Five great fishing destinations in Northern New Mexico

The East Fork of the Jemez River provides a scenic fishing spot in the Jemez Mountains. Matt Dahlseid/The New MexicanThe East Fork of the Jemez River provides a scenic fishing spot in the Jemez Mountains of Northern New Mexico. Matt Dahlseid/The New Mexican

New Mexico has some breathtaking destinations to cut loose and leave the world behind for a while. Skilled anglers know that conditions on New Mexico’s waters can change rapidly. Sound preparation can lead to a more memorable experience. Here are five great spots to cast your line and try your luck (and skill). As with all trips to the water, remember to bring your fishing license.

Chama River (between Abiquiú and Chama)

The wider expanses of the Chama River provide plenty of deep pools for big trout to hide. Conditions can change based on the water levels; El Vado and Abiquiú dams control the flows between them. But a 22-incher is not uncommon. If you plan to park at El Vado Ranch (close to Chama Dam), expect to pay $10 for the day. Be sure to check out the angler hall of fame photo album inside the gift shop. Native fish: brown and rainbow trout.

Cimarron River

The Cimarron River flows from Eagle Nest Lake all the way through Cimarron Canyon State Park and on to the town of Springer. Fishing in the canyon can be wonderful between April and September. After last year’s Ute Park Fire, there are still areas that sustained damage from mudslides, but most of the river between Cimarron and Eagle Nest is accessible. It’s a smaller tributary, so don’t expect a 20-incher, but a 10 or 15 isn’t unheard of. Native fish: brown trout.

Río Grande

The Rio Grande provides great opportunities for fishing, kayaking and other water-related sports. Whether you decide to fish south of Taos, near Pilar or hike down into the Rio Grande Gorge north of Taos — or somewhere in between — there are miles of open water to explore, making it one of the best places to test your casting, setting and reeling. Native fish: brown, cutthroat trout.

Pecos River

The Pecos River and the surrounding wilderness are close enough to Santa Fe to make a nice day trip. Equipped with picnic areas and campsites, the river valley has plenty of scenic views to soak in while wading. Warm weekends can attract lots of picnickers and fishermen. Native fish: brown, rainbow, cutthroat trout.

Jemez streams

The mountain meadow streams of the Jemez provide some of the most picturesque views in New Mexico. You won’t be pulling any prize-worthy trout out of the waters there, but the calm and quiet available are well worth the trip. Native fish: cutthroat, brown and rainbow trout.