C.C. Cragin

As the waters warm, the stocking schedule slows at locations such as Black Canyon, Blue Ridge (C.C. Cragin, shown), and Chevelon Lakes. Fishing success is rated as fair at these three reservoirs.

With the current closure of the Tonto National Forest, the streams under the Rim are closed to entry on the public forest land. This means Tonto, Canyon, Haigler, Christopher, and the East Verde are closed to public land trout fishing. Hopefully, the summer monsoons will get started and the forest will again open for camping, fishing, hiking, and other recreational activities.

The Tonto and Canyon Creek fish hatcheries are still running the stock trucks to these streams weekly so when the forest opens for public use the fishing should be excellent for rainbows and Gilas in the East Verde. But, for now, fish above the Rim on the 7 lakes or make an overnight trip to the White Mountains. Another option would be the north central waters of Kinnikinnick, Lake Mary, or Ashurst lakes where trout fishing would be rated good for rainbows.

The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest is still open for summer trout fishing and camping, which has had a tremendous increase in public use since the closure of the Tonto.

The seven Rim lakes vary widely in angler success. As the waters warm, the stocking schedule slows at locations such as Black Canyon, Blue Ridge, and Chevelon Lakes. I would rate fishing success fair at these three reservoirs. The best times to fish these waters are at the break of dawn until the sun peaks over the trees in the east when the trout are most active. Again, the last hour of daylight will bring the trout to the surface where they will feed on insects hatched during that day.

Knoll and Bear Canyon Lake would be rated good to very good for the next two weeks of July. They are harder to reach with about 8 miles of gravel dirt road to both reservoirs in the heart of the Rim Country. With less fishing pressure, these two lakes are producing limits of rainbows on a variety of techniques. Shore anglers are catching trout on power bait, worms, and corn during the mid-day peak daylight hours. Float tubes and boat anglers are having the best luck early in the morning and in late afternoon when the trout become more active. Reduced daylight brings the trout to the surface in feeding activity, so flies and lures are very effective.

The two most popular Rim lakes of Willow Springs and Woods Canyon are receiving weekly visits from the stock truck to replenish the rainbow trout population. Both of these lakes would be rated good to very good for the next two weeks for shore anglers and those in float tubes, or boats. There are still a few large rainbows being caught from an earlier stocking of bonus trout in the 14-20 inch category. In addition, tiger trout are being caught by fly fishing enthusiasts in the early morning and later afternoons when these hybrid beautiful fish are most active.

The access to these two waters is by paved roads, so the fishing pressure is extreme during the summer months. Both waters are also popular kayak and paddleboard destinations after 9:00 AM, so fishing slows with increased activity. The best bet is to get up extra early and be on the water at the crack of dawn to enjoy the serenity of the early morning and good fishing.

All techniques of trout fishing will be effective on these two reservoirs. It is a great place to take the youngsters and shore fish with a good chance of catching a trout or watching the crayfish along the shoreline. The cooler 7,000 foot elevation and a shady pine tree is a splendid place to relax. Remember, make a positive difference and leave it a cleaner place because you were there!

The Roosevelt Lake report is early morning and late evening for bass enthusiasts. With temperatures well above the century mark for most of the day, it makes it almost unbearable to be on a boat casting the shoreline and working a trolling motor as the sun crosses the sky. The first hour of daylight has a top water bite as largemouths are actively feeding, chasing bait fish. As the sun sets over Four Peaks, it's time to be on the water fishing the main lake points and humps in 20 to 30 feet of water.

Three techniques will produce bass on any main or secondary points. Drop shot, slow retrieve a jig, or Texas rig a large worm or creature bait will entice a bass. Being able to read a graph is essential at this time of year.

Crappie fishing is slow as this tasty game fish sinks to deeper water and heavy cover. Again, a graph is essential to find the depth and heavy brush where crappies may be located. Fish ever so slowly vertically jigging near or in the brush. If you can catch one, chances are, more are close by.

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(1) comment

Jim Verghis

Been fly fishing Willow Springs Lake from my float tube. The rainbows are 20-25 feet deep and are taking woolly buggers 12-14. Use a full sinking Type lll fly line. Early morning is best.

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