Anglers who visit Lake Roberts in southwestern New Mexico this weekend will have a rare chance to catch a large Gila trout after the Department of Game and Fish stocks 150 of the formerly endangered species into the lake.
The trout – retired brood stock from the Mora National Fish Hatchery – will be 15 to 16 inches long. They will join an existing population of rainbow trout, bass and sunfish in the lake. Bag limits for Gila and/or rainbow trout will remain the same: five fish per day and no more than 10 in possession. All anglers ages 12 and older must have a fishing license and appropriate stamps and validations.
Legal angling for Gila trout was reopened in the summer of 2007 after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service downlisted the species from endangered to threatened. The downlisting followed an intensive effort by the federal agency and the Department of Game and Fish to restore the native fish to much of its habitat in the Gila National Forest. The downlisting also allowed agencies to begin stocking more waters with Gila trout to provide more public angling opportunities.
The department is encouraging anglers to take advantage of angling opportunities at Lake Roberts before construction begins in March to renovate the dam and its spillway system to meet safety standards in case of extreme flood events. The lake level will drop 10 feet during renovations, limiting fishing opportunities.
Image courtesy New Mexico Department of Game & Fish