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Lake Elephant Butte

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Lake Elephant Butte Profile

This is a high desert lake that sits at 4450 feet. Being in the high desert it has the natural desert terrain of bluffs and canyons. There is the upper and lower sections to the lake that are connected by an area called the narrows which twists and turns on its path between the two. The south end of the lake is where all the facilities are and the deep water. On the north end is one place where there is any sort of a facility and it is called catfish camp. Areas of interest are the Elephant Butte (a butte is a outcropping out of the desert with sheer bluffs) which from the west side resembles a elephant laying down, Kettle Top, the Black Bluffs, White Bluffs, Three Sisters, and the Narrows. Look for underwater structure to consist of rocky, gravel, and sandy bottoms with a lot of breaks and drop offs. Also there are some stickups in the coves. Don't look for a whole lot of aquatic vegetation on this lake. Congress authorized the dam project in 1907 and the dam was completed in 1916. 36,643 surface acres.

This top US destination for trophy striped bass has received national recognition because of the efforts of guide Buddy Humphrey. A trip with us could be the trip of a lifetime!!

Location Elephant Butte Lake is on the Rio Grande River approximately 150 miles South of Albuquerque NM and 120 miles North of El Paso TX on IH25. The towns of Truth of Consequences and Elephant Butte are close. Take exit 83 off IH25 to get to the lake.
Fishing Regulations Stripers 1 a day, Largemouth 5 with a 15" minimum length, Smallmouth 5 with a 12" minimum.
Comments I have personally fished Elephant Butte from the South end to the North end and this lake offers some great angling. All species seem to grow big in this, one of the oldest lakes in the US. From the huge stripers, it has achieved national fame with its 30 to 50 pounders (a 12 year old boy caught a 51.65 this spring). Also the white bass average 2-3 pounds and some great northern strain largemouth fishing with a 11.8 caught this last summer. The smallmouth fishing has come on in its own right with catches up to 5 pounds not uncommon. From the grapevine I hear that this year they will stock Florida strain largemouth. The huge stripers of Elephant Butte have been on quite a rocky road. There was a moratorium on striper stockings for seven years because of a misconception that they were damaging the largemouth population. The state started to stock 5 years ago with three out of the 5 a stocking of 40,000 fingerling. I had the honor of participating in the first stocking with guide and friend Buddy Humphrey. The stockers from five years ago are up to 12-14 pounds. If you have the desire to catch a fish of a lifetime send me an email at
Facilities There are three marinas on the Butte - Marina Del Sur (505-744-5567 ), Rock Canyon Marina (505-744-5462 ), and the Dam Site Marina (505-894-2073). The Dam Site is the only marina that has a restaurant and lounge. New Mexico State Parks have a very nice facility with camping (full hook-ups available) playgrounds, swimming and a launch right at the Marina Del Sur. The top accommodation is at the Elephant Butte Inn (505-744-5431) and we highly recommend the restaurant in T. or C., Los Arcos which has the best steak I have ever eaten. Also T. or C. formerly known as Hot Springs has some marvelous natural hot mineral spring baths.
Fishing Tip With the striper fishing being top notch we will start with a view of the great angling for these monsters. With the first stockings of stripers back in 1970 these fish have grown to huge size. Some late breaking news that NM Game and Fish is stocking 40,000 to 50,000 fingerlings this July. Hot striper spots are around Kettle Top, around the Butte rock, the Narrows and the Dirt Dam area. Stripers are best on live shad and also the all time best artificial lure for them is a one ounce horse head jig with a pearl or white curly tail trailer. In the spring try some topwater action also. White bass are liable to be anywhere on the lake but the top spots are at the marinas at night and in the Narrows and McCray Canyon. For Largemouth the North end of the lake (North of the Narrows) seems to be the spot and also we have done well off the rock walls off the islands on the south end. The stripers are in limited numbers (they do not spawn in the Butte) so you have to cover some ground to have a chance at one.
Lake Records & Ratings
Species Record Rating
Largemouth Bass 11.08 lbs.
Striped Bass 54.50 lbs.
* Top Rated *
Smallmouth Bass ?.?? lbs.
White Bass ?.?? lbs.
Blue Cat 29.02 lbs.
Flathead Cat 78.02 lbs.
New Mexico Game & Fish

Bass Fishing Home Page NM report

New Mexico State Parks SW
Lake Elephant Butte Fishing Information

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