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Sandia Lakes Offers Top Notch Winter Angling Amid Spectacular Scenery

Posted by on January 31, 2011

By Karl Moffatt
If the dead of winter makes you stir crazy then there may be no better escape than a quick trip to New Mexico’s fanciest fishing hole.

Sandia Lakes’ recently remodeled park located just south of Bernalillo on the State Road 313 features spectacular scenery, excellent accommodations, spacious surroundings and plenty of good fishing.

“They’ve done an excellent job out here, “says Joyce Maldonado, 44, of Albuquerque who recently visited the lakes for the first time at her husband’s urging.”It’s really beautiful, the facilities are wonderful and the restrooms are even heated.”

The scenic Sandia Mountains overlook Sandia lakes.

Anglers itching to get out for the day will find the park within easy reach of Santa Fe and Albuquerque and good winter trout fishing due to a generous stocking program and the lakes high tech underpinnings.

Oxygen diffusers are installed in each of the dredged, deepened and lined ponds to provide fish a quality environment in which to reside.

The park also features a state of the art holding facility where fish can be temporarily stored while awaiting stocking.

Trout are stocked for winter and spring fishing while catfish replace them during the heat of the summer and fall.

The park features three lakes including the recently opened catch and release pond where fishing for trophy trout on the fly can be had under a winter special for just $10 a day.

A lone angler enjoys an afternoon of chasing trout at the catch and release pond at Sandia Lakes.

The use of single, barbless, lures or flies is required on the catch and release pond but tandem flies rigs are permitted. All fish must be netted when caught and kept in the water while unhooked.

A state fishing license is not needed at the angling park owned and operated by Sandia Pueblo. 

During a recent visit on a warm, sunny, winter’s day, the fishing proved productive and fun while the views of the surrounding Bosque and the Sandia Mountains made passing the time between strikes, relaxing and enjoyable.

Snow geese and ducks provided occasional entertainment while the eerie cries of an unseen group of wintering cranes drifted over from a nearby pasture. An Amtrak train added to the atmosphere when it zipped by on the nearby railroad tracks and left the lonely wail of its horn trailing in its wake.

The pavilion and catch and release pond at Sandia Lakes. 

Park Manager, Michael Bridges, 54, of Albuquerque, says the catch and release pond is part of the park’s private, pavilion area which can be rented for graduation parties, family reunions, company picnics and even weddings.

The pavilion features a spacious, covered patio with seating, an attached, fully equipped commercial kitchen, gas fired BBQ grills and a nearby playground and restrooms.

Bridges, who holds a bachelors degree in biology and economics from UNM (University of New Mexico) and a master’s degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix, has previously worked for outdoor recreational giants such as REI and Sportsman’s Warehouse.

Bridges says he loves his new job working with Sandia Pueblo and with a sweep of his arm noted how the work environment couldn’t be beat either.

Michael Bridges, Manager, Sandia Lakes.

Those seeking to fill their freezer will find two more lakes south of the pavilion area where bait can be used to catch and keep a total of five fish per day at $20, four for seniors who pay $15 and three fish for kids under 12-years-old who are charged $12 for the day.

Joyce Maldonado, 44, of Albuquerque shows off one of many nice fish she caught during a January, 2011 outing  to Sandia Lakes.

These two lakes cover about 18 acres and are surrounded by towering cottonwood trees and a loop walking trail. Visitors pay just $3 to hang out without fishing.

On the interconnected lakes anglers with find amenities such as some 51 sun shelters, convenient parking areas and numerous clean, heated and well equipped restrooms.

One of the clean, heated, and well equipped restrooms at Sandai Lakes.

The lakes also feature several handicapped accessible fishing stations as well as a fully stocked bait and tackle shop that sells gear, beer and snacks by friendly, helpful clerks.

There’s even a fish cleaning station for the customers’ convenience.

Overall the lakes at Sandia Pueblo may very well have set the bar for tribal operated fishing parks with its remodel of this old, favorite, winter fishing hole. See their website at for more info.

The store at Sandia Lakes is well stocked including bait, tackle, snacks and even beer.

If You Go:

From Santa Fe take I-25 south to the Tramway exit and head west to towards the river and at the traffic circle take State Road 313 back north towards Bernalillo. Sandia lakes will be on the left shortly.
For a more scenic drive home, stay on 313 through the town of Bernalillo, past Santa Ana Pueblo and on to San Felipe Pueblo. Stay on the road as it winds through the pueblo until it meets and intersection just past the playing fields and then head east back to the interstate. The more adventurous can go straight at this intersection and follow the dirt road all the way to Santo Domingo Pueblo (now known as Kewa Pueblo) and then head east back to the interstate.

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