White Mountains

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April 28th, 2008
White Mountains

NOTE: Higher elevation lakes are now ice-free. State Highway 261 is open to Big Lake and Crescent Lake, as well as most interior Forest roads.

Forest Roads 249, 24, northern portion of 25 to West Fork and Black River, and 26 are open.

State Highway 273 on the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest is undergoing reconstruction and realignment and the following closures are in effect.

State Highway 273 from the Forest and Fort Apache Indian Reservation boundary to Crescent Lake is closed to all traffic, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will remain closed until the road construction project is complete.

The wind has been blowing quite strong lately. It can be very cold on exposed high elevation lakes so come prepared for near freezing temperatures. Boating can be dangerous under these conditions; please use common sense and don’t go out if the wind is too strong.

BECKER LAKE – Fishing is fair. The lake was stocked with subcatchable size rainbow trout (6-8 inches). The lake is ice free and almost full. The boat ramp is accessible. The lake is open to artificial lure and fly only, barbless hooks, and a 2 trout limit. Try small lures such as Super Dupers, spinners, and Z-rays. Fly-Fishers have been catching 10 to 18 inch rainbow trout. Try small nymphs such as zebra midges, scuds, pheasant tails, zug bugs, prince nymphs, woolly worms and wooly buggers, dragon fly patterns, peacock ladies, and brown Montana stone nymphs. The lake is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10hp. gas motors. The water is clear. The water temperature last week was 54 degrees.

BIG LAKE – Highway 261 to Big Lake is OPEN. State Highway 273 from the Forest and Fort Apache Indian Reservation boundary to Crescent Lake is closed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will remain closed until the road construction project is completed. Fishing is good. The lake is up about 3 feet from last year, but still 3.4 feet below spill. The boat ramps at the store and South Cove are accessible, however, Railroad Cove is still largely inaccessible due to snow drifts. Anglers have been catching rainbow and brook trout on worms and salmon eggs. Try worms, salmon eggs, Power Bait, lures such as spinners, Z-rays, Super Dupers, and Rapalas, and flies such as peacock ladies, wooly worms, wooly buggers, and Yeager buggers. The lake is open to electric trolling motors or up to 10 hp. gas motors. The water temperature last week was 42 degrees.

Where:Big Lake
When:04/17/08
Caught:Trout
Technique:Power Bait (Orange)
Comments:Fishing was great got out there on the first day the lake was open and spent all weekend there. Fishing was good using orange power bait rainbow power bait and worms. Most trout were good size.
Name:Daniel Lopez

CARNERO LAKE – Forest roads 118 and 117A to Carnero Lake are accessible with a few small snowdrifts. Carnero Lake was inaccessible from the 117 road, with some large snow drifts still blocking the west portion of 117A. The lake is now ice-free, but the lake has likely winterkilled, so there is little incentive for anglers to attempt to reach the lake until a stocking truck can get in to it. Limnology surveys have indicated there was very little dissolved oxygen under the ice during January and February. Some improvement in dissolved oxygen levels was noticed in March but the lake had likely winterkilled by then.

CLEAR CREEK RESERVOIR – Fishing is poor to fair. The lake is full and spilling. The lake will be stocked as soon as the lake stops spilling. The east side boat ramp is accessible and the best ramp to use. The north boat ramp (steep hill) may have soft sand and would be difficult to launch a boat. Try worms, Power Bait, Salmon eggs, and lures such as spinners, Z-rays, crankbaits, and Rapalas, and flies such as woolly worms or wooly buggers, and peacock ladies. There are no motor restrictions on Clear Creek Reservoir.

CONCHO LAKE – Fishing is fair to good. The lake is ice-free and about 2 feet low. The boat ramp is accessible. The lake has been stocked with 2 loads of catchable size rainbow trout in early April. Recent surveys revealed carryover rainbow trout ranging from 12-16 inches, with an average length of 13 inches. These carryover trout are smaller than usual, likely due to illegally stocked carp that are now established in the lake and impacting benthic invertebrates. Try worms, Power Bait, salmon eggs, lures such as spinners, Z-Rays, and Super Dupers, and flies such as wooly worms or wooly buggers, peacock ladies, and small nymphs. The lake is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10hp. gas motors. The water is clear and the water temperature was 58 degrees.

CRESCENT LAKE – Highway 261 to Big and Crescent Lakes is open. Highway 273 from the Forest and Fort Apache Indian Reservation is still closed due to continuing road construction. Fishing is likely poor due to a probable fish kill. Limnological surveys in March indicated there was very little dissolved oxygen under the ice and the lake has likely winterkilled. The lake will be restocked with catchable rainbow and brook trout, and subcatchable rainbow trout once the lake is surveyed to determine if any fish survived in the lake. Try worms, salmon eggs, Power Bait, lures such as spinners, Z-rays, Super Dupers, and flies such as peacock ladies, wooly worms, wooly buggers, Yeager buggers, and small nymphs like prince and zug bugs. The lake is open to electric trolling motors or up to 10 hp. gas motors. The water temperature last week was 49 degrees and the lake has come up about 1.5 feet from last year. The only boat ramp accessible is the south boat ramp.

FOOL HOLLOW LAKE – Fishing is fair. The lake is ice-free and full. The water clarity is turbid. All boat ramps are accessible. The lake was stocked last week with catchable size rainbow trout. Bass anglers have been catching smallmouth and largemouth bass on lures. Shore anglers are catching rainbow trout on worms and Power Bait in the southwest area of the lake. Try worms, Power Bait, salmon eggs, lures such as spinners, Z-rays, crankbaits, and Rapalas, and flies such as wooly worms or wooly buggers. Fish around structure such as rocks, tree stumps, and fishing piers. The lake is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10hp. gas motors. Recent surveys revealed good numbers of walleyes (average size, 23 inches), a few large northern pike (average size, 30 inches), a couple of big smallmouth bass (4.5 pounders), some largemouth bass (average size, 17 inches), trout (average size, 10 inches), and small black crappies and sunfish. The water temperature last week was 58 degrees.

GREER LAKES – Fishing is fair to good. River, Tunnel and Bunch reservoirs are all ice-free and full. Bunch, Tunnel and River Reservoirs were stocked with catchable size rainbow trout last week. Boat anglers at River Reservoir have been catching brown trout on Rapalas. Anglers are catching rainbow trout on worms at Bunch and River Reservoir. Try worms, salmon eggs, Power Bait, lures such as spinners, Z-rays, Super Dupers, and Rapalas, and flies such as peacock ladies, wooly worms, wooly buggers, and small nymphs. Bunch and Tunnel Reservoir are open to electric trolling motors only. River Reservoir is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10 hp gas motors. The water temperature last week at Bunch and Tunnel Reservoirs was 48 degrees and 56 degrees at River Reservoir.

HULSEY LAKE – Fishing is fair to good. The lake was stocked with catchable size rainbow trout last week. Forest road 56 is open and clear to the lake. The lake is full, and slightly spilling. Hulsey Lake is a short hike in fishery. Try worms Power Bait, salmon eggs, and lures such as spinners, Z-rays, Super Dupers, and flies such as wooly worms, wooly buggers, peacock ladies, and small nymphs. The lake is open to electric trolling motors only. The water is clear. The water temperature last week was 53 degrees.

LEE VALLEY RESERVOIR – The roads to Lee Valley Lake are still closed. Highway 273 from the Forest and Fort Apache Indian Reservation is still closed due to continuing road construction and is closed just north of the junction of Highway 273 and Highway 261. Lee Valley Lake probably has some ice cover, although it should be considered unsafe.

LUNA LAKE – Fishing is fair. The lake is ice-free, full, and spilling. The boat ramp is accessible. Recent surveys revealed low numbers of large trout in the lake. The rainbow trout averaged 17 inches and the cutthroat trout averaged 15 inches. The lake has been stocked with subcatchable size rainbow trout. Try worms, salmon eggs, Power Bait, lures such as spinners, Z-rays, Super Dupers, and Rapalas, and flies such as peacock ladies, wooly worms, wooly buggers, and nymphs. The lake is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10 hp gas motors. The water temperature last week was 50 degrees.

LYMAN LAKE – Fishing is fair. The lake level has come up quite a bit, catching a lot of water with snowmelt runoff, and is only 8 feet below spill. The water is turbid. Anglers have been catching channel catfish on worms and stink baits. Try worms, Power Bait, catfish stink baits, and lures such as spinners, crankbaits, and Rapalas. The Lyman Lake recreation area is managed by Lyman Lake State Park and camping is available. There are also some new cabins for rent. There is fish consumption advisory here, so check with the State Parks Office at the lake for details. Also contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Region 1 Office at 928-367-4281. There are no motor restrictions on Lyman Lake.

NELSON RESERVOIR – Fishing is poor to fair. The lake is full, ice free, and spilling. The lake will be stocked with catchable size rainbow trout when the lake stops spilling over the dam. The two boat ramps are accessible. Try worms, Power Bait, salmon eggs, lures such as spinners, Super Dupers, Z-Rays, and Rapalas, and flies such as wooly worms or wooly buggers, and peacock ladies. The lake is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10hp. gas motors. The water temperature last week was 50 degrees.

RAINBOW LAKE – Fishing is fair. The lake will be stocked with catchable size rainbow trout this week. The lake is ice free and full. The boat ramp is accessible. Recent surveys revealed lots of northern pike (mostly 1-5pounders but included 2 over 20 pounds), bullheads, a fair number of largemouth bass (1-5 pounds), and some large bluegills (1 pound). Try worms, Power Bait, salmon eggs, lures such as Z-rays, spinners, crank baits, and Rapalas, and flies such as wooly worms or wooly buggers, and peacock ladies. The lake is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10hp. gas motors. The water is clear. The water temperature last week was 59 degrees.

SCOTTS RESERVOIR – Fishing is fair to good. The lake will be stocked with catchable size rainbow trout this week. Anglers have been catching trout, bass, and channel catfish on worms. The lake is full, ice-free, and spilling. The boat ramp is accessible. Try worms, Power Bait, and salmon eggs, lures such as Super Dupers, Z-rays, spinners, and Rapalas, and flies such as wooly worms or wooly buggers, peacock ladies, and prince nymphs. The lake is open to electric trolling motors only. Recent surveys revealed good numbers of rainbow trout (average size, 11 inches), fair number of largemouth bass (average size, 12 inches), and some nice sized channel catfish (average size, 25 inches). The lake is open to electric trolling motors only. The water is clear. The water temperature last week was 56 degrees.

SHOW LOW LAKE – Fishing is fair to good. The lake will be stocked with catchable size rainbow trout this week. The lake is ice-free and about 7 feet below spilling. The boat ramp is accessible. Try worms, Power Bait, and salmon eggs, lures such as spinners, rubber lead head jigs, crankbaits, and Rapalas, and flies such as wooly worms or wooly buggers, and peacock ladies. The lake is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10hp. gas motors. Recent surveys revealed good numbers of large walleyes (average size, 23 inches), including two 12-pounders, good numbers of rainbow trout (average size 14 inches), largemouth bass (average size 14 inches), and small black crappie. The water is slightly turbid. The water temperature last week was 52 degrees.

WOODLAND LAKE – Fishing is fair to good. The lake was stocked with catchable size rainbow trout last week. The lake is full and spilling. Try worms, Power Bait, and salmon eggs, lures such as spinners, Super Dupers, and small spoons, and flies such as wooly worms or wooly buggers, peacock ladies, prince nymphs, zug bugs, and Hares ears nymphs. The lake is open to electric trolling motors only. Recent surveys revealed nice sized largemouth bass (average size, 14 inches), and 1 channel catfish (21 inches). The water is clear. The water temperature last week was 59 degrees.


WHITE MOUNTAIN STREAMS:

WEST FORK OF BLACK RIVER – The stream is flowing high and fast. Forest Road 26 is open from Hwy 191 to Buffalo Crossing and Forest Road 25 is open to the West Fork campground area. The West Fork is scheduled to be stocked in the first week of May, if the water conditions are suitable. Try worms, salmon eggs, small lures such as spinners, and flies such as Peacock ladies, wooly worms, small nymphs like hares ear, pheasant tails, zug bugs, prince nymphs, and caddis imitations. The water temperature last week was 50 degrees.

EAST FORK OF BLACK RIVER – The stream is flowing moderately high, but fishable. Forest Road 26 is open from Hwy 191 to Buffalo Crossing and the area is also accessible by Forest Road 24 from Big Lake. The East Fork is scheduled to be stocked in the first Week of May. The water is fairly clear. Try worms, salmon eggs, small lures such as spinners, and flies such as peacock ladies, wooly worms, small nymphs like hares ear, pheasant tails, zug bugs, prince nymphs, and caddis imitations. The water temperature last week was 52 degrees.

SHEEP’S CROSSING – NOT ACCESSIBLE. Highway 273 is closed for the year due to road construction and an area closure is still in effect around Sheeps Crossing, including snowmobiles.

LITTLE COLORADO RIVER, GREER – The stream is flowing high, fast, and is clear. The LCR in Greer is scheduled to be stocked during the first week of May, if the water conditions are suitable. Try worms, salmon eggs, small lures such as spinners, and flies such as peacock ladies, wooly worms, small nymphs like hares ear, pheasant tails, zug bugs, prince nymphs, and caddis imitations.
SILVER CREEK – Fishing is fair. The stream is clear and will be stocked the week of May 1. Silver Creek on the Arizona Game and Fish Department property is now open to bait fishing and statewide fishing regulations are in effect until Sept. 30. The upper section is closed to fishing. Try small lures such as Mepps, Rooster tails, and Panther Martin spinners. Fly-fishers may want to try wooly worms, wooly buggers, peacock ladies, prince nymphs, zug bugs, shrimp patterns, midge patterns, and small bead head nymphs. Try small dry flies such as Adams, parachute Adams, midge and caddis fly patterns. Bait fishermen should try worms, Power Bait, and salmon eggs.

13 Responses to “White Mountains”

  1. Lynette Sullivan on April 29th, 2008 at 3:07 am

    We spent Sunday morning (4/27/08) at Big Lake and hauled in 8 NICE trout in under 3 hours! We used orange power bate and worms. The fishing is GREAT at Big Lake!

  2. HI,
    I wanted to know if the road to Revervation Lake – from Big Lake is open?

  3. John;

    While I don’t have a definitive word from the White Mountain Apache Reservation on the road status, it is most likely open since we did have one angler report catching some nice browns. When I lived in the White Mountains, the road was typically passable once the road to Big Lake became open. Reservation is slightly higher in elevation though. You can always try their Web page at http://wmatoutdoors.org/newfishing or give them a call. Hawley Lake is guaranteed open – a buddy fished it recently. If you go to Reservation, you might also give the West Fork of the Black River a try for native Apache trout – the road crosses the small stream. Let us know how you do.

    Rory

  4. Lynette;

    It’s tough to beat Big Lake this time of year for wild hold-over trout. Most people may not be aware, but Big Lake is not a put-and-take lake we routinely stock so people can catch trout. Each fall, we stocked it with a few hundred thousand small trout, and then let them grow up in this large, deep lake. The trout you catch at Big are wild as March hares. I can’t wait to get up there myself.

    Rory

  5. Hit all Greer lakes, A-1, Sunrise, Bog Tank, Horseshoe Cienega, Big and Little Bear lakes from 2-5 May. Nothing. Used Power baits and small spoons; not a nibble. Thought perhaps it was me, spent time with other anglers who were having the same luck. In my time there, saw two rainbows taken: one planted fish, approx 6″ and one nice sized hold-over. Both were taken on worms. Still very cold, 26 degrees Saturday morning without a windchill. Snowdrifts of 4′ were present in the shade, but melting quickly. Some speculated the harsh winter might have caused everything to lay back for a month.

  6. Sounds like you covered a lot of territory in three days. We have been getting mixed reports, with some anglers doing well, especially for larger hold-over trout, and others having trouble locating a bite. This time of year, the water temperatures can keep trout a little lethargic at times, but when they feed, they are usually more aggressive. The key is being there during their feeding time, and then using the right bait/lure.

    All that being said, some of my best days fishing in the mountains this time of year had very little to do with catching fish but everything to do with experiencing an early mountain spring where elk, turkey and deer roam freely and you can find vast stretches of forest all to yourself.

  7. Agreed. Watched an eagle fish for a couple of hours; time well spent

  8. Just got back from Big Lake Mothers Day weekend. Got all the trout we could handle. Green power bait with the glitter in it worked best. We fished off the shore 2 days and everyone caught their limit by lunch. The road 272 is still closed you have to go in on 261 near Eager.

  9. the road i meant was 273 thats still closed

  10. Mike;

    That is correct, access to Big Lake is via Eagar, or coming in from the Alpine/Hannagan Meadow area. With temperatures soaring in the desert, a White Mountain expedition sounds almost irresistible.

    Rory

  11. Hello All,

    I love all the post’s great job. I’ve been trout fishing and camping 4 of the last 5 weekends, a lot of miles on the truck and lot of money in gas, but still better then staying home.

    Hit Lower Lake Mary first a very windy day, I got to tell you I had a great day… The wind kept the wannabes away, I caught 3 nice ones and a small one I released. If you fish near the ramp and plot your get the small one that don’t stray far from where they were put in… Get away from there… I had better luck down the road a bit, and much less people. Most people that did come came and left because of the wind…

    I did The Rim the next few weeks Willow, Woods and Knoll, I had a great time and fair success with Power bait just off the bottom, worms seemed to be working for others just below the top.

    I’m Looking for some Trout Lakes with out Motor Restrictions, beside Clear Creek Resv, is there any such lakes that are also worth the ride?

    Thanks Again, Alex.
    http://www.azcro.net
    alex@azcro.net

  12. Alex;

    Trout lakes with no motor restrictions are as rare as wealthy outdoor writers. Upper Lake Mary has no restrictions, as does Lyman Lake (between Springerville and St. Johns), but I wouldn’t’ describe either of those as being trout lakes. They are simply located in trout country.

    Even our largest trout lake at 450 surface acres, Big Lake in the White Mountains, there are motor size restrictions.

    Sorry, it’s just a fact of life in prime trout country.

    Often, guys with bass boats simply use their electric trolling motors. Makes it tough to launch and recover for some, but with a little ingenuity, most find a way around the problem.

    There is one trout water for no motor restriction — Lees Ferry. In fact, too small an engine at the Ferry might be an unwanted ticket to trouble into the Grand Canyon. The strong flows can sweep the unwary into a world of whitewater hurt.

    But there are a couple of spots along the river that are renowned for eating props. The first time you go, find someone who knows the river. Or better yet, go with a guide the first time.

    Rory

  13. Camper if you haven’t tried a great lake give Reservation Lake a try. Beautiful lake and chance of catching another state record Brown. Last year fishing partner caught a beautiful Brown that was 24″. Good chance at seeing Elk, Turkey, Osprey and Eagles.

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