Legal and Safety Advisories

Reference (2022-23 NM Fishing Rules & Info, p. 6)

It is illegal to . . .
• Pollute streams, lakes, banks and other waters.
• Fish, hunt or trap on private land without possessing valid written permission from the landowner. See Criminal Trespass.
•  Fish without possessing a license if 12 years of age or older.. Need a license? Click Here to buy one online.
•  Use a license that has been issued to another person.
•  Fish with more than one pole without a Second Rod Validation if 12 years of age or older, or fish with more than two rods at any time.
•  Sell, offer for sale, or purchase game fish or parts in New Mexico.
•  Possess game fish without a valid license, possession (donation) certificate, or other evidence the fish were legally taken.
•  Stock fish or fish eggs in any waters without a permit from the NMDGF. (See special use permits).
•  Import live fish or fish eggs into New Mexico without a permit from NMDGF. (See special use permits).
•  Possess or transport any live game fish away from the water where they were caught.
•  Take game fish by net, seine, trap, grappling or other means not permitted by regulations. (See Fish Conservation).
•  Use mechanical or electrical devices capable of catching or killing game fish, except as permitted by regulation.
•  Take game fish by snagging, except kokanee salmon during Special Kokanee Snagging Season.
•  Fish with more than two flies on a single line when fishing the Special Trout Water of the San Juan River (see New Mexico Fishing Maps).
• Fail to return and release immediately all threatened and endangered species of fish, except Gila trout, in waters where designated.
• Disturb the bottom to attract fish in Special Trout Water.
• Leave a fire unattended or improperly handle fire.

Further information and complete Laws of New Mexico for hunting and fishing are available online:

Bow Fishing and Spearfishing

Bow fishing and spearfishing are legal means of take for game fish species and unprotected species in lakes and reservoirs open to angling. Bag and size limits for bow fishing and spearfishing are the same as angling. Bow fishing and spearfishing for game fish are not allowed in any river, stream, Special Trout Water or Trophy Bass Water (for largemouth bass). Arrows for bow fishing must be attached by a line, string or rope to enable retrieval of fish. Crossbows can be used for bow fishing. Legal means of take for spearfishing include spears, arrows with barbs and gigs. Spears can be discharged above or below the water surface. Local ordinances and/or prohibitions may apply at specific locations or waters, and the local managing agency should be contacted prior to bow fishing or spearfishing. Snorkelers and SCUBA divers should consult New Mexico State Park regulations prior to spearfishing.

Possessing, Transporting and Stocking Live Game Fish

Each year, NMDGF expends considerable time and resources to control and eradicate unwanted fish and Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS). Rules have been adopted to address the spread of unwanted fish species.

It is illegal to release any live fish into any water in New Mexico without a permit issued by NMDGF (except fish caught legally in the same waterbody). It is also illegal to possess or transport any live game fish away from the water where caught. It is the responsibility of the angler to be certain that all fish harvested and taken home are dead before leaving the fishing water area. Please help us protect your aquatic resources by stopping the spread of unwanted fish species.