Updated: Sep 23, 2020
Looking to get out of the heat of the valley and adventure in cooler places? Well let us introduce you to one of Arizona’s best kept secrets, Rim Country. Located about 90 minutes up the Beeline highway (87), you will find a place like none other. Surrounded by the largest ponderosa pine forest in the world with access to lakes and streams, this is the place where fishermen of all types come to enjoy the “Call of the Wild”.
Late spring-early summer fishing at Chevelon Canyon Lake usually produces some large brown trout, plus large holdover rainbow trout. Chevelon Canyon Lake is quite remote and is a deep canyon lake that requires a relatively steep hike 3/4 of a mile to get to the waters edge from the parking area. Generally, only the most avid of anglers that are physically well-conditioned fish Chevelon Lake. However, those that do are rewarded with views of the most scenic trout lake in Arziona. It is simply gorgeous and panoramic with thick forested vegetation and trees that abut the lake. If you're seeking tranquility, this is the lake of choice. The trout possession limit at Chevelon Canyon is six fish. However, the lake has a slot limit and trout 10 to 14 inches must be released immediately. This fishery is artificial lure or fly only.
Other good trout waters on the rim are Woods Canyon Lake, Willow Springs Lake, and Bear Canyon Lake.
Woods Canyon Lake is a small lake located about 30 mi (48 km) east of the Town of Payson. It is one in a series of small, canyon-bound lakes located on the Mogollon Rim, collectively referred to as the Rim Lakes. It is among the more developed and accessible of the Rim Lakes. It is also the first reservoir on Chevelon Creek, upstream from Chevelon Canyon Lake. Here Rainbow and Brown Trout thrive and there are some really big ones. The state stocks catchable size trout every week from May through September.
When fishing for rainbow trout from shore, try Power Bait or worms. Boaters can try trolling a Super Duper or tiny gold Kastmaster lures. When it's hot in the summer, fish a little deeper, between 10 and 20 feet; but don't fish too deep, because the lake stratifies in the summer, meaning there's no oxygen at the bottom. The lake is loaded with crayfish; try fishing for big browns in spring and fall with spinners or lures that imitate crayfish patterns. A state fishing license with a trout stamp is required for anglers 14 years-old and above. Daily bag limit is six trout for licensed anglers and three for unlicensed kids under 14 years. Boat motors are restricted to electric motors only.
Located on Forest Road 86, Black Canyon Lake offers excellent Trout fishing throughout the Spring, Summer, and Fall months. A hiking path meanders along the edge of the lake from the parking area to the dam. The entire Black Canyon area was heavily affected by the Rodeo-Chediski fire in 2002 but seems to have rebounded and is producing some good fishing.
Trout are not the only game fish lurking in the cooler waters of the Rim country. Bass and catfish are most often associated with desert lakes, but fishing for these warm-water fish in the mountain lakes can be good, even in the spring.
Knowledgeable bass anglers will find some great bass fishing on the Rim. Bass populations can be found at Willow Springs Lake and Fool Hollow Lake. A 10-pound largemouth was caught from Willow Springs Lake last summer by a Valley angler. Small lures and angler stealth are the keys to success in these clear high-country lakes.
If you want to stay closer to civilization, Rim Country has that to. Green Valley Park in Payson, AZ offers the less adventurous Fisherman all of the comforts of nearby services. Green Valley Park is part of Arizona's Urban Fishing Program and is recognized nationally as one of the best in the country. The program is a partnership with the Game and Fish Department and local Parks and Recreation Department to intensively stock and manage the park lake for fishing recreation. Simply put, the program operates on the premise that "if people can't get out of town to fish, we will bring fish in to town for the people." The program provides convenient, affordable, accessible, and fun fishing for anglers of all ages and abilities.
For more information about how you and your family can enjoy these or other vising opportunities please visit the Arizona Game and Fish website.