By GEORGE MORSE
Sports & Outdoors
Los Alamos Daily Post
New Mexico got another dose of winter Tuesday and the colder temperatures are lingering over Northern New Mexico today.
The weather pattern is almost ideal for the weekend angler, with the lousy weather hitting during the middle of the week. Weekends lately have been sunny with above-average temperatures.
There’s a good snowpack building in the mountains. What has been great is we’ve had several snowstorms that have dropped 4-6 inches here in the Espanola Valley that has melted into the ground. The soil conditions here at lower elevations are excellent with plenty of moisture in the ground to help the grass, fruit trees and flowering bushes take off and grow well when they break dormancy in the spring.
Temperatures remain cold in the mountain valleys and ice conditions on the lakes offering ice fishing are holding up well. The ice fishing season this year has so far been a good one.
Eagle Nest Lake has had good fishing for rainbow trout and good fishing for yellow perch. No reports on northern pike, but they can be hooked as well. It looks like we’ll be well into March before the ice starts to break up here. Call 505.377.1594 for conditions.
Fenton Lake has about 13 inches of ice. Even so, they still stock Fenton Lake by making a large hole in the ice near the shoreline and then stocking rainbow trout into that hole. It was stocked Feb. 5 with 499 rainbow trout. The fishing has been good primarily for rainbow trout. The reports of anglers catching some of the Rio Grande cutthroat trout that were stocked in the fall have tapered off. Remember if you do catch a cutthroat that the daily bag limit for cutthroats is two-fish-per-day as part of a five-fish-per-day limit. There are also some wild brown trout in Fenton. Call 575.829.3630 for conditions.
Lake Maloya and Lake Alice at Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton are both open for ice-fishing. The majority of anglers fish at Lake Maloya, which is much larger than Lake Alice and has bigger fish. The fishing at Lake Maloya has been good for rainbow trout. No reports from Lake Alice. Call 575.445.5607 for conditions.
Heron Lake has about 10 inches of ice and has opened for ice fishing. Anglers are reportedly catching kokanee salmon using small ice jigs tipped with a salmon egg. Anglers should be hooking some nice, holdover rainbow trout here too.
Heron Lake was stocked twice last week with a total of 99,313 small rainbow trout. Some of these trout will probably end up in the bellies of the lake trout that also inhabit Heron. Heron is where the ice will break up the earliest. Nearby El Vado Lake seldom freezes over hard enough for ice fishing. Call 575.588.7470 for conditions.
Fishing in the Chama River below El Vado Lake has been fair-to-good for rainbow trout and brown trout. The streamflow here was 99.5 cubic-feet-per-second.
The Chama River below Abiquiu Dam was stocked Feb. 4 with 458 rainbow trout. The streamflow here was 74.4 cubic- feet-per-second. No reports on the fishing, but it should be good. The limit here is two-fish-per-day. Access to the Chama below Abiquiu Dam may be closed due to a stream habitat improvement project being conducted by the State Game and Fish Department. Call 505.685.4371 for information on access.
The streamflow in the Rio Grande was 490 cubic-feet-per-second, which is about normal for this time of year. It has been heavily-stocked in the Pilar area. Fly anglers have been having good luck drifting nymphs.
The Red River below Questa has been fishing well this winter. The flow is about normal. Above Questa, the river is icy. It was stocked Feb. 5 with 700 rainbow trout.
The Jemez River was stocked Feb. 5 with 1,001 rainbow trout. The fishing has been good below Battleship Rock. There are also some wild brown trout in the Jemez. Other streams in the Jemez area are still icy.
The Pecos River is also flowing around normal for this time of year. It was stocked Feb. 6 with 500 rainbow trout at Villanueva State Park. No reports but the fishing should be good at this location. The upper Pecos River is icy.
Monastery Lake near Pecos remains closed to ice fishing.
A report from Conchas Lake said the walleye fishing was fair using green grubs.
I had been recommending anglers try Manzano Lake . There were reports last week that the fishing was good with Power Bait. Manzano Lake is at Manzano Mountains State Park near Mountainair.
There were no reports from Santa Cruz Lake near Chimayo. It may be iced over. Early spring fishing at Santa Cruz can pay big dividends. The state-record rainbow trout, a 31-pound monster, was caught in March of 1999.
Over in the Four Corners area, the streamflow in the San Juan River below Navajo Dam was 397 cubic-feet-per-seond.
The fishing has been good in the Quality Water using a variety of fly patterns. Fly fishing has also been good in the Bait Water. The Bait Water was stocked Feb. 5 with 3,036 rainbow trout.
No reports from Navajo Lake. In years past, anglers would troll lures like Rapalas in the winter and catch some big trout at Navajo. You might also hook a northern pike.
No reports from Lake Farmington. Anglers should give this lake a try as it has been heavily-stocked.
Tiger Park Pond in Aztec was stocked Feb. 3 with 1,482 rainbow trout. A fly angler caught a 22-inch rainbow trout here last week. It should be good.
Tingley Beach in Albuquerque continues to be heavily-stocked on a weekly basis. It was stocked twice last week with a total of 2,523 rainbow trout. The fishing has been good.
The drainage canals in the Albuquerque area are also stocked on a weekly basis. The Albuquerque, Albuquerque South, Belen Riverside, Corrales Riverside and Peralta drains were stocked last week. The fishing has been fair-to-good.
Anglers should give little Escondida Lake just north of Socorro a try. It has been heavily-stocked with rainbow trout.
Elephant Butte Lake had no reports. This time of year, fish tend to school up in deeper water. You need to find a school. Hiring a guide at Elephant Butte can help as they normally know where the fish are.
The Rio Grande below Elephant Butte Dam was stocked Feb. 5 with 940 rainbow trout. There is very little streamflow below Elephant Butte and fishing deep pools near where the trout are stocked should be good.
Over in the Ruidoso area, Alto Lake has been fair for trout.
No reports from Grindstone Reservoir. It should be good as it has been heavily-stocked.
In the Silver City area, Bear Canyon Reservoir was stocked Feb. 6 with 1,980 rainbow trout. The fishing should be good although there were no reports.
Lake Roberts has been fair-to-good for trout. It’s still a little early for the warmwater species like catfish and largemouth bass also found here to be biting. Lake Roberts has Gila trout along with rainbow trout. It was stocked Feb. 6 with 1,980 rainbow trout.
Bill Evans Lake was stocked Feb. 7 with 1,704 rainbow trout. Bill Evans Lake was where the state-record largemouth bass of 15 pounds, 13 ounces was caught. Still a little early for bass, but the state-record was caught in March. Bill Evans Lake and Lake Roberts are designated trophy bass water. The limit on bass at both lakes is two-fish-per-day, 18 inches in length or longer.
The road to the north side of Bill Evans Lake will be closed while the Department conducts a habitat improvement project. The south side, including the boat ramp, will remain open.