White Mountains

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February 26th, 2009

High mountain lakes as well as streams are ice covered. Check ice thickness before venturing out on lakes. Forest roads are snow packed.

State Highway 261 is closed to vehicles accessing Big Lake and Crescent Lake. Snowmobile access is permitted. 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 is closed to Crescent Lake, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will remain closed until the road construction project is complete.

Most interior Forest Roads are closed and/or inaccessible to vehicles. Snowmobile access is permitted.
BECKER LAKE — Fishing is poor to fair. The lake remains ice-free, but when the weather is colder, you will find some ice around the edges of the lake (rimming ice).

The lake is open to artificial lure and fly only, barbless hooks only, and a two-trout limit. Try small lures such as Super Dupers, spinners (Panther Martin, Rooster tail, and Mepps), Kast Masters (gold or silver), and Z- Rays.  Try small nymphs such as Zebra midges, scuds, pheasant tails, hares ear, zug bugs, prince nymphs, wooly worms and wooly buggers, brown and gray semi-seal leeches. Also try dragon fly patterns, peacock ladies, and brown Montana stone nymphs.

Fish off the bottom along weed beds and retrieve your fly slowly. The lake is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10 hp. gas motors. There is a new fishing pier with a handicap walkway located at the northwestern part of the lake

BIG LAKE — Ice fishing is fair to good. Accessible by snowmobile only. The lake is ice-covered. The lake is ice-covered. Check ice thickness before venturing out on the lake.  Try worms, Power Bait, and salmon eggs, and lures such as small spoons and jigs. State Highway 261 from Eager/Springerville is closed to vehicles but open to snowmobiles.  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. Snowmobile access is permitted. The store is closed for the winter.

CARNERO LAKE — The lake is ice-covered Check ice thickness before venturing out on the lake.  Forest roads to the lake are inaccessible by vehicle, except for snowmobiles.       .

CLEAR CREEK RESERVOIR —  Fishing is poor. The lake is ice-free. Try fishing with a bobber, split shot and worms near rocky shoreline areas for sunfish and bass.  The old boat ramp has been re-opened. The new boat ramp near the dam is blocked off because of very low water levels and thick weeds near this ramp. Try worms, Power Bait, Salmon eggs, and lures such as spinners (Panther Martin, Rooster tail, and Mepps), Z-Rays, crank baits, spinner baits, and Rapalas, and flies such as woolly worms or woolly buggers, Yeager buggers, and peacock ladies. There are no motor restrictions on Clear Creek Reservoir. The gate on the north side of the lake is usually closed during the winter months, while the road on the south side of the lake is open.

CONCHO LAKE — Fishing is poor. The lake is ice-free, the water level low and it is weedy. There is practically no water at the boat ramp. If you choose to fish at Concho Lake, target the small areas of open water between the weeds off the dam. The rest of the lake is not fishable.

CRESCENT LAKE —  Fishing is poor to fair. The lake is ice-covered. Check ice thickness before venturing out on the lake.

State Highway 261 from Eager/Springerville to Crescent-Big Lakes is closed to vehicles but open to snowmobiles. State Highway 273 from the Forest and Fort Apache Indian Reservation to Crescent Lake is closed 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, due to continuing road construction. Snowmobile access is permitted

FOOL HOLLOW LAKE — Fishing is fair. The lake is ice-free, full and spilling. Boat ramps are usable. Anglers have been catching a few small trout and bass on worms. Try worms, Power Bait, lures such as spinners, spoons, lead head jigs, and Rapalas, and flies such as wooly worms and wooly buggers. Try fishing off rocky areas and around fishing piers. The lake is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10 hp gas motors.

GREER LAKES — The Greer lakes are ice-covered. Unsafe ice conditions.

HULSEY LAKE — The lake is ice-covered. Unsafe ice conditions.

LEE VALLEY RESERVOIR — An angler recently asked about possible access – via foot – to Lee Valley this spring. Other anglers might find the answer valuable.


If you have a snowmobile, you can access Lee Valley Lake right now, but it is iced over.  Our limnological surveys through the ice this winter show that Lee Valley Lake will likely NOT winterkill, but we still have at least a couple months of ice cover to go.  We will be checking Lee Valley, Crescent and Carnero lakes weekly as part of a winterkill study we are doing, hopefully to gather information that will help us reduce the occurrence of winterkill in the future.

There have not been many grayling in Lee Valley Lake because they are so difficult to come by, we have to drive a hatchery truck to Wyoming to pick them up. However, we did stock several thousand subcatchable size grayling in Lee Valley in May 2008. They should be doing okay and put on some size by the time the lake opens in the spring.

Normally I would recommend fishing near the creek inlet in late April and May because they will often congregate there in an attempt to spawn in the creek, but these fish will likely not be reproductively active yet, so they could be anywhere in the lake.

However, we have surveyed some very large Apache trout over the last few years during the road closure, up to 4.5 pounds. We caught them all in one net at the creek inlet one year, then right off the dam the next year. Go figure.

The road from Sunrise was officially open this last summer up to the junction with Forest Road 87 (back road to Greer), then closed from there to Crescent Lake. The Forest had set up a temporary trailhead at that junction that tied into the west baldy trail.  Some anglers would take this trail to the West Baldy Trail, then take the crossover trail towards the East Baldy Trail.

This crossover trail crosses Lee Valley Creek about 1/2 mile upstream of Lee Valley Lake.  Folks were not allowed to bike or hike along the closed road because of safety reasons, plus the Forest had an official closure on the road and the Sheep’s Crossing area (eliminating hiking access from Greer).  Technically folks could not set foot into this closure without permission from the National Highways folks.

Anglers/hikers could also reach the crossover trail from another temporary trailhead that accessed the East Baldy Trail from the Burro Mountain area, but I did not know the details of how to get there (I found it once on the Apache-Sitgreaves Forest web-site).

As of today, the road is still officially closed, mostly for winter conditions, as they are not doing construction on it right now.  It is open to snowmobiles though. The road will still be closed initially when things thaw out in the spring.

However, they tell us they are mostly complete, they just need to add a sealant.I don’t yet know when the Forest’s closure will be lifted. As long as that closure is in place, folks will not be able to step foot onto the closed road (the exception is for snowmobiles this winter).

As we get closer to spring, we will coordinate with the Forest and provide information to anglers as we get it.  Then the road should be open for good sometime in early summer.

Keep checking back with us and we’ll pass on that information when we get it.  Whatever happens though, you should be able to hike into the lake via the crossover trail from the West Baldy Trail.

Mike Lopez

The roads to Lee Valley Lake are closed.  The lake is ice-covered. State Highway 261 from Eager/Springerville to Crescent-Big Lakes is closed. Highway 273 from the Forest and Fort Apache Indian Reservation to Forest road 87 is open but is closed beyond the Forest road 273/87 junction road to Crescent Lake 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, due to continuing road construction but is open to snowmobiles.

LUNA LAKE —The lake is ice-covered.  Check ice thickness before venturing out on the lake. Roads are open to the lake. Anglers have been catching rainbow trout on worms off the dam. Try worms, salmon eggs, Power Bait, and small spoons. The store is closed for the winter

LYMAN LAKE — The lake is ice-free. The lake has some ice-cover along the shoreline areas.  No reports from anglers. Try worms, Power Bait, catfish stink baits, and lures such as spinners (Panther Martin, Rooster tail, and Mepps), crankbaits, and Rapalas. The Lyman Lake recreation area is managed by Lyman Lake State Park and camping is available.  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. The store is closed for the winter.

NELSON RESERVOIR — Fishing is poor to fair. The lake is ice-free. The lake is full and spilling. The lake is full and spilling. Fishing bag limits are now unlimited for rainbow and brown trout from September 1 through March 31. The water temperature two weeks ago was 38 degrees.

RAINBOW LAKE — Fishing is poor. The lake is ice-free due to warm weather days, but on cold weather days expect thin, unsafe ice conditions. The lake is full. The boat ramp is usable.

SCOTTS RESERVOIR — Fishing is fair. The lake is ice-free, especially during warm weather days but on cold weather days expect thin, unsafe ice conditions. The lake is full and spilling..

SHOW LOW LAKE — Fishing is fair. The lake is ice-free, due to warm weather days, but on cold weather days expect thin, unsafe ice conditions. The lake is full and spilling. The fishing piers are not accessible from the shoreline because of rising water levels. The boat ramp is usable. Anglers are catching 12- to 14-inch rainbow trout on flies. Try worms, Power Bait, lures such as spinners (Panther Martin, Rooster tail, and Mepps), spoons such as Super Dupers, lead head jigs, Rapalas, and flies such as wooly worms, wooly buggers, prince nymphs, peacock ladies and brown Montana stones.

The road to the dam has water flowing over it so use caution when driving to the dam. The lake is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10 hp gas motors. The store is closed.

WOODLAND LAKE — Fishing is poor. The boat ramp is not usable. The fishing pier is on the boat ramp for repairs. The lake is ice-free due to warm weather days, but on cold weather days expect thin, unsafe ice conditions. The lake is full and spilling.

Try worms. Power Bait, spinners (Panther Martin, Rooster tail, and Mepps), spoons such as Super Dupers, and flies such as wooly worms, wooly buggers, peacock ladies, prince nymphs, and zug bugs. The fishing pier is closed to public use because of safety concerns. The lake is open to electric trolling motors only.

White Mountain Streams:

Streams are ice-covered.  Forest Roads are snow packed and closed and/or inaccessible to vehicles except snowmobiles.

WEST FORK BLACK RIVER — Forest roads are closed to the Black River.  Ice is present on the stream. The stocking season has ended and no trout are being stocked.

EAST FORK BLACK RIVER — Forest roads are closed to the Black River.  Ice is present on the stream. The stocking season has ended and no trout are being stocked.

SHEEP’S CROSSING — Highway 273 is closed for the year due to road construction and an area closure is still in effect around Sheep Crossing, 24 hours and 7 days a week.

LITTLE COLORADO RIVER GREER — The stream has some ice, along the shoreline areas during morning hours, but may open up on warm weather days. The stocking season has ended and no trout are being stocked.

SILVER CREEK — Fishing is fair. Silver creek does not ice over during the winter because it is a spring creek with a more constant water temperature.  Nice sized Apache and rainbow trout were stocked in October at Silver Creek. Silver Creek on the Arizona Game and Fish Department property is currently open to artificial lure and fly only, barbless hooks, and catch-and-release only. The upper section is open to fishing.  The catch-and-release season is from Oct. 1 through March 31. 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.

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