Friday, July 26, 2019

Valles Caldera Backcountry Open to Motorists

Editors note: The backcountry is open this summer too but you'll need a fishing and vehicle permit from the NPS to go angling. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit their website for more info.

The Valles Caldera National Preserve’s backcountry is open again to motorists this summer providing free access to prime fishing, hiking and other outdoor activities.

“The public enjoys the convenience of driving into the preserve,” says Kimberly DeVall, Chief of Interpretation and Education for the National Park Service’s preserve in the Jemez Mountains. “And we’re happy to be able to provide them that opportunity so they can enjoy all the preserve has to offer.” 

The backcountry normally opens up by mid-May but was delayed until just recently this season due to road repairs, says DeVall.

The preserve issues up to 35 backcountry motor vehicle permits daily to motorists visiting the 89,000 acre preserve. The permits are issued on a first come, first served basis at no cost. The preserve is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. No permits will be issued after 3:30 p.m. and all motorists must check out by 5:30 p.m. There is no camping available on the preserve.

DeVall says they rarely run out of permits during the week but on the weekends they tend to go quickly.

Visitors will find 26 miles of dirt and gravel roads to travel within the vast backcountry featuring plenty of hiking and biking trails and great fishing on San Antonio and Jaramillo Creeks. No pets are allowed in the backcountry.

A recent visit to the preserve during the week revealed only a handful of vehicles in the backcountry and most of them belonged to anglers. Motorist must remain on established roads and park in only in designated areas. Portable toilets are provided.

The two backcountry creeks flow through great, open meadows and are noted for their deep undercut banks where trout can hide. A two fish bag limit is in effect on the preserve, a valid state license is required and only artificial flies and lures with single, barbless hooks are permitted. Waders are not needed but a good hat, long sleeves and plenty of sunscreen and bug repellant is recommended. Fishing supplies and groceries can be purchased in the nearby town of La Cueva.

Some visitors to the preserve may enjoy just driving into the backcountry for some sightseeing and a picnic. San Antonio Cabin is a scenic spot with picnic tables for use and visitors are reminded to clean up after themselves.

The preserve also is home to many wildlife species including elk, bear, coyote, eagles and turkeys and the best viewing opportunities are in the morning and evening.

The preserve can be found off N.M.4 between Jemez Springs and Los Alamos. For more information about the Valles Caldera National Preserve please their website at or call the preserve at 575-829-4100.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Shady Lakes Still the Place to Fish in Albuquerque

One of the bass ponds at Shady Lakes where plenty of largemouth bass lurk under the lily pads.
Shady Lakes in Albuquerque’s north valley is still a great place for kids to learn to fish or for more experienced anglers to stalk bass.

The private ponds offer largemouth bass, bluegill and trout fishing under the shade of mature cottonwood trees and in the shadow of the nearby Sandia Mountains

The scenic setting is made all that more eye pleasing this time of year by the abundance of colorful blooms dotting the water lilies blanketing the bass ponds.

The Phillips family has been operating the fishing preserve since 1952 when former Albuquerque advertising salesman, Jim Phillips, bought the former bait fish farm and converted it to a private fishing park.

Ron Joseph "RJ" Annichiarico, 67, of Rio Rancho shows off a nice largemouth bass he was caught while fishing at Shady Lakes. 
Guests do not need a state issued license to fish at Shady Lakes. Anglers pay $11.95 a day for catch and release bass fishing while angling for trout costs $8.95 for adults and $6.95 for children under the age of 12. All trout caught must be kept at a cost of .75 cents per inch.

The park is open Wednesday through Sunday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the season from spring through fall.

Jill Mikles, 66, took over management of the park from her sister Jan who left several years ago following a long stint at the helm. The park continues to operate while remaining available for sale with an asking price of $2.5 million.

Mikles said the fishing ponds will receive a fresh supply of young bass this summer along with a
large quantity of panhead minnows that they prey upon. Trout are re-supplied as needed on an ongoing basis.

During a recent visit a grandmother could be seen helping a passel of kids bait up their hooks and providing sage angling advice. 

Kids have been learning to fish at Shady Lakes for generations.
Other anglers waited in the shade of the overhanging trees for a bite from one of the largemouth bass lurking under the lily pads.

Still others lounged in camp chairs enjoying a cold drink while watching the ever-present groups of children playing around the park.

After more than fifty years Shady Lakes is still one of the Albuquerque area’s best family friendly, outdoor recreational destinations that should be enjoyed while it still exists.

Shady Lakes is at 11033 Hwy 313 NW just across the road from the Sandia Pueblo Roadrunner train station near the  roundabout at the intersection of Second and Fourth Streets and Roy Ave.

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