San Juan River
Located in the northwest corner of the state, the San Juan River Quality Waters below Navajo Dam are considered to be among the top three world-class streams in the West. After an easy 200-mile drive from Albuquerque, anglers will find a river loaded with rainbows, browns and cutthroat. The river yields 12- to 20-inch fish daily. Bring your waders and enjoy easy access around Navajo Dam or book a trip with a local guide.
Navajo Lake For Stillwater Fly Fishing
Navajo Lake, the fishery above the San Juan River in northwest New Mexico, is home to great fly fishing. Streamer fishing for smallmouth bass in May and June can be fantastic. The bass typically run 1 to 3 pounds, but larger fish are common. The topwater bite on poppers takes off after the streamer bite. Carp can be caught on dries in June and July. Target weedy shallows and flats for carp or rocky points for bass.
Jemez Mountains Options
The Jemez Mountains in northern New Mexico offer some amazing fly fishing. Small streams offer pristine conditions and loads of 8- to 10-inch browns and rainbows. Though roughly only 70 miles from Albuquerque, these remote streams see few anglers so trout will readily hit most dries. Try the Jemez itself below Jemez Falls. Fishing early in the day from May until November is best.
Gila National Forest Trout
Gila National Forest in Southwest New Mexico offers both cold and warm water fishing opportunities. The headwaters of the Gila and San Francisco rivers offer trout and the lower reaches offer smallmouth. It will take a 230-mile drive south from Albuquerque, but once there, a hopper and dropper setup is a good choice for trout. Try the Middle Fork of the Gila above the Gila Cliff Dwellings Visitor Center. For bass, tie on a small crayfish or streamer pattern and tackle the lower reaches.
Basics To Consider Before Heading Out
As of March 2010, a non-resident one-day fishing license will cost $12, while an annual license will run $56. There is also an option for a five-day license for $24. You can buy a license online at the New Mexico Game and Fish website.
New Mexico Department of Game & Fish