Imagine a huge desert lake full of big stripers, at 4,700 feet above sea level, seven miles from a town called Truth or Consequences. It seems incredible, but this is Elephant Butte. Twenty-pound stripers are regulars at this 36,500-acre New Mexico impoundment of the Rio Grande. The current lake record, caught April 1992, is 54.5 pounds. That same year, the lake gave up six more bass breaking 50 pounds apiece. No one knows how many bass in the 20- to 40-pound range have crossed over gunwales-let's just say a lot. Live shad are the most productive year-round bait. The best artificial is a one-ounce RoadRunner or similar jig dressed with a curly-tail grub. Traditional hot spots have been Kettle Top, Butte Rock, the Narrows and the Dirt Dam area. But if you can locate the schools of shad, particularly if they come up top, you are on to bass. Contact: There are three marinas on Butte: Marina Del Sur (505-744-5567), Rock Canyon Marina (505-744-5462) and the Dam Site Marina (505-894-2073). Statewide fishing reports are available from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (800-ASK-FISH). For general info about licenses and regulations, call (800-862-9310).