Drop The Fish A Line

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During the heat of the summer, Arizona's fishing hot spots are beneath the cool pines of the Rim country.

Among the most popular fishing holes are the man-made lakes that have been built on top of the Rim. The first 52-acre Woods Canyon Lake was built in 1954. In the years that followed, Knoll, Bear Canyon, Black Canyon, Chevelon and Willow Springs were built.

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The Rim country has long been known as a fisherman's paradise. It's a designation backed by pristine lakes, sparkling trout streams, and two fish hatcheries.

The Phelps Dodge mining corporation footed the bill for the last of the lakes to be developed Blue Ridge Reservoir.

Woods Canyon

Woods Canyon, 34 miles east of Payson off Highway 260 on Forest Road 300, is easily accessible and is stocked weekly, primarily with rainbow trout.

The most effective baits used by local anglers include corn, cheese, salmon eggs, Powerbait, artificial lures and flies.

Experienced anglers at Woods Canyon say they have the best luck using light line (4-6 pounds), small hooks (10-14 sizes) and sinkers.

Lake fishing is best in the late spring, but visitors during the fall and summer may experience success if they fish deep where the water is cool or use flies in the extreme upper end of the lake during the last hours of daylight.

Trolling with long spinner rigs also is a popular fishing strategy.

Chevelon

The most ardent of Arizona fisherman often choose Chevelon Canyon Lake to challenge their skills. The lake is off Highway 260, about 31 miles east of Payson and another 22 miles on dirt roads north.

Since 1988, fishing has been restricted to artificial lures and flies. Also, a slot limit is in place and trout between 10-14 inches must be returned to the lake.

Chevelon also is the most fertile of the lakes and traditionally produces the biggest fish in the area.

Experienced anglers advise fishing the shady spots where tall cliffs reach out to the water. Fishing also is good at the upper end of the lake where the creek flows in.

Blue Ridge

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When it comes to outdoor recreational pursuits there isn't much the Rim country doesn't offer, including seven of the most beautiful lakes anywhere.

Most who visit Blue Ridge Reservoir fish from a boat because the steep walls of the canyon make angling difficult from the shore.

Fishing is best in the spring, but 10- to 12-inch rainbows can be caught in the summer months. It's best to fish in shady areas while trolling with lures or wet flies.

The reservoir is about 40 miles north of Payson off Highway 87. Turn right on Forest Road 751 and proceed for about five miles.

Willow Springs

For some fishermen, Willow Springs has a special attraction due to its large population of largemouth bass.

Anglers may choose to troll with cowbells for trout or opt for a worm or nightcrawler and land a warm-water species.

The cove opposite the boat ramp is generally considered a good area to fish for bass. The upper end of the lake is usually best for rainbow and German brown trout.

The lake is just off Highway 260, about 32 miles east of Payson.

Other lakes

Three other Mogollon Rim lakes also offer good fishing from both the shore and boat Knoll, Bear and Black Canyon lakes. The lakes are stocked on a weekly basis with both rainbow and brown trout. However, fishing quality is inconsistent due to ever-changing water levels.

Trolling with flies works well in the summer months.

Knoll and Bear Canyon lakes are off Forest Road 300 from Highway 260, on top of the Rim east of Payson. Black Canyon Lake is about 10 miles southwest of Heber.

Green Valley Park

Anglers of all ages, with bait and tackle in hand, can be seen daily at Green Valley Park.

However, not everyone seems to be aware of the restrictions involved in fishing Green Valley Lake.

Signs around the park detail the rules and restrictions for fishing the lakes. Anglers are urged to brush up on the rules before dropping a line in the water.

According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in order to fish at the local lake, anglers over 14 years of age must possess a valid Arizona fishing license with a trout stamp. Fishing without a license can cost an angler a fine.

The daily bag limit for ages 14 and older is six fish. Those under age 14 may remove three fish per day.

For more information about fishing at Green Valley Park, call the Payson Parks and Recreation Department at 474-5242, ext. 7.

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