By GEORGE MORSE
Sports And Outdoors
Los Alamos Daily Post
The improving weather conditions and some positive news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic are creating more opportunities for anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
New Mexico State Parks are now open to all visitors, including those from out-of-state. Camping is now allowed by reservation only. Call the State Parks Reservation Center at: 877.664.7787.
The ice-fishing season appears to be headed to an early end. Ice fishing has been closed at Eagle Nest Lake and Fenton Lake since Feb. 4 and it looks like it’s not going to reopen. Lake Maloya near Raton and Heron Lake near Chama are still offering ice fishing. It will likely end soon here too as the weather is forecast to warm up this coming week.
Clayton Lake and the Charette Lakes are now open for fishing after being closed over the winter. The fishing could be pretty good for some nice-sized holdover rainbow trout at Lower Charette Lake. It also has good perch fishing. Clayton Lake needs a stocking of rainbow trout for the fishing to improve. It also has some big walleye and a few trophy-size largemouth bass. The state-record walleye was caught at Clayton Lake. These lakes opened for fishing Monday (March 1) so as of yet there are no early reports.
Maxwell Lake 13 on the Maxwell Lakes National Wildlife Refuge opened up Monday for fishing. Save yourself a trip. This lake practically dried up last fall and will need to be restocked.
Fenton Lake State Park in the Jemez Mountains was a popular ice-fishing destination. It was closed to ice fishing Feb. 5 due to deteriorating ice conditions. As of Monday, it was still closed. Fenton Lake is stocked throughout the winter The most recent stocking was Feb. 23 of 507 rainbow trout. Fenton is now open to out-of-state visitors. Camping is allowed by reservation only. Call 877.664.7787 for reservations. Fenton also has wild brown trout and you might catch a Rio Grande cutthroat trout from an earlier stocking. Call (575).829.3630 for current conditions.
Fishing the Rio Cebolla below Fenton Lake might be worthwhile
Eagle Nest Lake State Park had been one of the prime ice-fishing destinations in the state. It was closed to ice fishing Feb. 4 due to deteriorating ice conditions. As of Monday it remained closed. Overnight camping will resume March 15 by reservation only. Rainbow trout, yellow perch and northern pike are the species that can be caught, with an occasional kokanee salmon. The fishing for trout and perch had been good. Some big pike were landed. For more information and current conditions, call (575).377.1594.
Heron Lake State Park is open. Recent photos show that Heron Lake is frozen over. It opened for ice fishing Jan. 11 at the Dam Site Recreation Area. Camping is available by reservation only. The kokanee salmon snagging season is over. The best fishing will be for rainbow trout with the possibility of catching a lake trout. Caution is advised when ice fishing. Call (575).588.7470 for conditions at both Heron Lake and El Vado Lake.
El Vado Lake State Park is closed for the season. The only area open at El Vado is the Dam Day Use Area. Ice fishing is now closed at El Vado Lake and there is still no camping.
Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton is open daily. Lake Alice is closed to ice fishing. Lake Maloya is open for ice fishing. Please exercise extreme caution while ice fishing. Camping is available by reservation only. Lake Alice is a small lake and the fishing is primarily for recently-stocked rainbow trout. Lake Maloya is much larger and is capable of producing larger, holdover trout. It is well-stocked. The fishing at Lake Maloya has been fair–to-good. It was last stocked Jan. 7 with 4,440 rainbow trout. Call (575).445.5607 for current conditions
Cochiti Lake had been closed most of last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It reopened Jan. 4 by reservation for day use. Ice fishing is not allowed here. Fishing has been reported as slow. Catfish are likely your best bet. The boat ramp is open. Tickets and reservations may be made at www.recreation.gov. They are not sold at the lake. The Tetilla Peak Recreation Area is closed.
The gate hours at Storrie Lake State Park near Las Vegas are from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Camping is available by reservation. It was last stocked Dec. 3 with 5,085 rainbow trout averaging 8.3 inches in length. Ice has formed on this lake and recent photos show plenty of ice on the lake, likely making for difficult if not impossible fishing. No reports on any ice-fishing activity. The ice here is likely to thin to allow for ice fishing. Call (505).425.7278 for conditions.
Laguna del Campo near Los Ojos is closed.
Most high elevation lakes are now frozen over and may be inaccessible due to ice and snow. Some anglers report parking and hiking in to Hopewell Lake between Tres Piedras and Tierra Amarilla. They are catching rainbow trout through the ice.
Santa Cruz Lake near Chimayo is currently open for day use. It will be open Thursday-Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The fishing can be good here in the winter. There should be some open water here for bank fishing. Ice fishing is not allowed. If the access road gets icy, it will be shut down. The boat ramp is not open. The Santa Cruz River is iced over. For updated conditions, check the Bureau of Land Management website here.
Abiquiu Lake is now open for day use, including the boat ramp and picnic areas. The campground is closed. A four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended for launching boats. The lake level is low and there is ice covering much of the lake. Ice fishing is not allowed. The fishing has been slow for walleye and trout.
Ute Lake State Park is open. The fishing should be slow-to-fair for white bass and possibly walleye. Conchas Lake State Park is open and some crappie are being caught. Santa Rosa Lake State Park is open and anglers have been catching some crappie and walleye. This lake is extremely low and the boat ramp is closed. Sumner Lake State Park is open and fishing for walleye could be fair. Camping is allowed by reservation only at all these lakes. Normal temperatures are forecast this coming weekend.
A Boil Water advisory is in effect at Conchas Lake State Park.
Over in the Four Corners Navajo Lake State Park is open. Camping is by reservation only. This lake does not freeze over. The kokanee salmon snagging season is over. The best fishing may be for trout and possibly northern pike. It was stocked three times last week with a total of 108,872 small rainbow trout. Call (505).632.2278 for conditions.
Lake Farmington is open. This Lake is administered by the City of Farmington. This lake received a total of 4,164 rainbow trout last month, including 2,834 trout averaging over 13 inches in size. It was stocked Feb. 11 with 2,410 rainbow trout. It was stocked again Feb. 24 with 2,189 rainbow trout. The fishing should be good for these stocked fish.
Tiger Park Pond in Aztec was stocked Feb. 18 with 1,948 rainbow trout. Aztec Pond # 1 was stocked Feb. 18 with 100 rainbow trout.
Jackson Lake north of Farmington has received several heavy stockings of trout recently. It was stocked Feb. 23 with 2,211 rainbow trout. It is part of the Jackson Lake Wildlife Management Area managed by the State Game and Fish Department
Bluewater Lake State Park is open, but the lake is closed to ice fishing and boating due to increasing ice conditions. Camping is allowed by reservation only. Temperatures here can vary by as much as 50-degrees, with lows in the single digits. You can still catch the big tiger muskies that this lake holds during the winter. It was stocked Feb.10 with 6,000 rainbow trout. Call (505).876.2391 for current conditions.
Most small streams in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains are now icing over and difficult to fish. The larger rivers are the best bet this time of year, especially below dams.
The Chama River below Abiquiu Dam is flowing at 33.9 cubic-feet-per-second. The flow is very low, but this is still a good level for fishing. The water here is usually murky. The fishing has been good for stocked and holdover rainbow trout. There are some big, wild brown trout here. The limit here is two-fish-per-day. It was stocked Jan. 2 with 517 good-sized rainbow trout averaging 13.8 inches in size. It was stocked Feb. 15 with 1,222 rainbow trout.
The Chama River below El Vado Dam is flowing at 102 cubic-feet-per-second. This is a good level for fishing, which has been fair-to-good for stocked rainbow trout and wild brown trout. Some big brown trout were caught recently by anglers using Rapalas. You may catch some small Rio Grande cutthroat trout here. Please release them carefully and give them a chance to grow.
The Chama River above El Vado Lake is iced over.
The Rio Grande streamflow is 453 cubic-feet-per-second at Taos Junction Bridge. This is below normal but still a good flow for this time of year. The fishing has been fair-to-good for rainbow and brown trout. The Rio Grande in the Pilar area was stocked Feb. 23 with 1,999 rainbow trout. The Rio Grande above Pilar in the Gorge was stocked Feb. 23 with 249 rainbow trout. Some of this stocking takes place near the John Dunn Bridge north of Taos and in the Orilla Verde Recreation Area.
During the winter some anglers like to toss large streamers in the Rio Grande hoping to entice a strike from a big northern pike. The Pilar area and the Orilla Verde Recreation Area are good spots to try.
The Red River near the Red River Fish Hatchery is flowing at 31.7 cubic-feet-per-second. The fishing is normally fair-to-good here. It was stocked Feb. 16 with 700 rainbow trout. The upper Red River above Questa is icing over.
Eagle Rock Lake near Questa is iced over. There are reports of some ice fishing activity here but no reports on success. It may be worth a try as it is heavily-stocked in the summer and fall. Use extreme caution when testing the ice thickness.
The best winter-fishing river and well-known throughout the angling world is the San Juan River below Navajo Dam. The streamflow here is 392 cubic-feet-per-second, which is less than 50-percent of normal. It offers world-class fly fishing.
The fishing has been good with a variety of fly patterns in the Quality Water. The fishing here is catch-and-release with flies and lures having a single, barbless hook. The Quality Water is stocked with small rainbow trout that grow quickly in the fertile waters. It was stocked three times last week with a total of 74,869 small rainbow trout. It was stocked again Feb. 3 with 10,420 small rainbow trout. There are big, wild brown trout in the Quality Water that are not adverse to gobbling up their rainbow brethren. Some of these fish would likely shatter the state record if they could be kept and weighed.
The fishing in the Bait Water below the Quality Water has been fair-to-good with flies, bait and lures. The Bait Water was stocked Dec. 16 with 3,768 small rainbow trout in what is called a “put-and-grow” stocking. These fish will grow to catchable size. The Bait Water was stocked Feb. 3 with 1,534 catchable-size rainbow trout.
The Pecos River above the town of Pecos is iced over. Camping is closed in Pecos Canyon State Park. During the winter, the Pecos River is stocked with rainbow trout at Villanueva State Park, which is open. Fishing can be good after these stockings. It was stocked Feb. 19 with 557 rainbow trout.
Monastery Lake is closed to fishing. Ice fishing is never allowed here.
The trout fishing has been fair in the Jemez River. The streamflow has dropped a little and was 17.4 cubic-feet-per-second. The Jemez River was stocked Feb. 23 with 1,001 rainbow trout. The smaller streams in the Jemez Mountains are iced over.
In the Albuquerque area, Tingley Beach is open again. Fishing should be good for stocked rainbow trout. It was stocked Feb. 23 with 2,280 rainbow trout.
The Albuquerque area drainage canals are stocked with rainbow trout about every week. The fishing should be fair in the Albuquerque, Albuquerque South, Belen Riverside, Corrales Riverside and Peralta drains. They were stocked last week. Fishing for other species like bass and catfish may soon pick up as the weather gets warmer.
Escondida Lake just north of Socorro was stocked Feb. 23 with 799 rainbow trout. There are also a few catfish, largemouth bass and crappie in this little lake. The fishing for stocked trout should be good.
Elephant Butte Lake State Park is open. Camping is by reservation only. Fishing this time of year for white bass and catfish can be good if you can locate where the fish are schooled up, which they tend to do in the winter. Some good-sized white bass have been caught trolling crank baits. Now is a good time to perhaps hire a guide, as they make it their business to know where the fish are. The water level is extremely low. It will likely slowly rise over the winter as they try to store as much water as possible to prepare for spring planting.
The Rio Grande below Elephant Butte Lake is barely flowing as they are not releasing water from the lake. The streamflow was 0.21 cubic-feet-per-second. The fish are congregated in the deeper pools. The fishing has been fair for catfish. It was stocked Feb. 24 with 649 rainbow trout.
In the Ruidoso area, the fishing remains good at Alto Lake and Grindstone Reservoir. These lakes are administered by the City of Ruidoso. They are now open to all anglers. Alto Lake was stocked Feb. 22 with 999 rainbow trout. Grindstone Reservoir was stocked Feb. 22 with 1,499 rainbow trout.
The Ruidoso River was flowing at 1.85 cubic-feet-per-second at Ruidoso. Streamflow at Hollywood was 3.87 cubic-feet-per-second. It was stocked Feb. 24 with 500 rainbow trout. This is a fairly heavy stocking for this little stream, so the fishing may hold up a bit longer.
The State Game and Fish Department stocks many of the small municipal lakes in Southern New Mexico. Several lakes in the Carlsbad area receive heavy stockings. Carlsbad Municipal Lake was stocked Feb. 10 with 1,600 rainbow trout. Lake Van was stocked Feb. 10 with 1,501 rainbow trout.
Southwest New Mexico escaped the worst of the recent cold weather and the lakes here remain free of ice. Fishing in the lakes around Silver City should be very good soon as the water remains cold enough for trout to be active. It is also warming up a bit and the fishing for warm water species like bass and catfish should pick up as well.
In Southwest New Mexico. Lake Roberts has been fair for rainbow trout and catfish. It was stocked Feb. 22 with 1,360 rainbow trout and there are a few Gila trout in this lake. This is a trophy-bass lake where the limit is two largemouth bass-per-day 14 inches in size or longer.
Bear Canyon Lake has fair fishing for stocked rainbow trout. It was stocked Feb. 2 with 1,984 rainbow trout. There are also catfish and crappie here.
Bill Evans Lake has had good fishing for stocked trout. It was stocked Feb. 23 with 1,360 rainbow trout. There are catfish here. This is a trophy bass lake where the limit is two largemouth bass-bass -per-day 14 inches in size or longer. The state-record largemouth bass was caught at Bill Evans Lake.
The streamflow in the Gila River is 56.7 cubic-feet-per-second near Gila Hot Springs. The fishing has been good for catfish in the lower Gila River. Trout fishing should pick up in the upper Gila River and its forks soon.
Quemado Lake has been fair for rainbow trout. This lake can sometimes freeze because it sits in a cold spot where the temperature can fall dramatically despite its southerly location.