We are fortunate to be near so many locations to fish in Arizona. Please remember that a fishing license with a trout stamp is required for anyone over the age of 14. Please obtain a Coconino National Forest map to minimize the risk that you will become lost on the back roads. We recommend you bring insect repellant if you are going to a stream or lake. We also recommend reading the fishing report on the Arizona Fish and Game's website before you venture out on your fishing trip. These fishing reports often state what type of fish are biting, what bait to use, how deep to fish, etc.
Rancho Tonto Catch-a-Trout: This is a really neat little place to bring the kids for a ton of fun catching Rainbow Trout. For a very nominal fee they equip you with everything you need (pole, line, hook, bait) to go out to one of their stocked ponds and reel em’ in! It’s a sure bet the kids will be catching some nice fish and in the world of fishin’ there are very few places that are a sure bet! You can get all the info you need, including prices and directions, from their website at www.ranchotonto.com.
East Verde River is stocked with trout and loaded with crawfish. The East Verde River is between Payson and Strawberry. It is about a 15 minute drive from our resort. The pine and sycamore lined banks make great fishing spots. There are also several good swimming holes near the highway on this river. An alternative is to drive through Flowing Springs east of highway 87 and fish in the public land east of flowing springs. Our favorite place along the East Verde River is further upstream near the Water Wheel area. It is a beautiful pine studded area that almost always pays off with a stringer of trout.
To the west of us 10 miles is Fossil Creek and 18 miles is the Verde River. Fossil Creek has no trout, however, it was recently opened up as Arizona’s premier native sport fishery. Fossil Creek is full of chubs, large members of the minnow family which were called Verde trout by the early settlers to the region, and provides excellent fishing for the whole family.The sport fishery extends from 2.25 miles upstream of the bridge crossing near Irving to 2.25 miles downstream of the bridge crossing where the power lines cross the river. The entire sport fishery is 4.5 miles long. Fishing regulations require catch and release only, artificial flies and lures only, and single barbless hooks only. This area is an excellent fly fishing destination. Elevation is 4200 feet. The road to Fossil Creek is a good road, but some people are bothered by the steep drop off on the side of the road.
Further west, the Verde River (elevation 2600 feet) has small-mouth bass, blue gill, sunfish, trout and catfish. For directions to the creek please see the description under trails. If you are athletic and wish to seriously fish, there are numerous creeks below the rim that run for one or two miles before disappearing below ground. To access these creeks typically requires a couple miles of hiking.
Above us on the rim is East Clear Creek and West Clear Creek, which have excellent trout fishing. To get to East Clear Creek, drive about 28 miles on Hwy 87 to the turnoff after the Blue Ridge Ranger Station. Follow the dirt road back about 5 miles. The creek has great swimming and fishing holes. To get to West Clear Creek, travel north on Highway 87 19 miles to Clints Well, then turn left on FH 3 and head toward Flagstaff. Travel about 7 miles north to Forest Road 81 and turn left. Follow FR81 to FR 81E then take FR81E to Tramway Trail.
All of our creeks have been invaded by non-native Crawfish (crawdads). They are extremely easy to catch. Any piece of meat tied to a piece of string or fishing line dropped into the water will attract them. We like to boil them in a large pot, pop off the tail, peel the shell, dip them in sauce and eat. They taste great. During the summer we have always been able to catch more crawfish than we needed. The crawfish invasion has come at the expense of several native fish and frog species. If you catch any of them Arizona Game & Fish asks that you do not return them to the creek.
Travel north on Highway 87 to Clints Well, then turn left on FH 3 and head toward Flagstaff. Drive past Mormon Lake (which is often dry) about 8 miles then turn Right on FR 82E to a well maintained dirt road to Ashurst Lake.
Blue Ridge Reservoir
One of the most beautiful lakes in Arizona. Most of Blue Ridge can only be fished with a boat. The shoreline is very steep and makes shore fishing unsafe except in three locations. The three locations are the boat dock, Restroom trail and the Rock Point area. The fishing spot from the restrooms is easy to find. Just follow the trail that starts behind the restrooms. To find Rock Point, look for a pullout on the left after the power lines. In the summer there are usually some cars parked there. Follow the trail to the lake and fish from there. The lake is less popular than other rim lakes so it routinely produces great size fish in the spring, summer or fall. Huge trout are more frequently caught after in the spring of years with a mild winter. Drive 24 miles north on Hwy 87 to the turnoff and 4 to 5 miles of dirt road FR 751. This road is not plowed during the winter.
Kinnikinick Lake is an excellent sport fishery for rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, and channel catfish. It is about 40-45 miles to the turn off from highway 3 onto FR125. Drive about 5 miles on the 125 road then turn left on FR82 and drive south about 5 miles to Kinnikinick Lake. This dirt road is less windy than the southern route.
KnollLake This lake is a great lake for shore fishing or for boating. Go north on Highway 87 to the Rim Road (about 12 miles) Take the Rim Road FR300 (General Crook Trail) about 25 miles. Turn north on FR 295E to reach the lake about 3 miles.
Upper LakeMary/Lower Lake Mary
Another good lake with very easy access. Drive past Mormon Lake about 10 miles toward Flagstaff. There are boat rentals here. The lake is a narrow 2 miles long shallow lake with Northern Pike, Perch and other fish. Just downstream from Upper Lake Mary’s Dam is Lower Lake Mary. Though it often has very little water, in wet years it is stocked with trout and is an excellent trout fishery.
Marshall Lake Much like Lower Lake Mary, Marshall Lake often has very little water in it. This shallow weedy lake is managed primarily as duck habitat, but in wet years it is stocked with trout and is an excellent fishery. It is reached by driving on FH3 about a mile north of the Upper Lake Mary Dam then taking FR128 up the hill to Marshall Lake.
If you plan on fishing, most years you can forget this lake. It is a dry meadow from 1998 through 2002. If we have several wet years it will refill, but the fish population will take several years of it being full to recover. It is a great place to watch 200 to 300 elk in several herds leave the meadow in the lake bed just after sunrise. To get there from Cabins on Strawberry Hill turn left on highway 87 go about 19 miles to Clint's Wells and turn north on highway 3 (Lake Mary Road). You will travel about 25 miles to the south end of the lake bed.
Potato Lake/Stehr Lake Don't bother with these lakes for fishing. The Potato Lake dam has eroded and the lake is now a tiny swamp. Potato Lake is very scenic and often has snow around it long after it is gone elsewhere. Unless the dam is repaired, this is not worth the drive for fishing alone. Stehr Lake no longer exists
Soldier & Long Lakes
Drive north on Hwy 87 approximately 30 miles to the turnoff on the left about 1/4 mile north of the Blue Ridge Ranger Station. Take the dirt road FR 211 3.5 miles to FR 82, then 12 miles to the lake. These are great lakes for shore fishing. The lakes are out of the Ponderosa pines in the grass lands dotted with cedars and pinon pine. Northern Pike and trout are present in Long Lake. Bass and Catfish are present in Soldier Lake. The best times to fish these lakes are in May or after the monsoon has been active (cooling off the afternoons). Walleye are routinely caught in Long Lake.
Stoneman Lake dried in 2002 and has not completely refilled. It is not currently managed as a sport fishery.
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