The Rim country offers a wide variety of fishing opportunities during the summer months.
Some of the more popular Rim lakes are Blue Ridge Reservoir, Willow Springs, Woods Canyon and Black Canyon lakes. These are all lakes that offer great trout fishing during the summer. You can expect to catch mostly rainbows with an occasional brown or brook trout mixed in. Willow Springs also has both largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as crappie.
Good lure choices for casting or trolling for trout include small spinners like Panther Martins or Don's Dragonflies, Z-Rays and small Rebel crawdad or crickhopper crankbaits. Fly fishermen are usually pretty successful with black-, brown- or olive-colored wooly worms.
If you're a bait fisherman and you'd prefer to sit on the bank and relax, you might try Power Bait, corn, salmon eggs or worms.
There also are a number of trout streams that offer good fishing and great hiking opportunities. These should be excellent this summer with the recent snowpack along the Rim. Tonto Creek, Christopher Creek and the East Verde River are easily accessible by vehicle, but provide plenty of hiking opportunities as well.
If you're looking to get a little more off the beaten path, you might try Canyon, Haigler or Horton creeks. Many of the same flies and spinners that work well on the Rim lakes also will work in the creeks. However, be sure to consult the fishing regulations on legal areas to fish with bait because some areas are artificial flies and lures only.
If bass, crappie and catfish are what you're after, you might try some of the lower elevation lakes like Green Valley, Roosevelt and Apache.
Good summer patterns for bass at Apache and Roosevelt include Westy Worms, crankbaits, topwaters and drop-shot rigged 4-inch Sweetwater Worms in colors like Light Oxblood and BW Special.
At Green Valley, topwaters like buzzbaits and popping baits work really well along weedlines and floating grass.
For summer crappie, try slow trolling and vertical jigging with small grubs and small spoons on all of these lakes. Look for open water schools of fish in 10 to 20 feet along channels in open bays, especially at Roosevelt.
Catfishing enthusiasts are usually successful with worms, waterdogs and stinkbaits for channel cats during the summer. For flatheads try fishing with live bluegills and waterdogs. It's not uncommon to catch fish that reach 40 or 50 pounds.
Whether it's warm- or cold-water fish you're after, the Rim country offers something for everyone. Plus, all of these locations can be reached within an hour from Payson.
Cliff Pirch's Guide Service offers guided fishing trips on many of these lakes and creeks. For more information, call (928) 978-3518.