By Rory Aikens
Arizona Game and Fish Department
While the lower elevations are experiencing triple-digit heat, there are still snow drifts near Big Lake. The Woods Canyon Lake store is doing a big business selling jackets to fishermen and other mountain visitors.
At the Woods Canyon Lake store and the Christopher Creek store, the top-selling trout bait is rainbow Power Bait, with green-colored Power Bait being the next favorite. By the way, Highway 260 improvements mean it now bypasses the quaint mountain community of Christopher Creek, but you can still go there via a "loop." Tell them you read about it in the fishing report.
Anglers on the shore at Big Lake recently were all doing best on green Power Bait, and those trolling were doing great on cowbells. By the way, the Big Lake store is open and boat rentals are available.
Anglers at Willow Springs Lake on the Mogollon Rim say that night crawlers are the ticket, especially for large, hungry holdover trout. Two anglers say they even caught some nice brown trout, up to six pounds, on night crawlers with a small split shot cast into the deeper holes near the dam.
The camp host at the Christopher Creek campground says the anglers using night crawlers or other worms have been doing best, but fly anglers have been having a hay day as well. This fun little creek is stocked weekly.
One young angler at Fools Hollow Lake in Show Low says he has been catching lots of largemouth and smallmouth bass so far this year using crankbaits, spinners and plastic worms, but an older retired couple say they are really pleased with the trout bite there, even though the water is turbid. That turbidity means extra nutrients. Expect good fish grow-outs and spawns there this year. Please catch and keep any northern pike caught here.
A couple of veteran anglers at Show Low Lake say they have been doing very well for trout using cowbells, but added it should soon be time to go after the big walleye there as well. If you catch a pike, keep and kill it.
An angler at Sheeps Crossing on the Little Colorado River just below Mount Baldy says he has been having lots of fun fishing the large pools behind the various beaver dams for native Apache trout, even though it wasn't stocked last week due to high flows.
Word has it that anglers are catching some nice-sized brown trout and crappies at Nelson Reservoir just south of Springerville. Some people fishing along the West Fork of the Black River say they routinely saw Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and elk while fishing and often had to share the stream with osprey.
There weren't any anglers during midweek at Crescent Lake. Even though Crescent had a winter fish kill, it has been stocked with lots of trout, the weeds aren't a problem, and the fishing should be pretty good. I like slow-trolling Super Dupers or Z-rays here for brookies and rainbows.
All these tales add up to one thing: It's time for high country fishing. All the roads are open. The air is clear and fresh. Take a jacket and be prepared to wear a smile. It doesn't get much better than this. Don't forget to buy a license AND a trout stamp.
On the lowlands, there is an old but true saying: When the Palo Verde trees bloom, it's topwater time for bass in the desert lakes. Well, this is the most spectacular Palo Verde bloom I have seen in 20 years. Is that a hint from Mother Nature or what? It's time to "walk the dog" and catch some topwater fish. Triple-digit temperatures just mean the action should really heat up.