August Fishing Report – Jicarilla Lake

Taylor Streit Fly FishingThese lakes are south of the town of Dulce about 30 miles west of Chama. In my earlier book Fly Fishing NM, I listed several lakes to fish here. Although the north central part of the state has been largely unaffected by climate change––the inconvenient truth is that global warming has reduced the fishing to just two trout lakes. The better of the two seems to be Mondo Lake which has warm-water species as well as bass, trout, small sunfish, catfish and tiger muskie.

It used to be that Stone Lake was a famous fishery for huge rainbows. They were stocked in spring and within a year the rainbows were gargantuan as they chewed on the meaty and chewy water dog. Fisherman in-the-know would drive for hundreds of miles to get one of the lunkers. Lets hope for more continued rain and snow, and more and more normal—do we recall normal?—temperatures.

What actually hurts these fisheries is not the high water temperatures per se, but the weed growth that comes with it. As weeds die in winter and decay they take the oxygen out of the water. Also, weed beds impede the movement of fish––and anglers.

Trout population in a lake can and will change from season to season and within a season, so be sure to find out what the current status is. (I wouldn’t trust web info on this score…but there is a blog that I like, As of this visit in the summer of 2017, Enbom Lake seems to be weeding up badly and trout numbers are thin. The trout in this lake do not winter over but can reach decent size by late summer. It is wise to bring a float tube as vegetation covers the shoreline.

Both Mundo Lake and Enbom Lake are good places to camp (camping is included with your fishing permit.) There are a couple of spots on the hill at Mundo with shade. Enbom is stunningly beautiful with the Southern San Juan’s of Colorado as a backdrop. (In sharp contrast to barren and featureless Stone Lake down the road). Enbom has a couple of fair camping spots, but they have no shade.

Mundo Lake is close to the town of Dulce and although it has had some success at becoming a warm-water fishery–trout are still the main draw. On a recent trip there I only caught smaller trout, but I did spot a 20-inch rainbow cruising close to shore. This means that the trout are holding-over in Mondo and may get large. (Well 20-inch is pretty dang large!)

To harness a burgeoning population of sunfish, tiger muskies have been stocked. They must be returned to the water unharmed and have been known to be caught by accident on little trout flies.

The amount of open clear water here is good but a boat, or float tube is almost mandatory to get beyond the summer weeds. Obviously, these lakes are best fished before the weeds have bloomed––before mid-June and perhaps as early as March.

Another option for good fishing is the Navajo River north of Dulce. This stream is barely fished and is a decent sized river. It often muds up in summer—so beware. The tribe has done much to improve the stream and the trout will be good-sized, but not numerous. Beginners probably shouldn’t bother with this stream but the better than average angler can spot the best water. And just by fishing the top spots—as well as covering a lot of stream—the experienced angler can do well here. I’ve never been lucky enough to be there at the right time, but it has been reported that there are some very large brown trout spawning out of Navajo Lake in late fall.

Bird life is profuse in the lakes and this is a well-known birding spot as it receives migrations of water fowl, eagles and osprey. (Check out the dead tree in the water on the east side of Mundo as it has nests of cormorant and blue heron. It is also a popular look-out spot that the osprey use.)

If you are the Ed Abbey type this is your kind of country as the rez is two million acres and is quite unpopulated. The fishing and camping are reasonably priced. Spend any time there and you are likely to see a record book mule deer buck or bull elk too. Hunts for these critters are not reasonably priced! But hey, you’re out there to catch some fish!

by Taylor Streit

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