AZGFD Suggests Best High-Country Lakes


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AZGFD Suggests Five Top High-Country Lakes This Summer

With summer temperatures heating up, anglers are starting to head to the cooler climate and great fishing opportunities in Arizona’s high country. Below is a listing of five high country lakes that our Aquatic Wildlife Branch predicts will be good bets this summer:

Big Lake

Because of its size, productivity and visitor amenities, Big Lake is considered one of the best White Mountains fishing lakes. Fishing is excellent in summer typically before midday when water quality is best and trout are most active. Try fishing weed edges or in shallower water where aquatic insects are emerging and fish or crayfish may be hunting. Bait and shore fishermen can try anything from worms to PowerBait, especially with strong scents to lure fish out of any leftover winter slump.

While all water is cool and fresh, shore fishing should be just as successful as fishing from a boat. Launching large boats is difficult this year due to low water. If you do get a small boat on the lake, try trolling spinners and flies. To attract cutthroat, use lures that resemble crayfish or their movement. Brook trout will hit flies, but also try nightcrawlers on the bottom. Check US Forest Service for road closures and fire restriction updates.

Woods Canyon Lake

AZGFD Suggests Best High-Country Lakes
At Woods Canyon Lake
Photo Courtesy Richard N. Home

Lake levels should be stable. If fishing for trout from shore, try PowerBait or worms. Fly anglers may have luck on dry flies or small nymphs right at sunset. Boaters can try trolling a Super Duper or tiny gold Kastmaster lures. The lake is loaded with crayfish; try fishing for large trout with spinners or lures that imitate crayfish patterns. Fish for illegally stocked green sunfish along the rocky shore with nightcrawlers. Woods Canyon Lake is stocked weekly throughout the summer with rainbow trout and in May with tiger trout. Stocking began in April. Check US Forest Service for road closures and fire restriction updates.

Woodland Lake

Woodland caught some water this past spring after poor snow and rain during 2021. Water levels will be low this summer again, but catchable-size rainbow trout were stocked in March, April and May, as well as fingerling channel catfish, 4- to 6-inch largemouth bass, and adult bluegill. Despite low water in 2021, Woodland Lake likely has holdover bass, sunfish, and catfish lurking. Channel catfish can be caught using bait on the bottom, especially at night. Small bass and sunfish may be hiding under the floating dock and can be fun with a small hook, worm and bobber.

AZGFD and the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside partnered to complete phase one of a fish habitat project on Woodland Lake in August 2021. Twenty-seven Georgia Cube structures were placed in the lake with the ultimate goal of improving fishing for warm-water fish. Locations of all structures will be released to the public in the near future.

Kaibab Lake

Access to the lake is open. Fishing has been excellent for trout on PowerBait, worms, small lures, and flies. The lake was stocked with 3,000 rainbow trout two weeks ago. The lake level is low, but launching a small boat is still achievable. Only boats with a 10-horsepower motor or less are allowed on Kaibab Lake.

Dogtown Lake

Road access to the lake is open. The lake is full and the water clarity is good. Fishing has been a little slow, but nice holdover brown and rainbow trout have been recently caught on flies (#12 bead head prince nymphs, #10 bead head black or olive simi seal leech) and small lures. About 2,500 rainbow trout were stocked recently. Only boats with an electric motor are allowed on the lake. No gas-powered motors.


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