(excerpted from the Flyfisher’s Guide to™ New Mexico by Van Beacham) –
New Mexico has a wide variety of cold and warmwater game fish that flyfishers can pursue, ranging from the normal trout species to cuttbow hybrids, kokanee salmon, striped bass, walleye, and even catfish. The NMDGF regulations booklet gives a description of each of these, but most flyfishers concentrate on the few species listed below.
The rainbow trout takes its name from the pinkish-red band along the midline of its flanks. This band may be heavy or almost nonexistent, leaving the fish a silvery color. The fish is marked across its head, back, and upper flanks with many small, irregular black spots that are concentrated most heavily on its squarish tail.
The brown trout’s basic coloration is golden-brown, with the back ranging from dark-brown to greenish-brown and its sides and belly ranging from light tan to lemon-yellow or white. The back and flanks are marked with many large black or brown spots. The few red spots on the lower flanks are surrounded by light blue-gray halos. There are few or no spots on its squarish tail.
Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout
(Oncorhynchus clarki virginalis)
Although not quite as brilliantly colored as cutthroat subspecies like the greenback or Colorado River, the Rio Grande is a beautiful trout native to New Mexico’s waters. The Rio Grande has the famous red/orange gill plates that mark all cutthroats and a colorful body. It has spots that are clustered primarily at the back of the body near the tail. Small spots are also distributed sparsely along the back. Several other cutthroat subspecies have been introduced into state waters, often mixing with rainbow trout (cuttbows). Efforts are now underway to restore Rio Grandes to as much of their native range as possible.
The most distinctive markings on a brook trout are the white and black edges on the front of the lower fins, the wavy or wormlike markings on the back, and scattered red spots surrounded by blue halos on the flanks. Brook trout are dark green or blue-black on the back to white on the belly. The belly and lower fins turn brilliant red on spawning males in the fall. The tail is square.
The smallmouth bass, often called bronze bass in New Mexico, is dark olive to brown on the back, with bronze flanks and a white belly. It has dark ventricle bands on the flanks. Its eyes are reddish, and the upper jaw ends in front of the eye. There is a shallow notch in the dorsal fin.