Many outdoor enthusiasts have stored the fishing rods as the fall hunting seasons are currently the main focus of interest. Filling that big game tag, chasing quail from ridge to ridge or waterfowl hunting will take center stage for the remainder of the fall.
November can be some of the best trout fishing months in the lakes of the Mogollon Rim and the White Mountains for those anglers who are willing to add a few layers of clothing as winter temperatures are approaching.
The summer crowds are gone, so most of these high elevation mountain lakes will have plenty of solitude and great fishing for those willing to make the trip. The cooler water temperatures make the trout a bit more active, and the feeding pattern will increase, which creates a bite that can happen for the entire day.
The average 9- to 12-inch summer stocker has grown a bit while it has adapted to its environment and taken on a few wild fish tendencies. The color markings of a typical hatchery rainbow will be more striking and their ability to fight on an ultralight rod improves the longer they are in a natural habitat.
Of course, there is always the chance of catching a trophy-sized trout in the two-plus-pound category, and a few could be even larger.
This time of year also increases the chances of catching the elusive German brown that may be trying to spawn in any of the small tributaries that feed many mountain lakes. These golden beauties leave the deepest part of the lake to cruise the shallows looking for the next meal, which makes them vulnerable to a minnow shaped Rapala or a crawdad crankbait.
All seven of the Rim lakes have a majority of rainbows, with a much smaller population of German browns, and a few brookies leftover from transplants many years ago. Most of these lakes are within an hour’s drive of Payson and are well worth the trip for a short half-day outing and a chance to get a fall trophy or maybe the last fresh trout dinner of the year.
If you have a full day or maybe a weekend, then the White Mountains with their many trout lakes would be a good bet. A three-and-a-half hour drive can put you on the banks of Big Lake, Sunrise or Reservation Lake, which all tend to hold bigger fish and have a fantastic fall bite. Winter comes even earlier at 8,500 feet elevation, so make that trip soon because the snow is ready to fly on the alpine lakes of Arizona.
On all fall fishing trips, dress warmly, with multiple layers of clothing and begin shedding a jacket if the November sun raises the temperatures into the mid 50s. It is also wise to listen to the weather forecast for the day at that elevation and make sure somebody always knows which lake you are fishing.
This weekend, enjoy a fishing trip in the Rim Country, God’s creation.