Fall Fishing Forecast: North Central
Editor’s note: This is the second of five regional Fall Fishing Forecasts. This week, check back each weekday for forecasts from the Central, Colorado River waters, and Southeast regions.
Ashurst Lake — Rating: HOT
Fishing at Ashurst picks up as the temperature cools in the fall. October and early November are usually the best time to catch fish.
Anglers can catch nice size holdover rainbow trout on lures such as Rooster Tails, Joe’s Flies and small spoons. Fly anglers should be successful using woolly buggers and bead-head prince nymphs. Folks using flies and lures might also catch a nice brown trout.
For folks using bait, try fishing Garlic “flavored” PowerBait in a variety of colors, especially in September while the water is still warm. Once water temperatures cool worms under a bobber should also work.
Cataract Lake — Rating: GOOD
Cataract could be a sleeper spot for trout this fall. Last summer when the hatcheries had small fish they had to stock, Cataract was stocked with almost 20,000 8-inch rainbow trout since they usually grow fast in the lake when it’s full. This spring, more trout were stocked and the lake has had very little angling pressure, meaning there should be lots of fish to catch. Fly anglers should try a bead-head prince nymph or woolly buggers, and traditional anglers should use lures such as spoons or spinners to catch the trout. As water temperatures get colder, the fish will slow down. Retrieve the lures or flies as slowly as you can without snagging on the bottom. You might also catch a nice sized largemouth bass while you are fishing for trout.
Anglers had been catching nice sized bluegill all summer on the lake. Bluegill should be catchable until the water starts to cool down during late October.
C.C. Cragin (Blueridge) — Rating: CLOSED
C.C. Cragin is closed for the season. Forest Road 751 from Rock Crossing campground to C.C. Cragin (aka Blue Ridge) Reservoir is closed to vehicles beginning Sept. 10 to protect the public from construction traffic. The closure will prevent access to the parking for Rock Crossing Trail as we make improvements to the boat ramp. These projects are providing a safer and more efficient access to the reservoir for recreational boaters. The closure is expected to remain in effect until April. Water levels are very low this fall and the lake was not be stocked this year. For more information please contact the Mogollon Rim Ranger District at 928-477-2255.
City Reservoir: Fishing Rating: GOOD
We have been stocking rainbow trout in City this year and fishing should be good this fall. In addition to trout, catfish were stocked this summer and I have had reports of folks catching some nice sized crappie.
Dead Horse Lagoons — Rating: GOOD
Channel catfish were stocked during August and will be stocked again toward the end of September. They can be easily caught using shrimp, nightcrawlers, hot dog or anchovies. Largemouth bass action should be fair to good using plastic worms and jigs. Small bluegill can also be easily caught. While they are small, this is a great place to take your kids fishing if you just want them to catch something. Trout stocking will resume in November.Look for the fishing to really pick up following any of the stockings.
There is an entrance fee at Dead Horse Ranch State Park which is currently $7 per vehicle (1-4 adults) and $3 for an individual (walk in/bicycle) and the hours are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Seasonal hours may apply and will be posted at the entrance.
Dogtown Reservoir — Rating: HOT
Like most of the lakes in the area, trout fishing really picks up during the fall. This is also the time when anglers catch some big brown trout. Anglers using lures such as Joe’s Flies, rooster tails, and small spoons seem to do well. Fly anglers catch fish on bead headed nymphs, with the favorite being bead head prince nymphs, along with woolly buggers.
For the anglers who like to fish with bait, anglers can catch trout on worms under a bobber during the winter. This method should work most of the fall. For anglers who like to fish with PowerBait on the bottom, garlic PowerBait in a variety of colors seems to work best.
Fain Lake — Rating: GOOD
Channel catfish are stocked through September. They can be easily caught using shrimp, nightcrawlers, hot dog or anchovies. Trout stocking resumes the end of September. Trout can be caught easily shortly after stockings using PowerBait, spinners or jigs. Fly fishing at Fain Lake can be extremely successful even if the traditional baits are not working. There is no fee to enter this Prescott Valley gem. Trout are stocked all year long with the exception of July and August.
Frances Short Pond — Rating: HOT
Stocking of rainbow trout in the pond starts up again in mid-September with the pond being stocked weekly until the end of November, weather permitting. Anglers catch trout on PowerBait, worms and cheese. Anglers using lures such as Joe’s Flies, rooster tails, small spoons, and jigs also do well. Fly anglers tend to catch fish on bead headed nymphs, with the favorite being bead head prince nymphs, along with wooly buggers.
Fossil Creek — Rating: HOT
The fishing season at Fossil Creek opens on Saturday, Oct. 6. Fossil Creek gives anglers the opportunity to catch one of Arizona’s native sportfish, roundtail chub, in a stream that is managed strictly for native fish. The roundtail chub can be caught on almost any fly pattern. Only the part of the creek between the waterfall located approximately 1 mile above the Flume Trailhead parking lot along FS 708 and the downstream-most power line crossing (immediately below Sally May Wash) is open to fishing. Remember on Fossil Creek you can only fish using flies and lures with single barbless hooks and all fish must be immediately released. This stream is managed as a catch-and-release chub fishery.
Goldwater Lake — Rating: HOT
Trout are stocked twice a month during most of the year. There is a $2 daily fee for this City of Prescott lake. The fall is a great time of the year to go to Goldwater because of the mild weather and beautiful scenery. Trout fishing should continue to be exciting because of the number of trout stockings.Try orange or yellow Power Eggs or PowerBait on a 12 to 18 inch leader. Small spinners or try 1½-inch crappie tubes for trout. In addition to the standard stocked rainbow trout, Gila trout have also been stocked here and can still be caught. During June, one angler caught a 5.12-pound Gila trout that has been certified as a state record (and could qualify as a world record). The largemouth bass are expected to be active this fall. The bass can be difficult to catch because of the abundance of food, but plastic creature baits or split-tail grubs work from deeper water towards the shore work well.
J.D. Dam — Rating: POOR
J.D. suffered a major fish kill in July. Some fish survived but fishing will be poor until we restock the lake. Remember: Regulations on J.D are flies and lures only with single barbless hooks; all fish must be immediately released. This lake is managed as a catch-and-release fishery.
Kaibab Lake — Rating: GOOD
More than 40,000 rainbow trout have been stocked in the lake this year, so trout fishing should be good this fall. Folks are also catching crappie and bluegill on the upper end of the lake and I expect the good fishing for crappie and bluegill to continue through October. Like most of the lakes in the area, anglers using lures such as Joe’s Flies, rooster tails, and small spoons seem to catch lots of fish. Fly anglers catch fish on bead headed nymphs, with the favorite being bead head prince nymphs, along with woolly buggers. In the early spring the water temperatures are cold, which slows the fish down. For anglers who like to fish with PowerBait on the bottom, garlic PowerBait in a variety of colors seems to work best.
Kinnikinick Lake — Rating: GOOD to HOT
Fall is the time of the year when fishing at Kinnikinick really picks up. Catchable brown trout are stocked in the fall and the bigger browns in the lake begin to move into the shallows looking for fathead minnows and crayfish to feed on prior to the winter. Successful brown trout anglers on Kinnikinick usually do well using spinners or small silver spoons. A small crayfish imitating crankbait might also catch these hungry fish. For fly anglers, woolly buggers, and streamers usually work. Brown trout can also be caught on worms. In addition to brown trout, the lake has channel catfish and has been been stocked with tiger trout during the past 2 years. Some of the biggest catfish caught on Kinnikinick were caught by trout fisherman using lures. Remember: live bait fish can not be used anywhere in Coconino County.
Knoll Lake — Rating: FAIR
The lake is open and is being stocked. Fishing should get better as we transition from summer to autumn conditions. This is also a great lake to hear bugling bull elk this time of year.
Lower Lake Mary — Rating: POOR
As of early September, lake was basically dry.
Lynx Lake — Rating: FAIR to GOOD
There is a $5 use fee for Lynx Lake except for it is free every Wednesday. Trout stocking resumes during late September and they will be stocked once per month during this time period. Try fishing PowerBait suspended under a bobber in 10-15 feet of water. Chartreuse and Captain America colors typically work well. Be sure to keep you hook sizes smaller, around Nos. 6-10, and light lines (4-6 pound test). Largemouth bass will will still be active. They can be caught on plastics. Catfish can be caught on cut hot dogs, anchovies and nightcrawlers in about 10 to 20 feet of water.
Mingus Lake — Rating: FAIR
Trout will be stocked once in September. Try the PowerBait or Power Eggs. If that doesn’t work spinners or small split-tail grub.
Oak Creek — Rating: GOOD
Fly anglers and folks using lures can catch some nice sized brown trout on Oak Creek during the fall with some big browns being caught, especially in the area around Grasshopper Point. Try woolly buggers or spinners.
The stockings of rainbow trout continue through the fall. If flows are high, the creek may not be stocked. Areas stocked depend on accessibility to the creek and parking availability for the stocking truck. Bait anglers should drift salmon eggs or worms below a bobber with the current. Anglers drifting flies under a bobber can also catch rainbows.
Remember the reach of the creek between Call of the Canyon Crossing (West Fork parking lot) and Junipine Resort is open to catch-and-release fishing only using flies and lures with a single barbless hook. This reach is not stocked and has some nice brown trout in it.
Perkins Tank — Rating: FAIR to GOOD
There had been reports of anglers catching some nice sized brook trout on Perkins this summer. Fishing should pick up as the water cools this fall. Remember: Regulations on Perkins are flies and lures only with single barbless hooks all fish must be immediately released. This is managed as a catch-and-release fishery.
Santa Fe Reservoir — Rating: FAIR
We stocked rainbow trout in Santa Fe this spring and fishing has been good. As the water cools, trout fishing tends to pick up. Anglers had been catching bluegill, crappie and yellow perch this summer and fishing for these species should be good through October.
Upper Lake Mary — Rating: FAIR
Fishing for northern pike usually picks up during the fall months at Upper Lake Mary. As the water cools, pike get more active and are busy hunting food prior to winter. Standard pike lures like large spoons and crankbaits work. Anglers also catch pike using anchovies fished under a bobber. Fly anglers using big streamers also seem do well. Most of the successful pike anglers fish the upper section of the lake.
Walleye are also active in the fall. Fishing with a nightcrawler harness or using jigs tipped with worms can work.
Remember: live bait fish can not be used anywhere in Coconino County.
Verde River (throughout Verde Valley) — Rating: FAIR
Trout stocking resumes in October. Trout may be difficult to locate but catfish (channel and flathead) and smallmouth or largemouth bass are abundant and in feeding mode. Use plastic worms or creature baits for the bass and even nightcrawlers. Chicken livers or commercial catfish baits could land you some nice catfish. Fish the deep pools for the catfish and fish the undercut banks for the bass.
Watson Lake — Rating: FAIR
Trout will resume in November, but before stocking starts, catching one of the older holdover fish can make your week. Look for the trout swimming the shoreline after a stocking. They will go deeper after they have been in the lake for a while. Use small spinners or nightcrawlers if the PowerBait doesn’t work. Fish off the boulders that you can reach, especially if they can hide beneath submerged trees. Try plastic worms or crappie tubes for the bass and you may get lucky and catch a holdover trout with that type of bait. The $2 parking fee is very reasonable for this beautiful lake.
Whitehorse Lake: Rating: UNKNOWN
Whitehorse Lake was stocked this spring with small largemouth bass and bluegill. Anglers have been crappie during the summer.
Willow Lake — Rating: POOR to FAIR
Due to the vegetation in this lake the fishing in the fall is very difficult. You can try plastic worms working through the weeds near shore. Top-water lures may work as well if you can keep it above the vegetation. Fishing off the dock at the launch ramp is a good place to get your baits parallel to the shore. The $2 parking fee is very reasonable for this beautiful lake.