With a few minor exceptions, high country trout lakes are accessible and this is the time to catch those larger hold-over trout that like to tail dance. Being some of the first to fish these picturesque mountain lakes is an adventure just waiting for you.
The Forest Service 300 (Mogollon Rim Road) is now open into Knoll Lake and Bear Canyon Lake. The road into Woods Canyon opened last week, as did the road (from Eagar) into Big Lake and beyond. Pretty much, the mountain lakes are now accessible and the Valley is getting warm -- time for a dose of pines and trout.
Also, the largemouth spawn is under way at Lake Powell and the smallmouth spawn should follow suit shortly there. Great April striped bass bite is still on as well.
At Green Valley Lakes fishing is good to excellent for trout with trout stockings scheduled to continue at this higher elevation lake until mid-May. Some nice 1- to 3-pound rainbows were recently stocked. Try Power Bait, worms or salmon eggs for the trout. Largemouth bass and bluegill are actively biting through the spring spawning period. Please practice catch-and-release for all bass during this critical spawning period.
ROOSEVELT LAKE: Lake elevation is 2,150 ft (99-percent full). Tonto Creek runoff is at 71 cfs while inflow from the Salt River is at 1,250 cfs.
A 5-1/2-pound smallmouth was caught, but no details on where or what was used to nab this beauty.
A group fished from 9-to-5 and they used just about everything in the tackle box, Senkos, cranks, spinnerbaits, and jerkbaits to name a few. The fish (largemouth) were biting on everything but nothing really stood out as the bait of choice. They caught about 15 fish and one bass was at least a 5-pounder measuring 21 inches.
Another group fished half a day near Cholla and caught a nice 7-pound largemouth on a white buzzbait; white spinnerbaits and Senkos seemed to work as well.
The morning bite seemed a little slow midweek. Wind has been a factor on some days. While there are still bass on beds, anglers seem to be catching more and more post-spawn bass.
Crappie fishing seems to be hit-or-miss, but with the waning moon, this is the time to try fishing at night under submersible lights.
LOWER LAKE MARY: A total of 28,000 trout have been stocked into the lake. Fishing is fair to good depending on the wind.
UPPER LAKE MARY: The lake is full. Some anglers have reported catching huge northern pike on frozen anchovies fished with little or no weight on steel leaders.
LONG LAKE: Lake is open. Water level is good. Lake has been stocked with 4,300 trout. Some nice fish are being caught near the ditch. Two anglers report catching limits of trout from their boat but were challenged by windy conditions at times.
CHEVELON LAKE: Fishing is fair to good. Anglers have been catching good numbers of moderate-size trout near the dam. The lake is ice-free, full and spilling. Anglers are catching trout in the creek downstream of the dam, which is open to statewide fishing regulations.
The lake is open to artificial lure and fly only, trout between 10 and 14 inches may not be possessed, and the bag limit is six trout. Try lures such as Z-rays, Super Dupers, spinners and Rapalas; and flies such as wooly worms, wooly buggers, peacock ladies, prince nymphs, zug bugs and other small nymphs. The lake is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10 hp gas motors. Access to Chevelon Lake is open on Forest Road 169 from the north, via Hwy. 99 from Winslow or via Forest Road 504 from Heber.
BEAR CANYON LAKE: Is now accessible. The lake is mostly ice-free. Fishing should be decent for larger hold-over trout.
BLACK CANYON LAKE: The roads are now open and fishing is fair. The lake is ice-free, full and spilling. Recent netting revealed lots of illegally stocked largemouth bass and some nice-sized rainbow trout (up to 2 pounds). Try worms, salmon eggs, Power Bait, lures such as spinners, Super Dupers, Z-rays, spoons, and flies such as peacock ladies, wooly worms and wooly buggers, and Yeager buggers. The lake is open to electric trolling motors only. The water temperature last week was 59 degrees.
BLUE RIDGE: Open and accessible. The lake is spilling. Expect larger hold-over trout. This is a deep canyon lake that is tough for shore angling, but great for small boats, canoes or float tubes.
KNOLL LAKE: The Forest Service 300 (Rim Road) is open, but muddy in places with some snow drifts still along the shady edges. If the water is not too cold (no reports yet), it should be decent for larger hold-over trout.
WILLOW SPRINGS LAKE: Fishing is fair to good. The road is now open to the lake. The lake is ice-free and full. The boat ramp is accessible. The lake was stocked last week with catchable-size rainbow trout. Try worms, Power Bait, salmon eggs, lures such as Z-rays, spinners and Rapalas, and flies such as peacock ladies, wooly worms, wooly buggers and nymphs in black, brown or green colors.
WOODS CANYON LAKE: Open, accessible and ice-free. Fishing is fair. The boat ramp is accessible. Try worms, Power Bait, salmon eggs, lures such as spinners, small spoons (Super Dupers and Z-rays) and Rapalas, and flies such as wooly worms and wooly buggers, peacock ladies and nymphs in black, brown or green colors. The lake is open to electric trolling motors only.
WHITE MOUNTAIN WATERS
NOTE: Higher elevation lakes are now ice-free. State Highway 261 is open to Big Lake and Crescent Lake, as well as most interior Forest Roads.
Forest Roads 249, 24, northern portion of 25 to West Fork and Black River, and 26 are open.