Football Size Rainbows: New Mexico’s Mundo Lake

On vacation on Hawaii’s Big Island last week I overheard a few college guys talking about trout fishing at home in New Mexico. They were bragging about how many trout they caught on the new Silver Label salmon eggs on the Pecos River and had no idea I worked at Pautzke when I chimed in and asked them a few questions.

“Sounds like you guys trout fishing at lot,” I said to them. “You should try those Silver Label under a bobber and Mundo Lake. We hammered a few good ones there last week.”

“You’re from New Mexico?” one of them asked me. “Are you sure Mundo Lake is in New Mexico? I haven’t heard of it.”

This seems to be a common occurrence. While likely one of the state’s hottest trout fisheries, it’s still unknown to most New Mexico and Southern Colorado anglers. The small lake rests on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation and is open to the public providing you purchase a fishing permit. This is the same land where Stone Lake became famous decades ago. Mundo is it’s smaller relative, where bait is allowed and huge trout lurk.


Mundo is largely overlooked for a few reasons: it’s far from any metropolitan area, located on an Indian reservation and doesn’t get a lot of promotion, although it should. Roughly three hours north of Albuquerque and two hours from Durango and Farmington this land is remote, but also grows trout large as fast as weeds grow in the nearby town of Dulce. According to Fisheries Biologist Jacob Mazzone these trout surge at least two inches a month. A one pound trout here is considered a dink.


As small as Mundo is you’d think it would get fished out quickly. Meanwhile, Mazzone’s aggressive stocking program ensures that doesn’t happen. Roughly 50,000 trout are planted annually. Those join thousands of holdovers from year’s past. The lake is choked with trout, literally. And, big trout. Catching a three-to-five pound rainbow isn’t a big deal here. It’s expected. A five pounder won’t get you on the bragging board. You’ll have to do better than that. Rainbows and browns are available, but we only caught rainbows.


Mundo isn’t a tough place to learn to fish. It’s as simple as picking a place on the shore to call home (there’s also complimentary fishing docks) and casting bait out. The entire shoreline in the vicinity of the parking area yields high catch rates, likely quicker than you might want. Keep in mind the water is clear. You’ll want to downsize to four pound test and loosen the drag.


We found the best action to come in the morning and midday and rigged with two setups. Our largest trout came on Silver Label salmon eggs fished under a float, whereas the most trout were caught on Garlic Salmon Egg, Peach Garlic and Feed Pellet Brown FireBait floated off the bottom. Pistol Pete’s tipped with Chartreuse and Red FireCorn yielded constant action all day.


When it came to floating eggs under a bobber we caught fish all day, but had to switch it up as trout became conditioned to the eggs. For example, we started with Silver Label and switched to Gold Label, followed by Orange Deluxe and Yellow Jackets. After catching a few trout we switched colors to keep the bite going. Most of the time we set the bobber stop to about three to four feet below the surface. Trout were available from the edge of the dock out toward the middle of the lake.


Editor’s Note: Anglers are required to posses a day fishing permit ($15 per day). A New Mexico fishing license isn’t require, which means it’s a great place for Southern Colorado residents to fish as well. Anglers may not use two rods here, even with a second rod stamp from New Mexico. For more info on Mundo Lake please visit