Pages Navigation Menu

New Mexico

welcome-to-new-mexicoFishing in New Mexico

Fishing in New Mexico is yet another great experience, as the state presents more than a thousand miles of rivers, streams and creeks and nearly a quarter million acres of lakes and reservoirs for you to fish.


fishingThe Best Fishing Waters

San Juan River

It is the best river in the state for constant catches of trophy-size rainbow trout. The average rainbow here is seventeen inches long! The complex regulation structure about the fishing in the River San Juan has given rise to excellent trout fishing in the cold water coming from the Navajo Reservoir. Though anglers coming from all over to the San Juan River are passionate for rainbows, catches also include Snake River cutthroats and brown trout.


You can fish a brown trout in the San Juan River downstream late in the evening using a big elk hair caddis dry fly. With a spinning rod and cast a bubble-fly rig or a pencil sinker and a red nymph, you can catch a dozen fish! Cast lures or big leach flies. Use lures, worms or flies to catch eight pan size rainbows. Majority of the rainbows are caught on flies, bits of fuzz, fur and feather which resemble the aquatic bugs. Leech fly is also popular. This method is most effective in low-light conditions.


Elephant Butte Reservoir

Elephant Butte Reservoir is one of the top ten largemouth bass fishing sites in the USA. Wide variety of species of bass, namely, largemouth, smallmouth, striped and white bass, are found here. The fish can vary in size from ten inches to thirty pounds and can be taken year round. Other popular sportfish here include crappie, catfish, walleye, and a few trout too. As shoreline fishing hardly gives results, it is best to fish from a boat in Elephant Butte. But you should pay attention to the climate and winds as there is a high risk of drowning because of the strong winds blowing form the Rio Grande Valley. Actually the reservoir consists of two parts, upper lake and lower lake, connected by a narrow canyon called the Narrows. Amongst these the upper lake is more productive and gives excellent bass catches from March to mid-August. The lower lake gives best catches of walleye as that is the prevalent fish there. The southern half of the lower lake gives abundant smallmouth bass and stripers. McRae Canyon situated in the southern half of lower lake is fished on large scale. It has got nearly every type of water-and-land structure and fifty boats can fish into it comfortably. It is ideal for you if you are new to Elephant Butte and if you have a boat. It is the most consistent are of the lake especially for black bass fishing. Other canyons are Kettletop, Flying Eagle, Double Canyon, and Black Buff. All of them are excellent for largemouth bass. The most northern spot is the Chalk Bluffs which is good for winter fishing.

Baits and Tackle

Gizzard and threadfin shad are important baits especially for white bass. Using jigs or trolling shallow running crankbaits in the deeper water of upper lake gives good catches of largemouth, smallmouth, and white bass, walleye and crappie in the early summer. The anglers crazy for stripers use very stout tackle, salt-water spinning reels loaded with seventeen pound test line capable of casting seven inch, heavy lures and get best catch before sunup. Big nets are required as stripers can range in size for twenty to forty pounds. White bass, large trout and walleye are caught by large, lead-head jigs having plastic shad imitations, while small, stocked rainbows are caught with salmon eggs, worms, and corns.

These two are the most important parts while fishing in New Mexico. Some other major parts are as follows.

The Rio Grande below Elephant Butte Dam has walleye, rainbows, browns, white bass, striped bass, suckers, catfish, carp, gizzard shad and threadfin. Though the fishing rate is low, the fishes caught are big.

Rio Grande Gorge

The Rio Grande Gorge is popular for its big trout and it long trails leading towards the river. This river grows big fish. Rainbows, browns, cutbows (hybrids), and some catfish naturally reproduce in the river. You may also try your luck for carp, northern pike, suckers, catfish, and of course trout. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish stock thousands of brown trout both above and downstream.

Cow Creek, a nice little stream, flowing parallel to the River Pecos across the mountains gives good catches of catfish and bluegill. You can get decent catches at daytime if you have patience to search the depths of the fish. A boat makes this search easier certainly. Jig a fluttering spoon or sink a nightcrawler using a splitshot. It is important to get deep and cover a lot of water. Catfishes are caught well with stinkbaits in summer. Some anglers even prefer panfish as bait. You can catch bluegills with small hooks and little pieces of worms. While daytime catfishing is productive in deep waters, night-time one is productive in shallow waters.

Gila River

The Gila River offers a fantastic variety of fishes like sunfish, largemouth and smallmouth bass, channel catfish, brown and rainbow trout.

Baits and Tackle  

Smallmouth bass are best caught with hellgrammites and grasshoppers. Lead-head jigs, small lures and wooly worms too give good results.


Lake Roberts 

Lake Roberts holds thousands of catch-able-size rainbow trout which are stocked in the fall, winter and spring. You can get a good catch of white bass too.


Worms are the most preferred bait of Lake Roberts’ trout. Presenting nightcrawlers by trolling with cowbells or Christmas trees gives good results.

Besides these, there are number of lakes, rivers and creeks, in the state which offer additional fishing opportunities. Some of them are Bill Evans Lake, Bluewater Lake, Bosque Redondo Lake, Brazos River (a small part is open to public), Brazos River East Fork, Bull Creek, Burn Lake, Caballo Lake, Cabresto Lake, Canjilon Lake, Eagle Nest Lake, and so on.

Fishing in New Mexico presents more wonderful angling opportunities you may think of. So it won’t be bad if you get ready at once and head towards the Land of Enchantment!