Areas close to Rim Country still getting weekly infusion of rainbows include Green Valley Lake, Beaver Creek, Oak Creek and the Verde River.
Now that summer rainbow fishing is a pine-scented memory, don’t stash away your favorite trout fishing gear — the increasingly popular fall-winter trout stocking season is ramping up.
“While anglers across the nation are getting their ice-fishing gear out of hiding, Arizona anglers are blessed with abundant winter fishing opportunities in shirt-sleeve weather that is the envy of shivering anglers across North America’s more snowy environs,” says Rory Aikens, the fishing report editor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
In the Verde Valley, both Beaver Creek and West Clear Creek are being stocked with trout.
The remarkable Oak Creek is routinely stocked throughout winter. During the second week of November, Dead Horse Ranch State Park and the Verde River between Cottonwood and Camp Verde will be stocked with feisty rainbows.
In addition, Roosevelt Lake offers year-round opportunities to catch bass and a host of other species.
Many of Arizona’s winter trout stockings are located in mid-elevation habitats, several are convenient to metropolitan areas, and there are even some intriguing possibilities along the Colorado River.
Aikens points out that this month, trout already have been stocked in many of the lakes in the Prescott area and in streams tumbling into the Verde Valley. Trout stockings also began in southern Arizona lakes, such as Parker Canyon, and when the chilly nights of November arrive, more southern waters will be stocked as well.
Goldwater Lake, Fain Lake, Lynx Lake and Mingus Lake near Prescott have all been stocked with rainbows, and during the second week of November, Watson Lake will get its first trout installment of the winter.
“Last year was the first time in decades we were able to stock Watson Lake. It’s really a beautiful fishing location amidst the boulder-balancing countenance of the Granite Dells.”
“Come November, the fabulous Lower Salt River near Phoenix will be stocked with rainbows, creating one of the Southwest’s most unique seasonal trout fisheries where bald eagles soar over giant saguaros and secretive mountain lions sneak down to drink,” Aikens says.
Canyon Lake along the famed Apache Trail is also stocked with trout in winter. This long, thin river-like lake is surrounded by steep canyon walls just made for peregrine falcons and sure-footed bighorn sheep that seem to defy gravity.
“This year, Game and Fish will also stock Apache Lake with trout, adding to the attraction of this remote and wild-like lake where every trip is a scenic adventure you’d expect to see on the pages of Arizona Highways or in a National Geographic TV special,” Aikens advises.
Don’t forget that the urban program lakes are also stocked with trout in winter, including Payson’s Green Valley Park lakes.
“One of my favorite winter trout fisheries of all time is Willow Beach, which sits in the basalt-edged Black Canyon below Hoover Dam,” Aikens says. “Winter is a perfect time to rent a kayak or canoe to fish and explore this rugged desert canyon where geologic time seems to be suspended.”
Farther downstream you’ll also come across another interesting fishery along Casino Row in the Laughlin-Bullhead area.
Also last year, anglers in the spectacular Topock Gorge were often treated to fat rainbows on the end of their lines, in addition to line-stripping smallmouth bass. You might even want to visit the Topock Marsh, where you’ll experience migratory waterfowl and visiting shorebirds such as snowy geese and snowy egrets winging across the startlingly blue desert skies.