A melting region: White Mountains fishing updates

Weather in the White Mountains region has been warming to highs in the 60s, and could nip the 70s this weekend. Many lakes are thawing, and more roads to some prime fishin’ holes will become open. The region, in a sense, is melting.

Fishing is good at Concho Lake, Silver Creek, and Becker Lake.  Silver Creek is in the catch-and-release season, where in October there was  a parasite outbreak — but fishing is now good.  Concho Lake was stocked the week of March 8.  Becker Lake is catch and release as well, but fishing for large rainbows and tiger trout is good.  

Anglers fish from a pier Friday, March 10 at Becker Lake. George Andrejko/AZGFD

 

 

Here’s a chart showing an overview of fishing ratings, followed by a look at each lake along with some other photos from Friday around this scenic, fishing heaven:

Mogollon Rim lakes

*Skim ice may be present, use caution.  Ice coverage is unpredictable with warm days and cold nights. Forest Road 300 (Rim Road) to Woods Canyon Lake and Bear Canyon Lake is closed for the winter.

Snow and snow melt by Young Rd. of Highway 260 on Friday, March 10. George Andrejko/AZGFD

BEAR CANYON LAKE – Inaccessible.  Forest Road 300 (the Rim Road) is closed for the winter as of Jan. 5.

BLACK CANYON LAKE – Fishing is poor.  Try crankbaits for bass.  Accessible on Forest Road 86.  Road may be muddy and have snow on it but is accessible.

CHEVELON LAKE – Fishing is fair for large wild brown trout and rainbow trout. Forest Road 504 from the north is open.

WILLOW SPRINGS LAKE – Fishing is fair to poor for stocked rainbow trout and tiger trout.  The gate to Willow Springs Lake is closed (the boat ramp is inaccessible), however the road to Sardine Point is open but has snow on it.  The lake’s main body is open; however the fingers of the lake are snow and ice-covered.  Temperatures are freezing.  Ice is thin and unsafe.

WOODS CANYON LAKE – Inaccessible.  Forest Road 300 (the Rim Road) is closed.  Ice is thin and unsafe.  There is some open water.  You can walk in.

Pinetop/Show Low/St. Johns lakes

*Skim ice may be present, use caution.  Ice coverage is unpredictable with warm days and cold nights.

A family fishes Patterson Ponds Thursday, March 9 in St. Johns. George Andrejko/AZGFD

FOOL HOLLOW LAKE – Fishing is fair.  No ice.  Rainbow trout are being caught. The lake is full.  Fishing pier and platforms are accessible!  Northern pike should be congregating to spawn this time of year, try throwing Rapala lures or streamers in shallow coves.  Northern pike spawn and congregate in weedy shallow coves. Try crankbaits for bass.

Blake Frost with a northern pike at Rainbow Lake — her second fish ever.

RAINBOW LAKE – Fishing is fair to poor.  Lake is full and spilling no ice.  We are doing northern pike removals, so beware of gill nets during the day.  We have caught some bass, many 17-inch catfish, lots of northern pike and even one 16-inch rainbow trout!  Northern pike are congregating to spawn to shallow weedy coves.  Try your luck, they are a tasty fish!

SCOTT RESERVOIR – Fair. No ice.

SHOW LOW LAKE – No ice.  Fishing is fair.  Holdover rainbow trout should be fishing well.  The two fishing piers have been disconnected so that winter ice does not damage them, thus, they are not available for shore-fishing.  The road over the dam is closed for the winter.

WOODLAND LAKE – No ice.  Fishing is fair.  Fishing dock is inaccessible.

PATTERSON PONDS – This is a community fishing water in St. John’s.  A regular fishing license or a community fishing license is required to fish here.  Channel catfish and sunfish fishing is fair, but trout fishing is good.  Catfish were last stocked in October and rainbow trout were just stocked in Jan. 25!  The pond daily bag limits in community fishing waters (2 trout; 2 catfish; 5 sunfish) apply.

White Mountains lakes

*Skim ice may be present or lakes may be frozen over.  The 261 and 273 roads are closed.  Forest roads are icy and snow packed.

An angler fishes from a pier Friday, March 10 at Becker Lake. George Andrejko/AZGFD

BECKER LAKE – Fishing is good to excellent.  Becker Lake is open to catch-and-release only for trout, artificial fly and lure only; single barbless hooks only. No bait.  No trout may be kept.  Many large, thick rainbow trout are being caught on white semiseal leach with olive or gray tail, or red chironomids under a strike indicator.  Tiger trout are also being caught.

BIG LAKE – Inaccessible and ice-covered. Ice is still VERY thin and unsafe.  During the winter survey on March 8, accessed with snow mobiles, ice was easily broken through just standing on it. There is some open water.  Highways 261 and 273 are closed for the winter. Forest roads from the south are not passable due to deep snow.

CARNERO LAKE – Inaccessible but has some open water.  Winter kill is NOT predicted here as of Feb. 16. Forest roads to the lake have deep snow in spots and are not accessible all the way to the lake by vehicle.

CLEAR CREEK RESERVOIR – Fishing is poor for trout, but fair for sunfish, bullheads, and bass.  No ice.

Concho Lake on Thursday, March 9 at Becker Lake. George Andrejko/AZGFD

CONCHO LAKE – Fishing is excellent.  The lake was stocked last week with trout!

CRESCENT LAKE – Inaccessible and ice-covered. No open water as of March 8.  Ice was 10 inches where we checked; however, ice may be unsafe with warm winter days melting the ice.  A partial winter kill is predicted here as of March 8.  Survey in April or May will determine if winter kill occurred and stocking will occur regardless if water quality is acceptable to stocking.  We are seeing high pH and some suppressed oxygen levels.  However, we look forward to fishing for large rainbow trout and brook trout in the spring!  Highways 261 and 273 are closed for the winter.

GREER LAKES (River; Tunnel; Bunch) – All three lakes are full or nearly full, and ice-free.  Large brown trout and rainbow trout are being caught in River and Tunnel.  Greer Fire District will be conducting prescribed burns Feb. 22-March 10.  The burns will be in the area of squirrel spring and the spade ranch areas.  The community of Greer will be impacted by the smoke.  Contact Greer Fire District staff if you have questions.

HULSEY LAKE – Open water.  The road is snow packed.  Fishing is fair.

LEE VALLEY LAKE – Inaccessible and ice-covered. Ice is thin and unsafe.  Ice may be unsafe.  Few fish remain here, although we are not predicting a winter kill.  Highways 261 and 273 are closed for the winter.

LUNA LAKE – Fishing is fair.  Road is ice-free.  Fishing should pick up as water warms.  Lake is murky colored.

LYMAN LAKE – Lyman Lake State Park is open. Fishing is fair for bass, walleye, carp and catfish. Use corn or nightcrawlers for carp and catfish.  No ice.

Nelson Reservoir on Friday, March 10. George Andrejko/AZGFD

NELSON RESERVOIR – Fishing is fair.  Fish may have sores from a parasite called Lernaea; however, they are safe to eat.

White Mountains streams

EAST FORK of the BLACK RIVER – Roads are snow packed.  This is only accessible from the south from Forest Road 26.  Fishing is fair for brown trout.  Moderate flows from snow melt.

LITTLE COLORADO RIVER in GREER – Fishing is poor.  The stream was last stocked in September.  Wild brown trout are also present in the stream.  Moderate flows.

SHOW LOW CREEK – Fishing is poor.  The road over the dam at Show Low Lake is closed for the winter.

SILVER CREEK – Fishing is good. Current regulations are catch and release with artificial flies and lures with single barbless hooks only. A protozoan infection called “Ich” hit rainbow trout in Silver Creek in October, causing significant stress, some mortalities of trout, and poor fishing, however, that bout of infection has passed.  Fishing is good! This stream is ice-free all year round.

SHEEPS CROSSING/LCR – Inaccessible.  Highway 273 is closed for the winter.  Frozen over and snow-covered.

See more about fishing in Arizona

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