If you drive over the Rio Grande at Otowi Bridge on your way to or from work in Los Alamos, you’ve probably noticed how high the river is flowing.
According to the United States Geological Survey streamflow here Tuesday is at 5,070 cubic-feet-per-second, which is very high for this time of year. Spring runoff is in full swing in Northern New Mexico and likely still weeks away from peaking.
Rivers and streams are swollen with runoff and difficult to fish. The best fishing right now will be found in lakes and reservoirs. If you are determined to fish moving water, try the smaller streams. Fishing the bigger rivers will be difficult and your best bet will be concentrating on pockets of slower water close to the bank
All this water is great news after so many years of drought here in New Mexico. There should be plenty of water this year for irrigation. Lakes where the boat ramps were closed due to low water will rise and make the launching of boats easier. The rafting and kayaking will be epic and one of those years that river rats will talk about years from now.
There will be some very big fish caught this year. The rising water and strong flows tend to bring even the biggest trout out of their lairs to feed. Keep an eye on the streamflows and once they start dropping and clearing later this summer, get out there and fish your favorite stream or river. Even the smaller streams could yield some big surprises.
There may be some problems with local flooding and bank erosion. Heavy flows can damage headgates of the acequias where they divert water into the irrigation ditches.
Everything is so much greener this spring due to the abundant moisture. Do yourself a favor and take a drive to savor how pretty the landscape looks. Once wildflowers start to bloom it should be spectacular.
The water level in Abiquiu Lake is now rising and the trout fishing has been good from the bank and from boats.. The fishing for walleye and smallmouth bass has been slow to fair. It should start to pick up. Very windy days can churn the water up and make it very murky. It is still difficult to launch boats and a four-wheel drive vehicle is needed. Hopefully, the water level will rise back to where the boat ramp is once again in the water.
The Chama River below Abiquiu Dam is running at a strong 1,610 cubic-feet-per-second. Below El Vado Dam, it’s running at a really strong 3,210 cubic-feet-per-second. The fishing will be slow at both locations.
The water level at Heron Lake is rising. The fishing has been slow and the water murky. Heron Lake was stocked April 21 with 627, 326 kokanee salmon fry just 1.3 inches in length. Heron once had the best kokanee salmon fishing in the state. The low water levels that have plagued Heron in recent years has hurt the kokanee salmon fishing and the kokanee salmon snagging in the fall has been slow. Maybe this year with higher water levels thanks to the heavy spring runoff the kokanee salmon fishery can start to recover.
The fishing at El Vado Lake has been fair for smallmouth bass and perch. They should be catching some brown trout too.
The upper Chama River above El Vado Lake is running at a heavy 3,210 cubic-feet-per-second at La Puente. It will be awhile before fishing the upper Chama will be possible.
Laguna del Campo near Los Ojos opened for fishing May 1 and it should be good. It was stocked April 24 with 800 rainbow trout. The fishing here is for anglers 14 years-old and under as well as those 65 years-old and over. There are some big fish in this little lake. It’s a great place to spot ospreys and if you’re lucky you might see one snag a trout.
The Canjilon Lakes and the Trout Lakes are likely still inaccessible due to snow and muddy roads.
Hopewell Lake was still frozen over April 26 and surrounded by snow. It will be at least a couple of weeks and possibly more before you can reach this little lake between Tres Piedras and Tierra Amarilla.
Over in the Jemez Mountains, the fishing has been slow in the Jemez River, which is flowing at a well-above normal 498 cubic-feet-per-second. The fishing is better in the smaller streams like the East Fork of the Jemez and the Cebolla River near Fenton Lake. The Rio San Antonio near La Cueva should also be good.
Fenton Lake has been very good for stocked rainbow trout and some wild brown trout.
The Seven Springs Brood Pond at Seven Springs Fish Hatchery has been good. The fishing here is for anglers under 12 years-of-age. There are some nice fish in this little pond. It is just north of Fenton Lake.
There were no reports from Santa Cruz Lake near Chimayo. The fishing should be very good here. It was stocked April 24 with 3,696 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 300 rainbow trout averaging 15.8 inches in size.
The Rio Grande at Taos Junction Bridge is running at 2,390 cubic-feet-per-second. The fishing is slow due to the heavy flows.
The tributaries of the Rio Grande are all running high and above normal. There were no reports from the Rio Hondo and Rio Pueblo near Penasco. If you can find where they’ve been stocking trout in the Rio Pueblo you might catch some. It was stocked April 25 with 1,200 rainbow trout.
The Red River is flowing strong at 197 cubic-feet-per-second at the Red River Fish Hatchery below Questa. The fishing has been good. Fishing at the Red River Hatchery Pond has been good.
Eagle Rock Lake near Questa has been good for stocked rainbow trout.
Eagle Nest Lake has been good for rainbow trout both from boats and from the bank. The fishing for northern pike has been fair. This time of year the pike are in shallow water spawning. Bow-and-arrow anglers are able to harvest them. A 25-pound pike was taken last week by a bow angler.
Did you know that on Lake Champlain between New York and Vermont there is a firearms season for northern pike in the spring because the fish were in such shallow water.
Below Eagle Nest Dam, the Cimarron River is flowing low as they are not releasing a lot of water from beneath the dam. The fishing is good in Cimarron Canyon State Park. As you get closer to the town of Cimarron the river rises dramatically and is flowing well-above normal. The Cimarron River was stocked April 24 with 2,426 rainbow trout. The Cimarron Gravel Pit Lakes were stocked with 400 rainbow trout. The fishing has been good.
Maxwell Lake 13 on the Maxwell Lakes National Wildlife Refuge was stocked April 23 with 2,000 rainbow trout. The fishing has been fair. There are some good-sized holdover rainbow trout in this very fertile lake.
Lake Maloya at Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton has been good for trout. There were no reports from Lake Alice, also at Sugarite Canyon State Park.
The fishing in the Charette Lakes between Wagon Mound and Springer has been good for rainbow trout and some of them have been good-sized.
Storrie Lake near Las Vegas has been good for trout thanks to some heavy stockings of rainbow trout.
The Gallinas River near Las Vegas has been good for trout.
The Pecos River is swollen with runoff and flowing at 855 cubic-per-second. The fishing is slow due to the heavy flow. The Pecos River was stocked April 22 with 499 rainbow trout. Some big trout are caught from the Pecos this time of year.
Monastery Lake near Pecos has been good for trout. It was stocked April 22 with 249 rainbow trout.
There were no reports from the Cowles Ponds north of the townof Pecos. They were stocked last week so they could be worth a try.
There have been some good reports recently from Conchas Lake on the Canadian River. The fishing has been very good for largemouth and smallmouth bass. The fishing has been fair-to-good for crappie and the walleye fishing has picked up.
Santa Rosa Lake near Santa Rosa and Sumner Lake between Santa Rosa and Fort Sumner are reporting good-to-excellent fishing for a variety of fish, including bass, walleye and crappie. This is a long road trip, more like an overnight trip, but it could be worth it.
Over in the Four Corners, the fishing has been good lately at Navajo Lake for crappie. The fishing has been fair-to-good for largemouth and smallmouth bass. The trout fishing has been fair-to-good. Some big trout are being landed. A 33-inch brown trout was caught last week. The fishing has been slow-to-fair for northern pike.
Navajo Lake has been the best spot in the state for catching kokanee salmon the last few years. Over 1 million kokanee salmon fry were stocked in Navajo Lake last week.
The water is still a little murky in the San Juan River below Navajo Dam. It was flowing at 403 cubic-feet-per-second. The fishing has been fair in the Quality Waters. The fishing is better in the Bait Waters. The Bait Waters were stocked twice last week with a total of 3,600 rainbow trout.
There were no reports from Jackson Lake or Lake Farmington.
The fishing has been slow at Cochiti Lake.
The trout fishing at Tingley Beach in Albuquerque was fair-to-good. Trout are no longer being stocked and the trout fishing should slow down as most of the stocked trout are caught. A few largemouth bass are being caught and the fishing for catfish should pick up soon.
The drainage canals in the Albuquerque area are no longer being stocked with trout and there were no reports.
The fishing at Elephant Butte Lake has been very good for a mixed bag of white bass, crappie and walleye. The fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass has been good. The fishing for catfish has been good. The lake level here is rising as they are not releasing any water from below Elephant Butte Dam.
Lake Roberts near Silver City has been fair-to-good for trout and catfish. The fishing has been fair for largemouth bass.