I have assumed that the Fenn’s treasure chest is hidden in New Mexico. I’ve explained why in an earlier entry. While that decision could be criticized, it cannot be debated. It’s my assumption, and I cling to it like a grizzly bear does to a chubby, tasty flatlander.
I have also assumed that “warm waters” as used in the first clue of Fenn’s Poem (Begin it where warm waters halt…) is Fenn’s gracious, poetic, and pretty damned transparent nod to the the New Mexico State Game and Fish Department Fishing Rules and Information pamphlet. He is, after all, a lifelong, devout and dedicated fisherman, and would be familiar with them.
When I first started searching for the treasure Forrest Fenn hid somewhere in the mountains north of Santa Fe, like everyone else, I used Google search to help me. At that time, when I searched “warm waters” the first entry on the results list was the reference to the phrase “warm waters” in the New Mexico Fishing Regulations. Perform the same search today, and you’ll get everything that has been written since. By anyone.
Since I’m about to jump into them, you can download a copy (in Adobe Acrobat) format of the 2018-2019 Fishing Proclamation (as the Rules are referred to) here. (I update this information annually.)
First, the phrase “warm waters,” (the plural) in the context of fishing, is unique to New Mexico. No other Rocky Mountain state uses the phrase in the context of fishing.
Second, while it is common knowledge that trout thrive in waters just either side of 55 degrees, there is nothing in anything the NMG&FD publishes that defines hot, warm, cool or cold waters in terms of temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius. You will, on the other hand, find lists, with appropriate images, of warm water species and cold water species on the NMG&FD website without any reference to water temperatures.
Third, you can find the definition of warm waters on page 16 of the above referred to publication. In the first paragraph it says, “Warm waters include all streams, lakes, and ponds, except those designated as trout waters (pages 24–25, 31).
Thus, the distinction, in the context of New Mexico fishing, is not between warm waters and cool waters, or warm water species and cool water species. It’s between warm waters and Trout Waters, irrespective of temperature or specie. (Special Trout Waters are a subset of Trout Waters, and reside within them._
The following has been edited (on June 22, 2018) to correct our understanding of warm waters in New Mexico.
That difference is documented in the map below. Click on the map to enlarge. A copy of this map is included in the annual New Mexico Fishing Rules and Info pamphlet. <===== You can download the current pamphlet with the link.
Simply put, warm waters in New Mexico are in the white areas of the map, and trout waters in the pink areas. Warm waters halt at the transition points between the two. For even more detail you can download this map: