Thursday, March 15, 2018

Spring best bet for good fishing in drought plagued 2018

Anglers planning on doing some fishing this season may want to get it done sooner rather than later while most of the state’s reservoirs are still full.

“Our lakes are in the best shape they’ve been in years,” says Eric Frey, sport fish program manager for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF). “People should get out there and enjoy the fishing while they can.”

The state’s reservoirs stand at just over 70 percent of average storage which is about a 10-percent increase over last year, according to the latest Basin Outlook Report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NCRS) in Albuquerque.

But with the farm irrigation season commencing and continued municipal use much of the state’s reservoir storage is expected to be depleted over the spring and summer with little or no replenishment anticipated from snowpack runoff.

The NCRS monitors and reports on the state’s snowpack, precipitation and reservoir water storage data. The latest report can be downloaded from the service’s website at

According to the latest report the state’s overall snowpack levels have reached or are approaching historical lows and drought continues to expand across the state and into southwestern Colorado.

With above average temperatures and high winds expected to quickly dry out what little snowpack exists, spring runoff is probably going to be well below average statewide, says Chris Romero of the NCRS.

“Then we’ll be waiting on the monsoons to hopefully save us again,” he says.

In the meantime excellent fishing conditions at many of the state’s popular east side reservoirs such as Conchas, Sumner and Santa Rosa and Ute lakes will provide anglers with plenty of opportunities to catch bass, walleye and other warmwater species this spring, Frey says.

A long running drought that caused the walleye population at Santa Rosa to crash several years ago has since rebounded due to the lake refilling and the department’s restocking efforts, Frey says.

“I fished four or five times out there this time last year and it was amazingly good,” Frey says.

Frey’s tips and tricks to fishing for warmwater species can be found in a past issue of the department’s “New Mexico Wildlife” magazine that can be viewed online at

Stream and river anglers also can expect to enjoy good fishing conditions for trout this spring with little or no runoff to impede the action, Frey says.  The Rio Grande is expected to produce a fishable caddis hatch for the first time in years and some fishing guides are already booking trips in anticipation.

Anglers are reminded to obtain a new fishing license before venturing out to their favorite fishing hole. Licenses are good for one year between April 1 and March 31. Anglers can purchase a new license this season beginning March 22. Licenses can be obtained online on the department’s website,, over the telephone with the department’s information center at (888) 248-6866 or through a vendor. The department’s information center will be open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 31, to sell licenses and answer questions.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

N. M. Volunteers for the Outdoors conducts annual training & recruitment drive

The New Mexico Volunteers for the Outdoors (NMVFO) will conduct its annual trail maintenance and construction workshop in March and encourages the public to attend.

“The workshop is a great introduction to trail work,” says Ed DiBello, chairperson for the non-profit organization.

NMVFO volunteers perform trail maintenance and construction projects on public lands all around the state and enjoy camping out and socializing too.

“For New Mexicans and those new to New Mexico, it’s a great way to become familiar with the landscape and also to meet some great people,” DiBello says.

Training includes a classroom presentation from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, March 15 at REI, 1550 Mercantile NE, Albuquerque. Hands-on training follows from 8 a.m. till around mid-afternoon, Saturday, March 17 in Albuquerque’s Sandia Foothills Open Space.

Last year 141 NMVFO volunteers including 80 first-timers participated in 19 projects on local, state and federal public lands providing 2,249 hours of labor at a savings of $44,463 to public agencies.

NMVFO projects improve the safety and use of public lands for all users through construction of new trails, maintenance of old ones, sign installation and other work.

Volunteers have planted native trees at the Valle de Oro and Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuges and removed of old fences and other debris at the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

“NMVFO works all over the state,” says DiBello.  “This year, we have projects ranging from Sugarite State Park in the north to Trout Creek down south in the Gila.”

Volunteers will hear from veteran NMVFO project leaders during the classroom training about the negative impacts from hikers taking shortcuts across trail switchbacks and the positive effects from using designated trails. Participants also will watch U.S. Forest Service instructional videos about trail construction and maintenance. Instructors will answer questions and go over this year’s list of NMVFO projects around the state.

Participants can put their newfound skills to work the following weekend rerouting an existing trail within the Sandia Foothills Open Space. Volunteers are scheduled to meet at 8:00 the Embudo Park trailhead on the eastern end of Menaul Blvd. Coffee, juice, fruit and snacks will be available on a first come, first served basis.

NMVFO trail workers and Albuquerque Open Space employees will oversee the new volunteers during the event. Participants should dress for outdoor work and wear sturdy boots and work gloves, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts and bring additional suitable clothing, snacks, water and personal items that may be needed.

The training is free. Participants also can join the organization for a nominal fee and participate in more projects.

NMVFO was started in 1982 and according to its mission statement is dedicated to improving outdoor recreational facilities in New Mexico and is an all-volunteer, action oriented, non-political, non-profit organization that promotes public involvement and education of the public in the maintenance, improvement and the upkeep of New Mexico's public lands for recreational use.

For more information visit NMVFO’s website at

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