Weekly Fishing Report
By George Morse Sports and Outdoors
The State Game and Fish Department has posted its 2018-2019 Hunting Rules and Info publication online. Hunter wishing to hunt big game like elk, deer, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep will need to reference it for seasons, license information and to apply for licenses in the drawings for big game hunting licenses. The deadline to apply for big game licenses is March 21, 2018.
The drawing for big game licenses can be frustrating as the luck of the draw determines if you will have a license or not, along with when and where you’ll be able to hunt. There will be many disappointed hunters after the results of the drawings are made public. That’s the reality of the times we live in. The demand for licenses far exceeds the number of animals in our big game herds and the number of big game animals that can be harvested to maintain the populations. People tend to forget that at the beginning of the last century the populations of big game like elk, deer and other species were low and in danger of becoming extinct. Elk were actually eliminated from the forests of our state and deer were few and far between. It was only through the establishment of seasons and bag limits, along with the reintroduction of species that had been eliminated, that we now have healthy herds of big game that we can now harvest on a regulated basis. Hunters and conservationists were among those who spearheaded the movement to bring back our herds of big game through regulation. Much of the hunting here in our state and throughout the Western United States takes place on public land like our National Forests and Bureau of Land Management lands. I know it can be tough when you don’t draw a license that you were hoping for, but it is important to observe the law and help preserve our big game populations and hunting traditions for future generations. It is equally important to support our public lands so future generations will have a place to hunt. Hunting is deeply woven into the culture of Northern New Mexico.
It was nice to see some snow Tuesday (1/16) in the Jemez Mountains. We are still way below normal in terms of precipitation and snowpack so far this winter. Temperatures on most days have been higher than average. This is in contrast to the Eastern half of the United States, which is getting pounded with storm after storm bringing snow and cold temperatures even into the Deep South. Let’s hope we get a few more storms here in the West to replenish our reservoirs and snowpack before the spring winds start blowing. Los Alamos residents are all too familiar with what can come after a dry winter – catastrophic wildfires.
On the fishing scene, the Chama River below Abiquiu Dam continues to offer some of the best fishing in the state. Anglers have been catching plenty of fish, mostly stocked rainbow trout, on everything from flies to Power Bait. Be reminded that the daily limit in this section of the Chama River is THREE trout rather than the usual five. In addition to the stocked rainbow trout, there are some big, wild brown trout in the Chama. You might increase your odds of hooking one of these big browns by fishing some of the pools that are less-crowded.
The fishing in the Chama River below El Vado Dam is fair and you have a better chance of hooking a brown trout here. If you want to target brown trout specifically, try using night crawlers of artificial flies. Brown trout are not the suckers for Power Bait and salmon eggs that hatchery rainbow trout are.
The fishing in the Rio Grande has been slow and just a few fish are being caught.
One of the benefits of the warmer-than-normal temperatures we’ve been having is that lakes that might normally be frozen over this time of year have plenty of open water for trout fishing from the bank.
Fenton Lake has lots of open water and the fishing has been very good. Call ahead for conditions at (575) 829-3630
Heron Lake is ice-free and the fishing has been pretty good for rainbow trout. These are firm, good-sized holdover trout. Power Bait, salmon eggs, corn and roe sacks have been producing good results.
Lake Alice on Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton had good ice fishing last week, but the ice conditions have deteriorated and it is now closed to fishing.
Lake Maloya, also on Sugarite Canyon State Park, has plenty of open water and the fishing has been good. For conditions at Lake Alice and Lake Maloya, call Sugarite Canyon State Park at (575) 445-5607
If you have a Colorado fishing license, you might go over Raton Pass and try Trinidad Lake State Park. The fishing, mostly for rainbow trout this time of year, is normally best on the south side of the lake.
A trip to this part of the state from this area is usually an overnight affair. If staying in Raton, try Bruno’s Restaurant for good pizza and wings.
Eagle Nest Lake is currently closed to fishing due to poor ice conditions. Call ahead to check on fishing and ice conditions at (575) 377-1594
There were no reports last week from Monastery Lake near Pecos. If this lake has not frozen over, it should be very good for stocked rainbow trout. The nearby Pecos River is running low and clear. The fishing has been good below the village of Pecos.
Most of the stocking of rainbow trout takes place in Southern New Mexico this time of year. The fishing at Tingley Beach in Albuquerque is good, as is the fishing in the drainage canals in the Albuquerque area. The many smaller lakes throughout Southern New Mexico that are stocked by the Department have good fishing for stocked trout.
If you have a boat, they’ve been catching some good-sized white bass and walleye at Elephant Butte Reservoir. They also stock lots of trout in the Rio Grande below Elephant Butte Dam this time of year.
Two lakes in the Four Corners area have reported good fishing. Lake Farmington and Jackson Lake are both well-stocked this time of year and are ice-free. The fishing in the San Juan River below Navajo Dam has been fair-to-good in the Quality Waters and fair in the Bait Waters below the Quality Waters. There is an ongoing river enhancement project this winter on the San Juan and the area between Simon Point Day-Use Area and Crusher Hole Day-Use Area is closed to boat and foot traffic until March 1.