Fishing Report Feb. 19
By George Morse
The weather this week turned sharply colder. There was snow, but it was hit-or-miss. Here in the Espanola Valley there was very little, while nearby Los Alamos was buried. One area that has been really slammed with snow is Chama. They have already had over 100 inches of total snowfall and more is still on the way.
It’s been crazy not just here, but around the world. There was snow in Hawaii. Not just on the 13,000-foot peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii, but down to 6200-feet on the slopes of Haleakala volcano in Maui. It snowed in Las Vegas. Not our Las Vegas here in New Mexico (we know it snows there), but Las Vegas, Nevada. You could have probably made a lot of money betting on the odds of that happening.
The substantial snowpack that is building in our mountains bodes well for the coming fishing season. The water level in our reservoirs will rise and flood acres and acres of previously dry land, releasing a lot of nutrients into the water. Runoff from melting snow will flow into our streams and rivers. It will be loaded with more nutrients. There will be plenty for fish to eat and they will grow fat and healthy. During the peak of spring runoff the fishing may be difficult due to the high water. Once it starts to drop, the fishing should be great.
The fishing right now in Northern New Mexico is limited a little because many backcountry fishing spots are inaccessible due to the snow. High elevation streams are choked with ice.
One area that is holding up well is the Four Corners.
The famous Quality Waters of the San Juan River below Navajo Dam hold up well during the winter as water temperatures stay consistent all year long. Streamflows are generally low during the winter. Most recently, they measured at 284 cubic-feet-per-second.
Fishing in the four miles of river directly below the Dam is with artificial flies and lures with a single, barbless hook. The fishing is catch-and-release. Below the Quality Waters are the Bait Waters. All legal methods of angling are allowed. The regular trout limit of five fish-per-day applies here. The Quality Waters have been fishing well this winter. The fishing in the Bait Water has been fair-to-good
Navajo Lake has been fair-to-good recently for northern pike. They have been stocking a lot of small trout this winter at Navajo and this might be why the fishing has picked up. Northern pike are active predators of smaller fish and they are likely snacking on the newly-planted trout. You might also catch a big brown trout, but the trout fishing has been slow at Navajo. Navajo Lake was stocked Feb. 11 with 6,888 small rainbow trout.
Navajo Lake was stocked last week with 436,552 kokanee salmon fry. Salmon fry are just one-inch long. In four years, the fry that survive will be mature adults and go on their fall spawning run. They are harvested during the special salmon-snagging season. The kokanee fishery at Navajo has been the best in the state in recent years.
Two lesser-known fishing spots in the Four Corners area are Jackson Lake and Lake Farmington. Some weeks there are no reports from these two lakes, but they are heavily-stocked with rainbow trout this time of year as they do not freeze over. Reports finally came in this week. Jackson Lake has been good for stocked trout. Lake Farmington was reported as fair-to-good. Jackson Lake was stocked Feb. 12 with 1,220 rainbow trout. Lake Farmington was stocked Feb. 13 with 1,901 rainbow trout.
Another spot worth trying in the Four Corners area is Tiger Park Pond in Aztec. It was stocked Feb. 11 with 1,386 rainbow trout.
Closer to Los Alamos and Espanola, the ice fishing at Fenton Lake State Park has been good. The ice thickness is about 15 inches.
The fishing in the lower Jemez River has been good for stocked trout. Other streams in the Jemez have been iced over.
The fishing on the Chama River below Abiquiu Dam remains good. The limit on trout here is two-fish-per-day. The streamflow has been 147 cubic-feet-per-second. Now until about mid-May is the time to fish this spot. Once they start releasing water to downstream farmers and reservoirs, the streamflow will rise dramatically.
Abiquiu Lake is very low. The water level in this lake will rise dramatically this spring due to the expected heavy spring runoff. Launching boats is still very difficult at Abiquiu.
There have been no reports recently from the Chama River below El Vado Dam or from El Vado Lake. Ice-fishing conditions at El Vado Lake are usually unsafe. I suspect the snow and cold temperatures are keeping the fishing pressure light here. There are also no reports from Heron Lake, where the ice is reported to be nine inches thick. Call (575) 588-7470 to check on conditions.
Santa Cruz Lake near Chimayo is still frozen over and closed to fishing.
The Rio Grande was stocked Feb. 14 with 2,000 rainbow trout. Most of this stocking takes place in the Pilar area, so this would be a good spot to try. The streamflow was 375 cubic-feet-per-second and the fishing has been slow-to-fair.
The Red River below Questa has been fair for trout.
The ice fishing for perch at Eagle Nest Lake has been good. The fishing has been fair for rainbow trout. The ice is reported to be 19 inches thick.
The ice fishing at Lake Maloya at Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton has been very good for trout up to 19 inches. The ice thickness was reported to be about 17 inches. Lake Alice, also at Sugarite Canyon, has been closed to fishing due to thin ice.
The fishing on the Pecos River in the Villanueva area has been good for stocked rainbow trout.
Monastery Lake near Pecos is closed to ice fishing.
Tingley Beach in Albuquerque was stocked twice last week with a total of 1,899 rainbow trout. The fishing has been very good.
The fishing in the drainage canals in the Albuquerque area has been good and they were all stocked last week.
The fishing is picking up at Elephant Butte Lake. It’s now fair-to-good for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and white bass. The fishing has been good for catfish using cut bait.
The Rio Grande below Elephant Butte Dam was stocked Feb. 13 with 639 rainbow trout. The fishing has been good. They are not releasing water below the Dam and the trout will be concentrated in deep pools.
Bill Evans Lake near Silver City was stocked Feb. 11 with 1,634 rainbow trout. The fishing has been good. Lake Roberts near Silver City has been good for trout. Both these lakes have big largemouth bass, but the water needs to warm up a little bit for the bass to become more active.