Warm Water Regulations
Warm waters include all streams, lakes, and ponds, except those designated as trout waters (pages 24–26 and 31). All persons 12 years or older must posses a current New Mexico fishing license while fishing in New Mexico. Resident anglers 70 years and older must posses a free Senior Fishing License. All anglers must have a Habitat Management & Access Validation. Only anglers 17 years and younger and residents 70 years and older or 100%-disabled veterans are exempt from purchasing this validation. A Second Rod Validation is free to New Mexico residents 70 years of age and older.
Click the tab headings below to learn more about limits, bait, and trotlines.
Bag and Possession Limits
|Black Bass :
Largemouth and spotted bass: 14-inch minimum size limit. Smallmouth: 12-inch minimum size limit. Smallmouth at Conchas Reservoir and Ute Reservoir: 14-inch minimum size limit.
|5 per day|
|Catfish (all species, except bullheads):
In the Animas River and San Juan River, San Juan County, there are no bag or possession limits.
|15 per day|
|Special Summer Catfish Waters:
Special catfish limit applies to Bataan, Blue Hole Park Pond, Bosque Redondo, Carrizozo, Chaparral, Conoco Lake, Corona, Dennis Chavez Pond, Escondida, Estancia Park Lake, Eunice, Grants Riverwalk Pond, Green Acres, Green Meadow, Jal Lake, Lake Van, Ned Houk, Oasis State Park, Perch Lake, Roswell Kids Pond (Spring River Park), Tingley Beach and Young Pond.
|2 per day|
|Crappie||20 per day|
In the Animas and San Juan Rivers in San Juan County, there is no bag or possession limit.
|1 per day|
In Eagle Nest Lake, there are no bag or possession limits. Northern pike may not be returned intentionally to the lake.
|10 per day|
One fish 40 inches or longer. Found only in Bluewater Lake and Quemado Lake.
|1 per day|
14-inch minimum size limit
|5 per day|
|White Bass||25 per day|
|Yellow Perch||30 per day|
|All other warm water game fish:
(bluegill, sunfish, bullheads)
|20 per day|
Catch-and-Release fishing only, for all species.
|0 per day|
|Possession Limit for each location is twice the daily bag limit, except tiger muskie which is one fish.|
Bait and Baitfish
Exceptions: Fish of the genus Lepomis (bluegills and sunfish) taken legally by angling may be used as live bait in the water where taken. This applies only to: Abiquiu Reservoir, Cochiti Lake, Elephant Butte Reservoir, Caballo Reservoir, Stubblefield Lake, Maxwell Lake 13, Clayton Lake, Conchas Lake, Ute Lake, Santa Rosa Lake, Lake Sumner, Brantley Reservoir and Navajo Reservoir.
Roe, viscera and eyes of game fish taken legally may be used in all waters where the use of bait is legal.
Release of baitfish (dumping bait buckets) into fishing waters that contain game fish is illegal.
Goldfish may not be used as live bait or dead bait in any waters.
Baitfish may not be used in any trout waters, except fathead minnows and red shiners in the following: Abiquiu Reservoir, Clayton Lake, Jackson Lake, Maxwell Lake 13, Navajo Lake, Caballo Lake, Rio Grande downstream of the Taos Junction Bridge and the Animas River. Frozen talapia is a baitfish and may not be used.
Baitfish may not be used in any winter trout waters (November 1–March 31).
Baitfish of any kind may not be used in Bottomless Lakes State Park.
Baitfish may be used with the following use restrictions. Gila River and San Francisco River drainages: fathead minnows only. Pecos River and San Juan River drainages: fathead minnows and red shiners only. Rio Grande and Canadian River drainage: fathead minnows, red shiners and shad only. Elephant Butte Reservoir and Caballo Reservoir: fathead minnows, red shiners, shad and golden shiners only.
Dead baitfish may be used in Eagle Nest Lake and Heron Lake. No live baitfish may be in possession while fishing Eagle Nest Lake or Heron Lake.
Baitfish may be taken by angling, nets, traps and seines.
Trotline or Set Line Use
Every trotline must have attached an identification tag that is visible above the waterline. Tags must include the name, address, fishing license number and date when set. Anglers under 12 years of age (i.e. unlicensed) must include their age. One name only is permitted on each tag. Anglers may not fish with more than one trotline nor operate another’s trotline. Any person using a trotline must attend it personally at least once every 24 hours.
Trotlines may be used to take fish in most warm waters, however, trotlines may not be used in any trout waters (including winter trout water), except: Abiquiu Lake; Rio Chama downstream from the northern boundary of Christ in the Desert Monastery; Gila River downstream from the junction with its east fork; Navajo Lake; Rio Grande downstream from its junction with the Rio Chama.
Trotlines may not be used in the following: Bataan, Bear Canyon, Bill Evans, Bosque Redondo, Bottomless Lakes, Carlsbad Municipal, Carrizozo, Chaparral, Corona, Escondida, Estancia Park Lake, Eunice, Grants Riverwalk Park, Green Acres, Green Meadow, Jal, Lake Van, Ned Houk, Oasis State Park and Tingley Beach.
NMDGF officers, personnel or designees may use trotlines in any water while performing official duties, such as population surveys or fishery management.