With winter upon us and a week of very cold temperatures, many of the Rim lakes have iced over. Before the last cold spell, Willow Springs already had six inches of safe ice in the narrow coves on the back side of the lake.
This allowed a few hardy souls to make the 30-mile trip, cut a few holes and wet some line in a day of ice fishing. Over the years, a few locals have been ice fishing on the Rim lakes and have brought home a trout or two. When we think of ice fishing, it is usually associated with the northern tier of states, especially the upper Midwest.
Going back to my younger years, growing up in Iowa, I remember making the journey through snow with a bucket of fishing equipment. When you arrived at your favorite spot, you would rig up the very short rods and then use the bucket for a seat, sitting on the ice for an afternoon.
Bill Popelier and Greg Friestad did just that a week ago and had the experience of alpine ice fishing in Arizona on Willow Springs Lake.
They traveled from Payson to the top of the Rim, which is an extra 200 feet in elevation, creating a dramatic climate change. This brings on winter sooner and allows for safe ice fishing during some years. They did bring home two limits of pan-sized rainbows for a fresh trout dinner.
There are three safety tips that should always be remembered and practiced when ice fishing in Arizona. A few warm days can change hard blue ice into weak slush and possible danger. Narrow coves create safer ice sooner. I prefer to stay in these locations and never go on the main body of the lake. Always go with a friend and have 100 feet of good rope in case of an emergency. Finally, dressing very warm is essential when the wind whips across that ice in subfreezing temperatures and the chill factor becomes very acute.
Arizona provides all kinds of outdoor activities. Ice fishing in the short Arizona winter is a bit out of the ordinary, but can be fun. This weekend enjoy the outdoors, God's creation.