The wet winter weather continues this week here in New Mexico. Across the United States, this has been the wettest winter on record, with the state of Tennessee recording its wettest winter ever. This has been great for our state as we recover from years of drought and reservoirs at extremely low levels.
Measuring stations for the Natural Resource Conservation Service are all reading above average for snow water equivalent and total precipitation.
A rapid melting of the big snowpack and a heavy spring runoff could lead to flooding concerns later this spring. Just a couple of years ago there was some flooding along the Rio Ojo Caliente and there could be a repeat of that or worse this year. The upper Rio Chama is rising and there could be flooding concerns here as well. Ice is still a factor on the upper Chama and nearby Brazos River. High water in the spring can damage the headgates of local acequias and flood low-lying areas near the river banks.
The Rio Grande is also rising and that will probably continue from now well into April and May. That will make fishing conditions difficult, but will be very beneficial for the watershed. Right now, the fishing is fair. The Rio Grande was stocked in the Pilar area March 7 with 2,000 rainbow trout.
This is a good time of year to fish lakes as they shed their coat of ice and the fish start to feed heavily in the warmer shallow water. Several lakes still have ice but in most cases it is unsafe to fish on.
Eagle Nest Lake is closed to ice fishing. Call (575).377.1594 for an update on conditions.
Lake Alice and Lake Maloya at Sugarite Canyon near Raton are both closed to ice fishing. There is a small amount of open water at Lake Maloya. Call (575).445.5607 for an update on conditions.
Fenton Lake State Park near Los Alamos has been closed to ice fishing. Call (575).829.3630 for an update on conditions.
Heron Lake and El Vado Lake are both closed to ice fishing. There was a small amount of open water at Heron Lake. Call (575).588.7470 for an update on conditions at both lakes.
Several lakes are now offering very good fishing for good-sized holdover trout.
Maxwell Lake 13 on the Maxwell Lakes National Wildlife Refuge has been very good for trout up to 23 inches. This is a very fertile lake and trout grow very quickly here. Nearly all the fish you catch this time of year will be holdovers from last year’s stockings and will be good-sized with firm, orange meat.
Charette Lakes State Park between Wagon Mound and Springer has been very good for holdover trout, some over 20 inches. There are also yellow perch here. Lower Charette Lake is where the fishing is.
Morphy Lake State Park is still closed due to repairs on the dam. There is a tentative opening date of June but nothing firm. Keep checking on this lake because the fishing should be very good once it reopens.
Storrie Lake State Park near Las Vegas reports fair-to-good fishing. Storrie Lake was stocked twice last week with a total of over 7,500 rainbow trout.
Santa Cruz Lake near Chimayo is free of ice. Peter Romero (who caught the state-record rainbow trout at Santa Cruz in 1999) reports good fishing for wild brown trout in the inlet area. Santa Cruz received a big stocking March 7 of nearly 5,000 rainbow trout.
Monastery Lake near Pecos reports good fishing. Most of the fish caught here are recently-stocked rainbow trout, but there are some good-sized holdover trout too. It was stocked March 6 with 250 rainbow trout.
As already mentioned, streamflows in Northern New Mexico are rising. The Jemez River went from 23.3 cubic-feet-per-second last week to 159 cubic-feet-per-second this week, so the fishing has slowed down here. If you go to Fenton lake State Park and the lake is still closed to ice fishing, try the Rio Cebolla, which flows out of Fenton Lake. It was stocked March 5 with 251 rainbow trout and the fishing was reported as good.
The Red River below Questa has been good for trout and the streamflow is not too bad at 36 cubic-feet-per-second.
The fishing on the Pecos River has been good. The streamflow has been about 40 cubic-feet-per-second and the fishing is starting to get better on the upper Pecos above the town of Pecos.
Abiquiu Lake remains very low and the boat ramp is still out of the water. The fishing for walleye is reported as slow-to-fair but should pick up soon. The Chama River below Abiquiu Dam has risen and is now at 391 cubic-feet-per-secong It was stocked March 5 with 498 rainbow trout. The fishing is reported as fair.
Over in the Four Corners, the San Juan River below Navajo dam is flowing at 280 cubic-feet-per-second and is described as being quite murky. The fishing in both the Quality Waters and the Bait Waters is rated just fair.
The fishing at Navajo Lake has been slow-to-fair for northern pike.
Still no reports from Jackson Lake or Lake Farmington. These two lakes have been heavily-stocked and should be worth a try.
Anglers should try Tiger Park Pond in Aztec. It was stocked March 4 with 996 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 100 rainbow trout averaging over 15 inches in size.
The fishing at Cochiti Lake has been slow. It should get beter as the water warms up.
Tingley Beach in Albuquerque continues to receive heavy stockings of trout and the fishing has been very good. It was stocked March 4 with 240 rainbow trout averaging over 15 inches in size and on March 5 with 2,280 catchable-size rainbow trout.
The drainage canals in the Albuquerque area are still being stocked and the fishing has been good.
Elephant Butte Lake has been fair-to-good for largemouth bass. It has been fair for catfish. The fishing for white bass and walleye has been slow-to-fair. They are still not releasing water into the Rio Grande below Elephant Butte Dam. It was stocked March 5 with 650 rainbow trout.
The fishing for stocked rainbow trout in the Carlsbad area remains good to very good at Bataan Lake, Carlsbad Municipal Lake and Lake Van. Now is a good time to visit the Carlsbad area before the weather starts getting hot.
In the Silver City area, the trout fishing has been very good at Lake Roberts and Bill Evans Lake. Still no reports on the bass fishing here. It should start to get better. There are some big largemouth bass at both lakes. The state-record largemouth bass was caught at Bill Evans Lake.