If you have fished for any length of time, certain locations that are productive become some of your favorite spots. Having lived in Arizona for over 40 years, many Rim locations that have fishable trout water have been explored by this old fisherman.
I really enjoy walking and exploring the streams that are under the Mogollon Rim and have many fond memories of trips made along Tonto, Christopher, Canyon, Horton and Haigler creeks, to name a few.
Of these picturesque small trout waters, Haigler may have more stories of fish that were caught, the big one that got away, or a confrontation with a bear or rattlesnake.
It is a spring fish stream that comes out of the Mogollon Rim and eventually drains into Tonto Creek in an area close to Hell's Gate.
As the stream meanders for twenty-plus miles, descending from an elevation of 6,500 to 5,000 feet, many pools are created in the boulder-strewn canyon that hold rainbow and German brown trout.
This is where I was introduced to Arizona stream fishing along with longtime friend Mike Foree, also a Payson resident.
From Payson, it is an hour-plus trip on Highway 260, turning onto the Colcord Road and ending the journey on the very rough nine miles of the Chamberlain Trail.
Numerous mountain switchbacks and deep canyons make this a trip not for the faint of heart, and when the rains come, it is definitely a four-wheel-drive trip.
The road intersects Haigler Creek, which is stocked periodically throughout the summer by the Tonto Fish Hatchery.
The local crossings get most of the fishing pressure. As one walks farther away from the road, the hiking terrain becomes more inhospitable, but fishing may improve.
I recommend that you wear a good pair of all-purpose hiking shoes, take plenty of water and always go with a friend. The scenery is spectacular and catching a fish or two is just frosting on the cake.
If you do make the trip to Haigler Creek, I have a couple of recommendations. The stream area is a very delicate environment. So, if you pack it in, make sure that you pack it out.
Aluminum cans, plastic and paper don't disappear when thrown on the ground.
Take a daypack and place a litter sack inside, and make this pristine Arizona mountain spot a better place because you were there.
Finally, consider catch-and-release trout fishing along these more limited water areas. Small streams cannot handle intense fishing pressure unless the fish are returned to the water to be caught again.
This weekend, take someone fishing and enjoy God's creation.