Category Archives: White Mountains and Rim lakes

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!


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

Top-3 high-country bass fishing holes for summer

This Arizona fishing adventure is simple: keep cool, catch bass.

Although you might not hammer the bass like you might in some of our desert dandies, there are some pristine lakes at more than 6,000 feet of elevation where bassin’ is an option.

Here, then,  are the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s top-3 summertime high country bass fishing spots (click on the name of the water for Google map directions):

1. Fool Hollow Lake. Elevation: 6,255 feet

Fools Hollow-052
Smallmouth and largemouth bass can be caught, and this 150-acre lake near Show Low once produced the catch-and-release state record for smallmouth bass (21 inches).

2. Show Low Lake. Elevation: 6,540 feet

Show Low offers smallmouth and largemouth bass options. Try fishing nightcrawlers in rocks along the dam.

3. Dogtown Reservoir. Elevation: 7,070 feet

AZGFD is developing this fishery near Williams to have a sustainable bass population, and so there are special regulations at this lake: two bass at a minimum size of 13 inches.

Honorable mentions

Rainbow Lake, Cataract Lake, Black Canyon Lake, Black River (on the reservation), Kaibab Lake, Whitehorse Lake. See a Fish & Boat map for directions to all.

So get that license online (conserve all species of wildlife while doing so) and get out for some high country bass action.

Managing bass fishing opportunities

Managing for bass fishing opportunities has to mesh with that area’s management goals. Please remember to not transport any live fish from one water to another.

See more information on fishing in Arizona.

Patterson Ponds, newest Community fishing water, coming to St. Johns in northeast Arizona

ST. JOHNS – Patterson Ponds, located in the rural community of St. Johns in the White Mountains of northeast Arizona, will become the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s newest Community Fishing Program (CFP) water. The ponds are scheduled to receive their first stocking of rainbow trout during the week of March 21-26.


Patterson Ponds, located in St. Johns in the White Mountains of Arizona, will be the newest Community Fishing Program water. The plan is to stock the ponds with trout, catfish and sunfish, beginning with trout the week of March 21-26.

The site, located approximately 1.1 miles south of Highway 180 (West Cleveland St.) and 24th  St. W., is comprised of an upper and a lower pond that total approximately 8.2 acres.

The plan is to stock the ponds at least two times per year with trout, three times per year with catfish, and once with sunfish.  This represents an incredible opportunity for the kids and families of this community to enjoy a heritage-rich activity together – fishing and being in the outdoors.

“We’re just excited that we’re able to provide an opportunity for our youth to have a wholesome activity that gets them outdoors,” said Paul Ramsey, St. Johns interim city manager. “We’re just appreciative of Arizona Game and Fish and the cooperative effort with the community of St. Johns to make this happen.”

More about fishing in Arizona’s Community waters


Patterson Ponds will become the 38th water added to the program, and the first CFP water east of Payson. The city of St. John’s has been seeking to establish a nearby location where kids and families can easily ride their bicycles after school or on the weekends.

Joel Weiss, an AZGFD wildlife manager in St. Johns, had been working with community leaders in St. Johns to get something established. The ponds were a perfect fit for the program – the city had the land, two established ponds, a reliable source of water, and a desire to make it an improvement for the community.

“Whatever fish are in the ponds happened to come through canals from Lyman Reservoir – and Lyman’s 13 miles away from the ponds,” Weiss said. “So that was too far for them to bike. This will give the kids an opportunity to actually catch fish right here in town.”

Recent additions to the CFP in Avondale and Casa Grande also have ponds, and local residents are elated to have somewhere close to home that they can go fishing.  The CFP is dedicated to continually growing and partnering with new communities.

Fishing Flagstaff’s Kinnikinick Lake

Tips and tricks time from Kinnikinick Lake near Flagstaff! Some anglers have told us fishing for rainbow and brown trout at this 126-acre lake has been more difficult than during previous years. See this video for some tips on what rig to use — and where.

Fishing in Arizona during the fall time doesn’t have to be difficult. Follow us as we guide you through some easy ways about how to fish in Arizona.

For for information on fishing the Grand Canyon state, head to our primary fishing page.

Fishing report: White Mountains and Mogollon Rim lakes

Ackre Lake, south of Alpine, is good for the above artic grayling. Try No. 16-18 royal coachman flies on the surface.


Recommended White Mountains and Mogollon Rim waters to fish

Woods Canyon Lake and Willow Springs Lake are good for stocked trout in the Rim Lakes area.  Show Low Lake is good for recently stocked supercatchable size (12-13”) rainbow trout.  Fool Hollow Lake is good for bass and sunfish. Big Lake is good for holdover rainbow, cutthroat, and brook trout.  Fishing at East Fork of Black River, LCR in Greer, Sheeps Crossing, Silver Creek, and Show Low Creek are also good as monsoonal storms are increasing.

See our Fish & Boat Arizona map for Google-map locations of the following:


Water Fishing Rating Stocked 6/29-7/3 Stocked 6/22-6/26
Excellent Good Fair Poor
Mogollon Rim Lakes
Bear Canyon Lake x x
Black Canyon Lake x x
Chevelon Lake x x
Willow Springs Lake x x x
Woods Canyon Lake x x x
In-Town Lakes (Pinetop/Show Low)
Fool Hollow Lake x x
Rainbow Lake x
Scott Reservoir x x
Show Low Lake x x
Woodland Lake x
White Mountain Lakes
Becker Lake x
Big Lake x
Bunch Reservoir x x
Carnero Lake x x
Clear Creek Reservoir x x
Concho Lake x
Crescent Lake x x
Lee Valley Lake x
Luna Lake x x
Lyman Lake x
Nelson Reservoir x
River Reservoir x x
Tunnel Reservoir x
White Mountain Streams
East Fork Black River x x x x
West Fork Black River x x x x
Little Colorado River/Greer x x x x
Sheeps Crossing x x x
Show Low Creek x x
Silver Creek x x x x
Long Tom Tank x x

Jim Goughnor of Rim Country Custom Rods wrote the following report:

“The rim lakes and streams continue to produce some great fishing trips. Trout stockings are underway and most anglers are reporting excellent fishing on most every lake and stream. Several baits were reported successful so you will need to experiment. Small crankbaits in a crawfish color, Z-Rays, Mepps size 0 spinners and Powerbait were all reported successful recently.

Fly anglers are reporting that dry flies fished extremely slow is the best summertime technique. Mornings and evenings were the best times reported which is a typical summer time pattern. If you’re trout fishing in a stream, watch for areas where the water slows and makes a small pool in the stream. Trout will always be attracted to those areas. If you catch a trout with a identification tag near the dorsal fin, call the game and fish office. So trout have transmitter in them to track their movement.”