The State Game and Fish Department has resumed its stockings of bigger-than-average rainbow trout throughout Northern New Mexico. These fish will average more than 15 inches in size and provide anglers with a chance to catch a big trout they would not otherwise have.
This program began back in 2014 when trout normally raised and stocked at the Red River Fish Hatchery for stocking in the Shuree Ponds on the Valle Vidal had to be planted elsewhere because drought had degraded the water quality at the Shuree Ponds to a point where trout could not be planted there. They had to be planted in other waters in Northern New Mexico.
The Los Ojos Fish Hatchery also had a lot of bigger-than-average trout they had to raise to a suitable size so they could be tested for whirling disease, which Los Ojos had recently undergone a decontamination for after it had been discovered at the hatchery. These fish also were stocked in waters in Northern New Mexico.
The stocking of these bigger-than-average trout proved to be so popular with anglers that the Department decided to make it a regular part of their stocking program. Thousands of trout at Red River and Los Ojos are now raised each year to bigger-than-average size for stocking throughout Northern New Mexico.
Speaking of drought, any angler who has recently fished the rivers and streams of Northern New Mexico has surely noticed just how low they are. I recently made a trip to the Rio Grande. I have lived in New Mexico for 50 years and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Rio Grande this low and this warm at this time of year. The streamflow at Cerro in the Rio Grande, which is near the Colorado border, has dropped to less than 100-cubic-feet-per second. If things don’t improve, trout-both stocked and wild-face a tough summer ahead of them.
This would be a good year to concentrate on species other than trout, especially during the summer. The walleye fishing at Abiquiu Lake is getting better and better. Anglers report catching lots of walleyes fishing at dusk and into the night using plugs and crank baits like Rapalas at Abiquiu. Walleyes are sensitive to sunlight and fishing during low-light periods is often the best time to be fishing . Fishing before and at dawn is often very good too. Right now, the water is still cool enough for trout to be cruising the shallows. It won’t be long before the weather warms up and the trout will retreat to deeper water. Now is a good time to catch both walleyes and trout at Abiquiu. The smallmouth bass will soon be spawning and this fishing will also get better.
The Chama River below Abiquiu Dam has been very slow. Streamflows here are higher because of the water released from beneath the Dam.
The Chama below El Vado Dam is flowing strong and the fishing here is a little better since the Department stocked 503 rainbow trout May 1 here.
El Vado Lake continues to offer good fishing for smallmouth bass. Smallmouths prefer rocky areas so these are good places to start fishing. You might hook a big brown trout while fishing for smallmouths at El Vado. The bank fishing for rainbow trout at Heron Lake is still pretty good. It won’t be long before the water warms up at Heron and the trout start to migrate to deeper water in search of cooler temperatures.
The upper Chama River above El Vado would be a good spot to try, as streamflows are still high enough here for good fishing. By June and July, the streamflows here may drop to very low levels, making for tough fishing conditions. The upper Chama River was stocked May 1 with 804 rainbow trout.
Laguna del Campo near Los Ojos opened for fishing May 1 and it was heavily stocked with 503 rainbow trout averaging 10 inches and another 90 rainbow trout averaging over 15 inches on opening day. There were reports of 20-inch trout being caught here. The fishing is very good right now.
Los Alamos anglers should note that Los Alamos Reservoir was stocked May 3 with 500 rainbow trout. This small reservoir is recovering from the effects of recent wildfires in Los Alamos. Nearby Fenton Lake was one of the waters that received a stocking of bigger-than-average rainbow trout. Fenton was stocked April 30 with 140 trout averaging over 15 inches. Another 2,000 rainbow trout averaging 10 inches were stocked May 3 at Fenton. There are also wild brown trout at Fenton that can reach good size. The fishing here remains very good but will likely slow down later this summer.
The nearby Seven Springs Brood Pond, also known as the Kids Pond, received a stocking April 30 of 84 bigger-than average trout. This is a good spot to take kids fishing.
The streams in the Jemez Mountains were not stocked last week and the flow in these streams is very low. I would consider giving the trout in them a break as they are likely very stressed due to the low-water conditions.
Santa Cruz Lake near Chimayo is seeing water levels drop rapidly as just a trickle of water (less than 10 cubic-feet-per second is flowing in the Santa Cruz River at Cundiyo and lots of irrigation water is being released). Santa Cruz was stocked May 3 with 3,203 rainbow trout averaging 10 inches and 300 rainbow trout averaging 15 inches. Despite the falling water level, the fishing here remains good.
As mentioned earlier, streamflows on the Rio Grande are very low for this time of year. The fishing has been good for trout and smallmouth bass. The area around Pilar was stocked May 4 with 3,951 rainbow trout averaging 10 inches. These low flows make a trip to the upper Rio Grande near Questa look like a good idea. The deep pools in this section of river will be a little easier to fish and have some big wild brown trout. I’d like to see if I can catch a Rio Grande cutthroat here. Cutthroats have been heavily-stocked in this section in recent years.
The fishing in the Red River has been good and it was stocked May 1 with 700 rainbow trout. The Red River Hatchery Pond was stocked May 1 with 319 rainbow trout averaging 10 inches and 86 rainbow trout averaging over 15 inches.
Hopewell Lake near Tres Piedras is the place to go if you’d like to catch some brook trout. Flies usually work well here, as do worms
The Rio de los Pinos near the Colorado border north ofTres Piedras has been good. It was staocked April 30 with 1,800 rainbow trout averaging 10 inches. There are also wild brown trout here.
The fishing at Eagle Nest Lake is fair-to-good for rainbow trout. The perch fishing is picking up and they’re still catching some northern pike. Later this summer, weed growth along the shoreline will make bank fishing more difficult here.
The fishing in the Cimarron River below Eagle Nest Lake has been pretty good.
Maxwell Lake 13 near Maxwell has been good for stocked rainbow and some good-sized holdover trout. The fishing here will slow down later this summer as the water warms up.
Lake Alice and Lake Maloya in Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton have been good for stocked trout. Evenings should begin to be the better time of day to fish as the weather warms up.
Morphy Lake State Park near Las Vegas was stocked May 2 with 2,701 rainbow trout averaging 10 inches and 300 rainbow trout averaging over 15 inches in size. The fishing here should be good.
Storrie Lake State Park was stocked May 3 with 4,049 rainbow trou averaging 10 inches and 450 rainbow trout averaging over 15 inches in size. The catfish should start biting soon at Storrie.
The Pecos River is running low and clear. The fishing is very good and the conditions for fly fishing could hardly be better. Monastery Lake near the town of Pecos was stocked May 1 with 95 rainbow trout averaging over 15 inches in size and the fishing is still pretty good here. The Mountain View Ponds, also known as the Cowles Ponds, are north of the town of Pecos. They were stocked May 1 with 181 rainbow trout averaging 10 inches and 20 rainbow trout averaging over 15 inches in size.
The bass fishing in Cochiti Lake has been fair-to-good. You might hook a northern pike or a walleye at Cochiti while fishing for bass. The crappie and bluegill fishing should be pretty good and catfish will likely be biting in the evening.
The Department will soon start stocking catfish in selected waters in Southern New Mexico. The trout fishing at Tingley Beach in Albuquerque will pretty much end with the warmer weather, but the fishing for catfish should get better.