Rio Grande National Forest
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  • Fishing

    Remember: You are responsible for your own safety and for the safety of those around you.

    Fishing on national forests and grasslands is sometimes more than a sport. For some, the rewards of lakes, rivers and streams feed families at home or at the campsite.

    State laws apply to fishing laws and regulations on all national forests and grasslands. Some states prohibit putting fish remains into the waters, lakes, streams or rivers after you have cleaned and gutted your catch. Some states set limits on the number of fish you can catch and when. Other rules are imposed by the national forest and grassland, such as not fishing during derbies or in areas posted as closed. Be sure you know the rules before you angle to your favorite fishing spot.


    Educate yourself

    • When choosing a site for fishing, always consider safety factors; since fishing is practiced in a variety of environments, evaluate factors specific to safety in each environment.
    • Obtain travel maps of your destination
    • Review site-specific regulations; contact the land manager for area restrictions, closures and permit requirements.
    • Know your local fishing laws and regulations. Many states have restrictions for certain waters, such as use of artificial flies and lures, single hook flies and lures, barbless or no live bait.
    • Know bag limits and legal length/size of fish you intend to keep.
    • Take recreation skills classes.
    • Know how to operate your equipment safely.

    Be prepared; communicate

    • Make sure your watercraft or vehicle is mechanically up to task.
    • Make a realistic plan and stick to it.
    • Share your plans with someone; if plans change let them know.
    • Prepare for the unexpected: pack first aid kit, emergency items, tools, supplies; bring along extra safety items such as water, flashlights, maps, and a cell phone or radio.
    • Check the weather forecast; be prepared for sudden changes in weather.


    Be safe; stay in control

    • Travel responsibly on land by staying on designated roads, trails or areas. On water stay on designated waterways and launch watercraft in designated areas.
    • If using a boat to fish, wear a life jacket and make sure each passenger wears one too.
    • Always wear foot gear appropriate to the conditions.
    • Buddy up with two or three anglers, reducing vulnerability if you have an accident or breakdown.
    • Keep fishing knives sharp and cover the blade when not in use.
    • Handle fish carefully.
    • Use caution when baiting and removing hooks.

    Respect nature

    • Stay dry, warm and protected from the elements. Wear a waterproof sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. Wear thin layers of clothing that progress outward to include water and wind protection as the final layer
    • Inspect waterfronts daily—the natural environment is subject to change without notice
    • Use appropriate insect protection measures, including proper clothing and repellents.
    • Don’t fish in areas where it is not permitted. These areas have been declared “off limits” to protect wildlife, vegetation, or for your safety.

    Respect others

    • Be prepared with alternative fishing locations if you arrive at an overcrowded area.