Eagle Nest Lake State Park
HIGH IN THE NORTH-CENTRAL MOUNTAINS, Eagle Nest Lake State Park hosts multiple species for the chasing, says fly-fishing guidebook author and Taos Fly Shop founder Taylor Streit. While trout are number one, the northern pike are also notable. “They’re absolutely huge,” Streit says.
Elephant Butte Lake State Park
Elephant Butte Lake State Park is packed with all kinds of species—largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, sunfish—and sits along the Río Grande in central New Mexico. “It’s very famous for gigantic striped bass, but you need a very knowledgeable guide to catch them,” Streit says. “There’s not many, and they’re smart.”
Villanueva State Park
For kids, Streit points to Villanueva State Park, where the Pecos River often runs at an easy wading depth. Cottonwoods line the river corridor, offering shady retreats between casts in summer months, when catfish are the likely catch. In winter, the water cools to temps friendly to rainbow trout.
Bluewater Lake State Park
For a winter adventure, try ice fishing for tiger muskie at Bluewater Lake State Park, near Grants. These muskellunge–northern pike hybrids, notable for their sharp teeth and dark, irregular stripes and dots on their sides, can be monsters (the Bluewater record-setter tops 50 inches and weighs 38 pounds), so pack a large lure and some heavy line.
In general, Streit advises making nice at the local fly or bait shop to learn about the latest conditions and choice gear—and to consider hiring a guide.