Fishing in New Mexico

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For those interested in catching wild trout in wild settings, New Mexico is home to the highest concentration of quality trout fishing water in the Southwestern United States.

The majority of New Mexico?s trout streams flow through the north end of the state where the Rocky Mountains extend down from Colorado. Near the Colorado border in northwest New Mexico exists perhaps the most famous tailwater fishery in the world: the San Juan River. The area that put the San Juan on the map is the 4-mile section below Navajo Lake, where a reported 20,000 fish per mile swim with an average length of 17 inches! Anglers make the pilgrimage to this epic fishery to fish tiny dry flies on light tippets for the resident rainbows and browns that, although existing in high numbers, can be quite difficult to catch. Cutting through the entire length of the state, the Rio Grande River, and its many tributaries, comprise a large percentage of New Mexico?s fishing opportunities. The Rio Grande supports trout for approximately 100 miles from the Colorado border south to the town of Espanola, but its tributaries are where most of the action happens. Tributaries such as the Rio Chama, the Red River, and the Rio Pueblo, among many others, all offer incredible fishing in breathtaking wild settings for rainbows, browns, and in some areas, native Rio Grande cutthroat trout.

One of New Mexico?s most cherished species is found in the crystal clear streams of Gila National Forest: the Gila trout. This rare trout species was on the endangered species list for a long time, but thanks to critical restoration work by the game and fish departments of Arizona and New Mexico, the Gila trout can be pursued with a fly rod, but a special free permit must be obtained prior to fishing. Getting to the streams where the Gila trout lives can be quite an adventure, but the beauty of the land and the reward of landing this true gem of a fish add up to an experience you?re likely never to forget.


NM Department of Fish & Wildlife
1 Wildlife Way
Santa Fe, NM 87507
P: (888) 248-6866

Guides based in New Mexico

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