Can you imagine fishing Woods Canyon Lake and being one of a handful of anglers on the entire lake!
These are the same trout waters that almost require a stop light because of all the boat traffic during the summer months, and for shore fishermen it may be shoulder to shoulder combat angling. If you can brave the cold, there is some hot trout action for any diehard willing to make the trip to one of the Rim lakes.
The water temperature is in the mid 40s and falling fast as the annual winter freeze is just around the corner. These conditions make for an aggressive bite by holdover trout in the 12- to 14-inch category, and the chance of catching a trout or two in the two-pound-plus range is very possible.
My recommendation is to watch the weather conditions and pick a time where there has been at least two or three successive days of warmer weather.
Remember, if the high in Payson is predicted at 60 degrees, the Rim lakes at 7,500 elevation may be at least 10 degrees lower.
It is not necessary to be an early riser for wintertime trout fishing.
The fish at this time of year on Woods Canyon Lake seem to bite better as the day warms, reaching a peak later in the afternoon about three o’clock when the sun has had maximum heating on the water.
These conditions create a surface bite which is a fly fisherman’s delight walking the shoreline, using a float tube, or rowing a boat. I have had the best luck on a Wooly Bugger with a gold bead in one of three colors — black, green or brown. The slower the retrieve or movement of the fly, the better the action.
If fly fishing is not your cup of tea, don’t dismay, these wintertime conditions are perfect for shore fishermen with bait like corn, worms or power bait. A light action spinning rod with four-pound test line with a small slip sinker above the swivel will get you started in the right direction. Below the swivel, tie a short leader with a size 10 snelled bait hook and get ready for action.
Make sure the binoculars are part of the necessary equipment because an eagle or two will probably entertain you with their daily fishing routine. On a recent trip to Woods Canyon Lake, I saw a bald eagle swoop down on an unassuming puddle duck and carry it off to a nearby tree. This was quite a sight to see.
There is only a short time before the waters will be icing, so take advantage of some real solitude and try a popular Rim lake during the late fall.
This weekend, enjoy the Arizona outdoors, God’s creation.