For the harder breed of angler
Didn’t get in enough fishing over the summer? Cabin fever a looming threat? No need to stay inside and dream of casting your line. Bundle up, walk out onto a frozen lake, drill a hole with an auger and enjoy the solitude. The best place to ice fish in these parts is Eagle Nest Lake — considered a great place for first-time ice anglers — where you can jig or bait-fish. Eagle Nest Lake is managed by New Mexico State Parks and subject to closure if conditions are unsafe. Be sure and check if the lake is open for ice fishing before you set out. Eagle Nest Lake typically opens for ice fishing in late December. Get ready to land beautiful Rainbow trout, and Kokanee and Coho salmon. You can find all the equipment you’ll need at the Eagle Nest Marina, including fishing licenses. The store is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week. They also have cabins to rent for overnight stays. See the marina web site at cti-excursions.com or call (575) 377-6941 for more information.
Even in the dead of winter, the sun is powerful here in Northern New Mexico. Be sure to not only dress warmly, wear sunscreen, bring sunglasses and lip balm, but also bring a 5-gallon bucket to sit on and keep your catch in. A child’s sled makes for a great gear hauler.
The annual Ice Fishing Tournament held in late January (see eaglenestchamber.org) is a popular event challenging participants to hook fish in four categories: trout/salmon, perch, pike and creel. The lake has long been known for producing trophy trout, salmon and perch, however, illegally dumped pike have become a predatory menace to the other species. Anglers are encouraged to kill any pike they hook.
For more information and current updates about ice conditions, contact Eagle Nest State Park at (575) 377-1594 or for questions about fishing in northeastern New Mexico, call the Dept. of Game and Fish in Raton at (575) 445-2311.
— Staff report