Weekly Fishing Report

by Staff Reporter / Dec 22, 2017 / comments

Weekly Fishing Report

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

It’s the middle of December and still no snow covering the peaks of the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez Mountains. Despite cold nighttime temperatures that have caused ice to form on some of the lakes, precipitation has been meager and snowpacks for this time of year are running well below normal.

There are some that would just as well never have it snow, but the reality is we need snow. Water supply systems for irrigation and municipal water supply is based on a certain amount of spring runoff from the melting snowpack. Spring runoff is what fills the rivers and reservoirs throughout the state. Moisture over the winter helps promote growth in the spring. Lack of snow changes the dynamics of the ecosystem in ways that we are just beginning to understand

Los Alamos residents need little reminding of what can happen after a dry winter. Both the Cerro Grande wildfire and the Las Conchas wildfire were preceded by dry winters.

Ski areas around the state are having to open on a very limited basis on a base of manmade snow. Poor skiing conditions result in fewer skiers, fewer hotel rooms being booked, fewer restaurant meals being served and fewer jobs.

In short, no matter how much you hate having to drive in it or shovel it, the benefits of a healthy amount of snow far outweigh the drawbacks.

The cold temperatures have caused Eagle Nest Lake to freeze over. The ice is not yet thick enough to safely go out on and the lake is closed to fishing until the ice becomes thick enough to safely walk on. Before planning a trip to Eagle Nest, call ahead at (575) 377-1594 for ice conditions.

Lake Alice at Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton is iced-over and closed to fishing. Lake Maloya, also on Sugarite Canyon State Park, is still open and the fishing has been good. It was stocked Dec. 11 with 1,500 rainbow trout.

The best fishing locally is at Heron Lake, where the bank fishing for rainbow trout has been good. These are holdover fish so they are firm and good-sized.

The streamflow below El Vado Dam on the Chama River was just 302 cubic-feet-per-second and the fishing here has been fair-to-good.

There were no reports on the fishing at Abiquiu Lake. The best fishing here will probably be for trout this time of year. A number of bald eagles winter at Abiquiu Lake, as well as numbers of waterfowl. Bird-watching might be your best bet at Abiquiu. The annual Eagle Count at Abiquiu Lake will be Jan. 6 at the Visitors Center from 10 a.m. until 12 noon.

The streamflow on the Chama River was lowered to 628 cubic-feet-per-second. Although an improvement over last week, this is still a little high for good fishing conditions. Keep track of the streamflow below Abiquiu Dam on the United States Geological Survey (USGS) website. The fishing gets much better with a streamflow of 300 cubic-feet-per-second or less.

The streamflow on the Rio Grande has been dropping and this is a good spot to try in the winter. The Rio Grande was stocked Dec. 14 with 3,950 rainbow trout. The area around Pilar is where much of the stocking takes place and this is a good area to try. Another good spot is just below the County Line takeout area for rafters and kayakers north of Rinconada. There’s a nice pool just below the takeout area.

The fishing should be good in the Orilla Verde Recreation Area on the Rio Grande. Because hunting is not allowed in this area there is a lot of waterfowl and you might spot an eagle here too.

Fenton Lake has iced over and is closed to fishing.

The streamflow on the Pecos River near the town of Pecos is low (28 cubic-feet-per-second) and the fishing is fair with bait. Fly Fishermen should try dead-drifting weighted nymphs through the pools.

There were no reports from Monastery Lake near Pecos. If this lake has not iced over, it should be good. It was stocked Dec. 13 with 250 rainbow trout.

A good spot to try in the Four Corners area might be Lake Farmington near the city of Farmington. It was stocked Dec. 13 with 2,074 rainbow trout. There is a day-use fee charged here.

The streamflow on the San Juan River below Navajo Dam was 387 cubic-feet-per-second. The fly fishing in the Quality Waters below the Dam has been fair-to-good. This time of year you can find a little more elbow room on the Quality Waters, especially during the week. The fishing in the Bait Waters below the Quality Waters has been fair. There will be multiple closings of day-use areas along the San Juan due to a stream improvement project.

This time of year much of the stocking of rainbow trout takes place in Southern New Mexico. The State Game and Fish Department stocks these small lakes during the winter because they get to warm in the summer to support trout. This is a good time of year to plan a trip to the southern part of our state, where you’ll find warmer temperatures. There’s also some good quail hunting in Southern New Mexico.

Merry Christmas to all, as the next fishing report will be the day after Christmas.