Fishing Report: Winter Holding On In The High Country

There’s still plenty of snow in the high country around US Highway 64
There’s still plenty of snow in the high country around US Highway 64. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Fishing Report: Winter Holding On In The High Country

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

Sometimes I don’t want to go fishing, but just get out and see some country. That was what I did Sunday. I wanted to check out the high country along US Highway 64 between Tres Piedras and Tierra Amarilla.

After turning onto 64 at Tres Piedras, the first thing I noticed was that the Rio Tusas was running higher than it had been a couple of weeks ago. It was over its banks. The very headwaters of the Rio Tusas flow through a beautiful meadow and have wild rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and hybrids of the two species. They aren’t big fish, but absolutely beautiful. It’s going to be awhile before you can fish them.

After starting to gain elevation on that big curve just past the turnoff to Cisneros Park, there was more and more snow, especially in the timber. By the time I got to Hopewell Lake, there was plenty of snow everywhere. The lake had been frozen a couple of weeks ago.


Hopewell Lake is still mostly frozen over and surrounded by snow. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post


Now there was some open water near the inlet. You still can’t drive to the lake because of the snow. A couple of hardy souls had parked their vehicles by the road and hiked down to the lake to fish the open water. They were a little bit more dedicated than I was. I stopped to take some pictures. I will be at least a couple of weeks before Hopewell is ice-free and you can drive to the lake.

A few anglers decided to park on the road and hike through the snow to fish Hopewell Lake April 23. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Continuing on past Hopewell, I was really surprised how much snow remained in the high country. It looks like the runoff will linger well into May.

As I descended down into the Chama River Valley, I could see that Brazos Falls was running. I drove up towards the falls to take a picture. I expect that the falls will be running even stronger in the coming weeks. Now is the time to go see them.

Brazos Falls. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

All this runoff that we’re getting should make for great fishing once the runoff subsides and the rivers start to clear. The runoff washes lots of nutrients into the water and the fish should be in fine shape. The water level in the reservoirs should come up and flood some previously dry land, which also adds nutrients to the water.

One last note. I cooked the big rainbow trout I’d caught at Abiquiu Lake Good Friday the following Sunday and after eating my fill of the delicious meat, I had some left over. Not wanting to waste it, I took it off the bone and stored it in the refrigerator. On Tuesday (4/18), I mixed the trout meat with some bread crumbs, chopped onion, salt and a little lemon juice and made a “fish burger.” I fried the burger in hot oil so the outside got crispy right away. Eaten on a toasted onion roll with some cheddar cheese and tartar sauce, it was delicious. Now I know what to do with leftover trout.

Although the big rivers and even many of the small tributaries are running high and are difficult to fish, the fishing in the lakes should just get better and better.

If you have children who like to fish and you’d like to give them the opportunity to maybe catch a big fish, it seems like the Seven Springs Brood Pond is the place to go. Every week it seems like some kid catches a big trout there. Only anglers under 12 can fish here. The Brood Pond is at the Seven Springs Trout Hatchery north of Fenton Lake. The fishing at Fenton Lake has been very good too.

The fishing at Heron Lake is fair for rainbow trout. They’ve been catching some smallmouth bass, probably the result of an illegal planting, at El Vado Lake.

Fishing for walleye and smallmouth bass at Abiquiu Lake is fair and should get better as the weather warms up. They planted tens-of-thousands of fingerling trout last week at Abiquiu. The walleye, bass and brown trout sometimes will gorge themselves on these newly-stocked fish. I saw a picture of a 31-inch walleye caught last week at Abiquiu. It would not surprise me if that fish was feasting on small trout.

 They also planted some fingerling trout at Eagle Nest Lake and that may be why the northern pike fishing picked up there last week. The trout fishing at Eagle Nest has been good too.

Lake Maloya and Lake Alice at Sugarite State Park near Raton have been fishing well. Morphy Lake near Las Vegas and  Monastery Lake near Pecos have been yielding some good fish. The Pecos River has been fishing well despite the high water and may be your best bet if you want to fish a river.