The Rim Country is known as an escape from Valley heat and a great destination for trout fishing among its many springtime visitors.
After the ice melts and the Forest Service roads have been opened to a series of lakes that hold rainbow and German brown trout, the diehard fishermen begin their early spring trips.
The destination for anglers may be the more popular Woods Canyon, Willow Springs and Blue Ridge, or it may be the harder-to-reach Black Canyon, Bear Canyon, Knoll or Chevelon lakes.
All of these lakes have healthy populations of trout, called holdovers, from the previous year's stocking program and a few lunkers over 16 inches, which may have been in the lake for a few seasons.
Early April is an optimum time to catch big fish that are cruising the lake, looking for food after a long winter. Because of cooler water temperatures and increasing daylight hours, these fish will be more active than in the later summer.
There is one local angler who is considered by many to be an expert in catching these big trout from the Rim lakes. Pat Haynes grew up in Payson and is the longtime owner of Sundance Plumbing. When he isn't working, he is enjoying the outdoors with family.
Pat has caught and released more trophy trout from the Rim lakes than probably any other angler I know.
The walls in his home display numerous five-to-12 lb. fish that are replicas taken from photos and measurements before the trout is released to be caught again by another lucky angler.
Having talked to Pat many times about catching trophy trout, he has simplified the strategy into two key points -- time of year and big baits.
The early spring and late fall are the best windows of opportunity to catch a real lunker from the Rim lakes.
The second key point is the idea that big baits catch big fish. A 3-to-5 inch Rapala minnow can be very effective because it appears as a small baitfish or a fingerling trout, which can be a five pounder's next meal.
Another good choice of lures would be a crawdad replica diving crankbait. Sometimes, the trout attacking are not much larger than the bait, which gives an indication of their predatory instincts.
Catching trophy-sized trout is not an easy accomplishment. The fishermen who make this their goal are waiting for that one big bite.
It may happen quickly, or it could take days of being on the water.
April is one of the best times to catch and release a big one from one of the Rim lakes. Whatever the case, enjoy fishing in God's creation.