Bowfishing in New Mexico: A Comprehensive Guide to Enjoying this Unique Outdoor Activity

Can You Bowfish in New Mexico?

If you are an avid bowfisher or someone who is interested in trying out this thrilling outdoor activity, you may be wondering if bowfishing is allowed in New Mexico. In this article, we will discuss the regulations and opportunities available for bowfishing enthusiasts in the Land of Enchantment.

The Legality of Bowfishing

Bowfishing combines the skills of archery and fishing, allowing participants to shoot fish with a specialized bow and arrow called a “bowfishing rig.” However, before you grab your gear and head out to explore New Mexico’s waters, it’s important to know whether it is legal or not.

In New Mexico, bowfishing is indeed permitted as long as certain rules and guidelines are followed. The state recognizes it as a lawful method of taking fish but imposes specific regulations to protect aquatic species’ populations and habitats.

Obtaining Fishing Licenses

Prior to engaging in any fishing activities within the state boundaries – including bowfishing – individuals aged 12 years or older must possess a valid New Mexico fishing license. These licenses can be obtained online through the official website of the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish or purchased at authorized vendors throughout the state. Make sure to secure your fishing license before embarking on any angling adventures!

Bowfish Species Regulations

New Mexico has implemented strict regulations concerning which fish species can be targeted while participating in bowfishing activities. It’s crucial for both experienced anglers and beginners alike to familiarize themselves with these rules:

  • Lake trout (including hybrids) cannot be taken by any means statewide.
  • Alligator gar cannot be harvested anywhere in the state.
  • Endangered or threatened species, such as Rio Grande silvery minnow and Gila trout, should not be targeted. It is vital to familiarize yourself with their appearances to avoid any accidental harm.
  • Certain waters have additional restrictions. For instance, bowfishing for common carp is prohibited within the boundaries of Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Bowfishing Locations in New Mexico

New Mexico boasts several exceptional locations where you can indulge in bowfishing adventures:

  • Aztec Pond: This small pond near Aztec offers opportunities to target common carp and other abundant fish species.
  • Elephant Butte Reservoir: Known for its stunning scenery, this reservoir allows bowfishers to pursue various species including common carp and catfish.
  • Conchas Lake: Located about an hour north of Tucumcari, this lake provides excellent conditions for targeting rough fish like common carp and buffalo fish through bowfishing methods.
  • Pecos River: Stretching across northeastern New Mexico, the Pecos River offers fantastic options for both traditional angling and bowfishing enthusiasts alike. You may find a diverse range of fish species here including suckers and carpsucker varieties that make great targets for your bowfishing rig.


If you’re passionate about combining archery skills with fishing techniques, New Mexico provides ample opportunities for legal bowfishing adventures. By acquiring the necessary licenses and abiding by the regulations set forth by the state’s Department of Game & Fish, you can enjoy exciting experiences while preserving aquatic ecosystems at the same time. So grab your gear, explore the beautiful waters of New Mexico, and immerse yourself in the thrilling world of bowfishing!