Into the wild

The weather is beginning to warm up, which means it's time for outdoor activities.

CMI correspondent: Gilrobert Rennels

Western Kingbirds are among the numerous species of birds found at the Muleshoe Wildlife Refuge, which is located 19 miles south of Muleshoe in southern Bailey County.

Although it's not quite summer yet, more and more people are taking advantage of warmer temperatures and visiting area lakes, parks and attractions.

For some it's the first boat ride or dive into the blue waters of a lake that start off those outdoor activities. Though the water may still be a little cold for that, it's a prime time for fishing.

Ute Lake near Logan, for example, has many species that are biting, and if you take the advice of local fisherman Ivory Williamson, even a first-time angler can come away with a nice haul.

"It's best to stay away from the crowds," Williamson said. "It really is worth it to walk the extra way to get away from everybody."

Williamson said that soon the walleye and small mouth will be bedding (nesting) and they will become aggressive and look to feed. He said if you're going strictly for catfish, then stick to chicken liver as your bait. If you are going for walleye crappie and smallmouth bass then you'll have better luck with minnows.

"You will want to fish with your line deep," Williamson said. "Have some good weight on the line for the best results."

Williamson said some of the best fishing at Ute Lake this time of year is right off the dam, near the spillway. He said most anglers are not willing to venture out that far, which makes for better fishing.

Ute Lake activities include fishing, hiking, camping, picnic areas and water recreation.

Like Ute Lake, several area state parks have amenities other than boating, swimming and fishing.

Jim Whary, park manager at Oasis State Park in Roosevelt County, said hiking and biking trails at Oasis give visitors opportunities for memorable sightseeing.

"In the morning time, people can see some deer and quail, jackrabbits, cotton tails, and the occasional snake," Whary said.

Whary said at Oasis alone there have been more than 130 species of birds identified.

"We have some avid bird watchers who come the park," Whary said.

Whary said with the landscape and natural vegetation and horizons, the sunrises and sunsets are another big attraction.

"They are both stunning, it's hard to pick which one is better," he said.

Many area lakes are teeming with fish, camping opportunities and nearby attractions for the family to enjoy. Also check with park officials for special programs including wildlife education, hiking and nature trails and star gazing.

Park information

Conchas Lake State Park (Quay County)

  • What to do: Fishing, camping, picnic areas and boating
  • Fishing tip: Largemouth smallmouth and white bass, crappie: Recently walleye have been hitting good off minnows dragging on the bottom. "Temperature is around 64 to 65 degrees which seems to be the magic number," said Paul Fishell, park manager.
  • Conchas has 105 developed campsites 41 electric sites and rest rooms with showers.

Information: 868-2270

Oasis State Park (Roosevelt County)

  • What to do: Fishing, hiking, camping, picnic areas
  • Fishing pond stocked with rainbow trout, hiking, camping, picnic areas
  • Fishing: Rainbow trout: power baits, salmon eggs and assorted lures. "We have a stocking winter trout and soon will have catfish just before Memorial Day weekend," Park Ranger Jim Whary said.

Whary said their are a series of hiking trails through out the sand dunes and around pond.

"Visitors have to chance to see our native landscape and natural wildlife," Whary said.

  • Oasis has 23 developed camp sites, a group shelter and rest rooms with showers.
  • Information: 356-5331

Sumner Lake State Park (Fort Sumner)

  • What to do: fishing, hiking, camping, picnic areas and boating
  • Fishing tip: Walleye: Biting good on minnows and crank baits and curly tail grubs" said Lewis Hancock, park ranger. The fishing has been good off boats and even off the banks,"
  • Sumner Lake has 50 developed campsites 18 electric sites, group shelter and rest rooms with showers.
  • Information: 355-2541

Santa Rosa Lake State Park (Santa Rosa)

  • What to do: fishing, hiking, camping, picnic areas and boating
  • Fishing tip: Walleye and crappie: biting good off minnows and curly tails. "Some people have been fishing on boats, though shore-line fishing seems to be doing the best," said Chris Baca, park ranger.
  • Noteable: Baca said there are two hiking trails. One is four miles long, with cutoffs to shorten the trail. The other is an equestrian trail, which is 13 miles along the lake. Information: 575-472-3110

Ute Lake State Park (Logan)

  • What to do: Fishing, hiking, camping, picnic areas and boating
  • Noteable: Visitors have reported to park staff that walleye, crappie, catfish, whitebass are hitting well.
  • Ute Lake has 142 developed campsites , 77 electric sites, a group shelter and rest rooms with showers.
  • Information: 487-2284

Texas

Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge (Bailey County)

  • What to do: Picnic and camping areas, a one mile nature trail located near the refuge headquarters. There is also a 1/4 mile nature trail at Paul's Lake — six miles northeast of the headquarters.
  • Information 806-946-3341

Amarillo

Palo Duro Canyon State Park (Canyon, Texas)

  • What to do: Hiking, camping and cabin rentals
  • Fast fact: Canyon contains 29,182 acres of the scenic canyon.
  • Information: 806-488-2227.

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