Fishing Report April 9, 2019
By George Morse
The weather Tuesday (4/9) was as nice a spring day as you could ask for here in Northern New Mexico, with highs in the 70’s and the wind not blowing too hard. The forecast is for colder weather to make a return by the weekend and for highs to be only in the 40’s with strong winds and possibly snow. Heavy snow could happen at higher elevations. Welcome to springtime in the Rockies.
The snowpack is still very impressive in the mountains. Snow is packed higher than the roof of your car along the sides of US Highway 64 between Tres Piedras and Tierra Amarilla. It’s quite a different scene than last year at this time, when the meager snowpack was already disappearing. It could be as late as Memorial Day before areas like Hopewell Lake, which lies along Highway 64, are accessible for fishing and camping.
Keep your fingers crossed that the colder weather does not bring a spring frost. Apricot, plum, cherry and peach trees are all blooming now down in the Espanola Valley. So far they’ve survived. Apricots are already dropping their petals. They are usually the first to get wiped out by spring frosts. The apple trees have yet to bloom.
Once this snowpack really starts melting, there could be problems with flooding. Heavy spring flows can also damage the headgates of the acequias that draw water from these streams and rivers.
I would not recommend a fishing or boating trip to Abiquiu Lake right now. The water level is very low and still dropping. The boat ramp is out of the water and launching boats is extremely difficult. Bank fishing can be tough at Abiquiu because of numerous snags like rocks and drowned juniper trees. The water is still too cold for the smallmouth bass to be active.
Fishing in the Chama River below Abiquiu Dam is not a good option. The flow here is now over 1,200 cubic-feet-per-second. Although this area was stocked April 4 with 665 rainbow trout, flows this high make fishing difficult here.
The Chama River below El Vado Dam is flowing at 776 cubic-feet-per second. Here too, the heavy flows make for difficult fishing conditions. It was stocked April 3 with 474 rainbow trout.
The fishing for smallmouth bass, mostly small, has been good at El Vado Lake. Anglers should also hook some brown trout and rainbow trout here. El Vado Lake was stocked with a total of 64,305 small rainbow trout last week.
The Chama River above El Vado Lake is flowing well but is nowhere near peak. By May it should be blasting away at several thousand cubic-feet-per-second. It was stocked April 3 with 797 rainbow trout. This stocking likely happened at the public fishing area just south of the town of Chama. The fishing can sometimes be good right in the town of Chama.
Heron Lake is free of ice. The bank fishing has been good in the Ridge Rock area for holdover rainbow trout. No report on lake trout, but now is the time of year they can be caught while bank fishing.
Other lakes are producing well in Northern New Mexico.
The fishing at Fenton Lake has been very good for anglers using Power Bait. Success varied for anglers using other baits and techniques. It was stocked April 3 with 1,431 rainbow trout. There are also some big, wild brown trout in Fenton Lake.
The Rio Cebolla, which flows into and out of Fenton Lake, has been good and was stocked April 3 with 401 rainbow trout. Other streams in the Jemez area are all swollen with spring runoff and the fishing is slow.
The Seven Springs Brood Pond at Seven Springs Fish Hatchery near Fenton Lake has been very good. It was stocked April 3 with 450 rainbow trout. Angling here is for kids under 12 years of age. There are some big trout in this little pond.
Santa Cruz Lake near Chimayo is full and running over the spillway. The fishing has been very good.
The Rio Grande has actually decreased its flow and is now at 481 cubic-feet-per second. That’s an indication that Colorado is starting to divert water from the Rio Grande into the large irrigation canals of the San Luis Valley. Expect the water to rise quickly again. The fishing has been fair-to-good in the John Dunn Bridge area. This should be a banner year for running the Rio Grande in kayaks and rafts. They should be able to run The Box into the summer. I don’t think they were able to run The Box at all last year.
The Red River below Questa is running well but not too heavy. The fishing has been good. This area was stocked April 2 with 698 rainbow trout.
The fishing at the Red River Hatchery Pond has been very good. It was stocked April 2 with 399 rainbow trout. The fishing is limited to anglers 11-years old and younger and 65-years old and older. The limit is three fish-per-day
Eagle Rock Lake near Questa has been very good for stocked trout.
Eagle Nest Lake is free of ice and open to boating. Last week they caught some big northern pike at Eagle Nest and the fishing for this species has been fair-to-good. The trout fishing has been good using Power Bait.
The streamflow in the Cimarron River below Eagle Nest Lake is at 17.2 cubic-feet-per seond. The fishing has been good. The fishing from Tolby Campground downstream 1.4 miles to the first bridge over the river is limited to artificial lures and flies with a single, barbless hook. Catch-and-release only. Below the bridge any angling method can be used and the regular limit of five fish per-day applies.
There were no reports from Maxwell Lake 13. It was recently stocked and also holds some good-sized holdover trout. Give it a try.
Lake Alice and Lake Maloya at Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton have both had good fishing. You’ll find bigger fish at Lake Maloya.
The trout fishing was fair at the Charette Lakes between Wagon Mound and Springer.
Storrie Lake near Las Vegas received a heavy stocking April 1 of 3,935 catchable-size rainbow trout. It also received a stocking of 450 rainbow trout averaging 16 inches in size. The fishing has been good.
If you’re willing to make the long drive to Clayton Lake, you may be rewarded with some good fishing. It was stocked April 2 with 3,599 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 400 rainbow trout averaging 16 inches in size. This lake also holds some very big walleye.
The Pecos River is flowing strong at 183 cubic-feet-per-second. The fishing has been slow-to-fair. It was stocked between Cowles and the town of Pecos twice last week with a total of 2,500 rainbow trout. The section of river between the town of Pecos and Villanueva was stocked with 1,000 rainbow trout.
Monastery Lake near Pecos was stocked April 2 with 251 rainbow trout. Fly fishermen have been doing well here using bead head nymphs.
Over in the Four Corners area, the San Juan River below Navajo Dam remains very murky due to work on the main outlet. The streamflow is at 284 cubic-feet-per-second and the fishing is slow.
The fishing at Navajo Lake has been slow for bass, trout and northern pike, although some big brown trout have been caught.
Jackson Lake has been slow-to-fair. There were no reports from Lake Farmington.
Tiger Park Pond in Aztec may be the place to go in this area. It was stocked April 2 with 1,062 catchable-size rainbow trout and with 200 rainbow trout averaging 15.5 inches in size.
As I thought, they caught some big northern pike last week at Cochiti Lake. The fishing remains good for catfish here. The fishing has been fair-to-good for white bass and largemouth bass. It has been fair for walleye.
The fishing has been very good at Tingley Beach in Albuquerque. It was stocked April 5 with a total of 5,000 catchable-size rainbow trout and stocked April 3 with 200 rainbow trout averaging 14.5 inches in size.
There were no reports from the Albuquerque-area drainage canals, which were not stocked last week.
There will be a Youth Fishing Derby at Escondida Lake Saturday. This is a small lake just north of Socorro. Call (575) 835-8927 for more information.
Elephant Butte Lake is a hotspot for crappie, with lots of fish being caught on minnows and jigs. A couple of big striped bass were caught last week. The fishing for catfish was good. The fishing was fair for white bass and a few walleye. The fishing was tough for largemouth and smallmouth bass.
The fishing has been good for catfish at Caballo Lake below Elephant Butte. The fishing was good for a mixture of white bass, crappie and walleye.
The trout fishing at Alto Lake and Grindstone Reservoir in the Ruidoso area has been good to very good. The fishing for largemouth bass was fair-to-good at Alto Lake and the fishing for smallmouth bass was fair-to-good at Grindstone Reservoir. Alto Lake was stocked April 2 with 1,002 rainbow trout and Grindstone Reservoir was stocked with 2,402 rainbow trout.
Lake Roberts near Silver City has been good for catfish and trout. The fishing has been very good using dry flies for bluegill. The fishing for largemouth bass has been fair.