Trout waters see bag limit, classification changes in Taos County


Changes to some special trout waters in Taos County were approved by the game commission in November.

The commission changed the catch limit on the stretch of the Rio Grande from the New Mexico-Colorado border to the Taos Junction Bridge near Pilar. The reduction in bag limit from three trout to two was done to "protect the fishery resource and improve consistency of regulations." The bag-limit change also affects the lower stretch of the Red River.

On the Cabresto, Italianos and Yerba Creeks, fishing is "catch and release" for native species but unlimited for non-native fish. Those streams are only three with the new regulations for native and nonnative trout.

Trout Unlimited, a nonprofit that deals with fishing recreation, regulations and habitat, was largely happy with the changes. "There are a couple of elements we find exciting," said Toner Michell, the organization's water and habitat manager in New Mexico. He called the changes "pretty comprehensive" in the Carson National Forest and the Pecos Wilderness.

Unlimited harvests of invasive species on certain waters will "help stave off the encroachment of brown trout" -- and to a lesser extent rainbow and brook trout -- into waters home to the Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout, he said. The reduced bag limit on the Red River is a "step in the right direction" toward reducing fish mortality, he said. But Mitchell also added that more could be done on the Red River to improve fish mortality while also helping the economy of Questa and Northern New Mexico.

The commission also added a 2.5 miles on the Rio de Los Pinos -- "from the [U.S. Forest Service] Boundary 24 at the junction of Forest Road 284 and 87A upstream to the private property boundary" -- to the special trout waters with a two-trout limit.

These changes came with a new classification system for trout waters that use the ever-so-New Mexican "red, green or Christmas" color scheme. While the changes were approved in November, the public is still invited to submit comments on the rules for "housekeeping" amendments that will be considered by the commission in the near future, according to the department's spokesperson.