Fishing for Trout in the Southwest

Whether you plan on a few hours of fishing on a pristine stream close to home or are looking for a weekend trip wading in a wild river, grab a friend and check out one of the great spots in the southwest!


Some of the best things about fishing in Northern New Mexico is perfect weather, year round access to crisp mountain lakes, and knock-you-down canyon streams offering a diverse choice of waters and wide varieties of fish. The rare Rio Grande cutthroat can still be found in some remote headwater streams, like the Rio Costilla, near the NM/CO border. Although their wild populations have been impacted due to interbreeding with rainbow trout creating the cuttbow species, restocking streams with pure strains of this beautiful trout has begun. Don’t underestimate their small size; they hit hard, promising an enjoyable experience. Brown and Rainbow trout can be found in most New Mexico streams while others are still full of Brooks.  The Cimarron River is a fairly accessible tailwater located in the beautiful Cimarron Canyon, with average size wild brown trout in the 10 to 14 inches range. If you don’t mind a hike before you start to cast, the wild Rio Grande Gorge River is a good choice for the physically fit. Flowing from Colorado into New Mexico for about 70 miles, it offers the perfect setting for those that prefer a more remote location. But the season is fairly short, typically from September to November with hit or miss results. Visit the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish at for more information on fishing in New Mexico.


Western Colorado provides many choice spots, both public and private. Big Horn Sheep Canyon is popular due to easy public fishing access and excellent climate. Whether you float fish along the shore or wade in, it is sure to be a good time. The Animas River, flowing between Durango and New Mexico holds both brown and rainbow trout. Special permits are needed as the river flows through the Southern Ute Indian reservation. Of Colorado’s over 9000 miles of trout streams and lakes, only 322 hold the “Gold Medal” signature, which means the water produces at least 60 pounds of trout per acre and at least twelve 14″ or larger trout per acre. Both the Big Horn Sheep Canyon and the Animas carry the label. The South Platte River, also a Gold Medal label, provides an abundance of fly fishing opportunities. The Eleven Mile Canyon section, with an abundant bug population, ensures a great time for a quick stepping angler. But if you are looking for big, head to the Dream Stream, where you can hook some monstrous trout in the spring and fall. Because of its popularity, the crowds in this stream can, at times, make you feel like you are casting your nymphs or streamers from a New York subway. Visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife site at for more information.


Year round fishing opportunities abound in Arizona. Just east of Pinetop, the Mongollion Rim’s Canyon, Chevelon, and East Clear Creeks offer the best stream fishing.  Surrounding lakes are stocked from April to September, with the best trout fishing occurring in the spring and fall. The beautiful Colorado River in the northwest part of the state includes four reservoirs stocked with trout, striped and largemouth bass as well as catfish. If you are looking for a trophy catch, the Alamo Reservoir on the Bill Williams River, just east of Parker, offers up some big, largemouth bass. The North Central Region, from Flagstaff to Camp Verde offers both cold and warm water lakes or streams and some of the best variety of catches in the whole state. The Oak Creek has an abundance of wild brown trout and the small lakes around the Flagstaff area are stocked weekly with trout.  Fishing in the summer in most parts of Arizona can be dangerous due to the temperature and remote locations so be sure to bring plenty of water and adequate gas. Visit the Arizona Game & Fish Department site at for more information.

One word of caution when fishing in the Southwest – monsoon rains may cause flash flood warnings and mountain roads may be closed due to road obstruction.

Extreme weather conditions, especially in the desert and high desert may occur. Late spring or early fall snowfalls are not unheard of in higher elevations.

Want more information like this? Subscribe today and get the latest news!

Join the Discussion   Add Your Comment

  1. Jeff Davis says:

    Thank you! Appreciate the trout info. The Arkansas river, also blue ribbon from pueblo, west to Salida is great fishing.

What's Your Opinion?

We welcome your comments! Join the discussion and let your voice be heard.