The fishing is good throughout Northern New Mexico this time of year. In the lakes, the water temperatures are just right. It’s still cold enough for trout to be cruising the shallows, yet warm enough for the bass and walleye to start biting better. All these species can be caught on the same lures, particularly crank baits. If you like to use bait, all these fish will also take nightcrawlers.
This year, rivers and streams that would normally be swollen with spring runoff from the melting snowpack are running low and clear because of the very dry winter we just went through. This makes for excellent fishing conditions, especially for fly fishermen.
The low stream flows are a double-edged sword. The streams and rivers are running so low that as the weather warms up, these flows will drop. During the hot weather that’s coming later in June and July, coldwater species like trout will be stressed. Examples of the low flows are everywhere. The Rio Grande is flowing at just 234 cubic-feet-per-second (cfs) at Taos Junction Bridge. A normal flow here would be 1,110 cfs. Further downstream, the Rio Grande is dry north of San Antonio below Albuquerque.
Smaller tributaries of the Rio Grande are also suffering. The Rio Pueblo near Penasco is flowing at just 11.2 cfs and normally would be 155 cfs. The Santa Cruz River near Cundiyo is at 10.3 cfs and should be at 66cfs. The Santa Cruz River feeds Santa Cruz Lake, where the shoreline is already rapidly receding. Santa Cruz Lake maybe practically drained later this summer.
The Rio Embudo at Dixon would normally be at 210 cfs this time of year. It’s at just 3.49 cfs. Over in the Jemez Mountains, the Jemez River is at 12.4 cfs versus a normal flow of 264 cfs. On the Pecos River, the flow at Pecos is just 27.2 cfs when it would normally be at 208 cfs. The Pecos dries up below Anton Chico before it flows into Santa Rosa Lake.
It should be obvious to everyone that the fire season this year will be very dangerous. Please be careful with fire. We are looking at severe fire restrictions being imposed in our National Forests.
Back to some good news. The fishing is particularly good in Norther New Mexico’s lakes. The State Game and Fish Department is keeping them well-stocked with rainbow trout.
The smallmouth bass and walleye fishing has been good at Abiquiu Lake and they are hooking some nice rainbow trout while trolling for walleye with crank baits. There were reports of anglers catching kokanee salmon on crank baits. I’d take this with a grain of salt. Kokanee are plankton feeders and not likely to strike crank baits. Big rainbow trout at Abiquiu lose their coloration and are very silvery in color. I suspect people are catching silvery rainbow trout and confusing them with kokanee.
The Department stocked over 160,000 small rainbow trout at Abiquiu last week. A good choice in lures would be crank baits that resemble small rainbow trout.
El Vado Lake has had very good fishing for smallmouth bass. Crank baits will draw strikes here too. You might hook a big brown trout while fishing for bass. Smallmouths prefer rocky shorelines, so the area near the dam has been a hotspot.
The bank fishing for rainbow trout at Heron Lake continues to be good.
The Chama River below Abiquiu Dam and below El Vado Dam has been slow to maybe fair because of heavy releases of water from beneath the Dams. The Chama River above El Vado Lake is flowing at 378 cfs, which is about 1,000 cfs below normal. The fishing should be at least fair here and will get better and better as the flow drops. All these locations on the Chama River were stocked last week with rainbow trout.
Laguna del Campo near Los Ojos opened for fishing Tuesday (May 1). The fishing here should be pretty good right now. Check the stocking reports to see when the Department has stocked some bigger-than-average rainbow trout here.
Over in the Jemez Mountains. The fishing at Fenton Lake continues to be very good. They’re catching rainbow trout and brown trout on practically everything at Fenton. The nearby Seven Springs Brood Pond has also been good.
As previously mentioned, the flows on the streams in the Jemez area are low. The Jemez River, the East Fork of the Jemez river, the Cebolla River and the Rio San Antonio all report good fishing. The Jemez River was stocked April 24 with almost 2,000 rainbow trout. All these streams also contain wild brown trout.
The water level is dropping at Santa Cruz Lake near Chimayo. The fishing remains good here for rainbow and brown trout. As the weather starts to get hotter, fishing in the evening or even at night will be better at Santa Cruz.
The Rio Grande is running very low for this time of year. The rafting companies are likely going to take a hit this year. It’s already too low for them to have trips through the Rio Grande Box. The fishing has been and continues to be very good for trout and the smallmouth bass are starting to bite. I have found that Panther Martin spinners will catch both bass and trout on the Rio Grande. Flies and bait should also catch fish.
There were no reports from the Rio Rueblo, but it was recently stocked with 1200 rainbow trout. Find where they were planted, and you’ll likely limit out quickly. The Rio Pueblo also has some wild brown trout.
Eagle Rock Lake near Questa received a stocking April 27 of 54 bigger-than-average rainbow trout (15 inches), as well as 446 rainbow trout averaging 10 inches. No reports from Cabresto Lake, but it should be good for brook trout and some cutthroat trout. Cabresto Lake is not stocked and the fish here are all wild fish.
The first report of the year from Hopewell Lake near Tres Piedras came in this week. It was reportedly good with flies. Worms are a good bait to use for the wild brook trout at Hopewell.
The Rio de los Pinos near the Colorado border is running low and the fishing has been good for brown and rainbow trout. Remember, to reach this river you must drive Highway 285 north of Tres Piedras and cross the border into Colorado before coming back into New Mexico.
Eagle Nest Lake has been very good for good-sized rainbow trout from the bank. Angers fishing with Power Bait for trout are also hooking some big northern pike.
The Cimarron River in Cimarron Canyon State Park below Eagle Nest Lake was stocked April 25 with 2,424 rainbow trout. There are wild brown trout in the river. The fishing at the Gravel Pit Lakes near Maverick Campground has been good too.
Maxwell Lake 13 on the Maxwell Lakes National Wildlife Refuge has been good with worms and Power Bait. It was stocked April 23 with 2,000 rainbow trout. There are some good-sized holdover rainbow trout here too.
Lake Alice and Lake Maloya at Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton have both been good for trout. The upper end of Lake Maloya extends into Colorado and you need a Colorado license here. This is a good place to view wildlife, as there are plenty of deer and turkey here.
The Charrette Lakes near Wagon Mound have been fair and there are yellow perch in addition to trout here. No reports from Morphy Lake, but it should be at least fair for stocked rainbow trout.
Storrie Lake near Las Vegas has been fair for trout and the catfish should be starting to bite here. If you have a second rod stamp, rig one rod for trout and the other for catfish-or fish with worms on both. Both catfish and trout will eat worms.
Monastery Lake near Pecos has been good. Check the stocking reports to see if they have planted some bigger-than-average rainbow trout here.
As mentioned, the Pecos River is running very low for this time of year. The fly fishing has been great here and it was recently stocked with rainbow trout. There are wild brown trout here too.
Over in the Four Corners, Navajo Lake has turned on. This is one lake where if you are casting a crank bank you could catch a smallmouth bass, a largemouth bass, a northern pike or a nice brown trout. The fishing has been good for all these species. The crappie are starting to bite here, too.
The San Juan River below Navajo Dam is flowing at 747 cfs. The fishing has been just fair in the Quality Waters. In the Bait Water below the Quality Waters, the fishing has been fair-to-good. The Bait Waters were stocked last week with about 110,000 small rainbow trout. These fish are stocked in the hopes that they will grow to good size in this fertile river.
Cochiti Lake has been fair-to-good for northern pike, white bass, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass. There used to be some good-sized crappie and bluegill in this lake and there may still be. There’s also catfish in Cochiti that should be biting.
The fishing for trout at Tingley Beach has slowed down now that the winter stockings of rainbow trout have stopped. Now is the time to start fishing for catfish here and in the Albuquerque area drainage canals.
In Southern New Mexico, the fishing at Elephant Butte Reservoir near Truth or Consequences has been very good for white bass. It’s also been good for walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and catfish. Now is the time to fish Elephant Butte before the crowds start coming beginning around Memorial Day.