Summer Stream Fishing On The Rim


The Mogollon Rim as a major geological rock formation that rises more than a 1,000 feet in some locations to an altitude of more than 7,000 feet creates many springs and seeps that drain the plateau above.

These water sources drain southward and form many of the more popular trout streams under the Rim such as: Tonto, Christopher and Canyon Creek. On any given weekend during the summer months they have intense fishing pressure from Valley residents trying to escape the heat.

In the summer, these waters are heavily stocked with catchable rainbow trout by the Tonto and Canyon Fish Hatcheries, which are operated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Weekend anglers and campers always want to return to “fishing holes” where they were successful on previous trips, so return visitors to the Rim Country are very likely. This is made possible by the great work of the two hatcheries through replenishing the local streams with weekly stockings of scrappy rainbows for the thousands of summer visitors.

On any given weekday, they may have little or no fishing pressure for the local angler who is willing to drive 30 minutes to an hour. At these times it is possible to dabble a fly or cast a spinner in solitude with no other fishermen on the stream.

Of course, this may require an early morning venture when most people are still sleeping or a late afternoon trip around suppertime.

There are still plenty of trout in these streams after a crowded weekend. Even a hatchery fish takes on wild characteristics after a few days in the water with constant pressure, noise, and shadows being ever present.

Any spot that will hide a fish, such as an undercut on a bank or a crevice between large boulders, will likely have a rainbow in residence.

Take time and fish all of these spots, even though there are no deep pools close by, and the results may surprise you.

Wild trout exist in any of these three streams, with a few trophy German browns still lurking in the shadows of the more remote deep pools.

A 14-inch brown has lived in these waters a long time, so it is somewhat harder to trick by a fly or a lure and the slightest motion will alarm it, forcing it into cover for the rest of the day.

If you catch one of these brown beauties with those distinctive red spots, I would encourage you to release it back into the water to replenish the population of wild fish.

With the warm summer temperatures, the cool streambeds with knee-high grass can be an attractive spot for a rattlesnake. It is snake season and the western diamondback will find those cool places to avoid the hot Arizona sun, so always be on the lookout when you take that next step.

Over the years of hiking these creeks I have had a few interruptions in my fishing by a rattler encounter.

There are many miles of fishable water on Tonto, Christopher and Canyon Creek. Summer is just beginning, so why not take a short stretch of water for each trip and get to know our popular streams in the area. More fish can be found in these creeks than first observed, it might take a little walking, but around the next bend could be that perfect pool.

Remember, leave the stream a cleaner place because you were there. If you find any litter put it in your daypack and leave only your footprints.

This weekend, take a friend fishing and enjoy God’s creation.


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