By GEORGE MORSE
Sports and Outdoors
Los Alamos Daily Post
The weather has been the big newsmaker here in New Mexico. Since Christmas our state has been slammed with a series of storms, the latest of which dumped more than two feet of snow in Los Alamos and ushered in bone-chilling temperatures that fell below zero and didn’t rise above freezing during the day.
The snow is great news for our state. After reservoir levels dropped dramatically this summer leaving boat ramps high and dry and our lakes with big bathtub rings of dry ground that once was shoreline, this spring and summer should see rising water levels in our reservoirs and heavy streamflows in our rivers. The higher water levels will help to increase the fertility in out lakes and rivers. The fish should have plenty to eat and more room to roam this coming year.
Already on social media there have been photos of deer belly deep or more in the heavy snow that fell in the Los Alamos area. The weather will drive deer and elk down to lower elevations in search of something to eat. Keep in mind that when prey species like deer move around, predators will follow. It would not be surprising if sightings of predators, like mountain lions, increase along with the sightings of deer.
Ski areas are rejoicing the bounty of snow. Extreme skiers will finally get to shoot down the chutes at Taos Ski Valley for the extreme experience that Taos was once famous for. Pajarito Ski Area will get to open all of their terrain to skiing. It promises to be a great year.
Rafters and kayakers will get to experience the thrill of shooting the rapids during a heavy spring runoff. They will be able to run the Taos Box, which I don’t think they were ever able to do last year.
The snow will provide drinking water for our cities and irrigation water for our farmers. The great thing about snow is that as it melts it soaks into the ground, providing moisture for the grass once it starts growing again in the spring. It soaks the roots of perennial trees and shrubs so they can grow more vigorously during the spring and early summer.
It’s difficult and at times dangerous to drive in snow and it can create emergency situations when people are trapped in their homes and heavy snow can down power lines, causing outages. There is a downside to snow, for sure.
All things considered though, it really is a blessing. Here in New Mexico, we live closer to the land then they do in other places or in big metropolitan areas. We really are grateful for snow.
However, it can make getting to your favorite fishing spot difficult. The cold temperatures have caused some lakes to freeze over yet the ice is still not thick enough to venture out on. Heron Lake has frozen over, which it doesn’t often do.
The Chama River below Abiquiu Dam remains one of the better spots to try for anglers hardy enough to brave the cold. The fishing has been fair and the streamflow is low at 105 cubic-feet-per-second.
Fishing at Abiquiu Lake is slow and launching boats still very difficult.
Fishing in the Chama River below El Vado Dam has been fair. The streamflow is very low at just 24.2 cubic-feet-per second. El Vado Lake is frozen over and still unsafe for ice fishing. The upper Chama River is pretty much frozen over.
Fenton Lake is frozen over and closed to fishing. Call (575).829.3630 for conditions.
The fishing was reported as good in the Jemez River below Battleship Rock. Jemez Springs reported 33 inches of snow and it’s likely hard to reach the river. Streams north of Battleship Rock are frozen over.
The streamflow in the Rio Grande is 285 cubic-feet-per-second in the Rio Grande. The fishing had been good but there is now lots of ice floating down the river making for difficult fishing conditions.
There were no reports from Santa Cruz Lake and its likely ice is starting to form on this lake given the cold temperatures.
The fishing in the Red River below Questa has been fair.
GREAT NEWS-Eagle Nest Lake has opened for ice fishing. This is the premier ice-fishing lake in the state. The fishing has been good for trout and perch. The ice is 9-to-11 inches thick. Last winter, the ice never got thick enough for safe fishing and they had to cancel the Annual Ice-Fishing Tournament. This year it looks like it will happen. It is scheduled for Jan. 26. Call (575).377.1594 for details and conditions.
Both Lake Maloya and Lake Alice at Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton are now iced over and closed to fishing. The ice here will likely get thick enough to be safe later this winter. Call (575).445.5607 to check on conditions.
Storrie Lake near Las Vegas is frozen over and unsafe for fishing. Call (505).425.7278 to check on conditions.
The fishing in the Pecos River in the Villanueva area has been good for stocked rainbow trout. The upper Pecos River is iced over.
Monastery Lake near Pecos is frozen over and ice fishing is not allowed here.
Over in the Four Corners, the streamflow on the San Juan River below Navajo Dam was 367 cubic-feet-per-second. The fishing in the Quality Water was good with a variety of fly patterns. The fishing in the Bait Waters was fair.
The fishing has been fair-to-good at Jackson Lake near Farmington. There were no reports from Lake Farmington or from Navajo Lake. Jackson Lake was stocked Dec. 26 with 1,000 rainbow trout. Lake Farmington was stocked Dec. 26 with 1,500 rainbow trout
Tingley Beach in Albuquerque was stocked twice last week with a total of 2,400 rainbow trout. The fishing has been good. The drainage canals in the Albuquerque area are being stocked weekly by the State Game and Fish Department and the fishing has been good.
The State Game and Fish Department continues to stock trout in small municipal lakes and ponds throughout Southern New Mexico. Grindstone Lake near Ruidoso was stocked Dec. 24 with 1,500 rainbow trout. Alto Lake near Ruidoso was stocked Dec. 25 with 999 rainbow trout. There were no reports from Alto Lake. The fishing was slow-to-fair at Grindstone Reservoir.
Lake Roberts near Silver City reported slow-to-fair fishing for trout. Bill Evans Lake near Farmington was stocked Dec. 26 with 1,632 rainbow trout and the fish has been fair-to-good.
Southern New Mexico has been getting snow this winter and seeing the stark desert landscape here covered with snow , especially the mountains like the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces, the Florida Mountains near Deming, Guadeloupe Mountains near Carlsbad or the San Andreas Mountains on White Sands Missile Range capped with snow is a unique and beautiful sight. All of New Mexico is a winter wonderland this year.