Santa Fe River Stocked with Trout in Preparation for Saturday’s Festival

The New Mexican

More than 500 rainbow trout were tossed into the Santa Fe River downtown Friday in preparation for Saturday’s third annual Santa Fe River Festival and fishing derby, set for several blocks of the river between the Alameda Street pedestrian bridge at Shelby Street and De Vargas Park.

Sponsors, including the state Game and Fish Department, the city of Santa Fe, and the Santa Fe Watershed Association, had constructed four temporary sand-bagged spills and holding ponds to keep the fish from escaping downstream before dozens of young fishermen and women could get at them today.

The trout, generally about 9 inches long, flung themselves sideways over the small spills and onto the partially submerged sandbags. Then, seeming quite confused, they would turn around and try to swim back upstream. They were not very good at that, and few, if any, succeeded.

Several trout thrown from a net into the river by Game and Fish worker Scott Bernard at the Alameda bridge appeared to be playing dead to avoid the whole embarrassing scenario. However, Bernard and City Councilor Ron Trujillo, a major force behind the festival, called their bluff and managed to rouse them.

Organizers said that this is the first year that the fishing derby, which begins at 6 a.m. and runs until noon, has been combined with the festival, which will begin at 10 a.m. and continue until 3 p.m.

“We hope the adult anglers will let the kids fish by themselves until noon, and then they can fish all they want,” Trujillo said.

Anglers young and old, resident and visitor, can fish for free on the river all day without a license.

During the festival, Game and Fish will put on a fishing clinic where young anglers can learn to tie knots, bait hooks, and catch and release fish. Hooking specially tagged trout will earn prizes.

The festival will feature games, crafts, river walks, watershed information and live music. Participants can bring picnic lunches or buy food from vendors. Keep Santa Fe Beautiful will provide recycling bins.

Also available will be a bike valet service where bikers can safely park their two-wheelers.

The events will take advantage of a small but steady flow of water down the often-dry river that is expected to last into July.

Five hundred of the trout tossed into the river Friday were raised at the Lisboa Springs fish hatchery in San Miguel County. Fifty others were culled from the McClure Reservoir to allow more room for Rio Grande cut fish there.