
The Cimarron River in Cimarron Canyon State Park is likely frozen over and fishing difficult. The streamflow below Eagle Nest Dam was 3.39 cubic-feet-per-second. This is a little higher than last week. The Cimarron River near the town of Cimarron is iced over. Check the Carson National Forest website to see if campgrounds are open.
The Cimarron Gravel Pit Lakes at Maverick Campground were stocked Oct. 12 with 399 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 60 rainbow trout averaging 16.1 inches in size. They are likely frozen over now.
Lake Maloya at Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton is closed to ice fishing. Lake Alice, also at Sugarite State Park, is closed to ice fishing. Both will open when he ice is deemed thick enough. Lake Alice was stocked Nov. 21 with 250 rainbow trout. Lake Maloya was stocked Nov. 8 with 1,501 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 145 rainbow trout averaging 16.2 inches in size. It was stocked again Dec. 15 with 1,750 catchable-size rainbow trout. Call (575) 445-5607 for current conditions.
Clayton Lake closed Oct. 31 for the season.
Heron Lake State Park has open water for bank fishing. Be aware that the banks are very muddy. The boat ramps are closed. The lake level is still low. It was stocked April 20 with 147,290 fingerling kokanee salmon. It was stocked June 27 with 40,006 sub- catchable-size rainbow trout. Salmon snagging season began Nov. 11 at Heron Lake. It has been reported as very slow. Snagging season ends Saturday.
Call (575).588.7470 for conditions at both Heron Lake and El Vado Lake.
El Vado Lake State Park has rainbow trout, brown trout, perch and small smallmouth bass. Lake surface is closed due to freezing. Boating is closed. The Dam Day Use Area is closed for construction. Water level is low. The banks are very muddy. Kokanee salmon snagging began Oct. 1 at El Vado. The snagging season has been poor for the past several years at El Vado. Snagging season ends Saturday.
Bluewater Lake State Park is open. Camping is allowed by reservation only. Lake water level is low. Tiger muskies are being caught and the fishing for them is fair using big crank baits, spinners and hot dogs. The limit on tiger muskies is one-per-day at least 40 inches in length. It was stocked Dec. 14 with 5,998 rainbow trout. The trout fishing should be good until the stockers are caught or eaten by tiger muskies. The boat ramp is closed. Anglers may launch boats at their own risk along undeveloped shoreline. Call (505).876.2391 for current conditions.
Morphy Lake State Park closed Oct. 31 for the season.
Storrie Lake State Park near Las Vegas is open for bank fishing. Boating is closed. It was last stocked June 7 with 3,034 rainbow trout. It also has some big catfish. It may be frozen over.
Pecos Canyon State Park has reopened. The Pecos River was stocked twice three weeks ago with a total of 3,000 rainbow trout. The Pecos River at Villanueva State Park was stocked Dec. 21 with 383 rainbow trout. Streamflow on the Pecos was not measured due to ice. There may be some open water, but mostly frozen over.
Monastery Lake near Pecos has reopened and was stocked Dec. 5 with 250 rainbow trout. Ice fishing is not allowed at Monastery Lake. The lake was frozen. There was some open water last week, but it will likely refreeze this coming week.
Over in the Four Corners, Navajo Lake State Park is open. Camping is by reservation only. Trolling minnow-imitating lures like Rapalas could produce a trophy brown trout. Fishing for northern pike has been fair. Bank fishing near the salmon run is fair for rainbow trout. It was stocked April 20 with 219,027 kokanee salmon fingerlings. It was stocked Dec. 2 with 6,353 sub-catchable rainbow trout. Boating conditions are good. Call (505).632.2278 for conditions. Navajo Lake does not freeze.
Kokanee salmon snagging season began Oct. 1 at Navajo Lake. The best and most consistent success during snagging season in New Mexico has been at Navajo Lake for the past several years, particularly in the early season. The action is centered around Navajo Dam. Snagging picked up and some limits of 12 salmon-per-day were being taken. The quality of the salmon may be deteriorating. Snagging season ends Dec. 31 at Navajo.
Aztec Pond #1 in Aztec was stocked Oct. 25 with 99 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 100 rainbow trout averaging 19.2 inches in size. It was stocked Dec. 1 with 101 rainbow trout. Tiger Park Pond in Aztec was stocked Oct. 25 with 149 rainbow trout averaging 19.2 inches in size. It was stocked again Dec. 14 with 1,043 ainbow trout.
Lake Farmington was stocked Dec. 8 with 2,106 rainbow trout.
Popular fishing locations on Carson National Forest now available again to anglers include the Canjilon Lakes, the Trout Lakes near Cebolla and Hopewell Lake between Tres Piedras and Tierra Amarilla. These are high-elevation lakes that are now frozen.
The campground at the Canjilon Lakes is now open. These lakes were stocked Sept. 9 with 1,428 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 115 rainbow trout averaging 18.8 inches in size.
The Trout Lakes near Cebolla were stocked Oct. 12 with 985 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 50 rainbow trout averaging 19.0 inches in size. The road to these lakes can be rough and muddy.
The campground at Hopewell Lake is now closed. The ice fishing has been good for stocked rainbow trout and wild brook trout.
The Rio de los Pinos near the border with Colorado is also reopened for camping and fishing. It was stocked Oct. 13 with 1,798 rainbow trout and also has wild brown trout. It is likely icing up.
The best river in the state and well-known throughout the angling world is the San Juan River below Navajo Dam. The streamflow here is 352 cubic-feet-per-second. This is just a little lower than last week and below normal. The San Juan offers world-class fly fishing for big trout.
The fishing has been good with a variety of fly patterns in the four miles of Quality Water below the Dam. The fishing here is catch-and-release with flies and lures having a single, barbless hook. There are big, wild brown trout in the Quality Water. Some of these fish would likely shatter the state record if they could be kept and weighed. The Quality Water was stocked Oct. 5 with 40,000 sub-catchable rainbow trout.
The fishing in the Bait Water of the San Juan below the Quality Water has been fair-to-good with flies, bait and lures. A regular daily limit of five trout may be kept here. There are some big brown trout here too. It was stocked Dec. 19 with 1,584 rainbow trout.
The following locations are also open for fishing.
Abiquiu Lake is open, including the boat ramp and picnic areas. Camping is open. It is managed by the Corps of Engineers. Reservations may be made at www.recreation.gov. The water level is low, but higher than last year at Abiquiu. A four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended for launching boats. The fishing has been slow for walleye, catfish and smallmouth bass. There are some good-sized trout in Abiquiu. They may have moved into shallow water. Call (505).685.4371 for more information.
The Chama River below Abiquiu Dam is flowing at 104 cubic-feet-per-second. This is the same as last week and below normal. The water here is murky. It was stocked Dec. 9 with 546 catchable-size rainbow trout. The fishing is likely fair for stocked and holdover rainbow trout. There are a few big, wild brown trout here. The limit here is two-fish-per-day.
The Chama River below El Vado Dam is flowing at 103 cubic-feet-per-second. This is about the same as last week. The fishing has been fair for stocked rainbow trout and wild brown trout. You may hook a cutthroat trout here. It was stocked Sept. 26 with 2,244 rainbow trout. The state-record brown trout was caught here.
Above El Vado Lake, the streamflow on the Chama River at La Puente was not measured due to ice.
Cochiti Lake has reopened. The fishing has been fair-to-good for northern pike. Fishing for catfish could be worthwhile. Tetilla Peak Recreation Area is open, but the campground is closed.
Tingley Beach in Albuquerque is now being stocked with rainbow trout. It was stocked Dec. 20 with1,796 catchable-size rainbow trout. The stockings will continue throughout the winter.
The winter stocking of trout has begun in the drainage canals of the Albuquerque area, The Albuquerque, Albuquerque (South), Belen, Bernalillo, Corrales and Peralta drains were stocked last week.
The Red River below the Fish Hatchery is flowing at 52.9 cubic-feet-per-second. This is higher than last week and above normal. It was stocked Dec. 21 with 524 rainbow trout. It was stocked twice two weeks ago with a total of 998 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 55 rainbow trout averaging 16.2 inches in size. The Red River above Questa is iced over.
The Red River Hatchery Pond is now open. It was stocked Oct. 17 with 401 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 50 rainbow trout averaging 16.8 inches in size. Fishing is for anglers 11 years of age or younger and 65 years old or older. The limit is three-fish-per day. It may be frozen.
Eagle Rock Lake near Questa is open. It was stocked Oct. 31 with 501 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 60 rainbow trout averaging 16.5 inches in size. It is frozen over. Ice is likely not yet safe. Use caution.
Cabresto Lake, a small, high-elevation lake accessible by four-wheel drive vehicle near Questa, has good ice fishing for wild brook trout and wild cutthroat trout.