Elephant Butte Reservoir

Unspecified • 0 mi • 0 ft

Short Take: 36,558 acres; desert reservoir with both shallow and deep water, rocky points, coves, flooded timber, limited vegetation, no tributaries. Of all the things a bass fisherman would least expect to see in a lake in the desert, flooded trees probably top the list, but at Elephant Butte Reservoir in south-central New Mexico, the unusual is common. This 36,558-acre Rio Grande River impoundment offers superb largemouth and smallmouth fishing, and has produced striped bass of more than 54 pounds. The main reason the uncommon is common here lies in Elephant Butte’s configuration: it is comprised of two completely distinct basins joined by a narrow, fourmile canyon. The upper basin, or lake, contains shallow, dingy water; rocky flats and bays filled with flooded salt cedar and mesquite; and has an average depth of perhaps 20 feet. In contrast, the lower basin offers deep, clear water with limited timber and vegetation and averages nearly 80 feet deep, although it also contains some shallow, brushy points and coves. The connecting canyon, known as the Narrows, is four miles long and has both shallow and deep water. The lake’s name comes from a rock formation on the lower lake. Elephant Butte is somewhat unusual in that other than the Rio Grande, the lake has no tributaries. There are numerous canyons and arroyos leading into the lake from the surrounding countryside, but they remain dry all but a few weeks of the year when they’re channeling rain runoff from the nearby mountains. Largemouth bass are found in both the upper and lower lakes, while smallmouth are much more common in the lower, deeper lake. Striped bass, as expected, inhabit both the lower lake as well as the Narrows. Primary Species: Largemouth, smallmouth, and striped bass.
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Activity Type: Fishing
Nearby City: Truth or Consequences
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Trail Type: Unspecified
Season: Best March - May, September, October. Striped bass also good November - January.
Local Contacts: Elephant Butte Lake State Park
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