Lure Of Fishing Brings Anglers To Rim Country

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Rim country is home to some of the best fishing in Arizona, says local fishing guide and Roundup columnist Clifford Pirch and his wife, Alicia.

Their favorite spots:

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Anglers from all over Arizona flock to the Rim country, where they find some of the best fishing in the state.

"Roosevelt Lake for bass, crappie and catfish; the Rim lakes for trout," Pirch said.

According to Pirch, the best summer fishing at Roosevelt occurs during the early morning hours or in the evening.

"However, there can be great topwater action anytime during the day, he said.

In a recent column, Pirch wrote that topwater fishing at Roosevelt should continue to be good through June.

Topwater fishing, he said, is best on calm days. On windy days at Roosevelt, Pirch uses jerkbaits, Carolina-rigged lizards and worms.

When not at Roosevelt, the Pirches have enjoyed Rim country creek fishing. However, he predicts that this summer -- because of low runoffs caused by the state's ongoing drought --here will be few opportunities to find trout in former hot spots like Tonto Creek.

"Maybe in the creek above Kohl's Ranch there will be a few (fish)," he said.

Pirch said Woods Canyon Lake, off Highway 260 east of Payson, is one of the most popular fishing spots on the Rim.

"You can always catch a few fish there," he said.

The man-made 52-acre lake was created in 1955, and each year nearby amenities have grown to include a country store, campgrounds, boat rentals and a boat ramp.

Only boats with electric motors are allowed on the lake.

The lake is stocked weekly, May through October, by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

On weekends, anglers flock to the lake in hopes of landing a lunker rainbow or brown trout.

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Fishing guide Clifford Pirch (left) can help novice fishermen find the hot spots for landing the big lunkers.

Nearby, off Forest Road 149, visitors will find Willow Springs Lake, the first man-made lake on the Rim. Like Woods Canyon, the lake is stocked weekly and is a popular place for fishermen hoping to land rainbows and German brown trout.

"There's also some bass in there," Pirch said.

Facilities include a boat ramp, toilets, dock and near-by camping and picnic grounds. Boats are limited to motors of 8 horsepower or less.

Pirch says the two lakes are by far the most popular, but says Knoll Lake in East Leonard Canyon can also provide a good fishing experience. The lake can be reached by driving east from Payson on Highway 260 to Forest Road 300. Go west on FR 300 for 29 miles to the lake.

Knoll is not as accessible as Woods Canyon and Willow Springs, but the roads are usually well-maintained from April through October.

About 4.5 miles north of Knoll is a campground that features 33 units with fire rings, grills, picnic tables, garbage pickup and toilets.

For those who enjoy the challenge of fishing with artificial lures, Pirch's best advice is a visit to Bear Canyon Lake. One of the most scenic and secluded lakes in the Rim country, the 65-acre lake is 46 miles northeast of Payson.

Northeast of Payson, at a 7,000 foot altitude in the cool pines of the Coconino National Forest, sits the Blue Ridge Reservoir on East Clear Creek. It's a fun place to fish, but the steep walls of General Springs Canyon make access to the shorelines difficult. Due to the cliffs, most choose to fish the lake by boat.

Pirch says Chevlon Canyon Lake, northeast of Payson off FR 300 and 169, is another good angling choice. Chevlon was named for a trapper who, in the 1800s, ate a poisonous plant and died. In 1988, a hiker who is believed to have eaten the same poisonous water plant also died.

While in the area, visitors should exercise extreme caution in consuming any of the wild berries or plants that grow abundantly.

In 1988, a slot limit was instituted at the lake. Any trout between 10 and 14-inches must be returned to the water. Also, baits are restricted to artificial lures and flies.

Chevlon has no boat-launch facilities. Boat motors must be 8 horsepower or less.

Further information on local fishing opportunities can be obtained from Pirch at 468-5545 or the Payson Ranger District at (928) 474-7900.

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