The heavy snowfall this past winter has definitely recharged all the trout fishing waters, including the seven lakes above 7,000 feet on the Mogollon Rim. Willow Springs, Black Canyon, Blue Ridge (Craigin), Chevelon, Knoll, Bear Canyon, and Woods Canyon are all within a short drive of Payson and can be accessed on relatively good roads. With the moisture-laden ground and heavy winds, which caused blow downs, many of the roads into these lakes were closed until this past week.
There is good news for anglers. The roads have finally opened and all of these waters are ready for some late spring fishing, which can be fantastic.
In a normal year, most of the lakes are open by mid-April and the early bird anglers have a chance at catching some of those holdover trout from the previous years of stocking. Even though it is mid-May there are still rainbows and a few German browns in the two-pound-plus category cruising the shallows looking for food after a long winter under the ice.
The fishing will remain good for a couple of months before the waters warm in the “dog days” of mid summer.
Most bait will work at this time of year, including power bait, corn, worms, salmon eggs and even marshmallows for the shore fishing angler.
If you don’t have a boat, try this technique. Use a light line in the 4- to 8-pound range, place a quarter-ounce or less slip sinker above a barrel swivel, then tie the 18-inch leader below this point with a size 10 or smaller hook. Cover the hook completely with the bait, make a good cast to deep water, sit back and enjoy the scenery, then wait for that trout to bite.
A boat allows for more opportunities by trolling any shiny lure, which will attract fish. It would be a good bet to have a variety of spinners, z-rays and spoons that can be tried in hopes of finding the best combination to attract those hungry rainbows.
The spinner that has given me the best results is a size 0 or 1 Panther Martin with a little color on the body. This is probably the easiest method for everyone to have some action and get the thrill of fighting a rainbow trout.
Whether you are in a boat, float tube, or on the shore, a fly rod and matching the hatch with an artificial fly is hard to beat for pure fun. A 7- to 9-foot medium light rod and a box of flies will open up an entirely new dimension for any angler. You can start with four or five different patterns and on any given morning or evening, one of them no doubt will work. Wooly buggers, wooly worms, royal coachman, peacock lady and a mosquito midge are names to get familiar with if this becomes your fancy.
The weather is perfect and some of these lakes are within an hour’s drive of Payson, which makes them very accessible at any time. As the days are getting longer, it is even possible to reach the ever popular Woods Canyon or Willow Springs lakes after work during the week, when there are very few anglers on the water.
How about taking the kids fishing and spend a little quality family time! This weekend, enjoy the Rim Country, God’s creation.