By the time October and November rolls around, most outdoor enthusiasts are thinking big-game hunting for deer and elk in Arizona. There is another group called the hikers who are looking for those canyons that have those perfect fall colors which will provide that spectacular scenery on a high mountain walk before the snow starts to fly.
There are a few trout enthusiasts who target the fall for fishing before the ice forms on many high-elevation lakes on the Mogollon Rim and in the White Mountains. When these lake waters cool after the Arizona summer heat, the big fish start to become more active. These lunker rainbows, brookies and German browns begin a feeding frenzy prior to the dormant time of year created by long winters above the elevation of 7,000 feet.
The last couple of weeks has produced some great fly fishing at little known lakes like Earl Park, Reservation and Christmas Tree on the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation. The ever-popular Big Lake at almost 9,000 feet elevation is also a place to fish before the winter storms close the 10-mile gravel road off the highway.
Local angler, Tim Daugherty, made a recent trip to these lakes and had some real fishing stories of catching numerous 16-inch plus trout. When he showed me the photos of these fall fish, it just whet my appetite to pack my flyrods and make the short jaunt to these White Mountain lakes.
If you prefer to stay a little closer to home because of the gas prices, I would encourage any local trout angler to visit Knoll, Bear Canyon, Chevelon or Blue Ridge Reservoir (Cragin) before the winter storms, which aren’t far away. They hold a fair number of trophy-size trout that are on the prowl and will take an artificial fly or lure.
Remember to dress accordingly, and that means to layer the clothing for the near-freezing, early morning temperatures. It is always easier to take off a sweatshirt or two as the late fall sun warms the air. Don’t put that fishing equipment away, the late fall has some fantastic trout fishing in our Arizona high mountain lakes.
This weekend take a friend fishing and enjoy the outdoors, God’s creation.