Fishing Glossary

Search and sort this fishing glossary of popular terms found on the New Mexico Game & Fish website and in our Fishing Rules & Information booklet (available in print and PDF format).

Active Duty Military (N.M. Resident)Current active duty in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard for a minimum period of 90 days; or six continuous years as a traditional member of the National Guard or Reserves, or as a commissioned officer of the U.S. Public Health Service or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, other than for training purposes only.
AnglingTo take or attempt to take fish by using hook and line with the line either held by hand or attached to a pole, rod or other device that is held in the hand or attended.
Aquatic Invasive SpeciesNonnative harmful and undesirable plants, animals, insects or organisms (see page 17).
Artificial Fly or LureA lure is made of wood, metal, or hard plastic. A fly is made with fur, feathers or man-made materials to resemble or simulate insects, baitfish or other foods. Live or dead arthropods and annelids and rubber or plastic moldings of these insects, baitfish or other foods are not included. Soft-plastic lures may be used on the Rio Grande Special Trout Water below Elephant Butte Reservoir.
Artificial LightArtificial light may be used to take all species of game fish. However, it is illegal to shine light where game or livestock may be while in possession of a sporting arm which includes bows. Violators face loss of license privileges as well as criminal prosecution. Therefore, if lights are used the possession of a firearm or bow is not recommended.
Bag LimitNumber of fish that may be caught and kept in one day.
BaitfishLive bait such as fathead minnows and red shiners (see complete definitions and rules on pages 19 and 30). Release of any baitfish is illegal and not permitted. Goldfish as bait are not permitted at any time in any waters of New Mexico.
Barbless HookA single hook manufactured without barbs or which has any or all barbs removed or bent completely closed.
BowShall mean compound, recurve or long bow. Sights on bows shall not project light or magnify.
BowfishingTaking or attempting to take game fish with barbed arrows discharged by a bow from above the surface of the water. Arrows must be attached by string, line or rope to facilitate fish retrieval. Game fish may be taken by bow fishing only in lakes and reservoirs open to fishing. Bowfishing is not allowed in any special trout water, river or stream. Local ordinances or prohibitions may apply at a specific location or water, and the local managing agency should be contacted prior to bowfishing. Crossbows may not be used to bowfish.
ChummingAttracting fish with organic materials that will not injure aquatic life. Chumming is allowed only in the following waters: the Gila River downstream of the junction with its east fork; the Rio Grande downstream of its junction with the Rio Chama; and all designated warm waters. In any Special Trout Water it is unlawful to disturb aquatic plants, rocks or sediment to attract fish or to angle in the immediate vicinity of such disturbance.
Dead Bait Sometimes called cutbait, portions of some species may be used only in designated waters (see pages 19 and 30)./
Disabled Veteran LicenseReduced-fee license are available to residents who are disabled veterans of the armed services (page 4).
Game FishBass (largemouth, smallmouth, stripped, white, yellow), bluegills, catfish, crappie, perch, pike, salmon, sunfish, tiger muskie, trout and walleye.
Game-hunting License or Game-hunting & Fishing LicenseAn annual Game-hunting License is valid for hunting all small game and both upland and migratory game birds. An annual combination Game-hunting & Fishing License is valid for fishing in addition to hunting small game. Both types of licenses may be purchased at license vendors statewide, including all NMDGF offices, toll-free: 1-888-248-6866 and online: All hunters must purchase one of these licenses in order to apply for any big-game license or before purchasing any over-the-counter big-game or turkey license.
Habitat Management & Access ValidationHabitat Management & Access Validation must be purchased and possessed by anglers, trappers and hunters. This once-per-license-year fee is used to: lease private lands for public use; provide public access to landlocked public land; and provide improvement, maintenance, development and operation of property for fish and wildlife habitat management. This fee is not required for anglers, hunters and trappers under 18 years of age and resident anglers 70 years and older or 100%-disabled veterans in conjunction with their free license.
Habitat StampAll anglers and trappers 12 years of age and older and all hunters must have a current Habitat Stamp to use U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service (where fishing is allowed), and BLM lands in New Mexico. Only one stamp is required each license year (April 1–March 31) to fish, trap or hunt on these lands. The stamp is not required on other public property (such as state, county or municipal lands and parks), other federal lands (such as the Bureau of Reclamation, Army Corps of Engineers and military reservations) or on private property. Funds from the stamp are used to maintain and improve wildlife habitat. This fee is not required for anglers and trappers under 12 years of age, resident anglers who are 70 years and older (required for resident hunters and trappers 70 years and older) or residents who are 100% disabled veterans in conjunction with their free license.
Handicapped (Handicapped Fishing Licenses) See License Information, page 3.
Ice FishingIce fishing is allowed on all lakes during open-season hours, except Monastery Lake, Santa Cruz Lake and Springer Lake. Commission-owned or managed lakes may be closed to ice fishing during unsafe conditions. For conditions and information, visit online:
Landowner PermissionIt is unlawful to fish on private land without possession of valid written permission from the landowner whose property the angler is fishing, unless otherwise allowed by rule. The landowner’s signature including date and telephone number on a valid license, landowner authorization or other paper shall constitute valid written permission.
License YearTwelve month period, beginning April 1,2016 and ending March 31, 2017. A new license is required every April 1.
Native American LandsPermission from the tribal government for each reservation must be obtained before fishing. A New Mexico fishing license is not required on reservation waters (Cochiti Lake requires a fishing license). However, official tribal documentation showing lawful possession must accompany all fish or game taken on a reservation.
NMDGFNew Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Nongame Fish Buffalo, carp, gar, shad and suckers.
Over-the-Counter (OTC) LicenseA license available from vendors, NMDGF offices and online: No drawing is required to purchase these licenses.
Possession Limit Total number of fish an individual may possess while in camp, vehicle or home.
Resident New Mexico resident who does not claim residency elsewhere for any purpose. For full description, see page 4.
Second Rod ValidationValidation allows anglers to use two fishing rods in all waters. Bag and Possession Limits remain the same. See page 3 for further information.
Single HookA hook with only one point.
SnaggingTaking fish by hooking the body rather than the mouth. Kokanee salmon are the only fish that may be legally snagged, and only during Special Kokanee Snagging Season (pages 32-33). If another species is caught by snagging, it must be immediately returned to the water.
SpearfishingSpearfishing season is April 1–March 31, 2017 during legal fishing hours. Bag limits for spearfishing and angling are the same. Legal means of taking include spears, gigs and spears with barbs discharged under the surface of the water. Scuba divers and snorkelers may spear fish only in impoundments (reservoirs, lakes and ponds) open to fishing. Spearfishing is not allowed in any special trout water, river or stream.
Veteran (N.M. Resident)New Mexico resident veteran of active duty in the U.S. Military, National Guard or Military Reserve Component (National Guard and Reserves must have completed at least 6 years continuous honorable service), U.S. Public Health Service or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (PHS and NOAA must have been as part of a military operation).
Reference (NM Fishing Rules & Info pgs. 40-42)