Area Fishing report


Area Fishing report

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

One of the signs of spring that I always look forward to is the chorus of frogs from the cattail marsh behind our house along the Rio Grande. When I was a kid growing up in Connecticut there was a pond behind our house and every spring a small species of frogs called spring peepers would start chirping away as evening fell. I remember at night going out with a flashlight and trying to catch them.

Spring peepers belong to a genus of frogs appropriately called chorus frogs. Here in New Mexico, the species of chorus frogs that I listen to are western chorus frogs. The males call to attract mates in the spring.

The signs of spring remind me that it’s time to start organizing my fishing gear, taking an inventory of the lures, flies, hooks and sinkers that I have on hand and what I need to purchase. How much line do I have on my reels and is it still in good shape after sitting all winter.

This time of year the big rivers like the Rio Grande and the Chama are swollen with runoff. It pays to check the United States Geological Survey website to check the release of water below El Vado Dam and Abiquiu Dam. Lately, they have been releasing a lot of water beneath both of these dams and the fishing has been slow. If they cut back the flows, these can be good spots to try.

A Good Friday trip to Abiquiu Lake rewarded the angler with this beautiful rainbow trout.jpg

Lakes are your best bet this time of year and that’s where I went for my first fishing trip with my new fishing license. A Good Friday trip to Abiquiu Lake late in the afternoon rewarded me with one of the nicest rainbow trout I’ve caught recently at that lake. A beautiful fish over 18 inches (I measured it on my 18-inch cooler lid and it covered it with some left over). It was the only fish I kept. The fishing for smallmouth bass was okay with spinners. They sure fought hard on the ultralight rod I was using. Some of them might have been close to the 12-inch keeper size, but I released them all. After all, I had a big trout to eat.

Right now I think it’s the smaller, aggressive male bass that are active. A bit later this spring as the water warms up, the bigger females will start moving into the shallows to start making their spawning beds. There are some big smallmouths in Abiquiu.

Smallmouth bass are starting to bite at Abiquiu Lake. There is a 12-inch size limit on smallmouth bass. This fish was released immediately after this picture was taken. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

One of things that I like about fishing at Abiquiu is the opportunity to catch multiple species of fish. In addition to the rainbow trout and smallmouth bass, there are brown trout, walleye, yellow perch and catfish. There’s even rumors of lake trout and there’s a picture of a big laker caught at Abiquiu that’s mistakenly identified as a walleye on the wall at Bode’s  General Store in Abiquiu.  Kokanee salmon have been stocked at Abiquiu, but I know of no one who has caught one there.

A good way to fish at Abiquiu is to buy a second rod stamp and rig one of your rods to fish with bait like nightcrawlers or minnows. While you are waiting for a fish to take your bait, rig up your other rod and pass the time fishing a spinner, crank bait or tube jigs for trout, bass and walleye. Abiquiu is full of snags, so I recommend fishing your bait beneath a bobber rather than on the bottom.

I plan to return to Abiquiu soon. There are other options for local anglers. The fishing from the bank at Heron Lake has been pretty good for rainbow trout. This time of year is best for catching a lake trout from the bank at Heron. Lakers like very cold water and as the water warms up they will retreat to deeper water and only be reachable by boat. Anglers have been having some luck using cut bait from the bank for lakers.

Santa Cruz Lake was last stocked March 28 with over 3,700 rainbow trout and there are, surprisingly, few reports on how good the fishing is. It should be pretty good. Santa Cruz also holds some big brown trout.

Fenton Lake was stocked April 11 with 2,200 rainbow trout and the fishing has been rated good. Fenton Lake also has some big brown trout. Fishing at the Kids Pond (Seven Springs Brood Pond) at the Seven Springs Trout Hatchery has yielded some big trout recently. The Hatchery is a few miles north of Fenton Lake.

 Mark your calendar May 1 for the opening day at Laguna Del Campo near Los Ojos. Because of its proximity to Los Ojos Trout Hatchery, this lake is well-stocked. Every so often, they dump a bunch of bigger-than-average trout in the lake. The fishing is usually very good here in May.

On the east side of the state, Lake Maloya and Lake Alice near Raton have been rated good to excellent. These lakes are well-stocked. Charette Lakes are rated very good and recently received a planting of bigger-than-average trout from Red River Trout Hatchery.

Eagle Nest Lake has been fishing well from the bank.

Monastery Lake near Pecos has been fishing well and was stocked April 11 with 1,100 rainbow trout.  They’ve been catching some good-sized fish from there and the nearby Pecos River.

One of the things I look forward to is eating a fish that I’ve caught. That big rainbow from Abiquiu was delicious baked in the oven with butter, lemon slices, salt and tarragon. It had beautiful deep orange meat. Tasted as good if not better than the best store-bought salmon.