Summer Fishing Forecast: White Mountain & Mogollon Rim
Bear Canyon Lake
Bear Canyon Lake was snowed in through late spring but is entirely accessible. The plentiful winter/spring snow filled the lake and water temperatures will be cool well into mid-summer. These cooler water temperatures will allow trout to be found at all water depths in early summer. By mid and late summer, the surface temperatures will be higher, so fish deeper during the middle of the day. Trout may feed near the surface in the very early morning and just before nightfall. Bear Canyon Lake is steep, as well as deep. There is little shallow water, except at the upper end of the lake. Fish using small spinners and lures. Bait anglers should try fishing with a worm and bobber. Fly anglers using a float tube can find solitude at Bear Canyon Lake, especially on weekdays. However, fly-fishing from shore or wading is difficult because the tree line comes right to the water’s edge, and the water gets deep close to shore. The lake is stocked once a month from April to September with Rainbow Trout. Green sunfish were illegally introduced to Bear Canyon Lake and there are no limits on them. Kids can try a small hook with a worm under a bobber during the warmer parts of the day to catch sunfish when the trout aren’t biting.
Black Canyon Lake
Black Canyon Lake is full thanks to the heavy winter and spring snowfall. Water quality is good after snowmelt runoff flushed the lake well, but pH levels may get high by the end of summer. The lake has been stocked with rainbow trout and will get stocked a couple more times through the summer. Fish using small gold lures or dry flies in early summer, then switch to fishing bait near the bottom as water temperatures increase in mid to late summer.
Black Canyon Lake is 78 surface acres, with a maximum depth of 60 feet and an average depth of 35 feet. Like other Rim lakes, Black Canyon is deep, and low in nutrients. Catchable sized rainbow trout are stocked in the spring and early summer. The lake also currently contains illegally introduced green sunfish and largemouth bass; anglers are encouraged to catch and remove these species to help control their populations. There is no limit for bass and sunfish here. Both boat ramps are fully accessible while the lake is full.
Chevelon Canyon Lake
Winter storms have refilled Chevelon Canyon Lake making launching a small boat or float tube relatively easy again. However, it is difficult getting down to the lake. Only OHVs 50 inches wide or less (those that fit through the metal gate) are allowed on the road down to the dam, otherwise it’s a hike-in lake. Illegal traffic on this road by full-sized vehicles have damaged the road so badly that it is preventing the lake from being stocked with trout. The regular fall stocking in 2018 was canceled because of bad road conditions and only half of the spring 2019 stocking occurred. Future stockings may likely get canceled until the illegal traffic can be controlled and the road is improved for hatchery trucks. Only brown trout reproduce naturally in Chevelon while rainbow trout are dependent on regular stockings. Thus, angling in Chevelon Canyon Lake will decline until the road situation can be resolved.
Because of the difficult access, this lake is popular with float-tubers. Its deep canyon and well-forested edges make this lake a cool respite during the summer. Some lures to try are Kastmasters, Panther Martin spinners and Rapalas for stocked rainbows and wild brown trout. Fly-fishermen should try wooly buggers or wooly worms in black or brown colors, crayfish-colored patterns, and brown or black Simi Seal leeches, peacock ladies or other large streamers. Chevelon Canyon Lake has special regulations with a two trout daily bag limit and artificial fly and lure gear restrictions.
Clear Creek Reservoir
Rainbow trout are stocked once in April and once in May as a put-and-take fishery; fishing for trout is good after stocking but can diminish as water warms beyond trout tolerance. Fishing for sunfish, catfish and carp remains good throughout the summer. Try small hooks with a worm and bobber near rocks and structure for sunfish. For bullhead and channel catfish, use bait on bottom such as worms and chicken livers, especially at night when catfish are most active.
Willow Springs Lake
Lake levels are great, having filled from snowmelt runoff in the spring. Willow Springs is stocked with catchable rainbow trout weekly throughout the summer, with tiger trout stocked in May and July. Try Kastmasters, small Rapalas or Panther Martins for trout in early summer while water temperatures are still cool. Shore anglers fishing for trout can try nightcrawlers or PowerBait. As summer wears on, water temperatures increase, driving trout deeper towards cooler water. However, the lake stratifies by late June, with only the top 18 feet of water having enough dissolved oxygen for trout. The trout tend to suspend at the 16-18 foot depth in July-August, which is where lures and bait should be presented at that time. Green sunfish, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass were illegally introduced to this lake and there are no limits on them. Kids can try a small hook with a worm under a bobber during the warmer parts of the day to catch sunfish when the trout aren’t biting.
Woods Canyon Lake
Lake levels are great, having filled from snowmelt runoff in the spring. Woods Canyon Lake is stocked with catchable rainbow trout weekly throughout the summer, with tiger trout stocked in May and July. Try Kastmasters, small Rapalas, Panther Martins, or flies for trout in early summer while water temperatures are still cool. Shore anglers fishing for trout can try nightcrawlers or PowerBait. As summer wears on, water temperatures increase, driving trout deeper towards cooler water. However, the lake stratifies by late June, with only the top 18 feet of water having enough dissolved oxygen for trout. The trout tend to suspend at the 16-18 foot depth in July-August, which is where lures and bait should be presented at that time. Green sunfish were illegally introduced to Woods Canyon Lake and there are no limits on them. Kids can try a small hook with a worm under a bobber during the warmer parts of the day to catch sunfish when the trout aren’t biting.
Becker Lake can only be fished with artificial flies and lures with a single-point barbless hook, catch and release for trout only, to maintain big trout in this Blue Ribbon fishery. Big rainbow and tiger trout lurk along the weed beds on the south end, but can be found in the middle of the lake by boat and float tube as well. The trout are mostly found near the bottom in cooler water during the summer months. Fly fishing at this time consists mostly of fishing small midges 12-15 feet below an indicator, but there is an occasional hatch in the evenings that trigger a surface bite. Also look for flying ants on the water in the evenings during monsoon season. Very early mornings are also good. The trout are tight lipped in the heat of the middle of the day. Trout caught during the summer should be released as soon as possible, preferably without taking them out of the water, so they can get back down to the cool water at the bottom where they will have a better chance of recovering than in the warm surface water. There is limited opportunity for shore fishing and wading because of drop offs and vegetation, but there is a floating fishing pier that is handicapped accessible. Spin fishermen can try Z-rays, small Kastmasters or Panther Martins with the treble replaced with a single barbless hook. Rainbow trout and tiger trout are stocked once in the spring and they grow up to 20 inches consistently. The lake is full for the first time since 2017.
Because of its size, water quality, productivity and visitor amenities, Big Lake is considered the White Mountain’s best fishing lake. The lake is stocked with fingerling and subcatchable rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and brook trout in the spring and fall, and they grow to catchable and sometimes trophy sizes on the natural productivity of the lake. Fishing is excellent in early summer, then slows in July and August as water temperatures increase. Big Lake rarely stratifies, so the trout are able to go deep to cold water in July and August. Trolling spinners, flies, or small crankbaits works well in early summer and is moderately successful in mid to late summer. Bait and shore fishermen can try anything from worms to PowerBait. To attract cutthroat, use lures that resemble crayfish or their movement. Brook trout will hit flies, but also try nightcrawlers on the bottom.
Greer Lakes (Bunch, Tunnel, River)
All the Greer Lakes were full in the spring and will be good for early summer, but lake levels will drop significantly as water is released for irrigation. All three lakes are stocked with catchable size Rainbow Trout in April through June while the water levels are good. Wild Brown Trout are also found in each lake, with the biggest browns found in River Reservoir. Cast spinners and small spoons such as Panther Martins, small Kastmasters and Z-rays in early summer. Fly-fishing with Prince Nymphs, Hare’s Ear nymphs and Peacock Ladies works well by float tube or boat. You could also try fishing off the bottom with nightcrawlers or PowerBait. As water levels get low and boat launching is difficult or non-existent, bait fishing is most productive.
Early summer fishing should be great. The lake was stocked heavily with rainbow and tiger trout, plus a few big rainbows survived through the long winter. Carnero was one of the few lakes that didn’t fill over the winter, but has a much better water level than last year. The weeds are not too bad in early summer but may become problematic by August. Shoreline fishing is difficult and the best way to fish this lake is from a small boat, canoe or pontoon. There is no traditional boat ramp and anglers have to slog through some mud and weeds to reach open water. Fly fish for rainbow trout and tiger trout with wooly buggers, prince nymphs or light-colored nymphs in open areas. The water is deepest near the islands on the north end of the lake. Restrictions include fishing with artificial flies and lures only and a 2 fish daily bag limit.
Rainbow trout are stocked only in the spring when water quality is best. Most are caught out by June, but catfish have been stocked in the last several years offering something to fish for when the water temperatures warm and water levels get low. Try chicken liver or worms on bottom in the evening and night for Channel Catfish.
Crescent was another of the few lakes that did not fill over the winter, but water levels are fair and the boat ramps are usable. The lake was stocked heavily with rainbow and brook trout, plus a few big rainbows survived through the long winter. Water quality is looking good in early summer, but pH and algae blooms usually impact late summer fishing. Bait and shore fishermen can try nightcrawlers and PowerBait.
Fool Hollow Lake
Fool Hollow Lake is nearly full and both boat ramps are in good condition. Trout are being stocked every couple weeks through August with supercatchable size (12-inch) rainbow trout. Warmwater fishing for bass, sunfish, and catfish is good through the summer also. With a variety of fish species, Fool Hollow Lake offers something for everyone, from first-time anglers to seasoned veterans. For kids and novice anglers, nightcrawlers on the bottom or under a bobber in rocky areas or off the fishing piers are a good way to catch rainbow trout and bluegill. More experienced anglers can try spinner baits, jigs and nightcrawler rigs around underwater rocky structure, where large smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and walleye lurk. Fool Hollow Lake is managed by Arizona State Parks within the Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area and entrance fees may apply.
Lee Valley Lake
The lake is full following a long winter and lots of snow. Apache trout and Arctic grayling were stocked in the spring, though only Apache trout were catchable size. The grayling were 5-6 inches long and will have to grow in the lake. Winter water quality surveys found poor dissolved oxygen through the ice, thus it is unlikely anything survived from last year. Lee Valley Lake can only be fished with artificial flies and lures. Float tubes are popular and easy to use at this lake. Fishing should be great in early summer for Apache trout. Try small spinners and spoons, such as Panther Martins or small gold Kastmaster. Late summer fishing becomes very slow as algae blooms and pH levels get high. For those looking to catch a grayling for their Trout Challenge, small flies will catch subcatchable grayling and they will still count towards the challenge.
Luna filled over the winter and will still have good water levels in early summer with great fishing. Water is released for irrigation through the summer, but Luna doesn’t get extremely low water levels like some other irrigation reservoirs. Trolling with flies and lures works well in early summer. Try Wooly Buggers, a Prince Nymph, Simi Seal Leech and other large wet flies. Nightcrawlers and PowerBait fished off the bottom also work well. Shore and boat anglers both have success at Luna. Fishing slows as water temperatures, algae blooms, and aquatic weeds get high in late summer, but trout can still be caught in very early mornings or late evening.
The largest lake in the region with great amenities and no boat motor restrictions, Lyman Lake State Park attracts anglers, as well as campers and water skiers year-round and fees apply. Fish population surveys found large numbers of walleye and channel catfish throughout the lake last year, and since they are naturally reproducing, this year should be no different. Try fishing for largemouth bass, walleye and sunfish along rocky areas of the lake. Fish for catfish with nightcrawlers or chicken livers on bottom at night. Plentiful carp can also be caught with corn or dough baits.
Nelson Reservoir is full and both boat ramps are usable. The lake is normally stocked heavily with catchable size rainbow trout once in the spring after it stops spilling. But stocking was later than usual this year due to the extended snowpack runoff and trout just went in. Try lures such as Panther Martins or Kastmasters, or bait, especially nightcrawlers. As the weather warms, fish deeper with bait rigs. The south end of the lake can become difficult to fish in late summer because of weed growth. Illegally introduced green sunfish are plentiful and can be easily caught along the rocky shoreline with nightcrawlers.
* Patterson Ponds
Located in St. Johns, this Community Fishing Water is stocked with bluegill as water temperatures warm and with channel catfish in June, July and August. Fish with chicken livers or nightcrawlers on bottom during the evening and night when catfish are most active. The ponds also contain wild bass and crappie. A General Fishing License or a Community Fishing License is required to fish here. The pond daily bag limits in community fishing waters (2 trout; 2 catfish; 5 sunfish) apply.
Because so much shoreline is privately owned, Rainbow Lake is best fished from a boat. Early summer is decent for trout because that’s when water quality is at its best. Trout are only stocked in April and May, but can still be caught into June. Troll for trout with Panther Martin and Rooster Tail spinners, small Kastmasters or wooly bugger flies. Anglers may also catch trout with worms or PowerBait, particularly in the deep channel in the middle of the lake. Warmer water temperatures, algae blooms, and high pH bring trout fishing to a halt in July-August. Fishing for largemouth bass, sunfish, and catfish lasts longer because they do well in warmer water, especially now that the grass carp have eliminated the weed problem in Rainbow Lake. Fish on the bottom with nightcrawlers or stink baits to catch stocked channel catfish or the plentiful bullhead. grass carp (white amur) are stocked into this lake to control weed populations and the statewide daily harvest limit is 1 per day, minimum 30 inches. The smaller ones less than 30 inches have to be returned to the lake so they can do their job at controlling nuisance aquatic weeds.
After being drained for dam maintenance in 2018, Scott Reservoir is full. Trout once a month in April, May, and June. Target trout with PowerBait or small lures. Catchable size channel catfish are also being stocked for summer fishing. Catfish are best caught with bait on bottom during the evenings. Help remove illegally introduced common carp by catching them with corn.
Show Low Lake
Show Low Lake is nearly full and fishing is good in early summer. Fish for trout very early in the morning for best results. Supercatchable size (12-inch) rainbow trout are stocked every other week through August. The lake stratifies in the summer as the surface temperatures warm. Trout try to get to colder water by going deeper, but cannot go below the thermocline in the summer where there is no oxygen. Trout tend to suspend just above the thermocline in 15-17 feet of water. Smallmouth bass are doing great in Show Low Lake but require skill fishing for them along the dam riprap and underwater rocky structure. Channel catfish are stocked annually as fingerlings, allowing them to grow on natural foods within the lake to catchable size. Use nightcrawlers or chicken livers on bottom to target catfish. With campground, bathrooms, fish cleaning station and boat rentals, Show Low Lake is a great place to get away from it all while having amenities close by.
Woodland Lake is nearly full after being extremely low in 2018. Catchable-sized rainbow trout were stocked in April and May, but can still be caught in early summer. By July-August, trout fishing in Woodland is poor, but warmwater fishing picks up the slack. Channel catfish were stocked this year and can be caught using nightcrawlers or chicken livers on bottom. Small bass and sunfish also reside in the lake and can be fun with a small hook, worm and bobber. Woodland is managed as a city park, with a fishing pier, restrooms, ramadas, and other amenities very close, but closes at night.
SHOW LOW-AREA STREAMS
Show Low Creek Tailwater
The large pool below Show Low Lake dam is stocked every other week with rainbow trout from June through August to provide local fishing opportunities when water quality at the surrounding lakes is poor. Access can be difficult as the trails down to the stream are steep, but the cool water and great fishing during the hot summer months makes it worth it for the agile angler. If the access is too rough here, try fishing at Show Low Creek Meadows where the access is much easier.
* Show Low Creek Meadows
This Community Fishing Program water located at the Show Low Bluff trailhead in Show Low provides multiple opportunities for anglers and families alike. Hiking trails and a disc golf course provide extra fun all summer long! Angling is permitted from the trailhead and bridge, upstream to the Hampton Inn on Hwy 260/White Mountain Blvd in Show Low. bluegill and channel catfish are stocked in June, July and August. Bait can be used, but daily bag limits are 2 trout, 2 catfish, 1 bass (minimum size 13”) and 5 sunfish.
During the summer, Silver Creek is open to fishing under statewide regulations, including the use of bait and a 6 trout daily bag limit. But the upper section is closed. The stream is stocked with rainbow trout twice a week through the summer, providing a great place for family fishing as well as seasoned experts. Because Silver Creek is a Game and Fish Commission-owned property, entry is only allowed from 30 minutes after sunrise to 30 minutes before sunset, about 5:30 a.m.-7 p.m. No unauthorized entry is ever allowed in the hatchery portion of the property.
* Community Fishing Program water
WHITE MOUNTAINS STREAMS
East Fork Black River
The stream is stocked weekly from Buffalo Crossing upstream to Diamond Rock. Apache trout will be stocked in early summer, while rainbow trout will be stocked in mid to late summer. The stream also contains wild brown trout. Fishing is great in early summer, then may drop off a bit during monsoon rains in July and August when the water becomes turbid after rain showers. Baits become more effective when the flows are up and turbid. Flows usually drop back down within hours.
Little Colorado River in Greer
The stream is stocked weekly with rainbow trout from the middle of Greer (in front of the Rendezvous Cafe) upstream to Government Spring. The stream also contains wild brown trout. Fishing is great in early summer, then may drop off a bit during monsoon rains in July and August when the water becomes turbid after rain showers. Baits become more effective when the flows are up and turbid. Flows usually drop back down within hours.
West Fork Black River
The stream is stocked weekly with Apache trout from the Forest Road 68 crossing upstream to the first crossing in the West Fork Campground. The stream also contains wild brown trout. Fishing is great in early summer, then may drop off a bit during monsoon rains in July and August when the water becomes turbid after rain showers. Baits become more effective when the flows are up and turbid. Flows usually drop back down within hours.
West Fork Little Colorado River at Sheeps Crossing
The stream is stocked weekly with Apache trout from the main bridge upstream to the footbridge at Sheeps Crossing.