State Game and Fish offers early licensing for hunting, fishing season

Annual licenses valid from April 1 through March 31, 2019

Megan Petersen
Farmington Daily Times
Angler Matt Montoya makes his way down the San Juan River Friday during a visit to the Texas Hole at Navajo Dam.
  • Revenue from licenses makes up 61 percent of state Department of Game and Fish revenues.
  • Early licensing helps hunters and anglers plan ahead, a New Mexico hunter says.
  • A Navajo Dam fishing guide anticipates a decent season despite drought conditions in San Juan County.

FARMINGTON — Recreational hunting and fishing licenses are available in advance of the 2018-19 season for the first time.

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and local vendors began selling online and over-the-counter annual hunting and fishing licenses on Thursday, giving hunters and anglers an opportunity to have licenses in hand when the new license year begins on April 1, according to a press release from the department.

Annual licenses are valid from April 1 through March 31, 2019, according to the Game and Fish website.

Fishing licenses cost between $5 and $56, depending on age, permit duration and residency. Some demographics — including anglers younger than 11 or older than 70 — receive licenses for no cost, according to the website.

The cost of a hunting license ranges from $9 to $1,610, depending on age, permit duration, residency, animal and whether the hunter will hunt on private or public land, according to the website.

Fishing guide Marcus Rubbo works Friday at Fisheads San Juan River Lodge at Navajo Dam.

Most adult fishing and hunting license holders also must purchase a $5 habitat stamp to hunt or fish on U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management land. Revenue from stamp sales is used for habitat and infrastructure improvement projects, according to the website.

License sales in fiscal year 2017 accounted for 61 percent of Game and Fish revenues, according to the department’s FY17 annual report. More than 210,000 fishing licenses, 57,000 hunting licenses and 57,000 combination licenses accounted for more than $26.1 million in revenue.

Robert Torres, a Hatch resident who visited Navajo Dam to fly fish this weekend, said the early licensing process is beneficial for hunters who put in for draws or lottery systems for limited hunting licenses.

Torres himself put in for deer, elk, antelope and oryx hunting licenses, and is planning ahead to hunt in December and January.

Frank Lorenzo fishes Friday at the Texas Hole on the San Juan River at Navajo Dam.

“Oh yeah, you have to (plan ahead),” Torres said at Texas Hole on the San Juan River on Friday. “You have to (have a license) in order to put in for the draw hunts, so that’s one advantage — you already have a license, and then you can have it for general hunting and fishing, so everything’s in order and you’re covered. Anywhere you go in the state, you’re covered.”

The first hunting season of 2018 will be for spring turkeys, which will open for youth hunters from April 6-8, and to all hunters between April 15-May 10, according to the Game and Fish press release.

Anglers can fish local rivers throughout the year, Fisheads San Juan River Lodge owner Chris Taylor said.

Fishing guide Marcus Rubbo displays his articulated streamer fly Friday at Fisheads San Juan River Lodge at Navajo Dam.

Despite drought conditions in San Juan County, decent late-season regional snowpack likely will make for good fishing, Taylor said, noting that the Wolf Creek Ski Area got 8 inches of snow Friday. 

“It should be great,” Taylor said at his shop on Friday. “There’s plenty of water in the lake right now, and they keep getting some snow storms up in the mountains, so we should have some decent water coming in.”

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or