May 2007

Time For Trout In The High Country

PHOENIX – The snow drifts have melted off the mountain roads, and winter ice has vanished from the high country lakes – Arizona’s prime trout-fishing season is underway a few weeks early this year.

“The snow melt and runoff came a little early, which is already providing fishing bonuses for early-season trout anglers looking to catch the larger, hard-fighting hold-over trout,” said Kirk Young, a fisheries biologist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The Game and Fish Department is also taking advantage of these early opportunities to stock high country lakes with trout much earlier than normal.

“Lake and stream turbidity due to runoff is not an issue right now, so we have launched our trout stockings early. It’s the best of both worlds – hungry stocked trout and voracious carry-over ones. It doesn’t get much better than this,” Young said.

Kelly Meyer, a fisheries biologist in the department’s Pinetop office, says a great place to fish is Crescent Lake in the White Mountains. “Crescent has lots of rainbows, a few in the 20- to 23-inch size, plus brookies up to a pound and a half. It looks really good right now.”

However, Kelley’s top pick is Becker Lake near Springerville, which has lots of trout in the 16- to 17-inch range. Keep in mind that Becker is catch-and-release only with a two-fish limit.

Those heading to Big Lake will have the opportunity to catch large holdover rainbows, brook trout, Apache trout and some very large cutthroat trout. “The large cuts are usually caught in the northern part of Big Lake this time of year.”

Anglers this past week have been doing well catching trout in the 1.5-pound range at Show Low Lake, and this is the time of year to catch some big walleye there as well.

Anglers have already been reporting lots of action at Willow Springs and Woods Canyon lakes along the Mogollon Rim. Both lakes have been stocked for two consecutive weeks and also have excellent populations of larger hold-over trout.

The popular streams along the Mogollon Rim, such as Christopher Creek, Haigler Creek, and Tonto Creek, have all been stocked. The West Fork and East Fork of the Black River in the White Mountains are both accessible. West Clear Creek, Beaver Creek and Oak Creek have all been stocked recently.

The lakes around Williams and Flagstaff have had open water for some time and all have been recently stocked, as have the trout lakes in the Prescott area.

“This may be some of the best trout fishing of the year in the high country. Just pick your favorite lake or stream and go,” Young recommends.

For more information on fishing, including where to fish and what fishing licenses are available, visit