With temperate weather, back-to-back years of great runoff filling the lakes and superb fishing opportunities, the stars are aligning for a terrific Father’s Day fishing adventure.
But don’t despair if you are not sure where to go — Rory Aikens, the fishing report editor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department has some pointers for you.
“Dad will grin from ear to ear after catching a toothy northern pike at Upper Lake Mary near Flagstaff,” Aikens promised.
He pointed out that Upper Lake Mary is the only high country lake in the pines where you can fire up the big boat motor and “be some-buddy” as Andy Griffith would say. You aren’t required to use those woosie single-numeral putt-putts.
You can troll some Rapalas, spinners or Rat-L-Traps, but if you really want bug-eyed monsters, try stocker-trout resembling swim baits. You can even get out the water skis (different type of trolling).
Old coal-burning locomotives and dads are a natural weekend mix, so head over to Kaibab, Whitehorse or Dogtown near Williams, catch some trout in the morning, then take dad to the late-morning shoot-em-up at the Grand Canyon Railroad Station (every morning),” Aikens said.
Or better yet, conduct dad to the vintage train for a clickety-clack excursion across the Colorado Plateau.
“Be sure to bribe the pistol-packin’ galoots to take his wallet at gunpoint when they hold up the 3:10 to Williams. Then take ol’ dad fishing in the evening when the train comes back from Pecos Bill’s giant irrigation ditch that people like to photograph so much,” Aikens suggested.
Can’t get out of Urbania? No sweat. Rattle dad out of the sheets at O-Dark-Thirty with a steaming cup of Joe to help pry his eyelids open, then scoot over to the Lower Salt River before all the beer-guzzling tubers get there so dad can catch feisty desert river trout in the cool current. If you have a canoe, so much the better. Of course, once the sun climbs high in the sky, a tube and suds might become irresistible. Make dad feel young again (don’t forget a floppy hat and sunscreen).
There are also plenty of urban lakes to try. The Papago Ponds (near the Phoenix Zoo) are even a blue ribbon urban fishery — pretty unique stuff (that’s where my youngest boy caught his first bass at age 2).
Or better yet, load up the camping gear and treat your well-deserving dad to a mountain adventure in the high pines. “Big Lake might test dad’s aging lungs, but cumulus puffballs drifting lazily by Mt. Baldy while large cutthroat trout fight for the privilege making Daddy-O smile will lift everyone’s spirits higher than an osprey soaring in Nat’s orange-colored sky,” Aikens said.
Maybe amble down to the east or west forks of Black River for some golden therapy catching native Apache trout along quick gurgling runs.
“Put a cane pole in dad’s hand with a wiggling worm on the hook and the years will magically peel back like shucking an ear of sweet summer corn. He’ll feel like he’s cavorting with Huck and Tom again at Sam’s favorite fishin’ hole,” Aikens predicted.
It’s never too late for a Powell houseboat surprise — he’ll always remember the world-class fishing for striped bass, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass while experiencing some of the most spectacular scenery on Earth. It will become a well-thumbed page in his revered book of memories.
Does dad like to fly fish? “It doesn’t get much better than a guided trip to Lees Ferry. That will put the twinkle back in his eyes (yours too). It’s another experience for the ages,” Aikens said.
Dad might want to go fishing for crappie at night (new moon June 22). Three good choices: Bartlett, Roosevelt or Alamo. “So get dad out this weekend and build some memories. If my wife reads these tips, maybe I’ll see you out there,” Aikens said.