New Mexico is a state of abundant outdoor opportunity. For people living with disabilities, accessing these opportunities can sometimes be tricky.

Thankfully, state, federal, private businesses and non-profit organizations are working together to create a situation in New Mexico where people of all abilities can enjoy the Land of Enchantment’s great outdoors.

There are a lot of access improvement projects going on across our state; here are just a few of the locations that are being singled out in this week’s report for their quality adaptive fishing opportunities.

San Juan River

At the Texas Hole, there are several piers that have been created so that people in wheelchairs can access the bank of New Mexico’s premiere trout fishing destination. Cottonwood Campground on the San Juan near the Navajo Dam community also offers accessible riverbank improvements. Accessible drift boats, like those in the pictures from GO Unlimited, allow disabled anglers to access even more river for fishing on the San Juan.

For anglers with a little more mobility, the San Juan River offers multiple parking locations close to the river with good access for those that can walk a short distance. For disabled veteran, Hugo Melchor, wading and fly fishing the San Juan has been a vital “therapy” in his recovery.

Navajo Lake

New Mexico’s second largest lake located in northwestern New Mexico offers angling opportunities for a variety of fish species including bass, trout, kokanee salmon, pike, crappie, perch and catfish. The newly revamped Navajo Dam Marina created a fishing hole for all anglers and abilities. The fishing hole is also lighted for night fishing. To access the entire lake, accessible pontoon boats are great for fishing for anglers with disabilities.

Tingley Beach

Tingley Beach, in Albuquerque, offers accessible bank fishing. Catching can also be quite good because the department routinely stocks trout in the winter and catfish in the summer

Eagle Nest Lake

Eagle Nest Lake near Angel Fire has multiple accessible docks for anglers with disabilities to fish from. Anglers often report having good success fishing from these docks catching perch, trout and pike.

Red River & Eagle Rock Lake

The Red River, in and near the town of Red River, has multiple accessible pond and river fishing locations. Red River is a neat mountain town rich in outdoor sport, recreation, vacation, lodging and tourist opportunities. This unique blend of opportunities is perfect for any angler and their entire family to enjoy some time in the mountains.

Eagle Rock Lake, located between the town of Red River and Questa, has accessible bank fishing accommodations. Anglers often report having good success fishing for trout using PowerBait, salmon eggs and spinners.

Elephant Butte Lake

Though the sandy bank can be an obstacle for anglers who use a wheelchair for mobility, good accessible fishing opportunities can be found at the marinas. Night fishing under the lights can yield catching a lot of fish. Anglers often report having good success catching white bass, crappie, catfish and walleye using jigs tipped with minnows and worms.

As a manual wheelchair user, the single most effective adaptive piece of equipment that I have found to support my “off road” outdoor endeavors like camping, fishing, and hunting is the FreeWheel. It is amazing how much easier it is to traverse dirt, sand, rocks and grass using the FreeWheel.

For accessing lakes and rivers it is hard to compete with the naturally accessible pontoon boat and custom drift boats. As the demand for accessible, family-friendly and fun fishing trips grows, so does the availability of those related equipment genres.

A huge thank you to the many family members, friends, volunteers, fellow outdoorsmen, organizations and all those who help facilitate adaptive angling pursuits.

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