By GEORGE MORSE
Los Alamos Daily Post
Sports and Outdoors
Despite the cold temperatures that New Mexico had last week, most lakes did not refreeze and have open water for bank fishing. The exception is Lake Maloya in Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton. It iced over and is closed to fishing.
If the weather warms up this week as it is forecast to do, the ice may melt and Lake Maloya will once again have open water for bank fishing. Call ahead to 575.445.5607 to check on conditions.
The snowstorms last week helped a little bit to increase the snowpack. Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado is almost at 100 inches, although typically it would have much more this time of year. Other snow survey measuring stations in Colorado and New Mexico reported increases in snow depth, although none were near normal. By now, we’re likely not going to be able to catch up. In addition to longer days and warmer temperatures, the wind is beginning to blow. Wind causes the moisture in melting snow to evaporate into the air rather than soak into the ground.
If you are interested in checking on the snowpack in New Mexico and other Western States visit the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for New Mexico website www.nrcs.usda.gov. Also, nearly every ski area in New Mexico and Colorado post online daily snow reports, which can also be useful in tracking snowfall totals.
The cold weather probably kept a lot of fishermen indoors last week, but there is still some good fishing to be found. Several lakes in Northeastern New Mexico that have been closed to fishing will open March 1 (Thursday).
Clayton Lake State Park near Clayton will likely be stocked with rainbow trout just before the opening date. This lake also holds big walleyes. It yielded the state-record walleye of 16 pounds, 9 ounces.
Maxwell Lake 13 on the Maxwell Lakes Wildlife Refuge near Maxwell will also open March 1. This lake is stocked with rainbow trout. It is rich in food for trout and any that are not caught right away put on inches in a hurry. I have never caught a trout smaller than 18 inches here. The fishing can be a little slow but the fish are usually good-sized. This is prairie lake and the wind can make fishing difficult.
Morphy Lake State Park will also open March 1. This is a pretty little lake near Las Vegas. It is heavily stocked with rainbow trout. Although the catch is mostly recently-stocked trout, there are some bigger holdover trout here too.
The Chama River below Abiquiu Dam was stocked Feb. 21 with 513 rainbow trout. Still no reports on any of the big brown trout that are also found here. I have had some good luck in March catching some nice brown trout here. In April, the streamflow below Abiquiu Dam will probably be increased significantly for the upcoming irrigation season. To check on streamflows, visit the United States Geological Survey
(USGS) streamflow website.
Abiquiu Lake reports slow-to- fair fishing for rainbow trout and slow fishing for walleye. The walleye should start to move into shallower water soon as they spawn in March and April.
There were no reports from the Chama River below El Vado Dam. The cold weather in the Chama area probably kept most anglers away last week. It should be at least fair here.
There were few reports from Heron Lake, again likely due to the cold and windy weather. It had been good for nice-sized holdover trout. Try to plan a trip to Heron when the wind isn’t blowing hard and it should be pretty good.
The fishing at Fenton Lake State Park has been very good. It’s unlikely that this lake will refreeze now. Call (575).829.3630 to check on conditions.
Eagle Nest Lake did not refreeze and is 90-percent open water. The fishing has been fair for rainbow trout. They are starting to catch a few northern pike. Pike spawn in the shallows in early spring so there may be some big pike caught soon. The perch fishing should also start to pick up soon. They still have not stocked Santa Cruz Lake near Chimayo and the fishing is reported as slow. Be reminded that it was in March, 1999 that the state-record rainbow trout, a huge 31-pound monster, was caught at Santa Cruz.
The stocking truck did make a stop at Monastery Lake near Pecos Feb. 20 and stocked 248 rainbow trout. The fishing has been very good. The hatchery truck also stocked 452 rainbow trout Feb. 20 in the Pecos River near Villanueva State Park and the fishing has been fair-to- good.
The Rio Grande is flowing at 490 cubic-feet- per second, which is now a little below normal. The fishing has been fair-to- good for trout in the Taos area. Try near Pilar and in the Orilla Verde Recreation Area.
The Streamflow in the San Juan River below Navajo Dam was 322 cubic-feet- per second. The fishing in the Quality Waters has been good with a variety of fly patterns. The Quality Waters were stocked Feb. 19 with 7,500 small (6-inch) rainbow trout. If you catch a small trout be sure to release it carefully so it can grow bigger. In the Bait Waters below the Quality Waters, the fishing has been fair. The Bait Waters were stocked Feb. 19 with 5,134 catchable-size rainbow trout. Call Navajo Lake State Park (505).632.2278 to check and see if areas along the San Juan are closed due to a river enhancement project.
Although there were no reports from Navajo Lake, they used to catch some really big brown trout trolling minnow-imitating plugs and lures during March here. There are some big, wild brown trout in Navajo Lake and probably some big holdover rainbow trout too. The fishing might be a little slow but the chances of hooking a lunker are good.
The fishing at Tingley Beach in Albuquerque continues to be very good and they are still making heavy weekly stockings of rainbow trout here. The Department stocked another 120 bigger-than- average (15 inches) trout Feb. 21 at Tingley Beach.
The drainage canals in the Albuquerque area continue to be stocked and the fishing has been good.
The winter stocking of rainbow trout into the smaller Municipal lakes throughout Souther New Mexico continues and the fishing has been good. There was a healthy stocking of 1,512 rainbow trout Feb. 20 at Lake Roberts near Silver City and the fishing has been good. You could hook a Gila Trout at Lake Roberts.
Nearby Bear Canyon Lake was stocked Feb. 20 with 1,512 rainbow trout and the fishing should be good.
It’s getting close to the deadline (March 21) to apply for the drawing for big-game hunting licenses. The current fishing season ends March 31 and you’ll need a new fishing license April 1.