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Bucksnort 07-07-2018 04:10 PM

Mr. Blur,

One of my all time favorite fly rods was an 8.5' graphite Eagle Claw in 5/6 weight. I bought it at the outlet store at Wright McGil (I-70 & Colorado Blvd) in Denver for about $20. It came with an extra tip section. I always had to keep an eye out for the fly fishing fashion police.

lakelady 07-09-2018 09:27 AM

Lakes in the White Mountains are best fished in the spring, and that's really all there is to it. Fishing can be good in the fall, but when water temperatures are still warm and lakes have stratified, stopped being stocked, been drawn down for irrigation, or suffered some summerkill mortality, the bite is just not going to be great. If you want to surface fish for trout in Arizona, try coming up just after ice off.

Unfortunately, despite stocking these lakes with trout, Arizona is not ideal trout habitat and you can't treat it as such. Trout fishing cannot be good 100% of the year no matter where you go. If that's what you want, I would recommend fishing another state. If you're willing to be more discerning, aim for fishing when the water quality is best and trout are willing to be in that shallow surface water.

As a side note, Carnero suffered a summer fish kill this year; I wouldn't be heading over there anytime soon.

Bucksnort 07-09-2018 02:16 PM


Thanks for the information. Arizona, Colorado and probably other states, have the same situation in high mountain lakes. If not for stocking, there would be few fish but the difference I find between high mountain lakes in both states is there is more insect activity in Colorado than here. Please understand, I've been a permanent AZ resident for under two years so my experience on AZ lakes is limited.

Here is a good example of activity in a Colorado high mountain lake that would not have trout without stocking but does have a lot of insect activity. I just returned from meeting some friends at a lake at about 12,200 feet in central Colorado. I will withhold the name of the lake. We have been fishing this lake for about six years with great success using dry flies and small sub-surface nymphs. The lake is loaded with scuds but that's not the prime food source. I am not a fisheries biologist so this is purely opinion. Trout are taking hatching midges and are taking them just below the surface film.

This doesn't mean I've not seen rising fish on the lakes I have visited in AZ. For example, Lee Valley had a fair amount of rises. Aker Lake also had a few rises. I saw no rises on the Greer lakes, Carnero, or Becker. It would have been difficult to see them on Becker because of the wind.

It seems the most popular dropper fly for AZ lakes in the White Mountains is a midge nymph pattern. This tells me there must be insects in these lakes. Are there no midges in these waters and fish see them as a food source? There must be some fairly heavy insect hatches on some of these still waters. Where are they?

I wanted to go to the White Mountains and fish just after ice-out, this year, but my Colorado trip occupied my mind. I probably could have done ice-out but my ice-out internal clock is still on Colorado time. Ice-out in the lakes I fish in CO may not be until June. If it's earlier, access is sometimes a problem.

Sasquatch 07-10-2018 08:54 AM

I agree with lakelady to some extent but there is still good fishing to be had in the summer months.
Night fishing in the wee hours before sunup for large browns can often be productive.
Daytime techniques I will use for all species are rig up three rods. Floating with a high float dry (I dislike bobbers as well) and a 14 or 16 pheasant tail dropper. Sink tip with a purple peacock and pheasant tail dropper or damsel. And a full sink with an ssl or bugger. Cast and strip the full sink while one of the others are in the rod holder just drifting. This technique will cover most of the column and good for searching. Most action will come from the full sink especially if you let out line to the backing then tuck the reel under your armpit and double haul your strip fast. Evening dry fly action usually happens especially around thunder storms.
Lastly, don't forget that browns and Brookies spawn in the fall. Browns will be shallow in the the weeds and readily take any dry. Brookies pod up and demolish egg patterns or egg sucking leaches. Try lakes on the res like reservation and horseshoe for the browns. Big lake or crescent for Brookies.

Seldomseen 07-11-2018 03:41 AM

For the most part, Arizona lakes are very fertile, but do suffer from some water quality issues, particularly during the summer monsoon season.

For starters, the increase in moisture drives up overnight temps by 15 degrees or so. Water temps rise and you will have to go deeper. Typically you can find a layer of cooler oxygenated water around 12 to 15 ft deep where the fish spend most of their time. As mentioned, a sinking line can be effective or long leaders and slip bobbers are deadly. A longer rod is of help with the latter.

Also complicating things this time of year are algae blooms. These seem much worse the last decade or so. Then we get a couple cloudy days, the algae dies and takes the oxygen with it.

The rains can help the streams though unless there is too much. So go deep in the Stillwater or hit the running for the AZ dogs days. Just make sure you are prepared for those storms!

Sasquatch 07-12-2018 01:09 PM

Turning up the sensitivity on my sonar almost always puts the thermocline at 6'. Yet on occasion I do get a second layer at twice that which I always thought to be a reflection.

M Lopez 07-13-2018 12:19 AM

Thermocline depends upon the lake and month. It can be as shallow as 6-7 feet below surface at Luna Lake in mid summer, but is 15-17 feet down in Show Low, Fool Hollow, Woods, and Willow. Lakes like Big, Crescent, Becker, Carnero don't stratify because they are too shallow or get enough mixing from the wind to prevent true stratification. Those that do stratify loose oxygen below the thermocline since there is no oxygen production that deep, so the trout will go down to the thermocline but not deeper. Lakes that don't stratify, the trout will go down to any depth with colder water.

Sasquatch 07-14-2018 08:50 AM

Thank you Mr. Lopez. I wondered why I could never get much of a reading from Big lake.

Bucksnort 07-14-2018 08:53 AM

What about White Mountain lakes in October and November?

Seldomseen 07-14-2018 02:31 PM

Great info Mike. Thanks.

Seems like it is can be late November or even early December these days before the lakes turn over in the fall.

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