By GEORGE MORSE
Sports And Outdoors
Los Alamos Daily Post
Kokanee salmon snagging season begins Sunday (Oct. 1) at Navajo Lake, El Vado Lake, Eagle Nest Lake and in the Chama River between El Vado Lake and the Heron Lake outlet.
Kokanee salmon are a landlocked form of sockeye that spend their entire lives in freshwater rather than migrating to the sea.
Kokanee salmon live for four years, spawning in the fall during their fourth year. The salmon gather in large schools.
Male salmon undergo pronounced physical changes during spawning. They develop hooked jaws and humped backs.
Their color changes to vivid red. The physical changes for female salmon are less-pronounced, mostly turning a duller red along their sides. Like most Pacific salmon, they die after spawning.
The salmon gather in large schools during spawning. Since they don’t eat during spawning, they can be difficult to catch using conventional angling means, the method of taking salmon are relaxed only during spawning season.
The most popular method is snagging. Snagging consists of casting out large, weighted te\reble hooks, then retrieving them through the schools of salmon with a series of jerks. The object is to impale the salmon with the hooks.
Because the salmon die after spawning, bag limits and possession limits on salmon only are increased. The daily bag limit is 12 salmon-per-day and the possession limit is 24 per-day.
The snagging season at Heron Lake starts later Nov. 11. The late start is because State Game and Fish Department workers from nearby Los Ojos Fish hatchery trap spawning salmon at Heron during October. The eggs are harvested, fertilized and then transported to the hatchery where they are hatched. The small salmon, known as fry, are then restocked into the lakes to maintain the fisheries.
Snagging is a popular fall activity and can draw large numbers of anglers. The best fishery in recent years has been at Navajo Lake with the others running s poor second. The area around Navajo Dam has been the hotspot in previous seasons.
Fenton Lake State Park is open for camping. Lake is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Camping by reservation only. It is heavily-stocked with rainbow trout. It also has some wild brown trout and some Rio Grande cutthroat trout from earlier stockings. It was stocked Sept. 20 with 2,200 rainbow trout. For more information and current lake conditions call 575.829.3630.
The Rio Cebolla, which flows into and below Fenton Lake, was stocked twice las week with a total of 401 rainbow trout. It also has wild brown trout.
The Jemez River streamflow Monday was 14.6 cubic-feet-per-second. This is lower than last week and below normal. The Jemez River was stocked Sept. 22 with 1,009 rainbow trout.
The Seven Springs Brood Pond, also known as the Kid’s Pond, is open. It is located at the Seven Springs Fish Hatchery. The fishing is for anglers 11-years of age or younger. It was stocked Sept. 7 with 450 rainbow trout. It also has some wild brown trout and some Rio Grande cutthroat trout from an earlier stocking. The limit is three trout-per-day.
The Bureau of Land Management manages Santa Cruz Lake Recreation Area near Chimayo. It will be open from 6:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. The fishing should be good for stocked rainbow trout and some wild brown trout. It was stocked Sept. 22 with 1,326 rainbow trout. The water level is low, but the boat ramp is still open. The cooler weather may have trout moving into shallow water.
For updated conditions, check the Bureau of Land Management website or call 505.351.1438.
The Bureau also manages the Orilla Verde Recreation Area along the Rio Grande at Pilar. Camping is on a first-come basis. No reservations. The Rio Grande streamflow was 266 cubic-feet-per-second at Taos Junction Bridge. This is higher than last week and below normal. The Rio Grande at Pilar was stocked Sept. 11 with 2,001 rainbow trout. Fishing conditions are very good on the Rio Grande now.
From the Colorado state line downstream to the Taos Junction Bridge, the limit is two-trout-per-day in the Rio Grande.
The Rio Grande Gorge above Pilar was stocked Sept. 11 with 249 rainbow trout.
Eagle Nest Lake at Eagle Nest State Park is open. Boating is open and docks are in. Fishing should be good for rainbow trout, yellow perch, northern pike and an occasional kokanee salmon.
Eagle Nest has been receiving heavy stockings of catchable-size and larger hatchery fish, which is unusual. Larger trout are being stocked in hopes of mitigating the losses to predation by northern pike. Remember, if you catch a pike at Eagle Nest, you cannot put it back in the lake. You have to kill it. For more information and current conditions, call 575.377.1594.
The Cimarron River streamflow below Eagle Nest Dam was 21.5 cubic-feet-per-second. This is lower than last week. The Cimarron River near the town of Cimarron streamflow was measured at 19.0 cubic-feet-per second. It was stocked Sept. 12 with 2,415 rainbow trout. Check the Carson National Forest website to see if campgrounds are open.
The Cimarron Gravel Pit Lakes at Maverick Campground are open now. They were stocked Sept. 12 with 399 rainbow trout.
Lake Maloya and Lake Alice at Sugarite State Park near Raton are open. Lake Maloya was stocked Sept. 21 with 3,009 catchable-size rainbow trout. Lake Alice was stocked Sept. 21 with 499 rainbow trout. Call 575.445.5607 for current conditions.
Heron Lake State Park is open now. There is open water for bank fishing, which has been fair for rainbow trout. The boat marina and boat ramp are now open.. The lake level is higher than in previous years.
Call 575 588.7470 for conditions at both Heron Lake and El Vado Lake.
El Vado Lake State Park is closed. Try fishing at the north end of the lake where the Chama River comes in.
Laguna del Campo, a popular, small lake near Los Ojos, opened for fishing. It was stocked Sept. 12 with 504 rainbow trout. Fishing is for anglers 11 years of age or younger and 65 years old or older. Limit is three-fish-per-day.
Clayton Lake State Park is open. It was stocked Sept. 18 with 4,001 rainbow trout. It also has catfish . The state-record walleye was caught here. Be sure to check out the dinosaur tracks at Clayton Lake.
Morphy Lake State Park near Mora has reopened. It was stocked Sept. 19 with 3,001 rainbow trout
The Charette Lakes have good fishing for holdover rainbow trout. There are also yellow perch here. They were stocked June 27 with 2,497 rainbow trout.
Pecos Canyon State Park is open. In the Canyon, streamflow was measured 32.6 cubic-feet per second. This is a little higher than last week and below normal. The fishing has been fair-to-good for rainbow trout and wild brown trout.
Pecos Canyon was stocked Sept. 18 with 1,506 rainbow trout.
Monastery Lake near Pecos has been fair. It was stocked Sept. 21 with 1,002 rainbow trout.
Over in the Four Corners, Navajo Lake State Park is open. Camping is by reservation only. Trolling minnow-imitating lures like Rapalas could produce a trophy brown trout. Fishing for northern pike has been fair-to-good. Bass fishing has been fair. The kokanee salmon have begun to school up near the dam at 50-60 feet in depth. Kokanee salmon snagging season begins Sunday (10/1). Boating conditions are good. Call 505.632.2278 for conditions.
Popular fishing locations on Carson National Forest include the Canjilon Lakes, the Trout Lakes near Cebolla and Hopewell Lake between Tres Piedras and Tierra Amarilla.
Canjilon was stocked Sept. 11 with 1,176 rainbow trout and has small brook trout. The Trout Lakes were stocked Sept. 11 with 840 rainbow trout.
The campground at Hopewell Lake is open. The fishing has been good for stocked rainbow trout and wild brook trout. It was stocked Sept. 11 with 2,184 rainbow trout.
The Lagunitas Lakes have been stocked and the fishing for stockers has been very good. They were stocked Sept. 6 with 1,499 rainbow trout.
The Rio de los Pinos is near the border with Colorado. II was stocked Sept. 12 with 1,796 rainbow trout. It has wild brown trout.
The best river in the state and well-known throughout the angling world is the San Juan River below Navajo Dam. The streamflow here is now 803 cubic-feet-per-second, which is a little lower than last week. The San Juan offers world-class fly fishing for big trout.
The fishing has been good with a variety of fly patterns in the four miles of Quality Water below the Dam. The fishing here is catch-and-release with flies and lures having a single, barbless hook. It is heavily-stocked with small rainbow trout that grow quickly in the fertile waters. There are big, wild brown trout in the Quality Water. Some of these fish would likely shatter the state record if they could be kept and weighed.
The fishing in the Bait Water of the San Juan below the Quality Water has been fair-to-good with flies, bait and lures. A regular daily limit of five trout may be kept here. There are some big brown trout here too. It was stocked two weeks ago with a total of 1,812 rainbow trout.
Abiquiu Lake is open, including the boat ramp and picnic areas. Camping is open. It is managed by the Corps of Engineers. Reservations may be made at www.recreation.gov. Water levels have been much better this year here than in previous years. The fishing has been fair for walleye, catfish and smallmouth bass. There are some good-sized trout in Abiquiu. Call 505.685.4371 for more information.
The Chama River below Abiquiu Dam is flowing at 1,110 cubic-feet-per-second. This is a little lower than last week and above normal. The water is murky. The fishing is likely fair for stocked and holdover rainbow trout. There are a few big, wild brown trout here. It was stocked Sept. 18 with 1,043 rainbow trout. The limit here is two-fish-per-day.
Streamflow in the Chama River below El Vado Dam was 90.2 cubic-feet-per-second. This is much lower than last week and above normal. It has wild brown trout. It was stocked Sept. 18 with 522 rainbow trout.
Above El Vado Lake, the Chama River at La Puente is clearing and streamflow was 44.1 cubic-feet-per-second. This is lower than last week and a below normal. It was stocked Sept. 18 with 1,043 rainbow trout.
Brazos River was flowing at 21.0 cubic-feet-per-second. It was much lower than last week and below normal. It was stocked Sept. 18 with 820 rainbow trout.
The Rio Pueblo near Penasco streamflow was measured at 10.6 cubic-feet-per-second. This is a little lower than last week and just below normal. It was stocked Sept. 13 with 1,200 rainbow trout. It has wild brown trout.
Sipapu Pond was stocked Aug. 29 with 67 rainbow trout.
The Red River below the Fish Hatchery is flowing at 51.6 cubic-feet-per-second. This is a lower than last week and a little below normal. It was stocked Sept. 20 with 700 rainbow trout. The Red River above Questa was stocked Sept. 13 with 2.900 rainbow trout.
The Red River Hatchery Pond is open. Fishing is for anglers 11 years of age or younger and 65 years old or older. The limit is now five-fish-per day. It was stocked Sept. 20 with 401 catchable-size rainbow trout.
The East and West Forks of the Red River were each stocked Aug. 22 with 300 rainbow trout.
Eagle Rock Lake near Questa is open. It was stocked Sept. 7 with 499 rainbow trout.
The Shuree Ponds on the Valle Vidal were stocked July 24 with 105 rainbow trout averaging 15.2 inches in size.
Cabresto Lake, a small, high-elevation lake accessible by four-wheel drive vehicle near Questa, has good fishing for wild brook trout and wild cutthroat trout.