Fall is finally here with shorter days and cooler temperatures and that is good news for the fishermen in the Rim Country. Even though the hunting seasons are in full swing, don’t put away that fishing gear quite yet.
The trout lakes on top of the Mogollon Rim are often crowded during the summer months and the angling pressure can make for less than a desirable recreational outing. With the advent of fall, these same lakes take on a totally different atmosphere, where the pristine surroundings can be enjoyed by just a handful of anglers.
The daytime temperatures are cooler and the evenings can be downright chilly, which means the water temperatures are lowering and that will increase trout activity. The obvious result is that the fish are aggressively feeding and the bite should be good the entire day.
The Tonto Fish Hatchery has ended the summer stocking program, but don’t worry, there are plenty of holdover fish in all of the Rim lakes. Many of the rainbows have had a chance to grow a few inches and put on a little weight, which means the fish are healthier and will put up a real fight on light spinning gear or a fly rod.
At this time of year, catching a 13- to 15-inch trout can be likely on every trip to any of the lakes. Even Woods Canyon or Willow Springs, which have intensive summer pressure, will produce a number of lunker trout in the fall and will continue until the winter snows fly. Plus, incentive or bonus trout have been stocked as the Tonto Fish Hatchery ends its seasonal program.
These are the perfect lakes for fly-fishing, with plenty of room to cast, especially if you have a float tube or a small boat.
Always pay attention to the hatch of insects, which can still be occurring on the warm afternoons and then try to match the pattern. If you are still in a quandary, then use a dark pattern wooly worm or wooly bugger. Other likely choices would be an elk hair caddis nymph, an Arizona peacock lady, or any of the smaller midge patterns.
I also enjoy using an ultralight spinning outfit, which allows me to feel every bit of fight that healthy rainbow, can offer. The perfect size spinner would be a 0 or 1 in a panther martin or mepps variety. Of course, other light spinners will work fine if the fish are biting. Another effective fall bait would be a shallow diver in the cricket hopper or crawdad pattern that can catch big fish.
Some of the best Arizona trout fishing will happen when those leaves are changing, so make it a point to visit one of the Rim lakes soon. The weather is perfect, the fish are biting, and there is plenty of elbow room at this time of year.
This weekend, enjoy the Arizona outdoors, God’s creation.