Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Some tips for spring fishing on New Mexico's waters.

The late Sarge Wethington, father of longtime New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Fisheries Biologist on the San Juan river at Navajo Dam, Marc Wethington, shows how it was done on the San Juan back in the day. Photo courtesy of the Wethington family. 

It's spring in New Mexico and the uptick in temps should bring out the fish so now's a good time to unpack your angling gear and get out there.

Here are a few tips for fishing this time of year.

Do your homework by checking the fishing report first. The N.M. Department of Game and Fish's statewide fishing report can be found here

Check the weather too. Excellent forecasts and current weather conditions from the federal government can be found at the

Stream flow information also can be helpful. Look on the US Geological Service website at for that kind of data. Look at historical stream levels to try and gauge when snowpack runoff is high which will affect water and angling conditions.

For fishing on New Mexico’s rivers and streams anything flowing below 150 cubic-feet-per-second (CFS) is probably going to be fine to fish. 

Watch the peak high and low water flows to determine the best time of day to fish your favorite water.  This time of year it’s usually from 10 a.m. to about 3 p.m. on a stream like the Jemez which typically is “on” long before any others in northern New Mexico. 

Consider fishing waters in southern New Mexico this time of year too as they’ve already warmed up down there. 

And don’t be put off if you arrive at a favorite stream or river to find to find it off-color. Put that to work to your advantage instead as it’s much easier to get close to your work without spooking fish.

Fish areas methodically under murky water conditions and use high visibility patterns like a prince nymph with a gold bead head or a black woolly bugger laced with crystal flash. 

Spinners are notoriously effective this time year too and single, barbless, blades can be had from

A Fisher-Chick barbless, single hook, spinning lure at work on a Rainbow trout.  
Work the edge of currents, up close to the banks and in spots where trout may be resting and the current brings food to them. 

Trout won’t waste a lot of time chasing food this time of year so it’s important to put your fly, lure or bait right in front of them.

And remember to fish open areas of water that have been exposed to the sun as fish may be more active in these warmer waters.

Those fishing with bait such as worms and salmon eggs have an added advantage when fishing murky water as trout and other fish rely more on their powerful sense of smell to detect food under those conditions.

Those who prefer to fish our many ponds, lakes and reservoirs will find that the last few years of drought have brought the water down at many popular fisheries. Lake and reservoir levels can be checked here

This has in some cases proven to be a boon for bank fisher men and women as the fish are more concentrated and easier to get at. Conchas Lake has been fishing good despite the drought for the past several years and a visit is highly recommended. 
Fishing waters at many tribal and private operations are also good places to try during the spring time as stocking is well under way.

The lake at San Ildefonso Pueblo is usually well stocked and an enjoyable place to visit this time of year. 

The key to successful early spring fishing is to do some homework, take a day off and get out there!

Popular Posts