By Karl Moffatt
Las Vegas Optic
With the water level at Storrie Lake dropping with each passing day and no end in sight, Las Vegas area anglers might have to look elsewhere to find any decent fishing this season.
They won’t have to go too far, as Morphy Lake is just up the road in the cool pines above Mora where there’s still a decent supply of water and the fishing has been great of late.
“It’s been stocked twice already since we opened April first” said Morphy Lake State Park Ranger Daniel Alcon. ”That’s a lot of fish and they’re biting like crazy right now.”
But like so many other lakes around the state the ongoing drought has brought water levels way down, and the boat ramp at Morphy Lake remains closed.
Nonetheless, an angler armed with a weighted spoon or spinner or even a bubble and prop fly combination will find the fishing at Morphy Lake almost obscene in its ease.
And now is the time to get out there to enjoy the great fishing and camping found at any number of northern New Mexico’s state parks before fire restrictions or other drought-related limitations are imposed.
“There’s no better time than now,” says Tommy Mutz, director of New Mexico State Parks. “There’s still water in our lakes, many are still open to boating, people can still build a campfire and the fishing and camping has been great.”
Mutz noted that fish tend to congregate when the water drops and anglers will find them much easier to get at.
Meanwhile, the state Department of Game and Fish hatcheries is still cranking out fish and stocking them in big numbers around the state.
“It isn’t going to get much better than it is right now,” Mutz said.
Mutz stressed that the cost of camping and fishing at any state park is affordable with an annual day-use pass costing only $40 for unlimited use all year. And camping is cheap too at only $10 a night for a developed site and an annual pass available for $180.
New Mexico boasts 35 state parks with many occupying some of New Mexico’s most cherished real estate, including 19 great lakes.
Mutz noted that the low water levels at some parks has actually opened up unique opportunities for outdoor recreational enthusiasts.
For instance, Santa Rosa Lake is very low right now but a primitive boat ramp has been constructed so boaters can still get out onto the water and into places where they might not have ventured before.
And like so many other lakes with lower water levels the fishing has been great, especially for tasty walleye and feisty crappie, due to the lower water conditions.
Nearby Conchas Lake State Park has seen its boat ramps closed but features some of the best shoreline fishing in the area with large- and smallmouth bass plentiful and camping available right on the beach.
Eagle Nest Lake State Park is a sure bet for those with a power boat, as it still holds plenty of water, has open boat ramps and features lots of fighting pike, big trout and plenty of colorful perch.
But it may be a cold, clear, deep lake high atop a remote mesa between Springer and Wagon Mound that proves to be the best spot for trout fishing this drought- ravaged season.
“Charette Lakes may be your best bet this year,” says Clint Henson, northeast area public information officer for the state Department of Game and Fish office in Raton.
The lakes sit atop a windswept mesa at the edge of the plains off N.M. 120.
This lonely stretch of road cuts for 14 miles through private ranch land before snaking up the mesa to the lakes on top.
The views at the top of the hill of the outlying plains and surrounding mountains are as impressive as the wind that blows here constantly.
The upper lake is low and muddy but the lower one holds plenty of water and is deep enough at about 50-feet to stave off the stifling effects of the drought.
“There’s lots of huge perch and nice trout up in there,” Henson says of the lake leased by the state Department of Game and Fish.
Primitive camping is allowed at sites scattered about the 300-acre lower lake and a boat ramp is available, as are rudimentary outhouses.
Charette lakes are open from March 1 through the end of October.