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The Best Fishing Near Ruidoso, NM

Anglers heading to New Mexico to wet a line will find many opportunities for fishing near Ruidoso, NM. The area lakes are teeming with a variety of cold- and warm-water species, and there are six hatcheries that service the state’s lakes, streams, and reservoirs with trout, bass, walleye, and catfish.

Whether you’re staying near Ruidoso for the week or for just a few days, fishing is an excellent pastime that gets you out into the beautiful surroundings to enjoy the weather.

Here are some of the top places to fish near Ruidoso, including right here at the Inn of the Mountain Gods:

Lake Mescalero

Fishing at Lake Mescalero at Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino in New Mexico.

Where: Inn of the Mountain Gods

This lake is located at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort on the Mescalero Apache reservation and makes a convenient option for guests, but is also open to the public. The water is stocked with 20,000 trout annually and allows anglers to enjoy excellent fishing from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily. The state fishing license does not apply at this lake, so you’ll need to purchase a separate fishing permit from the concierge on the 5th floor of the hotel, or at the boathouse by the water.

The boathouse also offers bait for sale and fishing pole rentals. While you’re there, check out the fishing policies, as tribal land laws may vary from state regulations. The boathouse will have everything you need to make a day of your fishing excursion, including:

  • Fishing Permits ($25 plus tax per rod)
  • Bait (cost varies by type and quantity)
  • Poles ($22 with a $25 refundable deposit per pole)

Lake Mescalero is one of the few fishing lakes in the area to allow motorized boats. Call the docks ahead of time to arrange for your boat rental. Ask about the special combo, which includes a pole rental and fishing permit at a discount ($36 plus tax and a $25 deposit). There are a variety of boats to select from, and the prices vary based on the type of vessel and length of reservation.

Alto Lake

Little girl holding a trout fish.

Where: 854 State Highway 48

Contact: (575) 257-5030

Alto Lake is a fishing spot just three miles from nearby Ruidoso. This popular pond is stocked with rainbow trout regularly and catfish and smallmouth bass on occasion. Since anglers are allowed to fish from the shore or a boat, and because most lakes in the region do not allow boats, this pond can get crowded on busy weekends.

The shoreline fishing hours are 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and non-motorized boating hours are from sunrise to sundown; a boating permit is required and may be purchased from a self-serve station at the lake for $5 per day, or $20 per season. Anglers aged 12 and older are required to purchase a New Mexico Fishing License.

The smaller pond—Alto Kids Pond—is a great option for children, especially when the regular pond is busy. Fishing this pond is available only to anglers 11 years old and younger, so it is an ideal place to teach children fishing basics, and there’s no state license required for anglers under 12. The kids’ pond is stocked with catfish, and it’s rumored there are some large ones waiting to be reeled in!

Grindstone Lake

Rainbow trout fish underwater.

Where: 111 Wiggins Way (off Resort Drive)

Contact: (575) 257-5030

Located five miles outside of the town of Ruidoso, Grindstone is an area lake that allows anglers to fish from the shore or from non-motorized boats. Anyone aged 12 or older is required to purchase a New Mexico Fishing License. Boaters must also purchase a permit for their vessel at the self-serve station at the lake (cash only). Shore fishing hours are from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and boating hours are from dawn to dusk. 

This lake is stocked with rainbow trout regularly, and occasionally with smallmouth bass and catfish. The concession stand is open from the end of May through Labor Day and offers fishing equipment and boat rentals for anglers looking to hit the water. Because this lake allows non-motorized boats plus swimming and other recreational activities, it may be busy during summer hours and holidays.

Carrizo Creek

This creek is a favorite catch-and-release spot near Ruidoso that attracts trout anglers. Currently listed as a Special Trout Water by the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish, Carrizo Creek is used as a hatchery for brown trout. The creek begins at Mescalero Lake Dam, and continues to the Chamber of Commerce in Ruidoso, where it joins the Ruidoso River at Two Rivers Park. Please use barbless hooks, and catch and release the trout you net here with extreme care. The park is open from dawn to dusk, and all anglers aged 12 and up are required to obtain a state fishing license. This creek is a tributary of the Rio Ruidoso.

Rio Ruidoso

Anglers cast for trout on this river near Ruidoso. You’ll find a natural population of brown trout in these waters, but the river is also stocked year-round with rainbow trout. Anglers enjoy success with spinners, bait-casting, and fly fishing here, so choose your favorite rod and reel, and cast away.  

Part of the river is located on the Mescalero reservation and is open for fishing from May through September. Permits must be purchased at the reservation entrance, and the state fishing license does not apply to this area of the river. There is another section of the Ruidoso River located off of the reservation that is open to the public for fishing. This section requires any angler over the age of 12 to purchase a state fishing license; the daily state limits apply to this section of the river.

Frequently asked questions about fishing near Ruidoso

What kind of fish are in Alto Lake Ruidoso?

According to Ruidoso Parks and Rec, Alto Lake is reguarly stocked with rainbow trout. Smallmouth bass and catfish are also occasionaly stocked.

What fish are at Grindstone Lake?

Grindstone Lake is reguarly stocked with rainbow trout. Smallmouth bass and catfish are also occasionaly stocked, according to Ruidoso Parks and Rec.

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