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Drop a line

Fenton Lake in the Jemez Mountains is open for ice fishing this winter.

“It’s been really great,” says Manny Sanchez, manager of Fenton Lake State Park. “We’re well-stocked, and people are catching plenty of fish.”

The lake hasn’t been open to ice fishing for several years, but this year’s winter storms and lower temperatures have produced ice thick enough to safely support anglers, Sanchez says.

The lake has been stocked with thousands of trout in recent weeks, and the fishing has been reported good with meal/wax worms, salmon eggs, spoons or other baits and lures jigged off the bottom.

It remains to be seen how long the ice will hold up, so it’s best to hit this lake soon. Sanchez thinks the ice which is over a foot thick should last another three weeks or so.

“It’s not busy during the week, so that’s a good time to come too,” he says. Weekends have been busy at the popular park that serves outdoor recreation enthusiasts from the Albuquerque, Los Alamos, Española and Santa Fe areas.

To get started, all an angler needs is an ax to chip through an existing hole and a slotted kitchen spoon to keep it clear.

“There’s already hundreds of holes drilled out there,” Sanchez says.

Anglers venturing out onto the ice might want to wear strap-on cleats, because it can be slick going, Sanchez says.

Take a sturdy plastic bucket to carry your gear in and then sit on. Dress warmly and in layers.

Other than that, keep the wind at your back and the sun in your face and enjoy the fishing.

The park has five campsites with electricity available for $14 a night. Three are first-come, first-served, and two can be reserved through the state parks reservation website at

Anglers with a valid fishing license don’t need to pay a $5 day use fee but will have to leave their vehicle in a lot by the park entrance and walk in.

Fishing licenses, bait and tackle and groceries can be purchased at Amanda’s country store in La Cueva. for more information about visiting the area, including an updated fishing report. Visit for more information about New Mexico State Parks.

Other lakes open to ice fishing in northern New Mexico include Heron and Eagle Nest and Mundo on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation. The Albuquerque area drains also provide good winter trout fishing.

Karl Moffatt is a longtime New Mexico journalist and avid outdoorsman who posts regularly on his blog at