Fishing

An angler fishes a Mogollon Rim lake. 

Summer is winding down and many outdoorsmen are picking up their bows and shotguns for some early hunts throughout the state.

The number of anglers will be less on the most popular waters in the Rim country as family camp-outs may focus on deer or turkey and not some local trout waters.

The East Verde River has been the showcase stream for much of the spring and summer with the busy stocking schedule placing Gila trout in all the water from the First Crossing to the pumps at Washington Park. The final stocking of these colorful trout recently took place. The flow of water from Cragin has been excellent, so there are lots of places along the river which can hide a trout and make fishing even more challenging.

The size of of trout being caught are from 10 inches to a few almost 15 inches. There no doubt will be enough fish in the stream for some fall fishing when the crowds have shifted to other interests. The East Verde would be rated good to excellent for the Labor Day crowd.

Tonto Creek will continue to receive rainbow trout weekly throughout the month of September from the hatchery at its headwater. This is also a stream at the end of summer that will still have enough trout in its waters for some great fall fishing.

Christopher Creek has received no trout from the hatchery in over a month, so this small stream would be rated fair. A person willing to do a little hiking up or downstream will find a few trout willing to take a fly, spinner, or some kind of bait.

Haigler Creek received its final stocking of rainbows recently, which will bolster the number of trout already in its water’s from many stockings this summer. This creek does not receive the same pressure as the more popular East Verde and Tonto, which makes the 9 mile trip on a dirt road often worthwhile. This is one of those streams where an extra half-mile hike away from a road will markedly improve the fishing in addition to peaceful solitude.

Canyon Creek is another stream which requires a few miles of driving on a dirt winding road will be stocked with rainbows through much of September.

The upper reaches of the stream have a four fish limit, which is different from the state regulations and the lower reaches are strictly “catch and release” with a single barbless hook. It is important to know the rules before you wet a line in Canyon Creek.

It would be rated good for the Labor Day weekend and for much of September.

These streams are in canyons and are susceptible to flash floods, so always be aware of the weather before you go into any of these narrow canyons. The summer rains will be with us through much of September and some of the worst flooding has happened in the end of August and early September.

Woods Canyon Lake on top of the Rim will receive weekly trips from the Tonto Creek fish hatchery for much of September. The crowds of anglers, kayakers, and paddleboard enthusiasts will continue until the temperatures fall with shorter days and autumn just a few weeks away. Fishing is still rated good to excellent with a variety of techniques and all seem to be working well.

By being on the water before sunup, one can have the lake almost to themselves. It's a great time to be on the water and the fishing is as good as it can get at this popular destination.

Willow Springs, the second most popular Rim lake, will also receive two additional stockings of rainbows to add to the healthy population of trout already in the lake. The lake is larger than Woods Canyon so the fish can spread out quickly to the deeper water. There are frequent reports of two pound rainbows being caught, which always intrigues an angler to give this lake a try. This lake would be rated fair to good for the first days of September.

Bear Canyon Lake is definitely off the beaten path with about 10 miles of gravel and dirt before one gets to the parking lot. Then there is the steep climb down the trail to the water's edge. It will receive one additional stocking of rainbows in September and again this is a lake with a lot of trout. Fly-fishing, spinners, and bait will all produce throughout the day. It is definitely harder to reach but certainly worth the trip. It would be rated good to excellent.

Roosevelt Lake is producing bass fish for those willing to withstand the extreme heat of summer. Main lake points and secondary points are bass magnets in 20 to 30 feet of water. The top-water bite is good, but only for 30 minutes to an hour at first light. This lake will certainly turn on when water temperatures drop significantly especially with the lake level hovering near 90% capacity, which creates an abundance of habitat bass like when they start their fall feeding frenzy.

Good luck fishing this week and take a friend and maybe create a memory of the fish that didn’t get away.

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