Pirch-Don Heizer With Big Rainbow

Don Heizer with a 22-inch rainbow trout.

Every fishing season is identified by memorable catches and the thrill of being with friends and family when the trophy fish is landed. The year, 2019, will go down in history with an abundance of big fish being recorded by many local anglers.

The question is, what was unique about this year compared to others? With an exceptional amount of moisture, most lakes were at the high water mark when the ice left during the spring thaw. Even with the heavy snows the winter kill was minimal at the fertile lakes which allowed many holdover trout from the previous years to make it.

During the spring and summer the average growth rate is approximately an inch per month in lakes and larger streams. Trout that have made it through the winter from the previous stocking season will have an average of three to five inches of growth. So, a 10-inch rainbow stocked the previous year may be a 14- to 16-inch fish the following fishing season. A trout that makes it two full seasons will approach 20 inches.

The fertility of the lake is critical where food is abundant, such as insects, freshwater shrimp, and smaller fish. Holdover trout frequently have orange to deep red flesh depending on the natural food source in the lake or stream.

The Arizona high country had a late spring, so the fishing for larger trout was good to excellent. Which is much longer and it lasted almost to the first of July. Big Lake and Becker in the White Mountains, always known for excellent trout fishing, recorded numerous catches of rainbows and cutthroats from 16-22 inches. While, closer to home, Bear Canyon and Chevelon Canyon lakes had fishing reports of trophy rainbows and browns being caught by the experienced angler. Even the north central waters of Kinnikinick and Ashurst had excellent fishing well into the summer months. Of course, there were other lakes, which also produced many springtime trophy trout.

Once the summer Arizona heat turns up the temperature gauge, the fishing noticeably falls off because of warming water, which also creates a heavy algae bloom and other weed growth. Fishing some of these same springtime hot spots will hardly produce a bite during the “dog days of summer.”

Well, it is finally early fall and the daytime temperatures are cooling and the frost is soon to be on the pumpkins in the high country of Arizona. The hunting seasons are upon us, which makes many folks put the fishing equipment away and pull out the bows and rifles in pursuit of their favorite big game.

Some of the best trout fishing in Arizona occurs from early October until the snow flies in the Rim Country and the White Mountains.

Even with deer and elk seasons upon us, this outdoor enthusiast is going to find time for a few trips to my favorite lakes. The summer crowds have long gone and many of these bodies of water will appear to be one’s own private lake. This may be the time for you to hook that lunker that will resonate into a real fish story to your friends and family.

This weekend enjoy the cooler weather in the Rim Country, God’s creation.

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