New Mexico fishing can satisfy even the most seasoned of anglers with its diversity. Lakes and streams are in good supply in this Southwestern state, and there are both warm-water and cold-water ones to choose from. Fishing can also be done in rivers, the Rio Grande and the San Juan included, and you might be interested to know that one of the top bass fishing destinations in the state is also considered to be among the best bass fishing destinations in the country.
New Mexico bass fishing is renowned, and this has a lot to do with Elephant Butte Lake. Part of Elephant Butte Lake State Park, this lake in the southern part of the state consistently ranks among the top ten places to go bass fishing in the United States. It's the largest body of water in all of New Mexico, and its waters are home to black bass, white bass, and a variety of other fish species. You might snag a catfish while fishing at Elephant Butte Lake State Park, and it's not uncommon to reel in a crappie, a walleye, or a striper. If trout fishing is what you have in mind, the portion of the Rio Grande River that can be found below the Elephant Butte Dam is stocked with trout. Truth or Consequences is the closest city of any real size to Elephant Butte Lake State Park, and the larger regional cities of Silver City and Las Cruces are only about an hour's drive away if you are looking for hotels.
New Mexico fly fishing also attracts anglers to the state in good number, and should this be the kind of fishing that you wish to do on a visit, then some time in the Sangre de Cristo mountains might be in order. These mountains in the northern part of the state are home to a variety of trout species, and there are outfitters in the area that can set you up with equipment and show you all the best spots. These spots include the Rio Grande Gorge and the Chama River Valley, and as far as area lodging is concerned, destinations such as Taos and Santa Fe are good places to start.
Another great place to do some New Mexico fly fishing is the San Juan River. More than 80,000 trout can be found in a four-mile stretch of this river, and this stretch begins below the Navajo Dam. It's mostly catch and release in this area, and if you don't want to camp while passing through, the city of Farmington is only about 40 miles away to the east. The Farmington hotels offer some good lodging choices. Camping enthusiasts who wish to fly fish the San Juan River will find that the closest campgrounds are found at Navajo Lake State Park. As a side note, the waters at Navajo Lake State Park are home to more than just trout. You can also hope to catch largemouth bass, northern pike, and catfish in this park.
Before you go fishing at New Mexico destinations such as these, you will need to get a license. Fishing without one is against the law for people who are between the ages of twelve and 70. Getting a license ahead of time from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish is an option. For those who are planning on getting a fishing license in New Mexico itself, however, sporting goods stores are among the best places to purchase them. You might also visit one of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish offices. The main office is found in Santa Fe at One Wildlife Way, and there are area offices in the cities of Albuquerque, Roswell, Raton, and Las Cruces.
Another option when trying to figure out how to get a New Mexico fishing license is to book a guided fishing excursion. Many fishing guides take care of the licensing process for their guests, and this can be very convenient. There are also New Mexico vacation packages that revolve around fishing, and these packages often include licenses, not to mention equipment rentals, guided excursions, and lodging.
As a side note, New Mexico fishing can be done without a license on two separate days out the year. These days are the first Saturday in June and the fourth Saturday in September. Also worth noting is the fact that you do not need a license to fish on Native American reservation land in New Mexico. You will, however, have to get permission and a special tribal document.
Image: Santa Fe CVB / Chris Corrie