Fishing Report Feb. 26
By George Morse
One of the signs of spring is the sound of flocks of sandhill cranes as they circle high in the sky above the Espanola Valley. That sound was heard last week as flocks of cranes that had spent the winter at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge along the Rio Grande south of Socorro began their migration north to their breeding grounds north of the Arctic Circle in North America and Siberia. They will stop on the way along the North Platte River in Nebraska, where they gather by the thousands. There, they perform their mating rituals, including some impressive displays by the males as they try to impress the females. They have been making this migration for thousands of years. It is one of the most awe-inspiring bird-watching events in the world.
Another sign of spring is the appearance of honey bees. As the weather warms up, individual bees will venture out looking for sources of nectar to replenish the stores of honey that carried the hive through the winter. One of the first trees to bloom here in the Espanola Valley and in Los Alamos are the apricot trees. Come late March and early April, these trees will be buzzing with busy bees.
Growing up in the Northeast United States, one of the signs of spring we looked forward to was iceout. That was when the ice broke up and melted off the lakes and ponds that had frozen over the winter. It was looked forward to as one of the best times to catch the landlocked salmon, lake trout and other trout as they would cruise the shallow water looking for food.
Several lakes in Northern New Mexico are still offering good ice fishing.
Fenton Lake in the Jemez Mountains is still frozen with 15-to-17 inches of ice and the fishing has been very good.
Heron Lake has 11 inches of ice and the fishing has been fair for rainbow trout. For updated conditions at Heron and nearby El Vado Lake call (575) 588-7470.
Eagle Nest Lake has good ice fishing for perch and fair fishing for rainbow trout.
Lake Maloya at Sugarite Canyon near Raton has 16 inches of ice and the fishing has been good for trout. Lake Alice, also at Sugarite Canyon, is closed to fishing because of thin ice.
The Chama River below Abiquiu Dam has been good for trout. This area was stocked Feb.18 with 560 rainbow trout. The streamflow is a little heavy for this time of year at 292 cubic-feet-per-second. The limit here is two-fish-per-day.
The water level at Abiquiu Lake remains very low and the boat ramp is out of the water. No reports from anglers last week and fishing pressure is very light.
Several lakes in Northeast New Mexico will open to fishing Friday (March 1). They were closed during the winter to protect waterfowl.
Clayton Lake near Clayton will open March 1 and will likely be heavily-stocked soon. Clayton Lake also has some big walleye. The state record walleye of 16 pounds, 9 ounces was caught here.
Maxwell Lake 13 on the Maxwell Lakes National Wildlife Refuge will open March 1. This lake is very fertile and trout grow fast here. Any trout that have carried over through the winter from last year’s stockings will be good-sized.
The Charette Lakes near Wagon Mound will open March 1. Lower Charette Lake is heavily-stocked and also has a population of yellow perch.
Santa Cruz Lake near Chimayo is still frozen and closed to fishing.
The Rio Grande is running at 362 cubic-feet-per-second. The fishing has been fair for trout. No reports on northern pike.
The Red River below Questa was stocked Feb. 19 with 699 rainbow trout. The fishing has been fair.
The Pecos River near Villanueva was stocked Feb. 18 with 498 rainbow trout. The fishing has been good in this area for stocked trout.
Over in the Four Corners area, the fishing in the San Juan River below Navajo Dam has been good in the Quality Waters with various fly patterns. The streamflow is 284 cubic-feet-per-second. The Bait Water have been fair-to-good.
Navajo Lake was stocked last week with over 568,000 kokanee salmon fry. That makes over 1 million salmon fry stocked at Navajo Lake this winter. Salmon fry are only just an inch long. In 3-4 years these salmon will be adults and make their annual spawning run and be harvested during the special salmon-snagging season. The fishing for northern pike has been fair at Navajo Lake and slow for other species.
Jackson Lake has been good for stocked rainbow trout.
Some of the best fishing for stocked trout will be found at Tingley Beach in Albuquerque. It was stocked twice last week with a total of 3,062 rainbow trout. Included in this stocking were 240 rainbow trout averaging 14 inches in size.
The drainage canals in the Albuquerque area continue to be stocked with rainbow trout on a weekly basis and the fishing has been good.
Municipal lakes and ponds throughout Southern New Mexico continue to be stocked with rainbow trout and the fishing is normally good to very good after these stockings.
The fishing has been fair-to-good at Elephant Butte Lake for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and white bass. The fishing has been fair for catfish. The temperatures have been warmer here in Southern New Mexico in the 60’s and 70’s. As the water warms up fishing for bass and other warm water species should keep getting better.
The Rio Grande below Elephant Butte Dam was stocked Feb. 20 with 648 rainbow trout. No reports on the fishing.
Lake Roberts near Silver City was stocked Feb. 19 with 1,248 rainbow trout. The fishing has been good. Bill Evans Lake near Silver City was stocked Feb. 18 with 1,632 rainbow trout and also reports good fishing. As the weather warms the big bass in both these lakes should become more active.