New Mexico Salmon Snagging Season Opens Nov. 8 at Heron Lake


Snagging season for kokanee salmon opens Friday, Nov. 8 and ends Dec. 31 at Heron Lake, where fisheries biologists currently are gathering and fertilizing salmon eggs for future stocking.

Anglers already have been snagging salmon at Abiquiu Lake, the Chama River from El Vado Lake to the west boundary of the Rio Chama wildlife and fishing area, the Pine River, El Vado Lake, Navajo Lake and Eagle Nest Lake, where the season runs Oct. 1 through Dec. 31. Snagging was reported as excellent at Navajo Lake by anglers working the south corner of the dam Oct. 29, but it has slowed at Eagle Nest and El Vado.

Kokanee are land-locked sockeye salmon that form giant schools, spawn and then die every fall. Snagging is a technique for harvesting the soon-to-die salmon.

“Snagging is a yearly tradition that allows people to access an otherwise untappable New Mexico resource that we would hate to see go to waste,” Department Fisheries Chief Mike Sloane said.

Biologists sort and fertilize the eggs, and then hatch and grow them at the department’s Los Ojos hatchery. The salmon fingerlings will be used for future stocking at Heron, Navajo, Abiquiu, El Vado, and Eagles Nest Lakes.

The fish thrive in the deep, cold, plankton-producing lakes of New Mexico. In the fall, anglers snag salmon by repeatedly casting large, weighted treble hooks into schools, and then reeling in their lines. The bag limit is 12 salmon a day and 24 in possession. If another species is caught by snagging, it immediately must be returned to the water.

The 2013-2014 New Mexico Fishing Rules and Information Booklet lists two dates as the start of the snagging season at Heron Lake and Willow Creek. The correct season opening date is Friday, Nov. 8.

For more information about New Mexico fishing regulations and angling opportunities, please visit

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