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Breezy conditions made catching trout a little difficult at times, but the autumn colors were in prime time in the White Mountains this past weekend so anglers weren’t complaining any – the scenery was so spectacular that catching lots of fish was secondary.
However, breezy mornings provided a good excuse to put down the fly or spinning rods and go hunt squirrels or waterfowl, or maybe find some elk and wild turkey to play with. I even photographed a doggone roadrunner in the spruce and mixed conifer forest. Blew me away!
I met lots of intereting folks on my photo rounds of the lakes and streams — thank you each and every one. Keep watching — eventually I will use the pics in the fishing report, in our Wildlife Views magazine or possibly in the fishing guide book we are planning with Arizona Highways magazine. So stay tuned.
Just a quick thanks to the folks with the Old Pueblo Trout Unlimited who braved the chilly winds to work on the West Fork of the Black River in the Apache trout recovery area near Mt. Baldy during the Columbus Day weekend. It was a privelege to once again work with those conscientious angler-conservationists. Many of the guys pointed out stream stabilization work and other efforts the group has performed over the last 30 years or so. This Apache trout stream is a flowing history of their accomplishments.
Hey folks, there should still be time to get to the high country and experience spectacular autumn colors. Plus this past weekend, the elk were still in the rut. I was woken up every morning to the sound of clashing antlers and elk bugles — sounded like the percussion and brass sections of a marching band at times. This type of outdoor experience is fleeting — don’t miss out this year.
There is a new moon this weekend, which should mean the fish and other critters should be more active during the day. But for crappie and striper anglers, fishing under lights at night can still be viable.
It sounds like one of the hot spots right now is Saguaro Lake for a mixed bag of fish, including lots of fesity bass in the 1-pound range and hordes of yellow bass that love gold KastMasters and yellowish spinners. I had an angler send me pictures of desert bighorn sheep that blessed his fishing expedition there (see the Saguaro Lake write-up).
A couple of anglers hit the crappie jackpot at Bartlett — that’s good news. I have had many a productive autumn crappie night there. Try live minnows and mini-jigs. Watch for deer coming down to water at last light.
For those who want to gamble on a different type of fishing adventure, trout are now being stocked again in the Colorado River along Casino Row just below Lake Mohave. There should still be some stripers in that stretch as well. Don’t forget that trout are also stocked at Willow Beach well below Hoover Dam. These are terrific places to fish for trout during the milder autumn and winter days in Arizona.
Heard from some anglers at Roosevelt Lake who did okay on bass and crappie, and then went out and banged a few quail. That’s the way to mix it up and miximize your time in the field.
This past week we stocked both Beaver Creek and West Clear Creek in the Verde Valley. These are interesting places to fish, expecially if you want to expend a little boot leather and fish the deeper pools in the two rugged canyons. There are scheduled to be stocked again this coming week.
Don’t forget about Fossil Creek – it’s also spectacular this time of year. The scenery along is worth the trip down the wash-board dirt road, catching-and-release native chub, aka Verde Trout, is just delightful frosting on the cake. If spin angling, try mini-crayfish like lures or 1/8-ounce or 1/16-ounce crappie jigs — wild colors like pink can sometimes work. Be sure to go barbless with single hooks as required for this unique seasonal fishery.
The camggrounds have closed for the lakes in the Williams area, but until snow flies these lakes will still be viable to fish. In fact, the campgrounds closing probably means you will have less competition. Dogtown can be especially good, plus it’s a visual treat as well: you can see the San Francisco Peaks to the east or Bill Williams Mountain to the West.
We routinely stock Oak Creek and the fall colors start in the upper reaches and slowly but surely work their way downstream. Those who miss seeing the maple reds of the Eastern deciduous forest will feel at home in this spectacular canyon slicing into the edge of the Colorado Plateau.
This is the time of year to get out and enjoy the diverse outdoor experiences Arizona has to offer. You only live once, and these are the types of autumn adventures you’ll play across your mind time and again. Don’t let your family and friends suffer from autumn deficit disorder.
With any luck, maybe I’ll see you out there.