Flagstaff Fishing


flagstaff fishing


Flagstaff fishing has been pretty good lately... as usual. I'll post my (more or less) weekly fishing results near the end of this page, I'll also post excerpts from the Weekly Fishing Report published by Game & Fish. Use this link to jump to the Flagstaff fishing report below.

Before I get to that, I should discuss general conditions for the various Flagstaff fishing waters. As you know, Arizona high country water conditions can change dramatically from year to year.

Since most people like to lake fish, we'll discuss lake conditions before we talk about stream conditions.


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In the local lakes, water quality and water levels are declining, but even that didn't stop the action. And those unfavorable conditions can be quickly alleviated by a very wet winter, as happened a couple of years back.

That one wet winter gave us overflowing lakes, that are still carrying us forward

When Lower Lake Mary has water in it, this is probably the most popular local lake. This year it does not hold enough water to support fish.

It's popularity has a lot to do with it being the first lake you come to when traveling down Lake Mary Road. It's often less windy here than some of the other lakes, but not always.

When there is enough water, Lower Lake Mary usually holds a variety of fish, including northern pike.

Upper Lake Mary is beyond the lower lake. This lake always holds a variety of fish, including bass, catfish, and trout. The largest inhabitants are northern pike. A friend fishes this lake near "The Narrows" using waterdogs. He catches 5 to 15 pound pike regularly.

Marshall Lake sits on top of Anderson Mesa, above the lakes Mary. Theflagstaff fishing lakes turn off of Lake Mary Road is well marked. This little lake is interesting. A very shallow lake (as illustrated in the photo at top), Marshall can be fun to fly fish.

Ashurst Lake is almost always windy, but it's yielding good fish also. Trout are the popular fish here. You may occasionally hook up with a northern pike in Ashurst, usually on a spoon or streamer fly. You may also catch a big catfish here.

I hear that Kinnikinick Lake is coming back and producing also. I also hear that the road in is as rough as ever. I like this little lake a lot.

I don't consider Mormon Lake and Upper Lake Mary to be productive Flagstaff fishing waters, because we like to keep and eat a couple of my fish each week.

The bottom line is... I expect the local lakes to produce good fishing again this year.

Our streams are flowing well, but will show reduced flows by mid summer. It happens almost every year.

The Upper Verde River, Oak Creek, and even Beaver Creek have been producing right along. Depending on where you fish, these streams can yield a mixed bag of trout, small mouth bass and catfish.

Because these streams are at lower elevations, fishing the streams in the winter and spring have several advantages:

  • Warmer weather, if not warmer water temperatures
  • You're usually all alone
  • You can practice your stream fishing techniques

Have you ever caught a large catfish on a streamer fly and a fly rod? I have been lucky enough to have that experience, and you just may also. In case you're wondering, I consider a 9 pound catfish to be large.


How I Did

July 31, 2007

A few days back I found a new, medium duty spinning outfit in a closet that I had forgotten about. I think I won it as a door prize some time back.

It was loaded with approximately 20 pound test line. Rather than remove the heavy line and load my usual 4 or 6 pound line, I thought I would test my belief... that light line catches more fish than heavy line. I needed to test a new commercial dough bait against Power Bait anyway.

So I went to Ashurst Lake this morning and used 2 spinning rigs and bait fished on the bottom.

flagstaff fishing

I used 2, size 12 gold egg hooks on each rig, tied about 15 inches apart. I baited the top hooks with one bait, and the bottom hooks with the other. After 30 minutes, I would bait the hooks again, this time reversing the order of the two types of bait.

When I was tying the pre-snelled hooks to the lines, I thought the line weight part of the test might be bogus, since the line weight of the snells was the same... but I went ahead with my experiment.

II threw the lines out maybe 20 feet apart and began.

I caught 6 trout in 2 hours, but I did not detect any real pattern. I caught 3 on the heavy line, and 4 on Power Bait. Most of the fish took the lower hook. I think this might mean that when fishing on the bottom with bait, a one hook rig is as effective as two.

I also was bothered by crayfish messing with the baits. When they find the bait, you may as well bring it in and cast to a slightly different spot. I brought in several that refused to let go.

So my experiment was inconclusive. But I had a good morning fishing.

I'll try it again next week... early.


AZGFD Weekly Fishing Report

Here is a portion of the latest Weekly Fishing Report issued by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. You can access the entire fishing report here.

July 26, 2007

Rory�s Tip:

We are not only putting out 20,000 bonus trout into many of the Mogollon Rim and White Mountain lakes, there are some huge trout being caught, especially at Willow Springs and Woods Canyon lakes.

Last weekend, a 9-pound rainbow and a 6-pound rainbow were caught at Willow Springs. Monday might, a 5-pound rainbow was caught at Woods Canyon Lake. Last week, an angler caught a 7-pound brown at Woods Canyon.

The other part of the great news is that the high country has received rain, rain and more rain, often via tumultuous thunderstorms. Check before going, but most fire restrictions are being lifted by land management agencies. Also, don�t get caught on or near the water during an electrical storm. Graphite fishing poles make superb lightning rods.

Rain, big trout and bonus trout: it doesn�t get much better than this. Go get reacquainted with cool mountain breezes and billowy cumulous clouds. This is also a great time for watching wildlife.

Anglers visiting the high country lake also report seeing lots of bull elk in velvet � it�s antler building time. Seeing a huge bull elk with thick, shiny velvet adorning its majestic rack is something to behold.

By the way, I was at Woods Canyon Lake on Tuesday when 3,000 trout were stocked and we did a news segment with Steve Bodinet from News Channel 3. The stocking truck drew more smiles from folks than an ice cream truck coming through a neighborhood on a hot Saturday afternoon. Keep in mind that Woods Canyon was also stocked on Monday. It is brimming with trout.

When we got there Tuesday morning, the temperature was 68 degrees and the air was so clean and sweet after the rain that I was trying to figure out a way to bottle it and bring it back to Phoenix.

Trout anglers are starting to learn a summer secret; sometimes you can catch big trout at night by using floating or submersible lights. Veteran trout anglers who live in the high country have known this secret for decades.

For those heading to Canyon Creek and other high country drainages, the wild raspberries are ripe and are often attracting hungry black bears. So be bear aware. Keep the kids close at hand. Leave the pets at home.

This is also a fun time to catch high country largemouth bass. Willow Springs Lake has largemouth, smallmouth and even crappie. One of my favorites this time of year is Fool Hollow for largemouth, walleye, smallmouth, and trout. Show Low Lake probably has a state record walleye lurking in its depths. Ashurst Lake near Flagstaff holds the state record for northern pike. It has some monster fish (which are mostly caught by trout anglers).

We are still getting great reports from nighttime striper anglers at Lake Pleasant. Some are racking up huge numbers of fish, mostly using frozen anchovies fished with little or no weight. The stripers will often hit the anchovies as they are slowly falling. Experiment. By the way, you are encouraged to catch and keep all the stripers you can. There is no limit at Pleasant or at Lake Powell. However, it is not legal to waste game fish, so take only what you plan to use.

It looks like the night fishing for stripers at Lake Mead is also going great guns. Don Martin took out two guys from Phoenix and filled up two ice chests full of fish for a total of 100 stripers up to four pounds and eight channel catfish. They used anchovies fished under lights and �secret� chum.

This is also prime catfish time, especially at night. One family fishing in the Parker area took home two hundred pounds of flathead catfish, with the largest tipping the scales at 41 pounds. Hint; use live bluegill or goldfish for bait along the river.

There is a full moon on July 29, which will make submersible lights less effective (it�s tough to out compete Luna), but being on the water during full moon nights can be spectacular � if the monsoon storms don�t pay a nocturnal visit. For nighttime bass fishing, think dark. Black worms, lizards and crankbaits are often best. Using scent helps. Bass attack by sight, but they can be attracted by scent and vibration.

Mark you calendars for the dark of the moon on Aug. 12 � the Perseids meteor shower should be hitting its peak. Seeing up to 100 meteors per hour may be possible at times. Witnessing this annual phenomenon over a desert or mountain lake can be astounding.

It�s time to go catch some memories. Maybe I�ll see you out there.


North Central Mountains


KAIBAB LAKE � Clifford Wheeler did well trolling spinners to catch trout, bass and catfish, adding that the fishing was good on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, but was slow on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Campground area is open. Main parking lot and boat launch open.  Fishing was good.  Lake level is dropping

CATARACT LAKE � Campground is open. Fishing is good on yellow or white Power Bait or lures. Some crappies are being caught.

CITY RESERVOIR � Gate is locked because of fire danger. 

DOGTOWN LAKE � Lake level is down.  One angler used flies and only caught one crappie. Campground area is open. Try using yellow or white Power Bait or lures. Some browns are being caught on lures. Stocked last week.

JD DAM � Tank is extremely low. Anglers are catching brown trout fly-fishing.  Bullfrog catching is excellent.

RUSSEL TANK � Stocked.

SANTA FE � Lake is down a little. The side of the lake opposite of the Perkinsville Road is closed because of the fire danger. Fishing is good on yellow or white Power Bait or lures.

WHITEHORSE LAKE � No report from anglers. Campground is open.  Because of low water levels the lake will not be stocked anymore this year. There are plenty of crayfish at the lake.



LOWER LAKE MARY � The lake is extremely low.  No fish, the lake suffered a winter kill due to low lake levels. At current conditions, lake will not be stocked this year.

UPPER LAKE MARY � The lake is 17-percent full. Anglers are periodically catching some nice sized northern pike and catfish. Walleye fishing can be good at times.

ASHURST LAKE � Fishing was good on worms fished about 3 feet below a bobber and Power Bait.  A trout angler caught a 31.5-pound Northern Pike on a worm.

FRANCIS SHORT POND � Trout were being caught on green or yellow Power Bait fished on the bottom. Catfish were also being caught on night crawlers and hot dogs.  

KINNIKINICK LAKE � Lake is open.  Fishing was good for channel catfish on night crawlers and chicken livers.  Fishing for trout was good on Power Bait.

MARSHALL LAKE � Low water. Small trout are being caught on flies. A few larger hold over fish are being caught.  No longer stockable.

OAK CREEK � Fishing is slow. A few small rainbow trout are being caught on flies.

LONG LAKE � Lake is open. Jim Smith caught five very fat trout ranging from 12 to 19 inches trolling with Rapalas on 4-pound test line, adding that the lake is 5.5-feet deep in the northern end, 4-5 feet deep in the southern end, and 3.5 feet deep in the middle and there are lots of crawdads.

Holdover trout are being caught. 

SOLDIERS & SOLDIERS ANNEX � Lake is open. No report.

BEAVER CREEK � No report. 



MINGUS LAKE � No new reports. Mingus Lake was stocked last the week of April 30. As a result of the very low water levels trout stocking will be suspended following this stocking. The Forest Service gate is open. The water levels are down very low and the water is turbid. Try bright-colored Power Bait, salmon eggs, or various spinners. 

DEAD HORSE STATE PARK � No new reports. Game and Fish stocked catfish the week of June 4, so look for the catfish fishing to be good. Several largemouth bass, up to two pounds, have been caught on in-line spinners, plastic grubs, and small crankbaits. The bluegill fishing has been good using a salmon egg or small worm on a small bait hook below a bobber. The bluegills are plentiful in both the middle and lower lagoons, so between trout and catfish stockings try your luck with the bluegill.

Dead Horse State Park employees and Game and Fish biologists placed 40-plus Christmas trees in the lower lagoon as fish habitat on Jan. 16.  Fish should begin to congregate near these trees within days.

VERDE RIVER (throughout Verde Valley) � No new reports. Trout were last stocked at all five sites (March 19). That was the last trout stocking for the season and the river won�t be stocked again until this coming fall. For largemouth and smallmouth bass, try plastic grubs and small spinnerbaits. Catfishing should be biting as well.

LYNX LAKE � The fishing has been slow, but some of the catfish stocked in June are still out there. Try floating a night crawler just off the bottom. Chicken livers or anchovies should work as well, but avoid fishing in water over 20ft deep. Oxygen levels below 20ft are very low, so fish won�t be there. The Bass stockings from the last two years as well as the four fish habitat sites should begin to pay off this year. Plastic worms should be the ticket for the bass. Trout were stocked last week (June 11). This is the last scheduled stocking until September due to water temperature. Some of the brook trout stocked last September and October are continuing to be caught, but they are on the small side. Game and Fish stocked catfish the week of June 4. There were 200 pounds of bluegill were stocked on March 29. These fish were hand-sized and should be easily caught. Try using worms or mealworms on a bobber. Small spinners may work as well. Game and Fish Biologists surveyed Lynx in May and found that the brook trout stocked last year were still present.

FAIN LAKE � Fishing should be slow. Some of the catfish Game and Fish stocked the week of June 4 will still be around as well as bullhead, sunfish, and bass. As the fishing pressure decreases, the regular angler�s should have some success. Anchovies, chicken livers, or night crawlers should all work.

Rainbow trout were stocked the week of June 11. This was the last trout stocking until September.  Catfish were stocked on June 4.  There were 150 pounds of bluegill stocked on March 29. These fish were hand-sized and should be easily caught. Try using worms or mealworms on a bobber. Small spinners may work as well.

GOLDWATER LAKE � Trout were stocked the week last on July 2. The stocking scheduled for last week was cancelled due to high water temp and moved to this week (July23).  If we get the fish doing well this week and continue to have cooler weather, we will stock again next week (July 30).  The fishing last weekend was slow. Most anglers had little luck. You may try using spinners and jigs in the early morning and switch to worms and rainbow Power Bait on the bottom as the temperature goes up. Avoid fishing in water over 30 feet deep.  Even if you don�t catch fish this is a great lake to visit.

Game and Fish Biologists surveyed Goldwater during the middle of May and found the trout and sunfish plentiful. While the number of catfish and bass was low, the quality was exceptional. One 16-pound catfish was sampled and released. The bass averaged about 3.5 pounds. On March 29, 400 pounds of bluegill were stocked. These fish were hand-sized and should be easily caught.  Try using worms or mealworms on a bobber.  Small spinners may work as well. If you fish Goldwater and are having luck, please e-mail me at < >[email protected] so I can share your successes with others.

Flagstaff fishing is always fun and is usually productive. Come on out.


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