By GEORGE MORSE
Los Alamos Daily Post
Sports and Outdoors
Carson National Forest has closed most of its lands today due to extreme fire danger. The Camino Real Ranger District is already closed as a precaution due to the Sardinas Canyon Fire. The El Rito, Canjilon, Tres Piedras and Questa Ranger Districts closed today.
The Jicarilla Ranger District west of Dulce will remain open under Stage 2 Fire Restrictions.
All recreational activities are prohibited. Forest Service campgrounds, trails and roads will be closed. County and State roads not under the Forest Service’s jurisdiction will remain open.
The Carson closure will mean that many popular fishing spots in Northern New Mexico will now be closed. This includes all streams and rivers on Forest Service lands. Hopewell Lake, Lagunitas Lakes and the Trout Lakes near Cebolla are now closed to fishing. Cabresto Lake near Questa also is closed.
Santa Fe National Forest lands were closed May 30 and will remain closed. This includes the Valles Caldera National Preserve. All streams and rivers on Santa Fe National Forest lands are closed. Fenton Lake, Seven Springs Brood Pond, San Gregorio Lake, Monastery Lake, Morphy Lake and the Cowles Ponds are closed. The Cimarron River in Cimarron Canyon State Park and the Gravel Pit Lakes are closed.
The Shuree Ponds on the Valle Vidal were scheduled to open July 1, but now will be closed to fishing as they are on Carson National Forest Lands. The Rio de los Pinos will also likely be closed as much of it lies on Carson National Forest.
Much of the Rio Pueblo and Red River are on Carson National Forest Lands and will be closed to fishing. They were recently stocked, so if they reopen the fishing should be good. Eagle Rock Lake near Questa will likely be closed to fishing.
The hot and dry weather that has led to the National Forest closures continues and streamflows are very low. The mighty Rio Grande is flowing at just 80 cubic-feet-per-second at Cerro where it enters New Mexico from Colorado. At Embudo, where normally the Rio Grande would be flowing at a healthy 1,550 cubic-feet-per-second, the Rio Grande is just flowing at 153 cubic-feet-per-second. The Rio Grande is dry south of Albuquerque near San Antonio.
It’s the same story all over the state. It will take a robust monsoon season to just get us through the summer.
The only exceptions to the low streamflows in Northern New Mexico are the Chama River below Abiquiu Dam and the Chama River below El Vado Dam. Below Abiquiu Dam, the Chama is flowing at a healthy 1,040 cubic-feet-per-second.
Much of this water is intended for areas well downstream between Cochiti Lake and Elephant Butte Lake. As already noted, this is still not enough and the Rio Grande is drying up before it reaches Elephant Butte.
The Pecos River is more like a stream now at Pecos, flowing at just 11.3 cubic-feet-per-second, which is less than 10-percent of what it would normally be. The Pecos dries up at Anton Chico.
Most of the fishing now will be at the larger lakes and reservoirs.
One lake that is benefitting from the closures is Eagle Nest Lake. With so many of the waters they would normally be stocking closed, the Department’s hatcheries cannot stockpile fish and they are being stocked in waters that are still open and suitable for stocking.
Eagle Nest Lake was stocked seven times between June 18 and June 22 with a whopping 50,938 rainbow trout from four different hatcheries. This included 595 rainbow trout averaging almost 17 inches in size. This should give the fishing at Eagle Nest a shot in the arm. It has been good trolling and fishing from the bank for trout. In addition, the perch fishing at Eagle Nest has been very good. The northern pike at Eagle Nest are likely taking advantage of the heavy stockings and eating many of these recently-stocked fish. Using a plug or lure that imitates a small trout may result in a strike from a big pike. Be sure to use a steel leader if you are trying to catch one of these toothy predators.
Abiquiu Lake has been good for smallmouth bass and walleye. The smallmouths are spawning and some big bass are being caught. The walleye fishing is likely better in the morning and evenings. The fishing for crappie has been very good and bluegills are also biting on worms.
The fishing in the Chama River below Abiquiu Dam is slow due to the heavy releases of water from beneath the Dam.
The Chama River below El Vado Dam is slow-to-fair for trout, although some nice brown trout are being caught. This area was stocked June 19 with 2,516 rainbow trout. El Vado Lake is dropping rapidly as there is little water coming in and a lot more going out. There were no reports.
Above El Vado, the Chama River is very low, with just 18.6 cubic-feet-per-second recorded at La Puente. The Chama River near the town of Chama was stocked June 19 with 518 rainbow trout. The fishing has been fair-to-good at Heron Lake for rainbow trout and a few small lake trout.
The fishing at Laguna del Campo near Los Ojos has been fair.
The Rio Grande has been good for trout using just about everything, including flies, spinners and nightcrawlers. It was stocked June 20 with 3,000 rainbow trout averaging over 12 inches in size.
Lakes in Northeastern New Mexico are open and the fishing has been good at several of them. Lake Maloya in Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton is rated as a hotspot for trout and the fishing has been excellent. Lake Alice, also in Sugarite Canyon State Park, has good fishing for trout as well.
Maxwell Lake 13 has been good for trout with Power Bait and good for catfish with nightcrawlers. Try rigging one rod with Power Bait and another with nightcrawlers if you have a second-rod stamp.
The Charette Lakes have been fair-to-good for trout and you might catch some yellow perch here if you use worms.
The fishing at Storrie Lake State Park near Las Vegas has been fair-to-good for trout. You might hook some big catfish here fishing at night.
The fishing for rainbow trout at Santa Cruz Lake near Chimayo has been slow, particularly during the heat of the day. The best fishing here will be early in the morning or in the evening. Night fishing from a boat beneath a lantern has been popular at this lake. It closes at 10 p.m. That limits the amount of time for this type of fishing.
Cochiti Lake has been fair for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white bass, bluegill and crappie.
Over in the Four Corners, the streamflow in the San Juan River below Navajo Dam was increased Monday (6/25) to 950 cubic-feet-per-second. The fishing slowed down a little with the increase but is now rated as good in the Quality Waters with a variety of fly patterns. The fishing in the Bait Waters has been fair.
The Bait Waters were stocked June 19 and again June 20 with a total of 8,839 rainbow trout.
The fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass has been good at Navajo Lake. The fishing for northern pike has been fair-to-good.
The fishing for catfish at Tingley Beach has been slow. The fishing should pick up if these lakes are stocked again with catfish.
Despite triple-digit temperatures in Truth or Consequences, the fishing at Elephant Butte Lake for largemouth and smallmouth bass has been excellent. The fishing has been good for white bass, bluegill and catfish.
With the extreme fire danger throughout the state and the Fourth of July holiday approaching, please observe the local bans on fireworks and be careful with them. Use only legal fireworks. All fireworks are banned on all National Forest lands in the state.