The summer monsoon rains certainly have a positive impact on the Rim Country as the landscape takes on a brighter green color with the new grasses sprouting everywhere, which obviously benefits all kinds of wildlife. The local streams are recharged with an increased flow of water, and the water temperature of the lakes on the Rim cool a bit, which is healthier trout habitat. Consequently, fish get a bit more active, which benefits anglers as they try to outsmart a German brown or a rainbow.
With the added runoff, many streams change from gin clear to a translucent stain where objects are not nearly as distinct, which can be an advantage to an angler who may be fishing a small pool. This past Monday, I made a trip to the ever-popular Tonto Creek that probably had hundreds of people walking the shoreline the previous two days. Because of the popularity of the area, I had some doubt that there were many fish left in this part of the creek. Yet, as I peered off the bridge, the conditions were perfect — with the water being slightly murky and trout possibly feeding with the added runoff bringing food downstream. I had to rig my fishing rod and give it a try.
A 5-1/2-foot ultralight spinning rod with a small open-face reel is the most efficient combination for stream fishing in Arizona because of all the overhanging brush and tree limbs that shade the bank. With 4-pound test line and a size 0 Panther Martin, the hunt was on for the first fish.
It didn’t take long, as the second cast produced a scrappy 10-inch rainbow that darted from a rock overhang to attack the spinner. Much to my surprise, the next cast produced another smaller trout.
The murky water conditions allowed me to cast as many as a dozen times in one area before the trout finally refused the tiny Panther Martin spinner. Rainbows and browns generally face upstream so that they can intercept any possible food floating with the current, so it is best to fish upstream using a pitching motion or underhand cast to place that spinner at the head of a pool or riffle. A slow retrieve where the blade is barely turning works best, but the retrieve must be fast enough to keep the lure from snagging on the bottom. This is the reason that a size 0 spinner is the most effective.
Any hole between rocks, shadows along the bank, or a submerged root system is a likely hideout for a trout waiting for the next morsel of food to float within range. Even though the water is murky, it is important to stay hidden and keep from making a shadow on the water. In some situations, I might even be crouching in the water to make the perfect pitch to that shaded area. After a short while on the creek, I am often wet above my knees, which can be a problem if there is a cell phone in my pocket. It is best to put your phone in a zip-lock baggy because the likelihood of slipping on the creek bottom always looms.
After an hour of fishing, I had covered about 200 yards of Tonto Creek, was only 50 yards from the pavement and had caught and released a dozen trout with two being healthy German browns!
I am certain that the murky high water had made conditions perfect for catching trout in an area that had been bombarded with every possible bait and strategy over the previous two days. I was pleasantly surprised and learned another lesson on stream fishing in the Rim Country.
I know the stream was crowded on the weekend because of the amount of litter along the creek bed. There was plastic, aluminum and Styrofoam; none of which is biodegradable. A gentle reminder to you stream fishing enthusiasts is to keep a litterbag in that daypack and make the creek a cleaner place because you were there.
This weekend, take a friend fishing in the Arizona outdoors, God’s creation.