Weekly Fishing Report

by Staff Reporter / Jan 30, 2018 / comments

Weekly Fishing Report

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

One of the victims of the warm and dry winter that we’ve been experiencing is the ice-fishing season at Eagle Nest Lake. Normally the premier ice-fishing destination in the state, Eagle Nest has yet to have any ice fishing so far this winter. Normally, Eagle Nest would draw good numbers of anglers during the winter. This is likely having a negative effect on the local businesses. An annual ice-fishing derby that normally would draw several hundred anglers has been canceled due to the lack of safe ice-fishing conditions.

You might wonder why Eagle Nest has not solidly frozen over despite below-zero temperatures in the area. Part of the reason is the nature of the lake. It’s a relatively large lake that sits in a valley where the wind blows pretty much every day. The wind helps to break up the ice and keep it from forming a solid cap on the lake.

There may not be an ice-fishing season this year at Eagle Nest and if there is it will be very brief. By the time March rolls around, we’ll be getting two more hours of daylight than we did in December and the temperatures will be warming up. One interesting fact is that the lowest temperature ever recorded in the lower 48 states in April was at Eagle Nest. A bone-chilling -36 degrees April 5, 1945.

Maybe the lake will freeze over enough to allow for ice fishing or maybe the warmer temperatures will melt some ice and allow for some bank fishing. As stated all winter long, call the state park office at (575) 377-1594 to check on conditions.

The only ice fishing available in the state is at Lake Alice in Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton. This is a small lake and your catch will likely be stocker-size rainbow trout. If you’re lucky you might get a 15-16 incher.

Lake Maloya, also at Sugarite Canyon State Park, has frozen over. The ice is not safe and it is closed to fishing. To check on the conditions, call the state park office at (575) 445-5607.

Fenton Lake is frozen over and is closed to fishing. Warmer weather may melt some ice and open up some water for bank fishing. Call the state park office at (575) 829-3630.

There have been no reports on Monastery Lake near Pecos. This little lake may have frozen over and ice fishing is not allowed there.

The best bank fishing for trout looks like it’s happening at Heron Lake. This lake is not frozen over and they’ve been catching some good-sized holdover rainbow trout there. There is the possibility of catching a lake trout from the bank at Heron during the winter.

The fishing on the Chama River below Abiquiu Dam has slowed down. This area has been drawing crowds of anglers and the low flows combined with the heavy pressure has impacted the fishing. The more easily-caught, recently-stocked fish have likely been caught. Still, there have been reports and some anglers have submitted pictures of recently-caught rainbow trout that were around 17 inches and looked fat and healthy.

You’ll find a little more elbow room on the Chama below El Vado Lake. The fishing has been fair there for brown and rainbow trout.

The fishing in the Rio Grande has been slow-to-fair. Fly fishermen have been catching a few northern pike on large streamers.

The fishing on the Pecos River at Villanueva State Park has been good. This area is well-stocked during the winter. The upper Pecos has lots of ice and tough fishing conditions.

The fishing on the San Juan River below Navajo Dam has been good in the Quality Waters. The fishing here is Catch-and-Release with lures and flies having a single, barbless hook. The fishing in the Bait Waters below the Quality Waters has been fair-to-good. One angler posted on Facebook a nice mixed catch of brown and rainbow trout taken on a jig from the San Juan. The Bait Waters were stocked Jan. 24 with 972 rainbow trout.

Also in the area, Lake Farmington has open-water fishing that has been good for rainbow trout. This lake received a hefty stocking Jan. 23 of 1,782 rainbow trout. This lake is owned by the City of Farmington and there is a daily fee to fish there.

The fishing in the Albuquerque area continues to be very good at Tingley Beach. The State Game and Fish Department stocks the ponds there heavily during the winter. The fishing in the drainage canals in the Albuquerque area can be slow-to-good depending on the angler. Small municipal lakes throughout Southern New Mexico are well-stocked this time of year and the fishing is usually pretty good at all of them.

One thing to begin looking for soon is flocks of sandhill cranes migrating back to the north after wintering along the Rio Grande below Albuquerque on the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro. These cranes will gather along the North Platte River in Nebraska, joined by the hundreds of thousands of cranes from other wintering grounds. There they will mate and then continue on to their breeding grounds in the far north, some of them as far away as Siberia. This is a great wildlife migration that still happens every year.

Our snowpack continues to be well-below normal for this time of year. Let’s hope we have a wet spring here in Northern New Mexico. I’m starting to keep an eye on the buds on the elm trees to see if they start to swell soon. The juniper trees that dot our landscape will soon be releasing their pollen, so those that are allergic to juniper and elm pollen may find themselves starting to get the sniffles soon. Let’s hope the weather stays cold enough to prevent an early bloom by the area fruit trees, particularly apricots.