Pikeminnow in San Juan

From the June 2017 newsletter

The endangered Colorado Pikeminnow is showing signs of recovering its diminished population in the San Juan River basin.

The lower reaches of the San Juan River provide habitat for this federally listed fish. Conservation of this fishery is a priority of the New Mexico Game and Fish Department, and staff spend a considerable amount of time monitoring, stocking, and enhancing habitat to ensuring the long-term persistence of this resource.

Based on data gathered last year following the spring peak release from Navajo Dam, scientists said they have found evidence the Colorado pikeminnow is reproducing in the San Juan River, and the offspring are surviving. The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Services said more than 540 Colorado pikeminnow, once widely known as the “salmon of the southwest”, were counted in the San Juan River last year. They also found 23 yearling fish. Before last year, only one juvenile fish had been caught by scientists since work began in the 1990s to restore habitat.

fishing-fisheries-managment-NMDGF-san-juan-river-Colorado-Pike-minnow-2.jpgThe Colorado pikeminnow lives in three river basins: The San Juan River basin, the Colorado River basin and the Green River basin. Both the Colorado and Green river basins have populations of Colorado pikeminnow that are reproducing and surviving to adulthood.

New Special Trout Waters on Rio Chama

by Noah Parker, reprinted with permission from https://loeflyfishing.com

special-trout-watersWith the beginning of the new licensing period on April 1st, 2017, the new catch and release area on the Chama River below El Vado Dam was implemented and became a reality. The New Mexico Game and Fish Commission (NMDG&F) approved catch and release regulations on this section of the Chama River at its November 17, 2016 meeting in Grants. The new regulation, as written by NMDG&F staff, applies to a three-mile stretch of the river that starts 1.3 miles below the El Vado Dam. The first 1.3 mile section of the Chama directly below the dam was left out of the proposal because it includes the Coopers El Vado Ranch and areas upstream that are popular with “catch and keep” anglers fishing on the Chama.

The new catch and release area begins about 1/4 mile below Cooper’s where the gauging cable crosses the river and then runs downstream to the confluence of the Rio Nutrius/Canyon – a distance of about 3 river miles. Anglers willing to walk a moderate distance downstream from Cooper’s should have the opportunity for larger, stream-bred trout. The new catch and release regulation for this section of the Chama River mandates that all fish must be released with a tackle/gear restriction of using only single barbless hook and artificial lures. At some point in the next few weeks signage will be installed on the riverbank at the upstream and downstream boundaries of the new catch and release area (the picture above is of the signs that will be placed on the upstream boundary). [NMT sponsored and helped install these signs!]

All of here at Land of Enchantment Guides would like to thank all of the individuals, organizations and business who supported and helped to make the catch and release area on the Chama a reality – we couldn’t have done it without your efforts. Hopefully over the next few years, this section of the river will become the great fishery that it has the potential to be.

New Fishing Rules Proposed 

nm_sa_logo_290.pngNew Mexico Department of Game and Fish is proposing new rules. Some of the changes are:

  • Modifications to the Special Trout Water (STW) program including increasing designated waters by 52 miles, reducing the number of Special Trout Water classifications from over eleven to four, and removing some waters that no longer meet the STW designation.
  • Lifting catch-and-release only designation at Brantley Lake
  • Adding Alumni Pond, Corona Pond, Estancia Pond, Perch Lake, Rancho Grande Ponds, Roswell Kids Ponds, and Rio Grande below Elephant Butte as winter trout waters

Another feature of the proposed plan is to rename the categories of Special Trout Water.  In true New Mexico fashion, catch and release waters will be known as “Red Chile” waters.  Waters with a two fish limit and restricted tackle will be known as “Green Chile” waters.  Waters with a two fish limit, open to any legal tackle will be known as “X-mas” waters.  More information on the changes and process for public comment is at http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/commission/

The next public meeting will be held Thursday, November 16, 2017, beginning at 9:00 a.m., at the Elephant Butte Inn.

Three Interstate Stream Commissioners Resign

Commission members Jim Dunlap of Farmington and James Wilcox of Carlsbad submitted resignation letters to Gov. Susana Martinez on 11 October, a day after commission Chairman Caleb Chandler of Clovis tendered his resignation. Dunlap wrote in his resignation letter that he had “great concern for lack of direction from the State Engineer and adherence to New Mexico State Statutes.” The commission has also come under fire in recent years for open meetings violations.

The resignations leave the commission with just four active members out of nine board positions, because there were previously two vacancies.The Interstate Stream Commission has broad powers to investigate, protect, conserve, and develop New Mexico’s waters including both interstate and intrastate stream systems. A key item of discussion over the past few years is the Gila River diversion project, which is looking into options to divert the river for farm and municipal use in southwestern New Mexico.

Rio Cebolla Wetlands Project

By Ron Loehman, Conservation Chair

work-projectVolunteers are needed to work with Santa Fe National Forest personnel to construct several beaver dam analogs (BDAs) on the Rio Cebolla meadows downstream of where the Cebolla flows under FR 376. The work area is approximately 10 miles north of Porter’s Landing on FR 376.

This is the first stage of a project to increase riparian wetland area, to improve water quality, and to benefit fish habitat on the Rio Cebolla. We will be applying techniques similar to those Bill Zeedyk taught at a NM Trout workshop in 2015, including post pounding, rock placement, and willow weir construction. Some of the work will be in-stream and other parts will be on the stream banks. We suggest you bring waders if you plan to work in the stream.

Because the work area is NM meadow jumping mouse habitat, the US Fish and Wildlife Service allows access only between October 15 and May 1, when the mouse is believed to be hibernating. We anticipate follow-on projects next Spring as early that weather permits and continuing through May.

Saturday, October 28, 2017
Meet at 9:00 AM at the parking area above the Gilman Tunnels on FR 376.

The club will provide lunch if you RSVP to Ron Loehman by 5:00 PM, Monday October 23, 2017

Changes to fisheries regulations coming

The New Mexico Game & Fish Commission has proposed changes to the state fisheries regulations.. These include language changes and updates, as well as adding a new table on special trout waters.

Read the documents: 19.31.4 NMAC Fisheries Rule

New Mexico Trout has written a favorable response comment, as seen here.

The rule changes will be finalized at the next Fish & Game Commission meeting,  November 16 in Elephant Butte.

Annual Rio Guadalupe Clean Up Project – April 8

Volunteer Project: Rio Guadalupe Cleanup
Saturday, April 8, 2017

New Mexico Trout has a tradition of welcoming the Spring opening of FR 376 between the Gilman Tunnels and Porter’s Landing with a volunteer trash pickup. That Forest Service road provides access to our Rio Guadalupe home water and it accumulates a lot of roadside trash over a season’s heavy use by the many people who visit that corridor. Doing these annual cleanups is one way we can express our thanks for the wonderful trout fishing opportunities the Rio Guadalupe affords, while we help maintain it in a state that we like to visit. Continue reading

Cimarron River Spill

A diesel tanker truck overturned on 27 December, spilling hundreds of gallons of fuel into the Cimarron river near Eagle Nest. New Mexico Environment Department and Game and Fish Department assisted in the cleanup, using absorbent booms to stem the downstream flow of the contaminant, and allowing the fuel to be pumped from the river. Four days later, authorities reported that the spill had been cleaned up, but that monitoring of the river would continue for several months.

Link to ABQ Journal article.