Arizona Guide - 16/06

Arizona Fishing Report June 2010

This is the leading edge of the triple-digit fidgets when most sane people have an irresistible urge to fish the high cool pines or chill out at night under the stars while wetting a line in our fabulous desert lakes.

There is a new moon June 12, making this a perfect time for fishing at night using submersible lights in the desert lakes, and an okay strategy for fishing the mountain lakes as well.

Thanks to near record snow pack in the high country that lingered into late spring, the mountains are lush and green and whats more, the good trout fishing is lingering into these warmer days. The insect reproduction has also been tremendous as well -- be sure to carry insect repellent.

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The Mogollon Rim lakes are a good bet to catch some nice trout, but expect the campgrounds to fill early. Dispersed camping is available along the Rim for the self-contained adventuresome crowd. My favorite out-of-the-way Rim lake is Knoll. Also, Bear Canyon is a walk-in lake, so lots of people avoid it. Chevelon Canyon is a hike-in, hike-out lake, without much shore angling, so it also keeps away the crowds (take a float tube).

Big Lake in the White Mountains has three things going for it -- it is one of our highest elevation lakes, it is one of our largest and deepest mountain reservoirs, and it has the most trout diversity; cutthroats, brookies, rainbows and Apaches. There are also boat rentals here. But it also gets the most fishing pressure as well. Be sure to visit Crescent Lake next door -- sometimes it has the best action, especially for brookies.

Another favorite is just down the road -- Reservation Lake on the White Mountain Apache Reservation (you'll need a reservation fishing permit). This large, deep lake in the shadow of Mt. Baldy receives only a fair amount of fishing pressure, yet it holds the state record for brown trout. Like Big Lake, it is also one of our higher elevation reservoirs, making it a great place to experience cooler mountain weather.

A wonderful high altitude fishery worth visiting is Luna Lake just south of Escudilla Mountain along the border with New Mexico. You might even hear wolves howling at night or see bald eagles swooping down and catching trout. There should be boat rentals here, but apparently there is a new concessionaire and I haven't heard any reports back from anglers yet.

If you are looking for some fishing diversity and nice camping facilities, try Fool Hollow in Show Low. This lake might be within the Show Low City limits, but this fishery is surrounded by whispering pines that can convince you otherwise while fishing. Fool Hollow is stocked with trout (received some larger ones lately), but also has largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye and channel catfish. A good tactic is to fish at first and last light for trout, then try for bass. Walleye are light sensitive, so its best to fish for them at last light, or even during the night. By the way, this campground has hot showers.

Another fishery that offers diversity is Willow Springs Lake along the Mogollom Rim. Willow Springs has largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and even crappie. For these warmwater species, the limits are off at this lake -- catch and keep all you can to help this trout fishery. Like Fool Hollow, fish at first light for the trout, then switch tactics and work the stick-ups for largemouth bass, or along the rocky shorelines for smallies. The bass will likely be in the spawning mode right now, so you might be able to sight fish them on the beds.

Looking for a high country lake to use your bass boat? Two suggestions -- try Lyman Lake in Apache County between Springerville and St. Johns or Upper Lake Mary near Flagstaff.

Lyman Lake has 1,500 surface acres to explore and fish and there are no boat motor restrictions. It's really a moderately okay bass lake with some walleye, but has a good population of channel catfish. Take along your water skiis. This state park even has cabins and yurts for rent (sorry, no yaks). For more information, contact the park at (928) 337-4441.

Upper Lake Mary (there is a Forest Service special fee area here) doesn't have any boat motor restrictions either. Some of the bass fishing clubs actually hold small fishing tournaments here (typically any fish). Upper Mary does have some largemouth bass, but right now it's most notorious for its large, toothy pike running from 5 to 20 pounds -- or more. Lake Mary also has yellow perch, crappie and walleye. This is another lake where you can take along some water skis for when the bite slows down. Sidle next door to Lower Lake Mary and you can catch a trout of two for dinner.

Working farther west near Williams, three lakes worth trying at Kaibab, Dogtown and Whitehorse (all three have camping available). By the way, Kaibab Lake is only about an hour or so drive from the Grand Canyon. Or maybe catch the Grand Canyon Train in Williams.

Some unusual lakes to try right now are on the Navajo Reservation, especially Wheatfields for trout (cuththroat, browns and rainbows) and Ganado Lake for nice bass. There are no launch ramps, but both of these lakes are okay for car toppers, kayaks, canoes or float tubes. At Ganado, which is a large but shallow lake, local anglers often use chest waders to fish for both bass and catfish. One local angler said the secret for catfish is using fireballs alternated with corn on the hook and small slip sinkers fished on the bottom.

By the way, there is a free campground at Canyon de Chelly National Monument about an hour north of Ganado. It's spectacular. The lake at Many Farms (13 miles north of Chinle) is also okay for bass and great for catfish. It's really turbid right now, so spinnerbaits might work well for bass. It's dirt launching, so 4-wheel drive is recommended, or better yet, use canoes, kayaks or inflatables.

The upcoming fishing guide book Game and Fish is collaborating on with Arizona Highways will have more about all the Indian fishing waters in it. We'll trying our best to get it ready for publication sometime this fall.

As the Navajos would say, "Go fish in beauty."

Read thefull Fishing Report HERE

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