Entry ID1040
Friends of Reservoirs Member/Group Sponsoring the ProjectSun Country Outdoors
Project Leader Contact InformationEarl Conway
Phone(505) 610-5156
EmailEmail hidden; Javascript is required.
Address12913 Blackstone Rd NE
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87111
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Project Information
Reservoir NameCarlsbad Municipal Lake
Google Maps Locationgoogle.com
Please describe the project objective(s).

Sun Country Outdoors (FOR chapter) and New Mexico Bass Nation, funded primarily by a grant through the Friends of Reservoirs Fish Habitat Partnership and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) , in partnership with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF), is proposing fish habitat restoration activities along approximately 4 miles of Carlsbad Municipal Lake, Bataan Lake and Six-Mile Reservoir located in Carlsbad, Eddy County, New Mexico.. The Proposed Action is based upon the grant proposal originally approved in May 2020 by the Friends of Reservoirs Fish Habitat Partnership.

This Proposed Action is in support of the NMDGF2016 Statewide Fisheries Management Plan (NMDGF 2016) that has gone through extensive public input. The project also supports the Eddy County and Carlsbad economic development plans that have had extensive public input. Based on public input, the project will improve fishing opportunities on Carlsbad lake by:

• installing approximately 300 artificial fish habitat structures
• installing artificial island structures and planting up to one acre of aquatic vegetation below the ordinary high water mark (shoreline)

Please describe the project methods. Will the product be used in conjunction with existing habitat restoration efforts on the reservoir? Will the product supplement natural brush, rock, or other materials being added to the reservoir?

Project Details
The purpose of the project is to restore and enhance the fish habitat according to a municipal recreation lake ecological reference where uses must be balanced between boating, swimming, angling and shoreline access. The ecology is anthropogenic based on the history of the Pecos river in this area. The native Pecos water was diverted from this stretch in the early 1900s and the stretch is primarily fed by springs. The water levels in the lakes are controlled by the City of Carlsbad for recreational purposes. The desire is to provide both simple and complex structure and habitat and substrates that are free of accumulated silt and sediments. The project seeks to attract and grow fish by restoring and enhancing the structure and function of riparian and shoreline zones in Carlsbad Lake by expanding the diversity of the plant life and aquatic ecosystem of the lake. Activities proposed would install and maintain artificial habitat structures and establish or restore native xeric and riparian vegetation that may be inundated during high water levels providing new fish habitat.
The introduction of Asian grass carp has essentially eliminated all native aquatic vegetation and increased the chance of algae blooms and toxic fish kills. The project will attempt to restore a balanced population of native aquatic vegetation that will not impair boating, swimming or other recreational functions. Until native vegetation has been restored, it is intended that artificial fish habitat will act as a surrogate for native brush and aquatic vegetation.

Shoreline seeding and planting along the shoreline would correspond with intentional or seasonal low water periods. The project would employ a variety of seeding/planting methods and artificial features to create fish habitat by restoring native shoreline vegetation and constructing artificial fish habitat structures including floating shorelines.

Native vegetation would be restored through traditional and innovative seeding techniques as well as hand-planting seedlings and the creation of floating seed colonies. Shoreline and submerged vegetation serve as habitat for fish and wildlife even when water levels increase and inundate planted areas. Woody vegetation that survives more than one year would provide shoreline cover and connection to existing upland vegetation and fish habitat during high water periods. Using natural and human dispersion techniques, seeding and pole planting would potentially occur along the entire shoreline of the lake(s) but only with the permission and participation of property owners.

Significant research has been devoted to plant selection, site investigation, noxious and invasive plants, native plant surveys and certified seed/plant suppliers. NMBN has also worked closely with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS-Marfa) on plant selection. All plant and seed selections would be reviewed and approved by a designated authority before use. Special emphasis would be placed on using native vegetation including desert willow and Goodding’s willow that would slow re-establishment of salt cedar in areas where they have been removed or killed by beetles. A variety of native sedges and rushes would also be used.

Floating Structure: Floating islands would be deployed in coves and attached to walkways and docks. An emphasis would be placed on creating beneficial native seed colonies using these floating islands. They also serve as fish attractors to improve angling. Floating islands would be securely anchored using steel wire rope, concrete anchors, or sea anchors (screw devices) to prevent drifting into boating lanes or dam operations.

Submerged Structures: A variety of submerged structures, including Christmas trees, rock/pallet structures and artificial fish trees are proposed for use. The structures would be based on successful demonstration at similar recreational areas including Lake Havasu, Table Rock and Elephant Butte Reservoir. The main purpose of the structures is to attract fish but they also provide protection for young-of-year fish during certain times when shoreline conditions are not favorable. Commercially available and custom artificial habitat will be placed at various lake elevations to provide fish habitat that supports their needs at all phases of their lifecycle. Spawning areas would be enhanced through the placement of simple woody cover, hard material substrates and spawning benches. Submerged and floating vegetation would also provide protective cover for fish fry. Where possible, fish attractors will be suspended from docks and the floating walkway.

Fish travel corridors would be constructed connecting the wetted shoreline to deeper submerged structure for fish. These corridors would consist primarily of rock piles and brush piles (including Christmas trees and wooden pallet structures or plastic tubing structures). Although the rocks and gravel necessary to build rock piles and provide ballasts to sink structures will not be “dredged” in the traditional sense, the intent is to use natural materials when possible. Rocks, gravel and sand would be collected within specified project locations and reused for these purposes. In addition to the brush and engineered materials, sand bags, concrete blocks or other ballast would be used to assure these structures do not drift of float, even during floods. Broken concrete, tires and other prohibited materials will not be used.

Size of structures:
Floating structure - 10 feet by 10 feet sections by 8 inches thick
Submerged structures – 10 feet by 10 feet by 8 feet tall structures and brush piles of up to 30 Christmas trees or equivalent tree cuttings.
Floating planters would be rectangular 5 feet by 10 feet floating mats or “pie sections” that are 8 feet in diameter and extend about 30 inches below the surface of the water.

Sun Country Outdoors has substantial experience and expertise in using floating islands and submerged fish habitat to enhance the fishery . Sun Country Outdoors has led projects where the islands and submerged habitat have been secured multiple ways to prevent drifting into boating lanes. All habitat placement will be such that they pose no additional risk to boaters or swimmers.

Will state fish and wildlife agency staff be directly involved in the project? How so (planning, site selection, participation in installation)? Is there an associated lake or habitat management plan that states the need for structural habitat enhancement?

New Mexico Game and Fish Department has been involved with the project from the start and has provided a letter of support. Warm Water biologists facilitated the bathymetry, habitat selection and siting and GIS mapping. They also did basic research on the water and methods. They will be involved in all phases of the project. The project meets the goals of the New Mexico Fisheries Plan.
One of the unique aspects of the fishery is the winter stocking program for rainbow trout which predictably has had a positive effect on the growth and trophy size of the spotted and largemouth bass population. Habitat selection is being adapted to this unique feeding opportunity for the trophy bass. We believe that the Mossback structures will play an important role in this niche.

The following is a paper written by NMGF about the project:
Carlsbad and Lower Tansill Lake
NNMGF Project Plan and Proposal

New Mexico Game and Fish Department, Warm water Fisheries Team


Carlsbad Municipal Lake and Lower Tansill (Bataan) Lake are two reservoirs located in the Southeast area of the state managed for five different focal sportfish species per the 2016 Statewide Fisheries Management Plan (NMDGF 2016). Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides are managed as wild populations that can be benefited by stocking. Spotted Bass Micropters punctulatus are managed as wild populations that can be benefited by stocking. Channel Catfish Ictalurus punctatus are managed as a “Put-Take” fishery in Lower Tansill while Carlsbad Municipal is being evaluated as a “Put-Grow-Take” management. Triploid Rainbow Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss are managed in both reservoirs, as a “Put and Take” population completely controlled via stocking during the winter months (November – March). Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus are managed as wild populations that can be benefited by stocking. Population surveys conducted over the last three decades and recent habitat surveys have identified issues affecting all of the managed sport fish species; a lack of habitat for multiple life stages of sportfish species, baitfish species (juvenile Bluegills, Fathead Minnows Pimephales promelas and Inland Silversides Menidia beryllina), aquatic insects and area to spawn appear to be the primary bottlenecks to the populations not meeting management parameters consistently.

Because reservoirs are man-made artificial lakes, a problem seen throughout the country with sportfish management is the basic lack of natural habitat and complexity of shoreline depths. Two sportfish managed in both of these reservoirs, Largemouth Bass and Spotted Bass, have evolved and adapted to spawn and survive in natural lakes that accumulate course woody habitat over long periods of time (Hunt et al. 2002). Annual electroshocking surveys in Carlsbad Municipal Lake, has supplied evidence that recruitment (survival from egg to the adult life stage) of Largemouth Bass and Spotted Bass is poor.

Channel Catfish surveys have shown that natural recruitment of Channel Catfish in these reservoirs is also poor. Woody debris and logs have been shown to serve as natural refuge habitat for Channel Catfish fry and juveniles (McMahon and Terrell 1982), this refuge habitat is critical for Channel Catfish recruitment since it is well documented that they are vulnerable to predation by adult Largemouth Bass (Krummrich and Heidinger 1973). Reservoirs generally lack the cavity type habitat that catfish naturally select to lay their eggs in and use to protect the eggs from predators. A lack of woody habitat and cavity type habitat may be why natural recruitment has been low or non-existent in these reservoirs.

Triploid Rainbow Trout are stocked only in the winter months and the Department’s research, as well as literature review, indicates stocked triploid Rainbow Trout do not persist and grow to larger sizes due primarily to predation, a lack of habitat in the deepest sections of the reservoirs and angler harvest (Bettinger and Bettoli 2002, High and Meyer 2009). Adding cover to the deepest and coolest areas of the reservoirs may increase survival and growth of the stocked triploid Rainbow Trout (Quinn and Kwak 2000). Increased survival and growth of the stocked Rainbow Trout would increase angler satisfaction.

The specific deficiencies at each reservoir that may be causing the poor recruitment will be reviewed, but the overall goal of this project is to provide an excellent angling opportunity for quality fish through habitat enhancement.

Project Objectives

The primary goal of this project is to increase habitat quality and quantity in a magnitude enough for the focal species to meet population parameters identified in the Statewide Management Plan. The following habitat objectives have been identified:

• Increase area of woody debris
• Increase spawning habitat for Bass, Bluegill and Catfish
• Increase micro habitat for forage base

Reservoirs and deficiencies

Carlsbad Municipal Lake

Carlsbad Municipal Lake is a 96-acre impoundment located on the Pecos river in Eddy Co., NM. It is unique in that nearly all the water impounded is from springs. All Pecos River water it typically diverted for agricultural use upstream from Carlsbad Municipal Lake. Pecos River water flows through the reservoir during floods and block releases only. The lake is used by swimmers, recreational boaters/watercraft and anglers, a plan for sinking habitat to aid fish populations will take this into account and key areas will be avoided to risk disturbing the other recreational uses at the lake. The addition of structures near certain shorelines will be necessary to aid the survival and growth of fish species, effort will be taken to preserve the aesthetics of the lake for all users. Signs will be placed in areas to aid shoreline anglers in finding the locations of the sunken fish habitat to help them avoid excessive amounts of snagging and loss of gear.

Lower Tansill (Bataan) Lake:

Lower Tansill Lake is a 41-acre impoundment located downstream from Carlsbad Municipal Lake, separated by a dam. The lake is shallower than Carlsbad Municipal Lake and has much less boat traffic (no-wake). In the winter of 2020 dense cover of submerged aquatic vegetation was present in the lake (brittle naiad), but wood cover and habitat was nonexistent. Habitat structures aimed at increasing sportfish recruitment and growth rates will be sunk in key areas. The dense monotypic coverage of brittle naiad may need to be controlled with biological or mechanical methods. Areas heavily fished by trout anglers will contain a minimal amount of snag resistant habitat structures to avoid excessive amount of snagging and loss of gear.


Bettinger, J.M. and P.W. Bettoli. 2002. Fate, Dispersal, and Persistence of Recently Stocked and Resident Rainbow Trout in a Tennessee Tailwater. North American Journal of Fisheries Management. 22: 425-432.

High, B. and K.A. Meyer. 2009. Survival and Dispersal of Hatchery Triploid Rainbow Trout in an Idaho River. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 29: 1797-1805.

Hunt, J., N. Bacheler, D. Wilson, E. Videan and C.A. Annett. 2002. Enhancing Largemouth Bass Spawning: Behavioral and Habitat Considerations. American Fisheries Society, Symposium 31 (Black Bass: Ecology, Conservation, and Management), Bethesda, Maryland.

Krummrich, J.T. and R.C. Heidinger. 1973. Vulnerability of Channel Catfish to Largemouth Bass Predation. The Progressive Fish Culturist. 35: 173-175.

McMahon, T.E. and J.W. Terrell. 1982. Habitat Suitability index models: Channel Catfish. U.S.D.I. Fish and Wildlife Service. FWS/OBS-82/10.2. 29 pp.

Quinn, J.W. and T.J. Kwak. 2000. Use of Rehabilitated Habitat by Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout in an Ozark Tailwater River. North American Journal of Fisheries Management. 20: 737-751.

List the species that the project is expected to benefit:

Largemouth bass, Spotted bass, crappie, rainbow trout, bluegil, catfish

How do you plan to conduct outreach and advertise the project? (Examples: on-site signage, press releases, websites, message boards)

On September 11, 2021 in cooperation with the City of Carlsbad, Eddy County and the Carlsbad Bureau of Land Management Office, there is a project kick-off planned in conjunction with Public Lands Day and the 20th year observance of the 9-11 attacks. Sun Country Outdoors will have a booth at that event where the project will be described in presentation format and examples of the fish habitat structures will be on display. The local paper, the Carlsbad Current Argus has requested an interview to publish a story on the project. Sum Country Outdoors and the New Mexico Bass Nation Conservation facebook pageshas been providing information to followers and fit is shared with four other local community facebook pages. BLM and the City of Carlsbad are putting the Sun Country and New Mexico Bass Nation logos on site signs and kiosks.

Upload at least one letter of support from a representative of the state fish and wildlife management agency:
Partnership and Budget
Does the project involve one or more youth groups?Yes
Please list all partners involved in the project:
Partner Name Type of Partner Cash Contribution ($) In-Kind Contribution In-Kind Value ($)
NMGF State Agency $20,000 labor $15,000
Partner List Upload (Optional)Carlsbad-Six-Mile-Partner-list.docx