Top 10 Fishing Spots In New Mexico 2024

New Mexico is a hidden gem for fishing enthusiasts, boasting diverse landscapes from alpine lakes to desert rivers teeming with trout, bass, catfish, and more. Whether you’re a resident or visitor, having the proper fishing license is essential before casting your line. In this ultimate guide, we’ll explore the top 10 fishing destinations in New Mexico for 2024 and provide important information on obtaining fishing licenses and following regulations.

Fishing Licenses in New Mexico

Before diving into the top fishing spots, let’s cover the basics of fishing licenses in New Mexico:

  • Anglers 12 years and older must possess a valid New Mexico fishing license
  • Licenses can be purchased online, by phone at 1-888-248-6866, or from approved license vendors
  • Annual licenses are valid from April 1 to March 31 the following year
  • Residents 70+ can obtain a free annual fishing license
  • Anglers must also purchase a Habitat Management & Access Validation (HMAV) stamp annually
  • Additional stamps/validations may be required for certain species or locations

For more details on license types, fees, requirements and exemptions, visit the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish website.

Now, let’s explore the top 10 fishing spots in New Mexico for 2024:

1. San Juan River

  • Known as one of the top trout fisheries in North America
  • Catch trophy-sized rainbow and brown trout
  • Fly fishing heaven with over 300 days of sunshine per year
  • License Tip: A Habitat Stamp is required on BLM land along the San Juan

2. Elephant Butte Lake

  • New Mexico’s largest lake spanning over 40,000 acres when full
  • Excellent warm-water fishing for bass, walleye, catfish, crappie and striped bass
  • Boasts a state record striped bass over 54 pounds
  • Regulation Reminder: Striped bass have a bag limit of 2 fish, minimum 20 inches

3. Navajo Lake

  • Second largest lake in New Mexico at over 15,000 acres
  • Holds rainbow and brown trout, largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, and northern pike
  • Fishing License Fact: Navajo Lake extends into Colorado, but a NM license is valid on the entire lake

4. Rio Grande

  • Anglers are challenged by native brown trout, German brown trout, rainbow trout, and northern pike
  • Special Trout Waters designated north from Taos Junction Bridge to Colorado
  • Access Tip: Licenses available at the Rio Grande Gorge Visitor Center

5. Red River

  • Premier fly fishing destination for trout near the town of Red River
  • Upper stretch best May-October, lower wild canyon section features browns and rainbows
  • Fishing Tip: Start at the Red River Fish Hatchery parking lot for easier half-day access

6. Pecos River

  • Premier trout fishing in the scenic Pecos Wilderness
  • Wild brown and rainbow trout thrive in its cool, clear waters
  • Access Tip: A Habitat Stamp is required on forest service land along the Pecos

7. Cochiti Lake

  • Located 50 miles north of Albuquerque, managed by US Army Corps of Engineers
  • Offers black bass, white bass, bluegill, crappie, walleye, catfish and northern pike
  • Fishing Fact: No special permit needed from Cochiti Pueblo

8. Eagle Nest Lake

  • 2,200 acre lake in the Moreno Valley of northern New Mexico
  • Kokanee salmon, rainbow trout and yellow perch are prevalent
  • Ice fishing popular in winter months

9. Gila National Forest

  • Gila and San Francisco Rivers offer quality trout and warm water fishing
  • Best fishing November-March, slowest in summer
  • License Reminder: Gila trout require a special permit

10. Chama River

  • Below El Vado Lake, spectacular fishing for 18-20 inch rainbow and brown trout
  • Take NM 112 west of US 64 near Tierra Amarilla
  • Access Tip: Parking fee applies at Cooper’s El Vado Ranch

In conclusion, New Mexico offers diverse fishing opportunities for anglers of all skill levels. By obtaining the proper fishing licenses, following regulations, and practicing responsible catch and release techniques, you can enjoy a successful and memorable fishing adventure at these top 10 destinations in 2024.

For more information on fishing licenses, regulations, and insider tips, visit – your trusted resource for all things fishing in New Mexico and beyond.

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