By TONER MITCHELL
For those who are unaware, National Go Fishing Day will be on Friday June 18, at which time it is the duty of every American citizen to grab your fishing pole, family and/or friends, and head for your favorite fishing spot. Not to be confused with Saturday June 5, which is the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish’s Free Fishing Day, (and National Trails Day, by the way!) which is a holiday from state fishing license fees. Or National Fishing Month, which in 2021 runs from July 26 to August 31.
In the likely event that this calendar of fishing celebrations should seem confusing, I can offer this nugget of advice: go fishing all the time! Job got you down? Go fishing. Quarreled with your significant other? Go fishing. Feeling bored and lazy? Excited? Go fishing. Can’t decide between Eagle Rock and Eagle Nest Lake?
You get the idea, especially if you live in northern New Mexico. In Questa, fishing is the answer to everything. Within a couple hours’ drive in any direction is a body of water with a fish in it. Streams include the Conejos River and Elk Creek (in Colorado), the Rio de los Pinos, Rio Costilla, Comanche Creek, Rio Tusas, Rio Vallecitos, El Rito Creek, Rio Hondo, Rio Chiquito, Rio de la Olla, Rio Chama, Rio Del Pueblo, Rio Santa Barbara, Embudo Creek, Alamitos Creek, Coyote Creek, Cimarron River, and Rio de las Trampas, not to mention the Red River, Cabresto Creek, and Columbine Creek, right out the back door. And did I say the Rio Grande? The place is an endless universe of opportunities, from Velarde to the state line.
Aside from Eagle Rock, Cabresto, Middle Fork, and Eagle Nest, nearby lakes include Hopewell, Heron, El Vado, Sanchez (Colorado) and Platoro (Colorado) Reservoirs. East of Questa, lake opportunities include Sugarite, Springer, and Charette Lakes.
- There’s nothing I can tell a Questeño about fishing, but I do have a suggestion or two that, based on my experiences dealing with trout around the state, a Q-town angler wants to at least think about:
- Probably because of COVID-19, fishing waters have gotten extremely crowded in the past year. Among other things, crowds are associated with interpersonal tension and trash on the ground. Knowing this going in, bring a garbage bag with you and start picking up litter whenever a nearby angler gets on your nerves (casts across your line, plays loud music). You will be doing the two of you a favor.
- If you’re going to drink alcohol, make sure you have a driver with you. The rest of us anglers don’t want to put our lives in your hands on the curvy New Mexico highways.
- Make sure you’re stocked with water and sunscreen, since you might fall asleep in the full midday sun. If you’re going somewhere by yourself, let someone know where you are so they’ll know where to search several days after you don’t come home.
- Don’t discard fishing line and hooks, full (or empty) diapers, drink containers, candy wrappers, cigarette butts, or anything you wouldn’t permanently leave on your own living room floor. Seriously, it’s time New Mexico stopped teaching its children that littering is not disgusting.
- Consider releasing some of your catch and keeping only what you’ll want to eat in the next day or two. If given a choice, release the native (cutthroat) and wild (streamborn brown, brook, rainbow) and keep the stockers. Stockers aren’t bred for long life and aren’t healthy for fisheries anyway. They’re made to be eaten.
- Most important, have a great National Go Fishing Day, or month, or whatever the case may be. Come to think of it, isn’t every day National Fishing Day?