Hunting and fishing opportunities in New Mexico

©David Bolon

September is a great time for outdoor recreation in New Mexico.  There are a variety of fishing and small game hunting opportunities close to Albuquerque for interested conference attendees.  Though part of the desert southwest, New Mexico still provides a great place to fish, with plenty of places within driving distance where an angler could spend the day.  There are several private managed lakes around the city including: Shady Lakes, Sandia lakes, and Isleta lakes.  The fish bite year round in these well stocked ponds, which offer exciting fishing for kids as well as experienced anglers.  Visitors are not required to obtain a state fishing license to fish these areas, but instead pay for a private fishing permit.  There are several public areas nearby that offer free fishing with only the purchase of a state fishing license and Habitat Management and Access Validation (HMAV) stamp. Tingley Beach in the heart of Albuquerque offers dawn to dusk fishing year-round, with several ponds including a Children’s Pond and a Catch and Release pond for a variety of options.  Drainage canals that follow the Rio Grande provide good trout fishing, but the ditches also have carp, bass, suckers, and sunfish.  Maps of the Albuquerque area ditches can be found on the New Mexico Game and Fish (NMDGF) Website: http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/download/fishing/maps/Albuquerque-area-drain-maps.pdf

The Jemez Mountains offer several remarkable streams for interested fly-fishers.  The NMDGF website provides a map of the Jemez Mountain Streams in the New Mexico’s Fishing Waters PDF.  NMDGF also provides recent fishing and stocking reports.  Individuals fishing in the National Forest are required to purchase a Habitat Stamp, in addition to their fishing license and HMAV stamp.  The BLM has provided land ownership maps of New Mexico through the mobile CarryMap Application, that anyone can download before heading into the field.  These maps can be accessed at:  https://www.blm.gov/maps/frequently-requested/new-mexico/hunting-maps

A trip to the Jemez Mountains will also give Conference attendees an opportunity for Dusky Grouse hunting.  Dusky grouse live in mature forests at high elevations.  Stands of subalpine or Douglas fir provide openings where insects, an important summer and early autumn food source, are able to thrive.  In the early fall, grouse will be at lower elevations, feeding on insects and mast producing shrubs.  As the season progresses, they move upward in elevation and feed primarily on conifer needles.  Squirrels can also be found in New Mexico’s mountains, include the Abert’s squirrel, a tassel-eared squirrel.  This handsome squirrel is found almost exclusively in Ponderosa Pine forest, as this is a primary food source.  Look for trees with fresh clippings underneath, as a good start for finding these squirrels.

Dove season (Mourning, White-winged, and Collared) is open through the month of September.  Water is a limited resource across the landscape, so hunting around tanks will give hunters the best opportunity for harvest.  These areas are often lush with forbs, providing the birds a great food source in addition to the water source.   The BLM’s CarryMap hunt map contains landscape features hunters may find useful, including tank locations.  Heading out of town to BLM lands northwest off of Hwy 550, or south around Socorro give hunters some options.  To the east, Open gate property 132 near Moriarty, gives hunters a chance to access private land for dove hunting.   Open Gate is a NMDGF program dedicated to leasing private lands and improving public access.  Information on the program and properties can be found on the NMDGF website.

As you make your plans to visit Albuquerque for TWS 2017, plan some extra time to hunt or fish in New Mexico.  The variety of landscapes and abundance of public lands make for an exciting time.