By GEORGE MORSE
Los Alamos Daily Post
Sports and Outdoors
We had some snow and very cold temperatures over the weekend. The snow was most welcome because snowpacks throughout New Mexico are well below normal. The recent storm helped but we need many more. Even with the 23 inches of snow they received at Wolf Creek Pass over the weekend, the snowpack there is well below normal. Most areas throughout the state where the snowpack is measured are reporting snow depths less than 50-percent of normal.
If you would like to check on snow depths here in New Mexico, the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) website lists snow depths for its many measuring stations throughout the state and also for Colorado.
The cold temperatures have caused some lakes that previously had open water to freeze over. However, the ice is not thick enough to safely support anglers, so they are now closed to fishing.
The weather forecast for the next several days is for warming temperatures, so on some of these lakes the ice may melt, opening up some areas to bank fishing.
The best fishing locally continues to be the Chama River below Abiquiu Dam. This area received a healthy stocking of 522 rainbow trout averaging almost a foot long Jan. 16 and the fishing has been good. There is a three trout-per-day limit in this section of the Chama River.
The fishing in the Chama River below El Vado Dam has been fair.
Fenton Lake reported plenty of open water for fishing Saturday (1/20) and the fishing has been very good. The lake was stocked Jan. 17 with 779 rainbow trout averaging 11 inches in size. Since there have been several very cold nights since Saturday, I would recommend calling ahead to be sure the lake has not frozen over and closed to fishing before making a trip to Fenton. Call the state park office at (575).829.3630.
The Jemez River near Jemez Springs received a stocking of 751 rainbow trout averaging 11 inches in size Jan. 17 and the fishing is rated as fair.
Heron Lake State Park has open water and the bank fishing for rainbow trout has been good. This lake seldom freezes over and remains open for fishing most if not all of the winter.
One of the lakes that has frozen over but still does not have safe ice and is closed to fishing is Eagle Nest Lake. Normally, Eagle Nest would have very thick ice by now and would be the premier ice-fishing destination in the state. In the past, the ice at Eagle Nest would be as thick as 2-3 feet by now. So far this winter, Eagle Nest has yet to have ice thick enough for safe fishing. Call ahead to the state park office at (575).377.1594 to check on the ice conditions before taking a trip to Eagle Nest.
Lake Alice at Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton has ice safe enough for fishing, but there are no reports from here. The ice conditions can fluctuate at this little lake and it’s best to call ahead to the state park office at (575).445.5607 to check on conditions.
Lake Maloya, also at Sugarite Canyon State Park, is frozen over and closed to fishing. The fishing had been good at Lake Maloya before it froze over and with warmer temperatures forecast for the rest of the week, the ice may melt and open up some water for bank fishing. Call the above number for Sugarite Canyon State Park to check on conditions at Lake Maloya and Lake Alice.
The fishing in the Rio Grande has been fair for trout. Deep-drifting nymphs or salmon eggs through some of the deeper pools is normally the best way to hook fish this time of year. Another stream to try is the Red River below the Red River Fish Hatchery near Questa, where the fishing has been fair. In the past, there used to be a run of spawning cutbow trout from the Rio Grande into the Red River late in the winter. It may still be happening, but it takes a hardy soul to hike in and fish this often frigid area in the winter.
The fishing in the Pecos River at Villanueva State Park has been good. The State Game and Fish Department stocks this area in the winter. It was stocked Jan. 18 with 499 rainbow trout averaging 9.5 inches.
The San Juan River below Navajo Dam has been good in the Quality Waters. This area is Catch-and-Release only using lures or flies with a single, barbless hook. This area was recently stocked with 4,000 rainbow trout averaging just eight inches in size, so you may hook some of these smaller, stocked trout. Be sure to carefully release them because they have the potential to grow to good size in this fertile stretch of water.
The fishing in the Bait Waters, which are below the Quality Waters, has been good. This portion of the San Juan was stocked Jan. 17 with 620 rainbow trout averaging nearly a foot in length. You can use any angling method you want in the Bait Waters and keep a regular limit (five-trout-per-day) in this portion of the San Juan.
Some of the best fishing in the state can be found right in our state’s biggest city, Albuquerque, this time of year. The fishing ponds at Tingley Beach are well-stocked with rainbow trout all winter long. In addition, the drainage ditches in the area are also kept well-stocked with trout and have fair-to-good fishing.
Now is the time to start planning where and when you’d like to hunt big game in New Mexico. The Hunting Rules and Regulations for the 2018-2019 hunting seasons are now online. If you held a big game license last season, be sure to file your harvest report if you haven’t already. You must file a harvest report even if you didn’t hunt or harvest an animal. The deadline to apply for the big game license drawing is March 21, 2018.