By GEORGE MORSE
Los Alamos Daily Post
National Hunting and Fishing Day is Saturday. On this day, anglers may fish without a license. It’s a good day to take a friend fishing who doesn’t normally go fishing. It’s even better if you have out-of-town visitors who don’t want to purchase a nonresident license. All other regular fishing rules and regulations will still apply.
The unseasonably hot weather has delayed the start of what I like to call the fall bite. This is when shorter days and cooler temperatures trigger trout into becoming more active. We could really use some fall rain to raise the water level in our streams and reservoirs, which are still running very low.
The State Game and Fish Department continues to stock rainbow trout throughout Northern New Mexico and in some waters some good-sized fish have been added to the stockings. One way to tell when a good-sized fish has been stocked at that size is the tail fins. On hatchery-raised fish the tail fins are often frayed and worn down from the crowded conditions in the hatchery.
Rainbow trout are not native to New Mexico. They are native to streams that flow into the Pacific Ocean. They are the trout species most-commonly raised in fish hatcheries. The rainbow trout now stocked in New Mexico are triploid hybrids that cannot reproduce. There are some wild rainbow trout in some streams and rainbow trout readily cross-breed with cutthroat trout, creating fish commonly referred to as cutbows. The Department stocks triploid hybrids to help prevent cross-breeding with cutthroat trout.
If you catch a brown trout, it is more than likely a wild fish. The Department no longer stocks brown trout. Brown trout have proven to be a little bit harder to catch than other species of trout. They have also proven to be adaptable to different environments and have established naturally-breeding populations throughout New Mexico. Brown trout were originally imported from Europe, where they are the native species. Many people still refer to them as “German
Brook trout are also all wild fish. Brook trout are native to the Eastern United States and Canada. They were imported to New Mexico. Brook trout are actually members of the char family and prefer colder water than brown trout and rainbow trout. They have a limited distribution here in New Mexico and are found in a few high mountain lakes and the upper drainages of some streams and rivers where they have established naturally-breeding populations.
The only trout that is native to Northern New Mexico is the Rio Grande cutthroat trout. Cutthroat trout have been negatively-impacted by the introduced species of trout through hybridization with rainbow trout and by habitat loss.
There are just a few relatively pure, wild strains of Rio Grande cutthroat trout left in some of the smaller headwater streams. The Department raises Rio Grande cutthroats at the Seven Springs Fish Hatchery north of Fenton Lake. These fish are stocked usually as small fish in some of the smaller, headwater streams and high mountain lakes in the hopes that they can establish naturally-breeding populations. Occasionally when they have too many fish, the Department will stock some bigger cutthroats in spots like Fenton Lake and the Chama River below El Vado Dam. The Wild River sections of the upper Rio Grande are also heavily-stocked with small cutthroat trout in the hopes of establishing a population there. Many of these fish are stocked by hardy volunteers who carry the fish in backpacks down to the river.
The fishing should pick up soon as the water cools down.
The water level at Abiquiu Lkae remains very low and extreme caution is advised when launching boats. A four-wheel drive vehicles is strongly recommended. The fishing for smallmouth bass has been fair. Walleye and trout will start to move back into the shallow water when the weather finally cools down.
The fishing is still slow in the Chama River below Abiquiu Dam. The streamflow here needs to come down some more before the fishing conditions here will improve significantly.
The Chama River below El Vado Dam has been fair-to-good for brown and rainbow trout. You could hook a nice-sized brown trout here.
El Vado Lake is very low and boats cannot be launched here. There were no reports.
The Chama River above El Vado Lake is very low. The best section of river will be from Heron Dam down to El Vado Lake.
They are releasing water from beneath Heron Dam into the Chama River and this colder water keeps the trout more active in this area.
The water level at Heron Lake is very low. The La Laja boat ramp is open but caution is advised when launching boats.
The fishing has been slow here and the water very murky.
The fishing at Laguna del Campo near Los Ojos has been fair with Power Bait and fireballs.
The fishing at the recently-reopened and heavily-stocked Canjilon Lakes has slowed down and is now fair-to-good. The fishing at the nearby Trout Lakes near Cebolla has been very good for stocked trout.
Hopewell Lake between Tierra Amarilla and Tres Piedras was stocked Dept. 10 with 1,671 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 200 rainbow trout averaging over 18 inches in size. The fishing has been fair-to-good. There are some wild brook trout here.
The Rio de los Pinos north of Tres Piedras near the Colorado border has been good with flies and bait. There are some wild brown trout here.
The fishing in the streams of the Jemez Mountains has been better thanks to recent stockings. The Jemez River was stocked Sept. 13 with 499 rainbow trout. The Rio San Antonio near La Cueva was stocked Sept. 13 with 749 rainbow trout.The Rio Cebolla that flows into and out of Fenton Lake is also heavily-stocked. The fishing has been good in all these streams and they all contain wild brown trout too.
Fenton Lake has been good for rainbow trout and every now and then someone catches a big brown trout here. The best fishing has been with flies. The weed growth at Fenton is probably getting pretty heavy this time of year. It was stocked Sept. 13 with 774 rainbow trout.
The fishing has been good at the Seven Springs Brood Pond near the Seven Springs Fish Hatchery, which was stocked Sept. 13 with 200 rainbow trout.
Santa Cruz Lake near Chimayo is very low. Boats cannot be launched here and there have been no fishing reports from here most of the summer.
The streamflow on the Rio Grande is well-below normal and the fishing has been good using flies, Panther Martins and nightcrawlers. Anglers have been catching a lot of smallmouth bass here.
The Rio Pueblo near Penasco was stocked Sept. 13 with 1,200 rainbow trout. Although heavily-stocked, there have not been many good reports from this stream. The water has been low and the fishing was rated just slow-to-fair last week.
The Red River is one of the most-heavily stocked streams in the state and last week was no exception. The Department stocked 2,900 rainbow trout above the town of Questa Sept. 12 and the fishing has been good here. The Red River Hatchery Pond is well-stocked as well and the fishing should be good here too.
Eagle Rock Lake near Questa is also heavily-stocked, often with bigger-than-average rainbow trout. The fishing has been very good here thanks to the heavy stockings. It was stocked Sept. 12 with 499 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 188 rainbow trout averaging over 15 inches in size.
The fishing at Eagle Nest Lake has been very good for perch. The fishing for rainbow trout from the bank with Power Bait has been good. Trolling wedding rings and Platte River Specials tipped with corn or Power Bait has been good for rainbow trout and kokanee salmon. The fishing for northern pike has been slow-to-fair.
The Cimarron River below Eagle Nest Lake in Cimarron Canyon state Park was stocked Sept. 10 with 2,426 rainbow trout.
The Cimarron Gravel Pit Lakes were stocked with 401 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 150 rainbow trout averaging over 15 inches in size. The fishing in the river and the lakes has been good.
There were no reports from Stubblefield Lake and Maxwell Lake 13 last week.
The fishing continues to be good at Lake Maloya in Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton.
The fishing has been slow-to-fair at the Charette Lakes.
Morphy Lake State Park remains closed as repairs are made to the dam.
Despite a heavy stocking of trout two weeks ago, the fishing remains slow at Storrie Lake State Park near Las Vegas. The best fishing near Las Vegas is in the Gallinas River, which has been good for trout.
There is still a low but decent flow in the Pecos River and the fishing has been good for trout with flies and bait. In the Villanueva State Park area farther downstream, the fishing has been good for stocked catfish.
The fishing is good at Monastery Lake near the town of Pecos. The fishing has held up well all summer here and it is heavily stocked. The fishing at the Cowles Ponds north of Pecos is still good for stocked trout.
Over in the Four Corners, the fishing has been good for smallmouth bass and largemouth bass at Navajo Lake. It’s been fair for northern pike and perch. The fishing for kokanee salmon remains good trolling Arnies and Panther Martins tipped with corn. The kokanee salmon snagging season begins October 1 at Navajo and it looks like it might be good. A portion of Navajo Lake will be closed to snagging to allow the Department to collect eggs from the spawning salmon.
The streamflow in the San Juan River below Navajo Dam Monday was 769 cubic-feet-per-second. The fishing has been good with a variety of fly patterns. The fishing in the Bait Waters has been good with flies, lures and bait. The Bait Waters were stocked Sept. 12 with 2,340 rainbow trout.
Cochiti Lake has fair-to-good fishing for white bass. The fishing has been fair for catfish, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass.
The fishing at Tingley Beach in Albuquerque has been fair-to-good for stocked catfish.
Elephant Butte Lake is very low. It seems like this has concentrated the fish, so it has been very good for white bass. It has been good for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and catfish. The fishing for walleye has been fair.