Limited Fly Fishing for Gila Trout

Angel Fire Fly FishingLAS CRUCES — Limited angling opportunities for Gila trout will open July 1, 2007, in select streams in southwestern New Mexico that have been closed to fishing since 1966, when the Gila trout was first listed as a federal endangered species. The State Game Commission approved the changes based on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to downlist the Gila trout from endangered to threatened.

The new regulations allow the Department of Game and Fish to open angling opportunities for Gila trout and open select streams that previously have been closed to all fishing. Opportunities and rule changes include:

Limited angling will be allowed for Gila trout in Black Canyon Creek from July 1 through September 30 as a Special Trout Water. Fishing will be catch-and-release only with artificial flies or lures and a single barbless hook.

Iron Creek will be open for year-round angling as a Special Trout Water with a two-fish daily limit. Fishing will be with artificial flies or lures and a single barbless hook.

Angel Fire New Mexico Fly FishingRegular trout water rules will apply to McKenna Creek and Sacaton Creek, with no tackle or bait restrictions and a bag limit of five fish per day and no more than 10 in possession.

Everyone who fishes in Black Canyon and Iron Creek must have a Gila Trout Permit along with a valid New Mexico fishing license. Permits are free and are available on the “Buy licenses online” feature of the Department website, .

Upper Black Canyon currently is open to daytime fishing but temporarily closed for camping and at night because of a nearby forest fire. The Aspen Fire, designated as a wildland fire use fire by the U.S. Forest Service, is burning about two miles from Black Canyon. A wildland fire use fire is a naturally caused fire that is being allowed to burn but is closely monitored. The closure area covers eight miles from the mouth of Bonner Creek to the crest of the Black Range Mountains. Overnight camping will be allowed downstream of the fire from the mouth of Bonner Creek to the private property boundary.

The lightning-caused Aspen fire was 72 acres June 29 and was exhibiting low intensity behavior. It has spread very little in the past few days. It is in the Aldo Leopold Wilderness, four miles east of Lower Black Canyon off Forest Road 150, which runs between the Mimbres Valley and Beaverhead. The objectives are to allow it to burn and reduce fuels and improve wildlife and riparian habitats. If the fire intensifies, fire managers will inform people to vacate the area and evaluate the need for a full temporary closure.

Access to Black Canyon can be challenging because of adjacent private property. For more information about access routes or other details, please contact Annette Gomez with the Wilderness Ranger District, (505) 536-2250.
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