Locating productive fishing locations can be tough, especially in the challenging regions of Arizona. If you are a dedicated Flagstaff angler, look no further. Here is the hook-up for some spots within an hour of Flagstaff.
1. Oak Creek, Sedona
The most scenic location on the list, Oak Creek, is home to healthy populations of both stocked rainbow and wild brown trout. Anglers should look to fish the more remote locations of the creek, which can be found by hiking north of Slide Rock away from the swimming locations. During the cooler months, targeting trout further South between Grasshopper Point and Sedona also yields great results. When fishing Oak Creek, make sure to cast upstream into deep pools and riffles that may hold trout. Smaller sized inline spinners work well, particularly on stocked fish. Fly fishing yields great results as well — streamers, nymphs and dry flies can all be effective depending on water conditions. For best results when choosing a fly, look to match the hatch of insects present. Trophy native brown trout are notoriously picky and most commonly caught on the fly.
2. Lake Ashurst, Flagstaff
Lake Ashurst is home to a variety of species and holds ideal water conditions for a trout fishery. Northern pike, Brown and rainbow trout are most commonly targeted by anglers, but bluegill and various catfish species are also present. Large northern pike feed on the trout population and are asked to be removed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD). Ashurst is frequently stocked by the AZGFD in the spring and early summer month and the road opens after the winter snowfall. Anglers will have success catching trout using a variety of techniques including baits, lures and fly fishing. Garlic-scented floating bait above a dropshot is a popular and effective technique among local anglers. Large browns are commonly caught on the fly, inline spinners and rapalas.
3. Kaibab Lake, Williams
Located just a few miles outside of Williams in the serene Kaibab National forest, Kaibab Lake is another great option in northern Arizona. Trout, catfish, perch and bass can all be targeted, and the lake is managed as a catch and take trout fishery by the AZGFD. Rainbow trout were stocked periodically this spring and fishing should continue to be productive in the coming months. When fishing from the bank, use floating bait above a dropshot or nightcrawlers under a bobber for best results. A variety of trout lures are also effective. If fly fishing, use wooly buggers or leeches on a slow retrieve for best results — especially in the summer when the water temperatures are higher.
4. Upper Lake Mary, Flagstaff
Just a 15-minute drive from NAU, Upper Lake Mary is home to northern pike, channel catfish, crappie, and some trout. Lake Mary is 600 acres when full, and trout can be hard to locate. Target pike in the shallows during the spring spawn to catch fish in large numbers. In the summer and fall, the fish will spread out to deeper waters throughout the lake where they can be caught. Start on the southern end of the lake and fish along the banks up into the Narrows campgrounds. Mobility is key as these are very aggressive fish. In other words, if you are not catching fish it is likely they are not there. Use heavy tackle in the 8 to 10 pound range and a steel leader. Use large swimbaits, spoons and chatterbaits to draw more attention.
5. Francis-Short Pond, Flagstaff
When the AZGFD begins stocking in the spring this neighborhood pond transforms into popular fishing hole for many local Flagstaff residents. Located to the west of the downtown area, the location makes this an ideal option for the angler on a tight schedule. The banks are often crowded by locals especially on the weekends and afternoon. To beat the crowd, fish Francis-Short in the early mornings or late evenings. Using bait generally outfishes other techniques. While fishing is best during the stocking season, holdover trout can be caught year-round.
For residents looking to fish the region, this list is great starting point and provides basic information about the local fisheries. That being said, any seasoned angler will say that the only way to truly learn an area is to dedicate time on the water.