Saturday, November 11, 2017

Trout stocked all winter long to satisfy New Mexico anglers

Anglers can still catch plenty of tasty fish during the winter as the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish switches from stocking catfish to trout in many statewide waters.

Every fall, the department switches from stocking catfish in the summer to trout in the winter at Tingley Beach, the Albuquerque area drains and other popular fishing waters in the southern half of the state.

“Trout fishing in small community ponds in southern New Mexico is especially popular during the winter," says Dan Williams, spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

Lake Van near Dexter southeast of Roswell is a popular winter fishing destination. 
Catfish thrive in warmer water while trout prefer it much cooler, and these waters are ideal for this kind of stocking program.

Rainbow trout, including some big ones, are already being stocked at multiple locations in the drains that run alongside the Rio Grande

Larger trout are frequently added during routine stocking to provide anglers even more fun while fishing.
"We’re fortunate here in New Mexico to have waters such as Tingley Beach and the Albuquerque-area drains that cool off enough in the winter to allow us to stock trout for anglers to catch,” Williams says.

Although the department doesn’t disclose exact stocking spots, general locations include: N.M. 550 river bridge in Bernalillo, the Corrales drain along the bosque, and the Rio Grande Open Space off Alameda Boulevard

Other stocking spots include the Shining River parking area, the drain between Bridge and Rio Bravo Boulevards, and the west bank of the Belen drain and the east bank of the Peralta drain between Los Lunas and Belen. 

Maps of the drains areas can be found in the fishing section of the department’s website at www.wildlife.state.nm.usThousands of trout are stocked every week from November through March. See the weekly stocking report on the department’s website for details of when and where.

Albuquerque anglers say fishing for trout in the drains requires some stealth and typical fishing techniques. Check out YouTube for some great videos of folks fishing for trout and bass in the Albuquerque area drains.

Trout in the drains usually can be found in deeper pools, under the shade of overhanging trees or around any kind of protective structure. 

Prime trout habitat on an Albuquerque area drain.
Try using a salmon egg or worm on a short piece of lightly weighted line just below a bobber or bubble so the bait rides just above the bottom. Spinners and flies are good lures too.

Most areas along the drains are open to the public during daylight hours and can be accessed by walking, riding a bike or driving if permitted.  For more information about riverside recreation in the Albuquerque area, visit the city’s website at

A quiet afternoon of fishing along one of the Albuquerque area drains.
At Tingley Beach, anglers will find a kids pond for anglers younger than age 12, a central pond where bait is allowed and the bag limit is four trout per day. There is also catch-and-release only pond where only single, barbless hooks on artificial flies and lures may be used.

Kids enjoy some fishing at one of the ponds at Tingley Beach.
Anglers ages 12 and older need a current fishing license. Call the department’s customer service line at (888) 248-6866 to immediately get one. A license also can be purchased online at or from vendors such as bait and tackle shops and sporting goods stores.

Tingley Beach, also called Conservancy Park, is operated by the City of Albuquerque and features a café, restrooms, hiking and biking trails and security guards on patrol. See the city's website for more information.

Good winter trout fishing also can be found within a moderate drive from Albuquerque, including the Pecos River at Sumner Lake and Villanueva state parks. Anglers can wet a line for trout at Escondida Lake just outside of Socorro or on the Rio Grande below Elephant Butte Lake at Truth or Consequences. 

The Pecos River below Sumner Dam is well stocked with trout during the winter.
Anglers will find plenty of well stocked winter trout fishing waters in the southern part of the state. For a list of those waters visit the department’s website at Most of the state's best fishing can be found at state parks. Visit their website for more information. 

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Salmon Snagging Slow in 2017

A few die-hard salmon snaggers brave the cold wind and slow fishing at Navajo Lake in mid-October.
Northern New Mexico's salmon snagging season has gotten off to a slow start with anglers reporting much fewer fish being caught this year.

"Some locals had a little luck  a couple weeks ago but its been real slow since," said Mike Bowman, park ranger at Eagle Nest Lake State park.

And anglers interviewed at Navajo Lake in mid-October also reported reduced catches.

That leaves Heron Lake where long time fishing guide Don Wolfley reports that salmon stocks have been way down over the past several years.

"It's been terrible," he said. "I haven't guided in three years now."

The snagging season at Heron Lake opens on Friday, Nov. 10, and it remains to be seen how well anglers will do.

"We've been expecting the populations to be pretty low," says Eric Frey, sport fish program manager for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

Kokanee Salmon are stocked in these northern New Mexico reservoirs where the cold deep waters produce plankton upon which the fish can feed.

The fish are landlocked, sockeye salmon that upon reaching sexual maturity, usually at the age of about four years old, will mass in schools during the fall in a futile effort to spawn.

Because salmon typically need a river and other proper conditions under which to reproduce, these spawning fish will not enjoy much success.

Then they’ll begin to die which is And why the department created a special snagging season to allow anglers to catch and keep up to 12 salmon a day.

An angler shows off a salmon he caught at Navajo Lake in 2015.
Heron Lake's salmon snagging season is delayed to allow state Department of Game and Fish personnel time to trap and milk spawning salmon for their eggs and sperm.

The collected eggs are fertilized, sorted and then reared at the department’s nearby Los Ojos Fish Hatchery so they can be used to restock the state's deep water lakes with the popular sport fish.

The salmon stocking program is very dependent upon the annual salmon milking operation at Heron Dam to produce more fish.

But several years drought, low reservoir levels and poor water quality have harmed the salmon population and much fewer eggs have been collected, Frey said.

The department is obtaining additional eggs from out of state this year and hopes to have a decent amount of fry to replenish populations.

Wolfley says he guardedly optimistic that Heron Lake's salmon population will rebound sometime in the next few years so he can return to guiding.

In the meantime he expects the die-hard salmon snaggers to turn out on opening day at Heron Lake if for nothing else than to have a good time with family and friends.

Don Wolfley

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