Living in Payson gives us the best of two fishing worlds. In less than an hour you can enjoy high-mountain trout in numerous Rim lakes and streams, or conceivably the best bass fishing in the West at Roosevelt Lake.
In the northern tier of the United States the fishing rods are stored by mid-October, not to be seen again until March or April. However, in Arizona one can fish productively for the entire calendar year, so we will report fishing conditions on various impoundments, even during the winter months.
September and October are two months where trout fishing will continually improve as water temperatures cool. There are lots of holdover Rainbows from the summer stocking program that can be caught, and those larger German Browns will go on a feeding frenzy prior to winter conditions.
If you're a trout fisherman, you can't beat the comfortable fall conditions, with fewer people and aggressive trout. If you want to catch more trout, then try either Woods Canyon Lake or Bear Canyon Lake and slow troll spinners, flies or small diving crankbaits.
If you want a better chance at catching a larger trout, then Chevelon, Knoll or Blue Ridge are the lakes to try. All of these hold bigger trout because of less fishing pressure or the general location of these lakes. Another reason for bigger trout in these waters is that the fishermen who target big trout also practice voluntary catch and release, which improves the overall quality of the fishing.
Some lakes and streams are perfect for catch and release, which protects the pristine fishing experience. I know of a couple bodies of water where I can go and catch 30 to 40 fish in a half day. That is because of inaccessibility and catch and release practiced by the sportsmen who frequent these waters.
If you want to catch trout for the frying pan, we have those old reliable waters of Woods Canyon, Bear Canyon, Willow Springs or Tonto Creek, which are stocked weekly throughout the summer and fall months by our local Tonto Fish Hatchery. These guys do a remarkable job of keeping lots of catchable trout in these waters for all of us weekend warriors.
The fall season in Arizona offers so much for the outdoorsman, so don't store that Ultralight fishing rod. Instead, put some new 4-pound test on it and a number 12 hook and head to the high country. It's less than an hour away.
While you are out there, enjoy God's creation.