Weekly Fishing Report: The Reel Deal

Pine time.

Monsoon rains (that even closed a highway near Prescott) have helped our high country lakes, and with steady, high temperatures in the 100s in lower elevations, it’s time to peruse some options in the pines.

Tough to beat the Mogollon Rim Country. You can fish Woods Canyon, Willow Springs Lake, Christopher Creek, Tonto Creek, Canyon Creek, Haigler Creek, and Bear Canyon — all on the same trip if you so desire. Take along a rain jacket and get ready for monsoon rains to wash the desert heat out of your body.

Lynx and Fain Lakes are going to receive a major influx of catfish the week of July 28. Lynx will receive 1,000 pounds and Fain will be stocked with 500 pounds of the whiskered fish.

“Catfish are more tolerant of the warmer temperatures,” said Matt Chmiel, fisheries program manager for the Game and Fish Region 3 office in Kingman. “During the hot summer months they are the best option for stockings in area lakes.”

One of the most popular lakes is Big Lake in the White Mountains. This is our largest high country lake and it’s also fairly deep, which translates into good fishing opportunities even during the dog days of summer. Shore fishing might not be all that great right now — boats really help. It just so happens there are plenty of boats to rent from those at the Big Lake Store.

Just down the road from Big Lake is another summer favorite — Reservation Lake. As with Big, it is best fished from a boat, canoe, kayak or float tube. Be sure to get a White Mountain Apache fishing permit.

Where are all these lakes located. Check out the Fish&Boat Arizona map.

Like to hike? You can actually hike and fish all the way from Sheeps Crossing down into the Greer Valley, but it takes some planning (and possibly two vehicles). But if you hike more than 100 yards from the bridge crossing at Sheeps, you will probably find water that hasn’t been fished much. Go a quarter mile or more and you might find some undisturbed pools where Apache trout lurk in the shadows. A mile out and you’ll feel like a true pioneer.

If you have an adventurous spirit and don’t mind traveling miles of scenic back country roads traversing the top of the Mogollon Rim, try Knoll Lake. Whether you come in from the Woods Canyon side or the Clints Well side, you’ll have to navigate across the famed Rim Road where scenic vistas seem to unfold around every dusty corner. Keep your camera handy.

We also have some new fishing regulation proposals you should check out. Make your voice heard.

Also, see a full list of fire restrictions in Arizona.

Buying a license online
helps conserve wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations. Help yourself and your future loved ones.

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Send a success story to

Your purchase of a hunting and fishing license helps conserve wildlife and provide outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations. Please help promote the funding of conservation by telling us how our new and simplified license structure has benefitted yourself, your family and/or your friends.

That way, we can spread the word of such changes as the license being good for 365 days from the date of purchase, and the $5 Youth Hunt and Fish Combination. Please email your success stories to nwalter@azgfd.gov.

Thanks for supporting our mission to keep Arizona wild!

Tag, you’re it!

Please return trout tags from East Verde River to AZGFD

Those visiting the East Verde River are reminded that if a trout with an external radio tag is caught, they may keep OR release the fish.

If you catch a tagged fish, please call the number on the colored tag (623-236-7538) with the following information:

  • Location of the caught trout
  • Identification number on the colored external tag
  • Date the fish was caught

See all the details of our program that is examining stocked trout movement and fate.


(Send your fishing reports and photos to Bfishing@AZGFD.gov.)

Apache Lake

Patrick S.: My boys Nolan Smith and Dylan Smith caught this at Lake Apache over the weekend. It was awesome. They were legends of the lake that weekend.

Cluff Ranch Ponds

Ben B.: Bluegill and other panfish are far to easy. We’ve caught them on meal worms, bits of night crawlers, PowerBaits, etc. The bass have been a bit finicky, but we’ve had success with crankbaits in shady areas on the west side of the pond.

Graham County Fairgrounds pond

Ben B.: We’ve caught bass on curly-tailed grubs, crankbaits, and jigs. Bright colors seem to do better. Bright yellow, orange, neon green, etc. I think they see it better in that stained water. I often start around 5am until I have to go to work, but the bite doesn’t seem to pick up until around 6 to 6:30.

Saguaro Lake

Went out to Saguaro at 3 am last Friday (July 18) and once the sun came up, knocked them dead on top water. 5-inch silver Slug-Gos. All nice healthy fish.

Kinnikinick Lake

Darren W. Just wanted to share this 17-inch rainbow trout caught on an elk caddis July 8.

Mike A.: After hearing about the massive trout stocking at Kinnikinick we were eager to give it a try. On Saturday the 19th we made the trek from Phoenix and fished the shore from late afternoon until dark. We could not even a get bite from any of the supposedly 15,000 trout in there. We tried everything; spinners, spoons, PowerBait, and nightcrawlers. An Osprey circled overhead and made a few diving attempts but came up empty handed. We weren’t the only ones.

My guess is that the muddy, warm water conditions were a factor in pushing the fish deep and shutting down the bite. As disappointing as the fishing was, the perfect weather and scenery made it hard to be bothered.

See the full report

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