Mogollon Rim Lakes

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May 27th, 2009

RIM LAKES Most roads are now open and accessible.  Contact the US Forest Service’s Black Mesa Ranger District office at (928) 535-7300 for up to date information about forest and road conditions.

CHEVELON LAKE — Fishing is fair. The lake is full.  All access roads are open.
Try lures such as spinners (Mepps, Panther Martin, and Rooster Tail), and spoons such as Super Dupers, KastMasters, and Z-rays, and flies such as peacock ladies, wooly worms and wooly buggers, and semi-seal leeches.

This is a steep-sided canyon lake that is not shore angler friendly and is best fished from a float tube, canoe or kayak. There is hike-in lake with a steep, challenging trail.
The lake is open to artificial lure and fly only. Trout between 10 to 14 may not be possessed The lake is open to electric trolling motors and /or up to 10 hp. gas motors.

BEAR CANYON LAKE —  Fishing is was pretty good during the Memorial weekend, with some float tube anglers doing exceptionally well. The lake is full. The lake was stocked last week with catchable size rainbow trout. There are also larger hold-over trout.

Try worms, Power Bait, corn, and salmon eggs, lures such as spinners (Mepps, Rooster Tail, and Panther Martin), Super Dupers, Z-Rays and Rapalas, and flies such as peacock ladies, wooly worms, wooly buggers, and small nymphs in black, brown or green. The lake is open to electric trolling motors only.  .

Angler report:

Enjoyed the rainbow bite Saturday morning at Bear Canyon from my float tube using
semi-seal leach with a glo-bug dropper. One was plump but only about 12-13 inches. Maybe a holdover, maybe just
a plump stocker. The rest were stockers.
Thanks, Brian

BLACK CANYON LAKE — Fishing is good. Has been stocked with rainbow trout.  All Forest roads are open to the lake. Try worms, Power Bait, lures such as Z-Rays, Super Dupers, and spinners (Mepps, Rooster Tail, and Panther Martin), and flies such as wooly worms, wooly buggers, Peacock ladies, and small nymphs.
The lake is open to electric trolling motors only and/or up to 10 hp. gas motors.

BLUE RIDGE – Road is open. Full and overflowing. Fishing is fair. It may be possible to catch some nice holdovers here, but the lake is not very shore-angler friendly. This lake is best fished from a small boat, kayak, canoe or float tube.

Angler report:

Where:Blue Ridge
Technique:Power Bait spinners flies and KastMasters
Comments:people on boats and on other side of the lake were doing good on just about everything, and is there good fishing below the dam just wandering
Name:Andrew Althaus

Steve: Hiked Kinder Crossing. Fished from Kinder Crossing up towards Blue Ridge. Kept one fat feisty wild 11 inch rainbow on ultralight spinning with 2 lb test. Full tail and fins, pink flesh, stomach full of grasshopper and baby crayfish. Large aggressive crayfish tried to steal it from stringer. Some fingerlings in the larger pools. Road to trail head rutted out worse than usual. Beautiful scenery, too few catchables for this perennial. Maybe still not drought recovered. Could use some Browns to eat out the crayfish infestation.
KNOLL LAKE – This lake is full and accessible and has been stocked. Knoll is often good for early-season holdover trout, but don’t expect great numbers.

Try worms, salmon eggs, Power Bait, lures such as Z-Rays, Super Dupers, and spinners  (Mepps, Rooster Tail, and Panther Martin), and flies such as wooly worms, wooly buggers, Peacock ladies, and small nymphs.

WILLOW SPRINGS LAKE — Will be stocked again this week with catchable size trout. Fishing has been very good for boat anglers, and fair to good for shore anglers. The best bite has been at first and last light, or when the storm clouds start pilling up. Fishing is good, with many anglers catching limits, especially those fishing from boats.  The lake is full. Willow Springs also has plenty of larger holdover trout, plus smallmouth and largemouth bass. There are even some crappies here. Fish the stickups using 4-inch worms or lizards. Drop-shotted Robo worms can sometimes produce a bonanza of bass, trout and crappie.

Anglers are catching trout on worms. Try worms, Power Bait, lures such as Z-Rays, spinners (Mepps, Rooster Tail, and Panther Martin), and flies such as wooly worms, wooly buggers, and peacock ladies. The lake is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10 hp gas motors.

Hi Rory,
I fished solo on this trip to Willow springs on May 13th, and what a great trip it was !!!!!!!  I boated 46 trout (mostly catch-and-release), 12 smallies, and 2 crappie. Trolling real slow with Rebel plugs/crankbaits (dark colors).  Arrived at first light, and it was non-stop action !!!!!  I met some real nice people on the lake. You have to LOVE the Rim Lakes. Thanks again to all at AZ. Game & Fish !!!!!
Kevin Thompson

Went out to Willow Springs Lake yesterday with the canoe, looking for some of those nice holdovers!
Got my limit of nice, long, fat rainbows in about 2 1/2 hours, using half of a dilly worm behind baby cowbells. All were between 8″ – 14″. Trolled them very, very slowly with the canoe. Also caught a small guy on a small gold KastMaster tipped with a couple red glittered salmon eggs.
Beautiful day out! Didn’t get to see any Bald Eagles yet though.
-Tony Lopez

WOODS CANYON LAKE — Fishing is fair to good, with lots of anglers catching limits. This lake was stocked last week and is scheduled to be stocked again this coming week. Fishing is good for the stockers, with some larger hold-over trout still be caught at times.

There is a small area (well signed) on the eastern end of the lake is that closed due to nesting bald eagles. Please respect the closure – it should not interfere with your fishing. This also means that the nesting eagles are aggressively foraging for fish at Woods Canyon and at nearby Willow Springs, so take along your binoculars, it’s a treat. You might even see an exciting wildlife drama unfold when a bald eagle tries to take a fish away from an osprey.

Try worms, Power Bait, salmon eggs, lures such as spinners (Mepps, Panther Martin, and Rooster Tail), small spoons such as Super Dupers, Z-Rays, and KastMasters, and flies such as peacock ladies, wooly worms, small nymphs in black, brown or green. The lake is open to electric trolling motors only.

Angler reports:
Tim C.: I went to Woods Canyon last Saturday for my first trout fishing outing ever. I only had my first cast in the water for 3 minutes when I pulled out my first of two 10-inch Rainbow Trout. The bites came slower as the day wore on but, I can’t wait to go back!

Editor’s note: Congratulations Tim. Welcome to the smiling ranks of the fishing initiates.

Where: Woods canyon
Caught: Trout
Technique: Flies used: A Dave’s hopper #8 was fishing from float tube they also were hitting peacock ladies
Comments: Was up there for the weekend caught over 50 fish Saturday and 12 Sunday the 12 I  kept were in the 12-15 inch ranges two of the fish had eggs. I cut the stomachs open and some had real grasshoppers in them and some kind of green hard shell bugs

10 Responses to “Mogollon Rim Lakes”

  1. Blue Ridge – shore and boat 5/22 -23
    Caught – nothing either way
    You name it and I tried it.

    Fish appeared to be feeding on top, perhaps because the water was still very murky or the abundance of grasshoppers. Have never seen so much detritis floting in the lake. At the ramp one could almost walk on the water because of the number of logs.

  2. Fished Knoll lake 5/29-30.
    Tried power bait and salmon eggs. With by buddies, caught over 20 trout of various size. The fish were really hopping out of the water after dark and after a rain storm. During these times, they were really chomping on the power bait if you floated it on the top of the water. Worked from the shore or from our canoe.

  3. Rory,
    I was up at Willow Springs with my family last week and we caught some nice fish. My kids caught a bunch of grasshoppers that we used to fish with. The trout and smallmouth were biting good. My son Tyler (6) caught a nice 5 lb smallmouth on a grasshopper right by the boat dock. It had another hook and leader in it’s mouth with the line broke at the swivel. We had a lot of fun and all but one trout were released for someone else to enjoy.

  4. Fished Saturday and Sunday with my son Joseph at Knoll Lake and absolutely had a great time catching and releasing dozens of trout. Got there about 8:30 Sat morning, and by 9:30 would have had our limit if we had been keeping them. The trout were all stockers, only 8 – 12 inch range, but it sure was a blast watching my son have such a good time catching fish. It was called “catching” not fishing. By the end of the day, (we left at 3 pm) we had caught and released around 40 trout. Came back Sunday morning, fished for two hours, and caught and released 20 more. Lures, worms, salmon eggs, did not matter. They were hitting anything we threw at them. What an incredible two days of catching. Thank you Game and Fish Dept. Wind was howling, but did not matter. Fish were biting about two to three feet off the bank, used a clear casting bubble to float the bait. Those that kept using heavy weights were not doing well, Knoll is bad for snags. Anyway, it was a great trip that me and my son will cherish for a long, long time.

  5. Joe: Knoll has got to be one of the best – it’s a spring fed beauty waiting to embrace the whole family, and the long dusty road to get there keeps lots of folks away. Glad you dialed in the secret during the wind – the fish will come up toward the surface because the rippled water acts as camouflage from the resident pair of nesting osprey.


  6. Craig;

    5-pound smallmouth – wow. Now that’s a fighting fish! He must be quite the six-year-old angler to land something that ferocious. Hey, where’s the pic? Gotta have a pic of a six with a 5.

    Man, those hoppers are a secret weapon aren’t they. Let’s not tell anyone. Ooops, too late.


  7. Micah;

    Yeah, Knoll is one of the great ones. Others should take a tip from you and fish at night, whether it is Knoll or any of the other trout lakes. We used to make a teepee out of poles placed in five fee of water and hang a gas lantern to attract insects and trout, then sit back and watch the star show. You might just have the lake all to yourself.


  8. Hi Rory, I tried my luck fishing on the Verde River at the first crossing off of Houston Mesa Road but couldn’t get a bite. Went up to Woods Canyon hoping for better luck and caught 3 nice 10″ to 12″ Rainbows in a few hours. Lots of fishermen at the lake braving chilly temps.

  9. Looking for a nice place to go camping and fishing in the white mountains. Was told it is extremely busy during the 4th. Looking for a more secluded spot but not too rough on the vehicle. Any suggestion? Not from arizona so I’m still trying to get the lay of the land. Thanks

  10. There are lots of secluded spots in the White Mountains, and plenty of dirt roads that are easy on the vehicle (unless it is something like a low-slung Corvette or something). Where to camp is always problematic, especially if you are looking for a dispersed camping spot. I would go in through Sunrise toward Big Lake and just start scouting along the way. With the new road alignment, any place along this route should put you within striking distance of Lee Valley, Crescent and Big Lake.

    Or if you feel energetic, head past Big Lake down toward the Black River area. I have been able to find nice dispersed camp spots within minutes of Buffalo Crossing, and had elk, turkey and deer wander through my camp (while half taking a nap). Be careful with your fire, and be sure to leave the area cleaner than you found it. There are those who would ban dispersed camping, so those of us who desire forest solitude don’t want to give them any more excuses.


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