Anglers Can Expect Good Fishing This Summer

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Lakes around the Rim Country are some of the best in the state for fishing.

The summer months look to produce some satisfying catches, even for the inexperienced angler.

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Rim Country visitors and residents can find lakes both close at hand -- such as Green Valley Park Lake (above) -- or only a few miles away, such as the one featured on the cover of this edition of the Summer Guide. Enjoy all of them, but take the proper precautions whether fishing from a bank or on the water.

"The fishing is tremendous right now," said Rory Aikens, fishing report editor with Arizona Game and Fish.

Aikens suggests Woods Canyon Lake and Willow Springs Lake for the best overall fishing experience.

Woods Canyon Lake has the best catch ratios and will be stocked every week throughout the summer months, he said.

"It's really a put-and-take lake," he said. "We stock every week and by the end of the week, the fish are about 85 percent gone."

On the weekends, Woods Canyon is a popular spot and can be a bit crowded, Aikens said. "It's a good place for beginners."

Willow Springs Lake generally has larger fish, including smallmouth and largemouth bass and brown trout, he said.

"My favorite lake is Willow Springs," he said. "It's got the largest variety of fish and its beauty is unparalleled."

Knoll Lake, Aikens said, is more difficult to reach because it is located off about 20 miles of dirt road. But it is secluded, has a lot more wildlife and overall is great for experienced anglers, he said.

"It's one of the most picturesque roads in Arizona with amazing, dramatic views," he said.

Aikens recommended PowerBait and night crawler worms for the best chance of a big catch at Rim Country lakes.

Marc Dahlberg, a wildlife specialist for Game and Fish, said that the water levels in Rim Country lakes are better than most around the state, which are suffering as a result of the drought.

He said the summer months are the best time for productive fishing, but the Rim Country boasts ideal conditions the majority of the year.

"It looks pretty good this year," he said. "And there are real pretty lakes around Payson."

Dahlberg suggested boat fishing for better results, but said that in his experience, shore fishing works just fine.

Fishing licenses can be purchased from Wal-Mart or bait shops around the Rim Country, Aikens said.

A general license, good through the calendar year, is $23.50. A trout stamp, which is necessary to fish most of the Rim Country lakes, is $15.75.

Combination licenses, which include hunting, fishing and a trout stamp, are available for $54 for adults or $26.50 for youth under the age of 21. Combination licenses can be purchased from Game and Fish offices or online at the Game and Fish Web site at www.azgfd.gov. Family licenses are also available.

Weekly fishing reports can be accessed via the Game and Fish Web site or are available at (602) 789-3701 on a weekly recording.

Woods Canyon Lake is 30 miles east of Payson on Highway 260. Turn left on Forest Road 300 and it's approximately five miles to the lake. Boat and shore fishing are available. Woods Canyon Lake is the only Rim Country lake with a bait and tackle shop and boat rentals.

Willow Springs Lake is 31 miles east of Payson on Highway 260, one mile past the Woods Canyon turnoff. It has easy access, a boat ramp and ample shore fishing.

Knoll Lake is 36 miles east of Payson on Highway 260. Turn left on Forest Road 300 and it is approximately 20 miles to the lake.

Chevelon Canyon Lake is the largest lake in Rim Country, but is the most difficult to access, Aikens said. It is 30 miles east of Payson on Highway 260. Turn on Forest Road 300 and take a left for about 10 miles to Forest Road 159. Take a right on Forest Road 159 and the lake is approximately 10 miles. A one-mile hike is required to reach the lake.

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