Best Fishing Spots Near Rio Rancho, NM

Best Fishing Spots Near Rio Rancho, NM

Posted on June 28, 2022

Rainbows averaging 16 to 18 inches? Ice fishing? Trophy-sized browns? If you are casting for some great fishing, you will find all that and more in New Mexico. And located in the heart of the state, Rio Rancho is the perfect base for enviable river and lake fishing spots, whether you want to spend the weekend or just a few hours.

Here are a few favorite locations where you can find tons of freshwater fish. Remember, that while fishing in New Mexico, anglers 12 years and older must possess a valid New Mexico Fishing License or Game-hunting & Fishing license. Licenses are valid April 1 through March 31 of the following year. A New Mexico Fishing License is not required on tribal reservations and private Class-A lakes. Purchase fishing licenses here:

Rio Chama

If you are looking for trout Rio Chama, about 3 hours from Mariposa, is the place for you. The Rio Chama is a major tributary of the Rio Grande, in Northern New Mexico. From El Vado Dam the Rio Chama continues south, entering Chama Canyon and Santa Fe National Forest and the Chama River Canyon Wilderness. Then the river enters Abiquiu Lake, the reservoir created by Abiquiu Dam.

An excellent fishing stream that consistently produces trophy size brown trout. Access at El Vado Lake and near the Abiquiu Ghost Ranch.  The section from El Vado Reservoir has been designated as a wild and scenic river. Fish species include brown trout, rainbow trout and kokanee salmon. A 34 mile stretch of river. Best trout fishing is within several miles of El Vado Dam.

One of the best spots is at the Rio Chama Wildlife Area off NM 112, a few miles south from US 64/84. Also check out Big Eddy, located off of FR 151 along the Rio Chama and north of Abiquiu Lake.

San Juan River

For some of the best trout fishing in the country head to the San Juan River. To enhance the quality of fishing on the San Juan, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has special regulations in place for the water below the dam. The first 4 miles below the dam is fly and lure, barbless hook, catch-and-release water and is known as the Quality Water. Angling is limited to artificial flies and lures with single barbless hooks. Be ready to reel in some 16 to 18 inch rainbows and browns.  It is catch and keep below quality waters. Lots of folks suggest hiring a guide for your first outing here.

Some options include:

Distance from Mariposa: 3.5 hours

Eagle Nest Lake State Park

About 3 hours from Mariposa, this alpine lake park is located on the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway and is surrounded by the stunning scenery of the high mountains of the Moreno Valley, including views of Wheeler Peak, the highest point in New Mexico.

Of course, we know you are coming for the fishing, and the lake is regularly stocked with trout and salmon. The locals tell us to look for Northern Pike in the fall. Anglers can fish from the banks or by boat. Ice fishing is available in the winter.

Bluewater Lake State Park

Planning to make a weekend of it? Bluewater Lake State Park is well worth a day trip away from Rio Rancho. Enjoy views towards the Zuni Mountains, with camping, hiking, birding, horseback riding and fishing available. Fishing is also some of the best in the state, with tiger muskie fish. The fishing is best if you have a boat to go out onto the lake.

30 Bluewater State Park Road, Prewitt, NM

Cochiti Lake

Less than an hour north of Rio Rancho is Cochiti Lake, nestled in the foothills of the Jemez Mountains, with a no-wake lake where you can fish directly off the fishing dock or your boat. The lake is a great fishing spot for species such as bass, crappie, walleye, pike, catfish, sunfish and trout.

It is a fee area, $5 per vehicle, but the cost is covered by the campsite fee for visitors staying in the campground.

From Santa Fe, south on I-25 to exit 264, west on Highway 16 and north on Cochiti Highway (Hwy 22). From Albuquerque, north on I-25 to exit 259, northwest on Highway 22.

Isleta Lakes

Another good year-round fishing spot, Isleta Lakes, is located about 20 minutes south of Rio Rancho.  There are two lakes where you can catch catfish in the spring and rainbow trout during the winter months. If you need supplies and bait, you can purchase what you need from the RV park store located near the lakes.

11000 Broadway SE, Albuquerque

Sandia Lakes

Sandia Lakes Recreation Area is about 15 minutes from downtown Rio Rancho, just across the Rio Grande, with three small lakes. You’ll find rainbow trout, catfish and bass. The area offers a private Catch and Release lake for fly fishermen who prefer a quiet surrounding.

Tag tournaments are fun events, with tagged fish stocked at least twice a year, once during each fishing season. During the tournament time, you can win prizes for catching a tagged fish.

76 Sandia Lakes Road, Bernalillo

Tingley Beach

Tingley Beach is located in the heart of Albuquerque, adjacent to the Rio Grande Bosque. The two most popular fish to catch here are catfish and trout. The area also offers wildlife watching, running paths and boating opportunities.

There are three ponds available for fishing. The largest pond, called Central Pond, is where you can use lures and bait. Head to the far end of the park to the Catch and Release Pond if you want to use flies, but as the name suggests, you must release any fish you catch. The third pond, Children’s Pond, is for ages 13 and under.

1800 Tingley Dr SW, Albuquerque

Helpful Weekly Fishing & Stocking Report from New Mexico Game & Fish:

Whether you’re a serious angler or simply looking for a fun way to bond with family members, there is a nearby lake, pond or water source to head to for a little fishing fun.

Looking for a new home or custom homesite near Albuquerque? Nestled among the foothills of Rio Rancho, Mariposa is a master-planned community 30 minutes north of Albuquerque. Mariposa is designed for living naturally and offers a fully equipped fitness center, resort-style indoor and outdoor pools, parks, sports courts, miles of trails, abundant open space and endless views at the Mariposa Preserve and surrounding mountains. Learn more at

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