By: Chris Shaffer
It’s hard to find a prettier place to fish in Northern New Mexico than Eagle Rock Lake. Minutes from Questa, the three-acre pond is loaded with trout after being stocked last week. In hopes of filming Pautzke Outdoors on a small, family friendly lake where parents can take their children to catch trout, we filmed here Thursday and caught a few dozen trout in two hours.
Many recall Eagle Rock making the news in fall of 2015 when the lake reopened after Chevron Mining dredged it and improved access to this roadside water. It’s clearly now an ideal place for the older crowd and families to go fishing. Access to the lake is framed by a graded path. The shoreline sets up nicely for anglers looking to soak up the sun in chairs while waiting for a bite.
We didn’t arrive until noon, clearly the worst part of the day to fish. And, to be honest, for the first hour we only fielded two bites. Our dough bait rods went untouched for the first 30 minutes, which was no surprise given the bright sunlight and time of day. Two of the four rods we fished had Pink Shrimp and Silver Label eggs dangling below a bobber and both got yanked down. We weren’t able to set the hook in time.
Minutes later we realized we were fishing in the middle of the lake and the trout were all within 20 feet of the shoreline. And, we have to thank a fly guy for figuring it out. Keep in mind we had never been here. Looking across the way we saw the fly guy casting close to the bank and getting bit. We tried the same and caught trout on every cast afterward. We thanked the fly guy. Ironically, after giving his limit away to an angler who had sat on the bank for hours without a bite (and taking his limit) he stopped getting bit.
Our trout came two ways: soaking Feed Pellet Brown and Garlic Salmon Egg Fire Bait and Blue Fire Brine shrimp. The Fire Brine shrimp was almost too easy. The second the bait touched the water we got bit, literally every time. We started with grocery store shrimp (poured in the Fire Brine hours before) and then ripped off pieces the size of the fingernail on your pinky. Fishing the shrimp on a small hook below a bobber worked out best. Unlike eggs and dough the shrimp stays on the hook longer and multiple fish can be caught on it.
As for the Fire Bait, we fished it different than most. Rather than soaking it off the bottom, we used a Trout Magnet Float with a Water Gremlin BB splitshot and a bait holder hook. The splitshot helped sink the Fire Bait. We used a bait holder rather than a treble hook so we could release all the trout, and we did.
We caught and released several dozen trout in about an hour. Once we started fishing closer to the bank they bit every cast. While the fly guy did tell us he catches browns from time to time the state doesn’t stock them. Neither of us caught one. All were rainbows and most nine and 10 inches. We caught probably two that went 12 inches. Meanwhile, the lake was loaded with fish and we put them all back. Considering this was the first plant of the season the lake is only going to fill up with more trout.
Editor’s Note: Pautzke Fire Bait and Fire Brine are available at all New Mexico Walmart locations.