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
Trout fishing, finding elk antler sheds, and, of course, luring “old tom turkey” with an artificial call highlight springtime in the high country of Arizona
Small-town America fund-raising is alive and well when it comes to a volunteer organization in Payson by the name of the Mogollon Sporting Association.
The local trout streams within a 30-mile radius of Payson have received their first spring stocking of catchable rainbows and will continue throughout the summer. Popular waters like Tonto, Christopher, Haigler, Canyon and the East Verde will be visited by the Tonto Fish Hatchery on a regular basis providing thousands of catchable rainbow trout in the 9- to 12-inch range. Each of these waters will also receive bonus or incentive fish, which will tip the scales at 2 to 3 pounds to certainly add excitement for the locals as well as the visiting anglers from the Valley.
Its mid-April and the crappies on Roosevelt Lake are finally moving to the shallows for their annual spawn. Having said this, still the fishing is sporadic because it is so difficult to find a bank where there is a heavy concentration of those dark speckled beauties. A good day on the water might be a stringer of 20 fish, unless you can find a real hot spot.
Springtime in the high country of Arizona brings a unique opportunity of hearing wild turkeys in the woods.
The water is starting to stabilize on Roosevelt Lake at 100 percent of capacity, which is good news for the future of warm water fishing. Longer days mean more solar heating as the temperature of the water is rising to the low 60s, and that creates perfect spawning conditions for the largemouth bass. All sizes of bass will be cruising the shallows looking for the right location to make the nest where the female will lay the eggs that will soon be fertilized by the male fish.
Spring in the high country is starting to change the scenery, with the snow melting on the face of the Rim and the new grasses sprouting everywhere. The lower elevations have a head start, bringing a myriad of colors with wildflowers and a velvet green landscape. The abundant winter moisture has certainly revitalized all of Arizona.
Dennis Pirch, who writes the Outdoors Under the Rim column for the Payson Roundup, has been fishing the Rim Country for more than a couple of decades. His oldest son, Clifford, is a professional bass fisherman. Here are a few fishing tips Pirch has offered in his Roundup columns.
Spring is finally here in the high country, and the Rim Country Optimist Club is kicking off the warm weather with their 4th Annual Kids Fishing Festival at Green Valley Park.
The late winter storms have continued to bring massive amounts of snow to the Rim Country, and rain to the lower elevations. Every canyon seems to have a live water flow, and those east of the Beeline Highway eventually drain into Tonto or Canyon Creek and finally into Roosevelt Lake.
March is here! Roosevelt Lake is at 100 percent of capacity, and the warmer temperatures are starting to return to Arizona. To the warm-water angler, this means bass will be heading to the spawning grounds of shallow water, and great fishing is right around the corner. The migration of bass boat owners from northern communities, which have been digging out of numerous winter storms, is on the increase daily, because the word is out.
The Rim Country is a trout fisherman’s paradise. Most of the waters are within an hour’s driving time of the Payson city limits. All these lakes and streams are consistently stocked from April through mid-fall. Most of these waters also have a good number of holdover fish that take on characteristics of true wild trout.
Even though it is only mid-February, I would like to think that spring is in the air with this past week’s warmup. If you have lived in the Rim Country for any length of time, this kind of balmy weather may just be an interlude before the next winter blast.
The fall and winter hunting seasons are now history with most outdoorsmen storing their bows and rifles until next August.
Throughout the United States there is a common thread among outdoorsmen who enjoy the hunting experience — the pursuit of the local game animals. In the extreme southern tier of states, which are east of the Mississippi River, whitetail deer and wild turkeys attract the bulk of the big game hunters.
Winter in the northern tier of states has a hardy breed of outdoor recreationalist called the ice fisherman.
It is that time of year again to start the process to secure next fall’s antelope and elk permits for the state of Arizona. The booklets and application envelopes are at most major sporting goods stores as well as the local Walmart. This drawing is early for Arizonans in order to aid hunters in planning fall hunts in state so that there is no overlap with the more popular deer and turkey seasons.
There is good news for local anglers — Green Valley Lake has been stocked again with catchable rainbow trout. Every two weeks throughout the winter and spring months, our local fishing waters receive hundreds of trout to add to those already living in the lake.
Some of my earliest memories of the outdoors were actually encouraged by reading numerous magazines that had fascinating stories about fishing and hunting. An Outdoor Life or a Field and Stream was usually read from cover to cover in one evening, which would usually give me plenty of ammunition for day-dreaming material.
New Year’s Day is a time for college football, food and friends, as the holiday season begins to wind down. This time of year always seems to add a few pounds, with all the great food and desserts that are so easy to reach at a timeout or during a television commercial. Consequently, those New Year’s resolutions made usually include some kind of exercise program for the coming year.
It is Christmas morning and family and friends surround me as we open gifts with anticipation and surprise. That nagging question that always seems to arise in me returns, “Did I get the right present for many of my relatives?”
The first major winter storm has hit the Rim Country and the White Mountains and may have caused a little inconvenience, but is a welcome arrival in regard to future water levels at the local lakes. Most rain gauges in the Payson area recorded about two inches of precipitation while the higher elevations received nearly two feet of very wet snow.
The ice is starting to form on the lakes above 7,000 feet on the Rim and in the White Mountains where only the most diehard anglers are still wetting a line. They are in pursuit of lunker size German brown trout that are trying to spawn in these high mountain lakes.
OUTDOORS UNDER THE RIM
In the last decade, archery equipment has progressively improved, with bows that are lighter, faster and more efficient to use in the field. The engineering departments of the major archery equipment producers are constantly developing ideas that will give their company the edge in sales in the outdoor market.
One of the more popular hunts in Arizona has been going on for six weeks and there is still over two months left in the season.
The Rim Country is synonymous as a trout fishing destination because of all the lakes and streams within a radius of 30 miles of the Payson area. The elevation of all these waters varies from 5,000 to 7,500 feet, which can create quite a climate change, especially at this time of year.
The rifle deer season in Arizona has started in most units with numerous hunts that are a week in duration.
The month of October means the beginning of all those rifle deer hunts in various units throughout the state.
There are so many outdoor activities other than fishing and hunting that can be enjoyed in the Rim Country during the fall. Kathy and I make it an annual event to enjoy the autumn colors in a couple of our favorite canyons under the Mogollon Rim.
The big-game seasons are upon us in the Rim Country and having an Arizona bull elk tag is like winning the lottery to those of us in the hunting fraternity.
It was about a month ago that longtime Rim Country resident and avid outdoorsman, Pat Willis passed away after a courageous battle with cancer.
Fall is finally here with shorter days and cooler temperatures and that is good news for the fishermen in the Rim Country. Even though the hunting seasons are in full swing, don’t put away that fishing gear quite yet.
The growing number of vehicle-wildlife collisions in the Rim Country is a losing situation for all involved. In most cases, there are injuries or even fatalities to the occupants of the vehicles, and the wildlife is either killed on impact or must be put down when officials arrive at the scene of the accident.
How would you like the opportunity to combine an archery caribou hunt with fishing for silver salmon in Alaska? That is exactly what local resident and owner of Payson Apothecary Pharmacy, Craig Mathews, had a chance to do in August. This was his second trip to the “land of the midnight sun” for the two-week combined fishing and hunting expedition.
Have you noticed that the daylight hours are significantly getting shorter? Our shorter days mean that fall is right around the corner. The early morning hours now have the familiar sound of the bugle of the bull elk in the Rim Country.
Believe it or not, it’s archery deer season again in the northern section of Arizona, which includes the Payson area units 22 and 23.
When small-town America sees a need, they rally behind the cause, and that’s what is happening in Tonto Basin this fall! The school district was hoping to build an addition to house the preschool program with the aid of state funding, but a moratorium was placed on all new school construction.
With the long summertime growing season, plant growth can be phenomenal and that is also the case with weeds that can choke out the healthy grasslands in the Rim Country.
This past week I was heading to Flagstaff, enjoying a scenic drive through some of the finest forestland in the Southwest and noticed I did not see many elk near the highway fences. That is, until the road parallels Mormon Lake where I noticed in the distance, white spots on the rears of numerous animals.
Are you looking for something to do in the outdoors during the dog days of summer? By the first of August, wild blackberries are starting to ripen in most of the canyons beneath the Rim where live water flows. Berry picking season will start about now and will last for about six weeks depending on the elevation and the amount of sunshine available to the plants.
Even though it is mid-summer, the fall hunting permits have been finalized for the big game seasons in Arizona. Hopefully, you obtained at least one tag for a favorite hunt or at least a second choice permit.
OUTDOORS UNDER THE RIM
Summer stream fishing for trout in Arizona could be comparable to a military low crawl training session in the jungles of some far off country.
The summer trout fishing season has been going on for three months and all the local waters within an hour’s drive of Payson have had significant angling pressure.
The Arizona summertime temperatures have finally arrived and those 110-degree days make it difficult to be out in that midday sun.
If you are a local trout angler, no doubt you have your favorite angling spots where you can get away for an hour or two in the cool of a summer evening. There is a certain amount of ownership that one takes on after a few trips, even if it is in the Tonto National Forest, when fishermen accept the responsibility of keeping the area clean of litter.
Watching those thunderheads build in the latter half of May and the late spring rains that followed were certainly a welcomed sight. Most locations under the Rim received a total of 2 inches of moisture, while the area on top of the Mogollon had over 4 inches in the rain bucket.
When it comes to crappie fishing the springtime months of March and April are hard to beat when the fish are in the shallows on the spawning beds.
Every bass angler wants that perfect bait to catch that lunker largemouth which will give him a paycheck at a tournament or at least bragging rights among his friends.
I know it is fishing season, but believe it or not, the fall deer, turkey, javelina and sheep applications are due next Tuesday, June 9.