Touring New Mexico: Bluewater Lake Explodes onto the National Scene

A fish has turned one of New Mexico’s lakes into a major national story.  Bluewater Lake State Park, located about thirty miles west of Grants, has become a prime fishing ground for the huge tiger muskie.  These fish are so large that the average tiger muskie being caught there is 30 inches long.  That length is not a “keeper” however.  You have to throw those 30 inchers back.  A keeper is a whopping 40 inches!  The muskie in the picture above being held by fishing guide Matt Pelletier measures 48 inches.  There are big wooden fishes on signs to bring the size limits to the attention of anglers.

A tiger muskie is a hybrid--a cross between a male northern pike and a female muskellunge, two of the largest and most sought-after game fish in the country.  But like the mule, tiger muskies are not capable of reproduction.  They were introduced to New Mexico’s Bluewater Lake in 2003 as an excellent way to control an overabundance of white suckers and goldfish.

I’m not sure how the suckers got into Bluewater Lake, but I was told the goldfish were from people using them as bait and dumping their extras into the lake at the end of the trip.  Eventually there were so many goldfish that the lake had a permanent golden glow.  Those introduced tiger muskies stepped right up to the buffet.

At any rate, over 350,000 tiger muskie fry have been added to Bluewater over the last ten years.  Goldfish and white suckers are still fairly abundant, and make up the bulk of the tiger muskie diet.

Meanwhile Bluewater Lake State Park has made several “best-of” lists for fishing tiger muskies in North America.  It does take special fishing gear.  Check out newmexicomuskiesinc.org for information and catch & release procedures.

The best seasons for fishing for tiger muskies are spring and summer.  The lake and campground gets pretty crowded during the hot weather months.  However Bluewater Lake State Park’s campground is less crowded in September and October.  Campsite reservations are available.

The campground consists of rolling hills set in a Juniper and Piñon forest. Many of the sites have some shade and most have a view of the lake.  There are 149 developed campsites, 14 with electricity.  It is at an elevation of 7,400 feet so expect cool nights.

Bluewater Lake is only one example of New Mexico’s wonderful state parks.  There are 33 of them in every corner of the state.  The campground facilities usually include flush toilets and showers.  Prices vary from $10 to $14 depending on whether you need electricity and a water hook-up.  Half a dozen state parks even have wi-fi!  So let’s get out there and enjoy the autumn weather.

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Comment by Izquierdo on October 23, 2013 at 5:45am

Great photo and story. I've sent it to my three kids, all fisherpersons. They've been addicted to Navajo Lake and the San Juan River for decades, got their learner's permits at Fenton and Monastery Lakes and along the Pecos near Pecos. .Bluewater Lake just never seemed appealing, constantly being re-stocked with fingerling trout and once cleaned out completely with Rotonone to eliminate so-called trash fish.  So maybe here's a new adventure, maybe.

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