NAVAJO DAM — Anglers, guides and conservation groups joined the Department of Game and Fish on the trophy trout waters of the San Juan River recently to stock more trout and begin a dialog to address ways to enhance the world-class fishery below Navajo Dam.

Governor Bill Richardson pledged to seek additional funding to help with the Department’s ongoing habitat improvement projects on the river. Conservation groups, fishing organizations and oil and gas corporations also have pitched in thousands of dollars for the projects.

Seventeen fishing boats helped distribute 500 16-inch rainbow trout Jan. 15 in a stretch of “quality waters,” where anglers are restricted to using artificial flies and lures, and may keep only one fish per day with a minimum length of 20 inches. The Department normally stocks only fingerling trout in the quality waters. Jan. 13, crews stocked 25,500 three-inch trout in the 4-mile stretch downstream from the dam. Last year, 108,396 trout were stocked in the same area.

“This stocking event was intended to bring people together and raise awareness about some of the things we are currently doing, and things that can be done in the future to maintain the San Juan River as a world-class trout water,” Department Fisheries Chief Mike Sloane said. “The San Juan’s trophy trout attract anglers from around the globe, and those anglers in turn bring $25 million a year to the state’s economy.”

Some anglers have expressed concerns that low water flows and silt from storm runoff have degraded trout habitat in portions of the quality waters. Water releases from Navajo Dam are controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and most of the water stored in the dam is owned by the Navajo Nation. The New Mexico State Parks Division manages much of the river below the dam as part of Navajo Lake State Park.