Rory's tips:

Friday Update: Roosevelt Lake, Bartlett Lake, Lake Pleasant and Alamo Lake all received some nice high-nutrient inflows the past few days due to torrential rain storms. This will likely make the inflow areas of those lakes a little turbid. A key is often fishing the edge of the stain line. Also, Oak Creek had significant inflows, although we have no reports from the upper end as yet.

The long hot summer is coming to a close and most folks are already making Labor Day weekend plans, so I am going to skip ahead about a week and offer some planning tips.

First and foremost, it's a great time for the last summer mountain excursion. There will probably be crowds at Woods Canyon and Willow Springs, and rightly so. Both of these Rim lakes are exceptional producers and are always worth a visit, crowds or not. Get there early to get a camping spot though.

Just down the road is an interesting creek to fish -- Canyon Creek, which we just stocked with a whopping 162 trout. To get there, take the Young road off Highway 260 and keep a watch for the sign for the turn (left). It's easy to miss.

This fishery has a split personality -- the upper reach near our Canyon Creek Hatchery has normal regulations and is what we call a put-and-take water. In other words, the trout we stock will typically be caught within a week to 10 days. But the lower section below the OW Bridge is catch-and-release with artificial lure and single barbless hook only. It's a blue-ribbon fishery with some toothy browns lurking in the shadows. It's amazing how well brownies blend in with the creek bottom.

Be sure to stop by the hatchery. Take some change to buy fish food from the dispensers that look like gumball machines and feed the trout -- kids love it. Heck, so do I.

One of my summer favorites is Bear Canyon Lake. This deep canyon lake has decent shoreline access, but don't expect to fish the bottom with your Power Bait. There is a steep drop-off along most of the shoreline. There is a slight hike into this lake, which keeps most people away. There's no store, no facilities (other than a bathroom in the parking lot), and it is only dispersed camping nearby. In other words, I love it.

A little farther down the road is my favorite Rim water -- Knoll Lake. It is our most remote trout lake where you can expect to see osprey and/or bald eagles swooping down to pluck a trout from the lake's surface. Bring your camera and binocs! There is a small campground just up the hill from Knoll, but it normally fills fast on any given summer's weekend. However, there's plenty of dispersed camping opportunities for the adventurous.

Let's skip west a ways -- Upper Lake Mary near Flagstaff. We just stocked it with 5,704 rainbow trout for the first time in at least a couple of decades. As I mentioned last week, there are no boat motor restrictions at Upper Lake Mary, so it is a great place to take the bass boat. There are also bass, walleye, northern pike, perch and channel catfish. It's a veritable smorgasbord of fishing opportunities.

Want to escape the crowds? Can you say Kinnickinick without smiling? Cool word, and typically a productive summer fishery. It is spring fed so it often has a nice summer bite. There are some decent brown trout here as well. It is best fished from a float tube, canoe or kayak in summer. The trout are not necessarily hanging out along the shoreline. I have been there on Labor Day weekend and seen the campground half empty.

Why?

One, it's a washboard dirt road across Anderson Mesa to get there, although once I had a mountain lion run right in front of my truck and I had to brake not to hit it at O-dark-30. Two, it is visually challenged. Instead of tall stately ponderosa pine trees shading your soul, there are wind-challenged pinons and junipers. There are concrete tables and fire rings at the campsites, but all in all, it looks pretty bleak unless you want to get away from folks and then it is downright beautiful. Plus, I like it because if I don't catch fish for dinner, I can scoot over to the Mormon Lake Lodge for one of their delightful dinners or a late breakfast once the fish quit biting.

As usual, Ashurst Lake has been the region's most productive trout fishery again this summer. The guys in the region called it "old reliable."

Since we are visting Anderson Mesa, at least figuratively, let's chat about Long Lake. This is another visually-challenged lake on the eastern edge of Anderson Mesa. When the wind is blowing, it can turn this narrow water into a frothing white-capped nightmare. Plus, it is a long drive down dusty washboarded roads that will make your kidneys question your sanity in going there. And, you might get skunked, but you can escape the crowds and possibly catch a 10- or 20-pound monster pike. Oh, I should mention that there are no facilities, just a concrete launch ramp that is not guaranteed to be in the water. You'd best be a self-sufficient westerner here, or head somewhere else.

On the reverse side of places like Long Lake and Kinnickinick, there is the lovely Greer Valley with all its resorts. There are even places where you can eat lunch and then take a fly-fishing class. There are rustic cabins to rent, or well-appointed resorts with gourmet meals. The lakes are low right now (end of the irrigation season) and the Little Colorado River is probably at a low ebb, but you'll absolutely love fishing this meandering stream.

About an hour away from Greer is my favorite trout fishery of all time -- Big Lake. It's appropriately named because it is our largest high-country trout water and has the most species of trout, including rainbows, cutthroats and brookies. There might also be some residual Apache trout surviving, but they haven't been showing up in our surveys for some time.

If I didn't have friends coming to hunt doves on Labor Day weekend, Josh and I would be at Big Lake. However, don't expect to catch a trout limit from shore, it probably won't happen. The fish are mostly in deeper water right now, but if you rent a boat and troll or straight line fish you might fill your creel with lots of feisty memories.

Down the road from Big Lake is another crowd-escaping special -- Reservation Lake. It's on the White Mountain Apache Reservation, so be sure to stop at Honda and buy a tribal fishing permit. This lake is well worth it. Like Big Lake, you might not catch a lot of fish from shore, but since it gets so little fishing pressure, your chances are much better. This is one of the larger mountain waters and a ball to fish from a small boat. If you have a float tube, plan on getting a lot of exercise. I like the dispersed nature of the camping there, but some don't. It is a long, washboared road to get there, however.

The other reservation summer special is Hawley Lake, which does have boat rentals. Once again, you'll need a tribal fishing permit, but this shimmering lake is almost surrounded by mountains and is one of the highest elevation fishing lakes in the state. My youngest boy caught a nice 18-inch brown there -- his first browny. Plus I caught my largest brown there ice fishing when I lived in Pinetop back in the mid-1980s.

But, any trip to the White Mountains doesn't seem complete without a stop at Sheeps Crossing on the mighty shoulders of Mt. Baldy, the state's second tallest mountain. I love fishing the series of beaver ponds along this energetic mountain creek. We catch our own grasshoppers, cicadas and night crawlers, then use cane poles or cut some alder poles along the creek. It's a Huckelberry Finn special. By the way, it is possible to hike and fish all the way from Sheeps to the Greer Valley, but it takes all day and lots of preparation. It's wild country with all that entails, so plan accordingly.

This is also a great time to visit a world-renowned trout fishery to escape the crowds. I know, that seems like a contradiction, but it's not.

This is the off-seaon for anglers visiting Lees Ferry in northern Arizona, but it is by no means a slow fishing time. In fact, it's the tail end of the cicada bite and anglers are hauling in some really nice wild rainbows. No kidding! I love the Ferry in late summer. Even though daytime temperatures can soar into triple digits at times, I have had shivering mornings with beautiful crimsom-sided rainbows dancing on the end of my line while they make my reel sing with praise.

Last, but certainly not least is Lake Powell, my favorite fishery of all time in Arizona. No matter how many times I visit Powell, it never fails to enchant me. Check out the Powell report below for tips, but on any give day Powell might just provide some of the best freshwater fishing in North America. Plus with 1,700 miles of shoreline you might not even see another angler, much less have one crowding your elbow on a busy holiday weekend.

So that's my early Monday-morning quarterbacking, a couple of Mondays early. Hope it helps you go catch some great memories during the waning days of summer.   back...
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