Programs & Services

Fishing

Illustration of a fish coming out of the water

Fishing at New Mexico State Parks

Fishing is one of the most popular activities at New Mexico State Parks. Twenty-four parks have ponds, streams, rivers, or lakes, providing a variety of different fishing experiences. From a lazy afternoon casting for pan-fish to a high-energy adventure of fishing for 40-inch tiger muskie, your State Parks have a lot to offer.

State Parks and the NM Department of Game and Fish are partners in supporting the best fishing opportunities in the state. Even when water levels are low, the fishing (and catching!) can be great.
In northern New Mexico, trout is king when it comes to sport fishing. Rainbow, brown, lake, and cutthroat trout can all be found in cold water lakes, rivers, and streams.

Probably the most famous trout fishery is the San Juan River at Navajo Lake State Park. The first 4 miles of the river below Navajo Dam is Special Trout Water with restrictions on the type of tackle used and the size and number of fish you can keep.

The first 3.5-mile section is catch-and-release, and the average size of trout is around 16 inches. Overall, there are 17 miles of river managed by the NM Department of Game and Fish for rainbow and brown trout.
Of course, the San Juan is not the only place to fish for trout and other parks with good trout fishing include: Bluewater Lake, Cimarron Canyon, Eagle Nest Lake, El Vado Lake, Fenton Lake, Heron Lake, Clayton Lake, Coyote Creek, Morphy Lake, and Sugarite Canyon State Parks.

As might be expected, southern parks are better known for warm water fisheries, including sunfish, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and catfish.

Elephant Butte Lake State Park is best known for white and striped bass fishing, but you can also catch largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, and catfish. This is a large lake, and a fishing guide can help you find the best places to catch a lot of fish. You can also go it alone from the shoreline or a boat.

Other top warm water fisheries in State Parks can be found at Caballo Lake, Ute Lake, Sumner Lake, Santa Rosa Lake, Oasis and Brantley Lake State Parks.

Bowfishing – Bowfishing is a growing sport around the country and is allowed at all lake parks. Only bowfishing for nongame species is allowed and no fishing permit is required.

Ice Fishing – Even in winter, fishing opportunities are still available at State Parks. Ice fishing is a very popular activity and can be done at both Eagle Nest and Bluewater Lakes. Tiger muskie bite all year long at Bluewater Lake.

Professional Fishing Guides can help you have a successful fishing trip.

Video- Why Recycle Fishing Line: