Fishing Regulations in New Mexico

Last Updated: 25.05.20

New Mexico offers a plethora of angling opportunities for the ever-adventurous fisherman or woman. You can target anything from bass and catfish to perch and crappie, as well as pike, sunfish, salmon, trout, and walleye in this state. To make sure that your angling trip is on par and that you do not risk breaking the law, we suggest first going online to do a bit of research.

While in many other states you are exempt from getting a fishing license if you are under the age of 16, in New Mexico, you have to be the owner of a permit if you are past the age of 12. Anglers who are 11 or younger do not need a fishing license. However, their parents should not assist them in their angling pursuits; otherwise, they might get a ticket.

People older than 70 can get a free fishing license at any vendor. At the time of this writing, an annual fishing license for a resident cost $25 while one destined for non-residents cost $56. One-day and five-day fishing permits are also available and can be bought for $12.00 and  $24.00 respectively, regardless of whether you are a resident or non-resident of New Mexico.


It is unlawful to:

  • Fish on the private property of someone without his or her express permission
  • Use someone else’s permit
  • Pollute or litter any public water
  • Sell or purchase game fish
  • Catch game fish by grappling, trap, seine, or nets
  • Leave a campfire burning


Trout is the star fish of New Mexico, and so there are specific regulations for both warm water and saltwater where this species can be found. In all lakes, streams, and ponds with trout, it is illegal to use any protected fish as bait.

The best thing about New Mexico is that it does not have a closed fishing season. In most of the waters in this state, you are allowed to fish year-round. There are certain limitations as to the size of the fish you can catch and their number. For instance, the possession limit for trout is two per day and four in possession. You can keep up to five brown trout, brook trout, kokanee salmon, or rainbow trout combined.

Kokanee salmon can be snagged only during designated seasons, which vary according to the water you will be doing your fishing in. You can keep up to five largemouth or smallmouth bass per day as long as the first is at least 14 inches long and the second at least 12 inches long.

When it comes to catfish, you can catch and possess as many as fifteen per day. There are no size limitations for this species. In fact, you can even catch as many as you can in the Animas and San Juan Rivers.

Your bag limit for northern pike is ten while that for tiger muskellunge is one and it needs to be at least 40 inches long. Every walleye you catch has to be at least 15 inches long, and you can’t keep more than five per day. White bass has one of the most generous daily bag limits as you are allowed to be in possession of twenty-five.

For all other species such as bullheads, sunfish, or bluegill, you have a daily bag limit of 20.

Something that we feel compelled to note is that there are unique regulations that apply in special Trout Waters, where you might not be allowed to utilize any technique other than catch and release or have a reduced bag limit for this species.



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