There have been a lot of birds of prey migrating down the Rio Grande recently. I’ve seen several large raptors like red-tailed hawks and northern harriers circling the bosque. A sharp-shinned hawk actually killed a bird in our back yard. Eagles should start to show up around Abiquiu Lake soon and thre are usually some that spend the winter along the Rio Grande. Keep an eye out for them.
Last week I took a cue from one of our readers and fished the Rio Grande between Rinconada and Pilar. The fishing was excellent. The Rio Grande is in beautiful shape. The water is low and clear-perfect for spinners and fly-fishing. Fishing a big pool that I thought would hold lots of fish, I caught and released 11 rainbow trout and a smallmouth bass. The trout fought well and several jumped clear of the water. They all ranged from about 10-14 inches.
I had already decided that I was going to practice catch and release (unless I caught a really big fish). The spinner was the logical choice because it’s easier to release fish caught on lures. I used a quarter-ounce Panther Martin with a gold blade and black body. The fishing was so good, I expected a strike on every cast.
The Rio Grande looks like the hotspot right now. I’m itching to take a trip north of Questa to see if I can catch one of the big brown trout that should be active now.
If you are fishing the Rio Grande in the Pilar area or in Orilla Verde Recreation Area, keep an eye out for the bighorn sheep that roam this area.
Eagle Nest Lake continues to be good fishing from the bank with Power Bait for good-sized holdover rainbow trout. The fishing has been good using worms and continues to be good for northern pike, although no 20-pounders were reported recently. If you have a second-rod stamp, a good tactic is to rig one rod for fishing Power Bait and another with worms for perch. Or tie on a short steel leader and use a big spinner or crank bank to try and catch one of those big pike.
The Chama River above El Vado is running low and clear. The fishing should be good, but the clearer water demands a stealthier approach. Below El Vado Dam, the fishing has been fair and the flows are coming down slowly. There are some big brown trout here. Below Abiquiu Dam, the Chama is still running a little too high and murky for good fishing, but keep an eye on the streamflows below Abiquiu Dam. Once they are cut back the fishing should improve.
The bank fishing for rainbow trout is still pretty good at Heron Lake. The kokanee salmon snagging season will open Saturday (11/11) at Heron. This season used to draw scores of anglers, but the snagging success has not been what it used to be in recent years. Still, I expect a lot of anglers will show up.
The streamflow in the San Juan River below Navajo Dam is expected to be lowered soon and that should make the good fishing there even better. Navajo Lake is still pretty good for bass and northern pike. The kokanee salmon snagging season here appears to be about over.
On the east side of the Sangre de Cristos, the fishing at Lake Maloya near Raton is still pretty good. The Pecos River is running low and clear and the fishing has been good. Nearby Monastery Lake continues to offer good fishing. There are some surprisingly big trout in this little lake. The fishing should stay good until ice starts to form on the lake. The way the weather is going lately, who knows how late that’s going to be.
The fishing at Fenton Lake has been just slow-to-fair and there were no reports from Santa Cruz Lake last week. The fishing should be pretty good at Santa Cruz this time of year and I may give it a try to see if that’s the case.
If you happen to be in Southern New Mexico, the State Game and Fish Department has started their winter stockings of rainbow trout in many of the small lakes in the area. These waters are stocked only in the winter because in the summer they get too warm to support trout. If you don’t mind catching stockers, you might give them a try.