Fishing Report March 26, 2019
By George Morse
With apricot trees blooming all over the Espanola Valley, spring is definitely here. People with allergies are starting to suffer as juniper pollen fills the air. The spring winds are starting to blow and the snow is starting to melt. The lower elevation snowpack is disappearing rapidly. A lot of snow still remains at high elevations thanks to our wet winter. Rivers are beginning to rise and soon some spring flowers like daffodils and tulips will begin to bloom if they haven’t already.
We may still get some more spring snowstorms, which would not be unusual. The rivers are rising and fishing conditions on them will likely become more difficult and the water murky. You can still catch fish under these conditions, sometimes big fish as the rising water stirs big, wild brown trout from their winter doldrums. These fish are looking for big prey, so baits like nightcrawlers will attract them. Lure fishermen should try plugs like Rapalas or big spinners. Fly fishermen should try streamers and, surprisingly, mouse patterns to attract big fish.
Some of the best fishing will be found in lakes as trout will now be cruising the shallows where the water is warmer and insect activity heavier. Fish that will be in deeper water by late spring are now biting in much shallower water. Bass and walleye will become active a bit later as the water warms even more. Still, you might hook some big, egg-laden females of both species as they seem to be among the first to start cruising the shallows.
Lakes that were closed due to poor ice conditions are starting to open up.
Eagle Nest Lake has more open shoreline for bank fishing. The lake is still closed to boating. The fishing has been fair for trout. No reports on perch and northern pike. Pike should be moving into the shallows to spawn. There is still some ice on parts of the lake. Call (575) 377-1594 for conditions
Fenton Lake has limited shoreline fishing, but those areas have been producing well for anglers using Power Bait and worms. The lake was stocked March 20 with 2,196 rainbow trout. Call (575) 829-3630 for conditions.
If you are in the Fenton Lake area, the fishing has been very good at the Seven Springs Brood Pond at the nearby Seven Springs Fish Hatchery. The fishing here is restricted to kids under 12 years-old. There are some big fish here.
Streams in the Jemez Mountains area are running high. The Jemez River was flowing at 182 cubic-feet-per-second. The fishing is slow.
Lake Alice at Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton is ice free. There were no reports from here. Lake Maloya, also at Sugarite Canyon State Park, receives most of the fishing pressure. It has some ice still, but more open water is being created by the warming temperatures and fishing has been fair-to-good. Call (575) 445-5607 for conditions.
Heron Lake still has lots of ice and some open water. The boat ramp is closed. There were no reports on the fishing. This time of year is when you can catch lake trout from the bank at Heron. Lake trout normally inhabit deeper water but will cruise the shallows this time of year. The fishing for holdover rainbow trout should be at least fair. There were no reports from nearby El Vado Lake. It was stocked March 19 with 29,736 small rainbow trout. Call (575) 588-7470 for conditions at both lakes.
The water level at Abiquiu Lake is extremely low and the launching of boats very difficult. The fishing for walleye has been fair. The trout should start biting at Abiquiu and anglers are picking up a few smallmouth bass. They are currently letting more water out of Abiquiu Lake than is coming in, so the water level is still dropping.
The streamflow in the Chama River below Abiquiu Dam has been increased to 602 cubic-feet-per-second. Flows this high are normally not too good for fishing conditions below Abiquiu Dam and there were no reports from here. It was stocked March 18 with 456 rainbow trout.
There have finally been some reports on the fishing below El Vado Dam on the Chama River. The streamflow here is now at 300 cubic-feet-per-second and the fishing has been fair.
The fishing has been fair at Santa Cruz Lake near Chimayo. It was stocked March 18 with 4,104 rainbow trout. There is still no boat dock at Santa Cruz.
The streamflow in the Rio Grande was 610 cubic-feet-per-second and the water is somewhat murky. Fly fishermen report decent fly-fishing. You might also try worms and spinners here.
The fishing on the Red River below Questa has been good. The streamflow here is slowly rising and is at 41 cubic-feet-per-second.
There have been no recent reports from Eagle Rock Lake near Questa. It should be free of ice and if the stocked trout survived the winter the fishing should be at least fair here if not better. It could be worth a try.
On the east side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the fishing has been good at Maxwell Lake 13 for trout up to 18 inches. This lake has not been stocked yet this year so any trout you catch will be a good-sized holdover from last year.
The fishing at the Charette Lakes between Wagon Mound and Springer has been good. Lower Charette Lake was stocked March 18 with 2,501 rainbow trout.
There were no reports from Storrie Lake near Las Vegas. The fishing here should be at least fair for stocked rainbow trout.
There were no reports from Monastery Lake near Pecos, which is surprising because this little lake is normally a popular destination and the fishing is usually good this time of year. It was stocked March 18 with 499 rainbow trout.
The streamflow in the Pecos River near the town of Pecos was 65.9 cubic-feet-per-second and it should continue to rise. The fishing has been fair. It was stocked March 18 with 499 rainbow trout.
Over in the Four Corners area, the fishing in the San Juan River below Navajo Dam has been very slow both in the Quality Waters and the Bait Waters. The streamflow is at 284 cubic-feet-per-second and the water is extremely murky. This is because they are working on the release gates at the base of the dam. Normally a first-class fishing destination, plan a trip to the San Juan for another time after they finish working on the release gates.
The fishing at Navajo Lake has been slow-to-fair for smallmouth bass. Anglers are catching a few northern pike and trout. Navajo Lake was stocked March 21 with 782,344 kokanee salmon fry just over an inch long. Not many of these fry will survive but those that do will mature in 3-4 years and make their spawning run when they will be harvested by anglers during the special kokanee salmon snagging season in the fall.
The fishing in Jackson Lake has been fair. The fishing has been slow-to-fair at Lake Farmington.
If you are in the Aztec area, give Tiger Park Pond a try. It has received several heavy stockings this spring. The latest was March 19 of 1,479 rainbow trout.
The fishing for catfish has been excellent at Cochiti Lake. Anglers report catching lots of fish on cut bait. If you don’t have cut bait, try chicken liver or nightcrawlers. The fishing for bass has been slow with a few being caught. I expect the fishing for northern pike should pike up here soon.
Tingley Beach in Albuquerque continues to be heavily-stocked and the fishing remains good to very good. It was stocked March 20 with 2,240 catchable-size rainbow trout and March 19 with 240 rainbow trout averaging over 15 inches in size.
The fishing in the drainage canals in the Albuquerque area has been just fair, although they are still being stocked with rainbow trout. Anglers are starting to catch some largemouth bass from the drainage canals.
There will be a Youth Fishing Tournament April 13 at Escondida Lake. This is a small lake just north of Socorro. It was stocked March 19 with 799 rainbow trout and the fishing has been good. Call (575) 835-8927 for more information about the tournament.
The fishing at Elephant Butte Lake has been slow but anglers are catching a variety of fish here. Striped bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white bass, walleye and crappie have all been landed recently. A 40-inch striped bass was caught last week. The fishing for catfish has been fair.
The Rio Grande below Elephant Butte Dam was stocked March 20 with 1,299 rainbow trout. They are still not releasing any water from below the Dam, so these fish should be concentrated in deep pools.
The spring runoff is in full swing along the Gila River, which was flowing at a healthy 534 cubic-feet-per-second. The fishing at Lake Roberts near Silver City has been fair-to-good for trout and fair for catfish. There are some big largemouth bass in this lake and they should start to bite soon. Bill Evans Lake near Silver City was where the state-record largemouth bass was caught and the bass should start biting here too. Both Lake Roberts and Bill Evans Lake have been designated as trophy-bass waters where the limit is two-bass-per-day 18 inches or longer in size.
The winter stocking of rainbow trout in Southern New Mexico should end soon. The fishing still remains good for stocked trout at Lake Van, Bataan Lake and Carlsbad Municipal Lake in the Carlsbad area.