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Weekly Fishing Report: Sept. 28

on September 28, 2017 - 9:19am
By George Morse
Sports and Outdoors
Los Alamos Daily Post
It’s definitely beginning to feel like fall. I’ve had reports of bull elk bugling and the leaves on the aspen trees are beginning to turn. Time to be outdoors and experience the beauty of fall here in Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado.
Before getting started on the fishing report, I’d like to make a comment on something that has been bugging me for a long time. Because I spend time outdoors, I always check the weather report in the New Mexican to see what the weather is going to be like and what yesterday’s temperature was.
For many months, the weather report has reported exactly the same temperature for Espanola, Los Alamos and White Rock. Now, as anyone who lives here will tell you, this is totally ridiculous. I checked again today before writing this report Tuesday (9/26) and sure enough, exactly the same. I’m somewhat surprised someone hasn’t noticed this before. The moral is, don’t trust the newspaper’s weather report, at least the temperatures for Espanola, Los Alamos and White Rock.
Fall is a great time to go fishing. The fishing pressure drops off significantly, partly because many outdoorsmen turn their attention to hunting. Another big reason is school is in session. You’ll find that there’s a little bit more elbow room on your favorite river or lake, especially during the week.
The cooler weather makes the trout more active in the fall. Brown trout and brook trout will be spawning and there’s a chance for a lunker brown and a bigger-than- average brook trout. The trout, especially the males, will develop deeper colors. Male brook trout will often have a brilliant red belly.
Try not to keep too many of these fall spawners, as most of the populations of brook trout and brown trout depend on natural reproduction to sustain their numbers.
Of note to Los Alamos anglers looking for a chance at a big brown trout, the fishing for brown trout picked up recently at Fenton Lake, which is close to Los Alamos. There are some really big fish in this little lake and now is the time to try to catch one.
Other good spots to try for a lunker brown trout include the bigger rivers. The Chama River below El Vado Dam has a good population of brown trout and it’s where the state-record brown trout was caught. There is a new stretch of catch-and- release water on the Chama that starts at the USGS gauging station below Cooper’s El Vado Ranch and extends down to the confluence with the Rio Nutrias. Only flies and lures with a single, barbless hook may be used here. This should be a great spot for a fly fisherman to hook a big brown trout. Check the streamflows below El Vado Dam on the USGS streamflow charts for New Mexico on the Internet. The lower the flow, the better the fishing should be.
This stretch of the Chama has been fishing well.
The Chama River below Abiquiu Dam also holds some big fish. Right now, the streamflow below Abiquiu is still too high and the water too murky. Check the flows in this location. Once the river drops a bit and clears a little, there should be some good fishing and a good chance of hooking a lunker brown trout.
The flows in the Rio Grande are low and the water is running pretty clear. It looks ideal for some great fall fishing. For an adventurous angler who doesn’t mind a little hike, fishing the Rio Grande Gorge above the confluence with the Red River can be spectacular this time of year.
One popular fall activity is the snagging of kokanee salmon. The season for snagging at El Vado Lake begins Sunday (10/1). Most of the snagging activity at El Vado is by the Dam. There may also be a run of salmon into the stretch of the Chama River between Heron Dam and El Vado Lake. You have to hike into this stretch of the Chama, but the trout fishing for big rainbow and brown trout is excellent here.
The kokanee-snagging season at Heron Lake used to draw crowds of anglers. The low water levels at Heron have negatively impacted the kokanee salmon in recent years. The season here doesn’t begin until Nov. 10 because the State Game and Fish Department nets salmon at Heron for their eggs, which they hatch at the Los Ojos Fish Hatchery to provide salmon fry for restocking lakes around the state.
There can be some good bank fishing for rainbow trout while the snagging season is closed at Heron and a few lucky anglers in the fall hook some of the big lake trout that inhabit Heron Lake.
Navajo Lake used to be the prime spot for early salmon snagging. Since the Department has had trouble obtaining enough kokanee salmon eggs at Heron for restocking , the snagging season at Navajo Lake is now closed from Oct. 1-Nov. 9 so the Department can also gather eggs here. Here again, the bank fishing for rainbow trout can be good near the salmon runs. They also catch some big catfish near the salmon runs.
The fishing in the San Juan River below Navajo Dam is very good this time of year and during the week there may be a little more elbow room on this very popular fishing spot. Although most of the fishing here is for big rainbow trout, there are also some brown trout in this river and fall would be a good time to try to hook one.
The fishing at Abiquiu Lake picked up last week and should be good while the smallmouth bass and walleye feed heavily in the shallows to fatten up before they retreat to deeper water to spend the winter. The trout fishing at Abiquiu should pick up as the weather cools. This time of year, anglers fishing for bass can be surprised by the strike of a big brown trout hitting a crank bait they are using to catch smallmouths. There were also some reports of crappie being caught and this week was the first in some time when there were reports of good fishing for catfish at Abiquiu. This time of year there’s a good chance of catching a mixed bag of species fishing at Abiquiu Lake.
The smaller lakes should fish well too. Laguna del Campo near Los Ojos gave up a 25-iich rainbow trout recently. Eagle rock Lake near Questa has been good and Morphy Lake near Las Vegas should also be a good spot to try if you like fishing smaller lakes.
Even if you are not a fisherman or a hunter, this is an absolutely beautiful time of the year in the mountains of Northern New Mexico. There are any number of scenic drives you can take. Some of the best are: Highway 64 between Tres Piedras and Tierra Amarilla, Highway 17 over Cumbres Pass between Chama and Antonito, Colo. and Highway 38 between Questa and Eagle Nest over Bobcat Pass.