Casting Reels for Success: Unveiling New Mexico’s Most Common Fish to Catch

What is the most common fish to catch in New Mexico

If you are an avid angler or just starting out, knowing the most common fish species found in a particular area can greatly enhance your fishing experience. In this blog post, we will explore some of the most popular and sought-after fish species that can be caught in New Mexico. With its diverse range of habitats including rivers, lakes, streams, and reservoirs, New Mexico offers excellent opportunities for fishing enthusiasts.

New Mexico’s Diverse Fish Species

New Mexico boasts a wide variety of fish species due to its diverse ecosystems. Whether you prefer fly-fishing on a remote mountain stream or casting your line into one of the state’s many reservoirs or lakes, there is something for everyone here.

Rainbow Trout

One of the most prized catches among anglers in New Mexico is Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Known for their vibrant colors and spirited fights when hooked, these native trout can be found throughout many rivers and streams across the state. Popular spots include Rio Grande Gorge near Taos, Cimarron River near Eagle Nest State Park, and San Juan River below Navajo Dam.

Cutthroat Trout Varieties

In addition to Rainbow Trout, avid anglers may also encounter various subspecies of Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) while fishing in New Mexico. These include Rio Grande Cutthroat (New Mexico’s state fish), Gila Trout (a federally listed threatened species), and Colorado River Cutthroat. Each subspecies has unique characteristics but shares an allure due to their stunning markings and elusive nature.

Brown Trout

Brown Trout (Salmo trutta) is another popular game fish found in New Mexico. These European imports thrive in the state’s colder waters, such as the Chama River and Rio Grande near Taos. Known for their challenging nature, catching a trophy-sized Brown Trout can be incredibly rewarding.

Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass

New Mexico doesn’t just cater to trout enthusiasts; it also offers exciting bass fishing opportunities. Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu) can be found in rivers like the Rio Grande or Pecos River, while Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) are more commonly found in reservoirs and lakes throughout the state.


Carp may not often cross an angler’s mind when thinking about desirable catches, but they offer a unique challenge and can grow quite large. Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) inhabit many of New Mexico’s waters, including Elephant Butte Lake and Navajo Reservoir.

Other Fish Species

In addition to these popular species mentioned above, New Mexico is also home to various other fish that can provide enjoyable fishing experiences. Some examples include Channel Catfish, Walleye Pike, Crappie, Bluegill Sunfish, Northern Pike Minnows (commonly known as Squawfish), and Kokanee Salmon.

Fishing Regulations in New Mexico

Prior to casting your line into any of New Mexico’s water bodies, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with local fishing regulations set forth by the Department of Game & Fish. This ensures sustainable fishing practices are followed while protecting native species populations for future generations.

Licensing Requirements

All anglers aged 12 or older must possess a valid New Mexico fishing license, which can be obtained online or from various authorized vendors throughout the state. Different licenses are available for residents and non-residents, with options for both day permits and annual passes.

Bag Limits and Size Restrictions

It is important to know the bag limits (maximum number of fish you can keep per day) as well as any size restrictions imposed on certain species. These regulations are in place to conserve fish populations and ensure sustainable fishing practices.

Catch-and-Release Practices

New Mexico encourages catch-and-release practices whenever possible, especially with native trout species like Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout or Gila Trout. By releasing these fish unharmed, anglers contribute to their conservation efforts while allowing others to enjoy the thrill of catching them in the future.

The Joy of Fishing in New Mexico

Fishing in New Mexico not only provides a tranquil escape into nature but also offers exciting opportunities to reel in some remarkable catches. Whether you prefer fly-fishing on picturesque mountain streams or casting your line into pristine reservoirs, there is no shortage of incredible angling experiences waiting for you here.

So pack your gear, grab your fishing rod, and head out to explore the diverse waters that make up this southwestern angler’s paradise. You never know what memorable catch awaits!