New Mexico Fishing Rules and Regulations

All persons 12 years or older, while fishing in New Mexico, must have on their person a current New Mexico fishing license (exceptions: Indian reservations and private class A lakes). In addition, a Wildlife Habitat Stamp is required by all anglers over age 12 to fish on all US Forest Service and US BLM lands in New Mexico. The regular license year is April 1 to March 31, 24 hours a day, all year long.

You may fish without a license or Habitat Stamp on June 3 (National Fishing Day) and September 30 (National Hunting and Fishing Day). All other rules apply.

Call 1-800-ASK-FISH for fishing reports, new stockings, how to fish and habits of fish, 24 hours a day.

  • Daylight hours are from 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.
  • Winter trout waters are stocked with hatchery-reared trout between Nov. 1 and March 31. Bag limit is 5 per day.
  • Summer catfish waters are stocked with big catfish during May, June and July and have a 2 catfish bag limit.
  • Use only one pole in trout waters from Nov.1 to Mar. 31.
  • Two poles may be used in warm waters.
  • The 2 catfish per day limit on summer catfish waters is in effect year round.
Statewide bag limits:
  • Striped bass - 1 per day.
  • Black bass - 5 per day.
  • Walleye - 5 per day, 14 inch minimum size.
  • Northern pike - 10 per day.
  • Catfish - 15 per day (all species except bullheads)(2 per day limit applies in all summer catfish waters)
  • Crappie - 20 per day.
  • White bass, white bass/striped bass hybrids - 25 per day.
  • All other warm water game fish - 20 per day. (bluegill, bullheads, sunfish, yellow perch)
Possession limits - twice the daily bag limit.

Trout and Kokanee:
5 per day, 10 in possession. Up to 2 cutthroat trout may be included in the limit.
Cutthroat trout - 2 per day, 2 in possession. (any trout with red slash marks below the jaw is considered a cutthroat.)
Gila trout - It is unlawful to possess Gila trout. Most waters with pure strain Gila trout are closed to fishing.
Kokanee salmon - It is unlawful to possess kokanee salmon at Heron Lake, Willow Creek and Pine River during the closed season Oct. 1 to Nov. 14.
Special Kokanee salmon snagging season - 12 per day, 24 in possession, in addition to the other limit for trout.

Special trout waters have reduced bag limits or are catch and release. These regulations give anglers a chance at superior, high quality fishing. Most special trout waters require artificial flies and lures that have single, barbless hooks. Disturbing rocks, plants or sediment in order to attract fish is illegal in these waters. Possession limits are the same as daily bag limits at all special trout waters.

Bag limits in special trout waters:
Artificial flies or lures with single, barbless hooks:
Catch and release only, no trout in possession:
  • Doctor Creek from 1/4 above its confluence with Holy Ghost Creek upstream to its headwaters.
  • Jack’s Creek from the waterfalls located 1/4 mile downstream of NM Hwy 63 crossing upstream to its headwaters.
  • Nabor Creek, Nabor Lake on the Sargent Wildlife Area.
  • Pecos River in the Pecos Wilderness above Pecos Falls.
  • Rio Cebolla from the Seven Springs Day Use Area upstream to its headwaters.
  • Rio Costilla from the Valle Vidal boundary 2.4 miles downstream to Latir Creek.
  • Rio Guadalupe from Porter Landing Bridge 1.3 miles downstream to Llano Loco Spring.
  • Rio Las Animas within Gila National Forest, Black Ranger District.
  • Rio Valdez in the Pecos Wilderness from 1/4 mile below Smith Cabin upstream to its headwaters.
  • San Antonio River from Baca Location boundary downstream 2 miles.
  • San Juan River from Navajo Dam downstream 1/4 mile as posted.
  • Valle Vidal - all streams.
1 trout, at least 20 inches long:
  • San Juan River for 3.5 miles downstream from the catch and release section to east side of Section 16.
1 trout, at least 16 inches long:
  • Cimarron River from east end of Tolby Campground downstream 1.4 miles to first US 64 bridge.
2 trout, at least 16 inches long:
  • Rio Grande from the power line crossing above the confluence with Cuchillo Creek upstream to Elephant Butte Dam (soft plastic lures may be used in this water)
2 trout, at least 15 inches long:
  • Shuree Lakes on Valle Vidal
2 trout, at least 12 inches long:
  • Pecos River, "The Box" from 1/2 mile above the confluence of the Mora-Pecos upstream 1.5 miles to 1/4 mile above Cowles bridge.
  • Red River from the confluence of Goose Creek for 1 mile upstream as posted.
  • Rio Ruidoso along US 70 in Ruidoso Downs from Fridenbloon Dr. downstream 0.7 miles.
2 trout, any length:
  • Chama River 2.9 miles within Rio Chama Wildlife and Fishing Area.
  • Gilita Creek from the Gila Wilderness downstream for 5 miles to Snow Creek.
  • Rio de Los Pinos from USFS roads 284 & 87A, 2.5 miles upstream to private land.
  • Rio Pueblo between the bridge at Mile Marker 55 on State Hwy 518 upstream 1 mile to the Canon Tio Maes Trailhead, as posted.
  • Sargent Wildlife Area - all waters within the area (except Nabor Creek and Nabor Lake) including Rio Chama, Rio Chamita and Sexton Creek.
Special Trout Waters where you may fish with any legal tackle or bait:
3 trout, any length:

  • Chama River from Abiquiu Dam downstream for 7 miles to the US 84 bridge at Abiquiu.
  • Red River from 1/2 mile below walking bridge at Red River State Hatchery downstream to confluence with the Rio Grande.
  • Red River Hatchery Pond - anglers 12 years of age and younger, 65 years of age or older, and handicapped only.
  • Rio Grande from Colorado line downstream to the Taos Junction bridge.
  • Rio Grande from the power line crossing above the confluence with Cuchillo Creek downstream to and including Caballo Lake. logo