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Crappie Fishing Lakes in New Mexico

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Elephant Butte Lake

I was exploring top crappie fishing locations in New Mexico, I arrived at Elephant Butte Lake and fell in love with this place. Allow me to share my experience with this fantastic destination for crappie fishing!

Located just north of Truth or Consequences, Elephant Butte Lake is the largest reservoir in New Mexico. It spans over 36,000 acres and has over 200 miles of shoreline. With plenty of space to fish, I never felt crowded while enjoying my time there.

When it comes to crappie fishing, the key to success at Elephant Butte Lake are the brushy flats. These areas are prime trophy crappie territory! Moreover, I discovered that the best time to fish for crappie here is during the spring spawning season, from late February through early May. Keep an eye out for submerged structures, as these could be excellent points to catch some crappie.

A few tips and techniques that worked well for me while fishing at Elephant Butte Lake were:

  • Vertical jigging with 1/16 ounce or 1/8 ounce jig heads, and
  • Drifting minnow rigs using live minnows on a slip float.

Here’s a list of some of the amazing facilities that I found at Elephant Butte Lake. They certainly made my fishing trip a breeze:

  • Multiple marinas
  • Boat ramps
  • Fishing piers
  • Picnic areas
  • Campgrounds (both RV and tent)

Another noteworthy point is that I found several friendly local fishing guides ready to show me the ropes around Elephant Butte Lake. If you’re a beginner or just want to enhance your crappie fishing game, hiring a guide is an excellent idea. They even provided me with their tried-and-tested secret fishing spots!

I remember the excitement that coursed through me as I prepped my trusty 6-foot, ultra-light rod, paired with a delicate reel that I had meticulously spooled with 4-pound test line. The choice of tackle was crucial; crappie are known for their soft bite, and the finesse of my gear would allow me to feel even the slightest nibble.

crappie caught with orange jig

As I boarded my modest 16-foot aluminum boat, the cool morning air was a refreshing contrast to the warm, clear water that lapped gently against the hull. I had equipped the boat with a basic sonar unit, which would prove invaluable in locating the underwater structures—sunken trees, brush piles, and rocky outcrops—that crappie are so fond of.

With a practiced hand, I tied a small, 1/16-ounce jig head to my line, adorning it with a 2-inch chartreuse soft plastic grub that seemed to dance enticingly in the water. Crappie are suckers for such lures, and I felt a surge of anticipation imagining the thump of a fish taking the bait.

I navigated to my favorite spot, a secluded cove where I had previously enjoyed success. The depth finder showed a drop-off from 8 to about 15 feet, where I knew crappie would be schooling in the cooler, deeper water. I positioned the boat quietly, careful not to disturb the water too much, and dropped my anchor.

The first few casts were met with the serene stillness of the morning—no bites, just the gentle lapping of water against my line. But patience is a virtue in fishing, and it wasn’t long before I felt a subtle tug. I lifted the rod tip in a smooth, firm motion, setting the hook. The rod bent in a graceful arc as the fish fought for freedom, but the battle was short-lived. I reeled in a beautiful speckled crappie, its silver and black pattern glinting in the early light. It was a decent size, about 12 inches long and weighing close to a pound—a respectable catch, and a sign of good things to come.

Throughout the day, the lake revealed its bounty. I caught several more crappie, each one a small triumph of technique and patience. Some were smaller, around 9 inches, while others matched the size of my first catch. I carefully measured and released the smaller ones, keeping only those that met the state’s size regulations.

As the sun climbed higher and the day grew warmer, the bite slowed down. I decided to take a break, enjoying a simple lunch of sandwiches and cold drinks on the boat, reveling in the peace of the lake. It was moments like these, surrounded by nature’s splendor and the satisfaction of a morning well spent, that I cherished the most.

nice crappie

Navajo Lake

Navajo Lake is one of my personal favorite crappie fishing spots in New Mexico. With its crystal clear water and beautiful surroundings, it’s not only a great place to fish but also a perfect location for a day trip or even a weekend getaway. Here are a few reasons why I love crappie fishing at Navajo Lake:

  • Variety of fish species: Apart from crappies, Navajo Lake is home to several other fish species such as bass, pike, and catfish. Catching different species can add excitement to your fishing adventure.
  • Scenic beauty: The lake is surrounded by beautiful landscapes that make your fishing experience even more enjoyable.
  • Multiple access points: There are numerous marinas, boat ramps, and fishing docks available around the lake to provide easy access for anglers.

When it comes to crappie fishing at Navajo Lake, timing is important. In general, crappies can be found throughout the year, but the best seasons are spring and fall. During these periods, crappies tend to be more active and closer to the shore, making it easier for anglers to catch them.

For a successful crappie fishing experience, I suggest the following tactics:

  1. Use light tackle: Crappies have a softer mouth, so using light tackle can help prevent the fish from tearing free.
  2. Fish near structures: Crappies love to congregate near underwater structures such as submerged logs, rocks, and aquatic plants. Cast your line near these structures to increase your chances of catching them.
  3. Experiment with live bait: Although artificial lures can be effective, using live bait, such as minnows or small worms, can significantly increase your chances of catching crappies.


Caballo Lake

I was amazed by the beautiful views and the abundance of fish this lake has to offer. Clear blue waters surrounded by picturesque landscapes make for a fishing experience I won’t soon forget.

The lake is home to both white crappie and black crappie, providing a fantastic opportunity to catch both species in a single trip. I found the fish to be most active during early morning and late afternoon, which also provided a perfect opportunity to enjoy the sunrise and sunset over the lake.

While fishing at Caballo Lake, I noticed a few key locations that seemed to attract crappie:

  • Near underwater structures such as fallen trees and rock piles
  • Around the edges of aquatic vegetation
  • In deeper waters during warmer months

Here’s a handy list of tips that helped me enjoy my most successful crappie fishing experience at Caballo Lake:

  1. Use light line and tackle: Crappie have great eyesight, so using a 4-6 lb test line with a light jig or lure will increase your chances of success.
  2. Pay attention to water temperature: Crappie prefer waters between 55°F and 68°F.
  3. Experiment with live bait: Using small minnows can attract crappie in both shallow and deep waters.
  4. Fish near structure: Target submerged trees, rock piles, and vegetation where crappie like to hide.

To make my fishing trip more enjoyable, I made sure to bring essential equipment including:

  • A lightweight spinning rod and reel combo
  • Jigs and/or lures designed for crappie fishing
  • Live bait (minnows) and a proper container
  • A portable fish finder, to locate schools of crappie in deeper waters
  • Fishing license and regulations booklet, to stay informed of local guidelines

releasing crappie

Santa Rosa Lake

One of the best things about crappie fishing at Santa Rosa Lake is the two distinct species you can catch: white crappie and black crappie. Both species can be found around submerged structures and at varying depths, making each fishing trip an exciting and unique experience.

When fishing for crappie, I use a few techniques and baits:

  • Jigs: Small jigs in various colors work well, with chartreuse, pink, and white being my go-to choices.
  • Live bait: Minnows are the most popular bait for crappie fishing. I like to use a slip bobber rig with a minnow suspended just above the crappie’s preferred depth.
  • Plastic baits: Soft plastic bait, such as tube jigs or curly tail grubs, can also be effective when targeting crappie.

Some tips for increasing your success at Santa Rosa Lake include:

  1. Fishing during the early morning or late afternoon for better bite windows.
  2. Experimenting with different depths, as crappie tend to move throughout the day.
  3. Slow retrieves, as crappie tend to prefer a slower and more natural presentation.

In addition to crappie fishing, Santa Rosa Lake State Park offers a variety of amenities, such as:

CampingThe park offers several developed campgrounds with electric and non-electric sites.
Boat LaunchRamp access to the lake makes launching your boat or kayak easy.
Picnic AreasPicnic tables and shelters are available for a relaxing lunch by the water.

With its beautiful scenery and great crappie fishing opportunities, Santa Rosa Lake should be on every angler’s list of must-visit destinations in New Mexico. Happy fishing!

Conchas Lake

I recently visited Conchas Lake, a beautiful spot for crappie fishing enthusiasts located in New Mexico. By the end of my trip, I discovered some awesome fishing spots where anglers can find plentiful crappie.

The first location worth mentioning is the South Area. There are two main options to access this part of the lake:

  1. Bluff Point
  2. Fox Canyon

During my visit, I found both spots to be excellent choices for catching crappie. The water was clear and the weather was perfect, which made it an unforgettable experience.

Moving on, another fantastic area in Conchas Lake is the Bell Point. Here’s a table comparing South Area and Bell Point in terms of their key features:

FeatureSouth AreaBell Point
Water Depthranges from 10-25 feetranges from 15-30 feet
Fish Populationmoderate to highhigh
Accessboat ramps at both locationsmultiple boat ramps

In both areas, it’s common to find White Crappie and Black Crappie. They often flock to areas with underwater structure, so keep an eye out for those spots.

Finally, I must mention Sierra Marina, a location on the north side of the lake where not only crappie thrives, but also other species like largemouth bass and walleye. The marina offers convenient access points and a variety of amenities like boat rentals.

Brantley Lake

Brantley Lake is one of my favorite spots for crappie fishing in New Mexico. Located just 12 miles south of Carlsbad, it’s a convenient and picturesque location offering a diverse ecosystem perfect for anglers like me.

The lake stretches over 4,000 acres, and with a maximum depth of 77 feet, it’s an ideal habitat for both black and white crappie. Some of the best fishing areas can be found along the dam and near submerged brush piles. However, I also recommend exploring the shallow flats, as crappie tend to feed in these areas early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

When it comes to bait, I’ve found the most success using live minnows and small jigs. You can experiment with various colors and sizes to find what works best for you. I like to rig my minnows with a slip bobber setup, allowing for easy depth adjustments depending on where the fish are biting.

Here’s a list of my go-to gear for successful crappie fishing at Brantley Lake:

  • Light spinning reel
  • 4-6 lb. test line
  • Assortment of small jigs (1/16 oz. and 1/32 oz.)
  • Slip bobber and stops
  • Live minnows

Aside from great fishing opportunities, Brantley Lake State Park also offers a variety of amenities for visitors, including boat ramps, picnic areas, and camping facilities. This means you can make a weekend trip out of your crappie fishing adventure! Just make sure to follow the park rules and regulations, as these are in place to protect the wildlife and preserve the natural beauty of the area.

Bluewater Lake

I recently visited Bluewater Lake in New Mexico, and I must say it’s a true paradise for crappie fishing enthusiasts like me. Located in the Zuni Mountains, the lake offers an unforgettable experience with its majestic views and excellent fishing opportunities.

When I arrived, I noticed that the lake is well-stocked with white and black crappie, making it a prime destination for anglers. I was pleased to find several fishing spots along the shoreline as well as accessible piers and boat ramps for convenient launching.

To increase my chances of catching crappies, I used the following techniques and baits:

  • Jigs – Crappies love colorful jigs that mimic their natural prey. I stuck to 1/16 or 1/32-ounce jigs dressed with marabou or soft plastics.
  • Minnows – A classic choice for crappie fishing, I used live minnows combined with a slip bobber at varying depths to entice bites.
  • Spider rigging – This technique involves trolling multiple rods at different depths simultaneously. I found it to be especially effective for locating schools of crappies.

Below are my personal recommendations for the best times to fish for crappies in Bluewater Lake:

Time of DaySeason

While fishing, I couldn’t help but admire the abundant wildlife surrounding the lake, including elk, mule deer, and even the occasional bald eagle. In addition to crappie, the lake also harbors other fish species such as:

  • Catfish
  • Trout
  • Tiger muskie

Remember to bring plenty of sunscreen, and don’t forget that a New Mexico fishing license is required to fish in Bluewater Lake. Overall, my fishing trip to Bluewater Lake was simply fantastic, and I can’t wait to return in the near future for more crappie fishing adventures.

crappie in hand

Local Regulations and Licenses

As an angler, I always make it a point to familiarize myself with the local fishing regulations and licensing requirements whenever I’m fishing in new waters. New Mexico has its share of rules we should all follow in order to promote responsible and sustainable fishing. Let me share some important pointers with you.

Fishing Licenses: First and foremost, anyone aged 12 or older must have a valid New Mexico fishing license to fish in the state’s waters. You can purchase licenses through the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish website or at various local retailers.

License Fees:

  • Annual License (Resident): $25
  • Annual License (Non-resident): $56
  • One-day License: $12
  • Junior License: $5

In case you’re wondering, there are days designated as “Free Fishing Days” where no license is required. However, all other fishing regulations still apply.

Moving on to the regulations:

  1. Catch and release: To ensure the population of crappie in New Mexico remains sustainable, it’s vital to practice catch and release. Once you’ve caught the fish, gently remove the hook and return it to the water as soon as possible.
  2. Creel limit: There’s a daily creel limit of 20 combined black and white crappie per angler. Please make sure to respect this rule and help preserve our crappie fishery for future generations.
  3. Bait usage: Live baitfish are generally permitted in New Mexico. However, it’s necessary to check for local regulations at each lake since some may have specific restrictions related to invasive species control.

Lastly, it’s essential to respect the environment during your fishing trips. Dispose of any trash properly and never introduce any new organisms or pollutants into the water system.


big crappie caught fishing with red and yellow lure

Planning Your Crappie Fishing Trip in New Mexico

When I plan my crappie fishing trip in New Mexico, the first thing I do is research the best lakes for crappie fishing. In my research, I found that New Mexico has plenty of lakes that offer fantastic crappie fishing opportunities. Some of my personal favorites include:

  1. Elephant Butte Lake
  2. Conchas Lake
  3. Navajo Lake
  4. Caballo Lake
  5. Brantley Lake
  6. Sumner Lake
  7. Ute Lake
  8. Santa Rosa Lake
  9. Abiquiu Lake
  10. Clayton Lake

Of course, I always check the local fishing regulations and obtain any necessary licenses before I set out on my trip. After I have chosen which lake I’m going to fish at, I make sure to pack all of my essential fishing gear. For crappie fishing, this usually includes:

  • A lightweight spinning rod and reel combo
  • 4-8 lb. test monofilament fishing line
  • Small jigs in various colors
  • Small live minnows (if permitted) or soft plastic lures
  • A light action bobber or slip float
  • Needle-nose pliers for removing hooks
  • A portable tackle box to organize lures and gear