Trout and Salmon Regulations
Click the tab headings below to learn more about regular and winter trout and kokanee salmon fishing here in New Mexico.
Regular & Winter Trout and Kokanee Salmon
In addition to a valid license, a Habitat Management & Access Validation is required. This validation is not required for anglers 17 years or younger and residents 70 years or older or 100%-disabled veteran cardholders. Second Rod Validations are not required for residents 70 years and older, and 100%-disabled veteran cardholders. For BLM or U.S. Forest Service lands a Habitat Stamp is required.
Goldfish as bait are not permitted at any time in any waters of New Mexico.
Release of any baitfish is illegal and not permitted in fishing waters that contain game fish.
Free Gila Trout Fishing Permit
A Gila Trout Fishing Permit is required to fish Black Canyon, Gilita Creek, Mineral Creek, Mogollon Creek, Sapillo Creek, West Fork Gila River (headwaters to East Fork confluence), Whitewater Creek, and Willow Creek (including tributaries). This permit is free and available online: www.wildlife.state.nm.us, by telephone: 1-888-248-6866 and at all license vendors and NMDGF offices.
Winter Trout Waters
Streams and Rivers: Black River (1 mile upstream to 1 mile downstream of Higby Hole; Pecos River (from the southeast boundary of Villanueva State Park downstream to Santa Rosa Lake) Rio Grande (Elephant Butte Reservoir to Caballo Lake).
Lakes: Alumni Pond, Bataan, Bear Canyon, Bill Evans, Bosque Redondo, Bottomless Lakes State Park, Carlsbad Municipal, Carrizozo, Chaparral, Corona, Dennis Chavez, Escondida, Eunice, Greene Acres, Grants Riverwalk Pond, Green Meadow, Harry McAdams Ponds, Jal, Lake Van, Liam Knight Pond, Ned Houk, Oasis State Park, Perch Lake, Rancho Grande Ponds, Sumner Lake Stilling Basin, Roswell Kid’s Pond, Tingley Beach, Young Pond.
Drains: Albuquerque, Belen Riverside, Bernalillo, Corrales and Peralta
Special Trout Waters
New Mexico. Regulations vary for STWs — some are managed to produce trophy-size trout, some to improve conservation of native trout, and others to enhance the overall trout population structure and density. Regulations are tailored to each water and may include reduced bag limits, catch-and-release for native
Gila trout and Rio Grande cutthroat trout or increased harvest for nonnative fish species. Many STWs require artificial flies and lures with a single, barbless hook. Anglers must never disturb rocks, plants, or sediment to attract fish. By following these regulations anglers help to conserve healthy fisheries in New Mexico and promote high-quality fishing experiences for everyone.
New Designations of Special Trout Waters
tackle restrictions provided.
Red Chile Water
Catch-and-release with tackle restrictions
Green Chile Water
Two (2) trout daily bag limit with tackle restrictions
Xmas Chile Water
Two (2) trout daily bag limit with any legal tackle
Native Trout Conservation Waters
General Bag and Possession Limit Restrictions
All fishing in STWs must stop when the daily bag limit for that water has been taken. Anglers may not continue to fish another STW with a similar or lower bag limit, but may continue if another STW has a higher bag limit or if fishing in Regular Trout Waters. Anglers must count those STW fish toward their overall daily bag limit. If fishing STWs where the bag limit is zero, anglers must not possess any trout.
Catch & Release Tips
1. Land the fish quickly and don’t play it to exhaustion.
2. Use a landing net whenever possible.
3. Keep the fish in the water.
4. Do not squeeze or grab any part of the fish. Wet your hands first if you must handle the fish. 5. Gently remove the hook (barbless hooks are easier).
6. If the hook is swallowed deeply, cut the leader. A fish’s body fluids will dissolve the hook in a matter of days.
7. Let a tired fish recover. Hold it by the tail in the water with one hand and gently support it from below and just behind the head until it swims away.
8. Never toss or throw a fish back into the water.
Special Kokanee Salmon Snagging Season
A popular method for catching kokanee is snagging, the intentional taking of fish by hooking the body rather than the mouth. Kokanee are the only fish that may be legally snagged, and only during Special Kokanee Snagging Season. If another species is caught by snagging, it must be immediately returned to the water.
Each autumn NMDGF collects millions of kokanee eggs and milt to fertilize eggs and hatch fry. The young fry are used to stock Heron Lake, Navajo Lake, Abiquiu Lake, El Vado Lake and Eagle Nest Lake. The success of these collection operations is essential to maintain vibrant and healthy fisheries for anglers to enjoy. As a result, Heron Lake, Willow Creek and designated no-wake areas at Navajo Lake are closed October 1–November 8, and no kokanee salmon may be in possession while fishing during these closures at Heron Lake and Willow Creek.
Snagging Season Dates by Location
October 1–December 31: Open at Abiquiu Lake, Rio Chama (El Vado Lake to west boundary of Rio Chama Wildlife and Fishing Area), Navajo Lake (excluding bouyed no-wake areas and shoreline within the no-wake areas at the Pine River Boat Ramp and Simms Boat Ramp), Pine River, El Vado Lake and Eagle Nest Lake.
October 1–November 8: Closed at Heron Lake, Willow Creek and Navajo Lake (bouyed no-wake areas).
November 9–December 31: Open at Heron Lake, Willow Creek and Navajo Lake.
Bag Limit (duing Special Kokanee Salmon Snagging Season)
Kokanee salmon – 12 per day – 24 in possession