By: Chris Shaffer
With the Eastern United States dealing with high water this week we rerouted to New Mexico and decided to make a flame run to Fenton Lake this morning to try our chance at ice fishing in the Land of Enchantment for the first time. Ironically, to this day when we talk about how good trout fishing is in New Mexico and how productive ice fishing can be in the winter people from all across the country laugh at us, especially when you mention ice fishing.
For some reason most people think New Mexico is simply a desert. When I travel across the country to film Pautzke Outdoors anglers we chat with think there’s no water here, there’s no trout and no mountains. Today was a perfect example of the phenomenal trout stocking program the state of New Mexico has and how many wonderful resources are available within two hours of Albuquerque. Popular Fenton Lake is a good example of this.
Most anglers would think we’re nuts, but we figured we would try to get our money’s worth today. We left Albuquerque before 6 a.m. and bolted straight to Fenton Lake where we filmed an entire episode before regrouping and driving all the way to Mundo on the Jicarilla Reservation. We didn’t realize how far it was, but we’re fortunate enough to film two episodes. We caught and released dozens of trout and are happy to report the bite was excellent at both.
We arrived at Fenton Lake ahead of this weekend’s popular ice fishing derby and found 14 inches of ice. There were about a dozen other anglers out there enjoying the beautiful weather with us. We hoped to catch a Rio Grande cutthroat, but unfortunately didn’t get bit by any of those. In the two hours that we fished we probably caught 18 trout, none of which were larger than 15 inches. As expected, all of them were rainbows and most averaged 10-12 inches. They seemed like fresh stocked trout, but were a blast to catch on light tackle.
At Fenton we fished in front of the dam and along the park access road near the boat ramp. We changed spots three times and we’re hooking up constantly at each location. All of the trout we caught came in eight to 12 feet of water. The key was finding the right color and scent to use. As soon as we did every time we dropped down we caught a fish. Prior to that we didn’t get many bites.
Two setups were productive. The first was a VMC Tungston Bulfly jig tipped with a Chartreuse Anise Fire Ball. We scented the jig with Atlas Mike’s Anise Lunker Lotion. The other setup was the same small jig tipped with a Pink Shrimp Fire Ball and scented with Shrimp Lunker Lotion. How did we know that scent was a big deal? Whenever we got bit and didn’t hook the trout, but lost our bait we didn’t get any more bites after that until we rebaited. With the scent and Fire Ball bites came frequently.
If you’re heading to fish the tournament this weekend we would strongly recommend tipping your baits like we did and adding extra scent. A small suggestion like this could be the difference between a successful day or just a day admiring the incredible scenery here in Northern New Mexico.
Editor’s Note: For more info on New Mexico trout stocking please visit http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/fishing. To learn more about Fenton Lake please visit http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/SPD/fentonlakestatepark.html.