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 repellent 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
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.
NOTE: The road (FR 708) from Strawberry is closed until April 15, 2015. The Fossil Creek hiking trail is still open. This is a 4-mile hike each way. Please go prepared with supplies, food and plenty of water.
Fossil Creek, one of two “Wild and Scenic” rivers in Arizona, seems to appear out of nowhere, gushing 20,000 gallons a minute out of a series of springs at the bottom of a 1,600 foot deep canyon. Over the years these calcium laden waters have laid down huge deposits of a material called travertine. That rock-like substance encases whatever happens to fall into the streambed – forming the fossils for which the area is named.
Most people come to Fossil Creek to sunbathe, wade, hike and birdwatch. It’s also a great place to take photographs. The lushness of the riparian area strikes a sharp contrast to the brittle desert that surrounds it. While you’re here, keep an eye out for javelina. These collie dog-sized wild pigs are plentiful in the area.
What Makes Fossil Creek Special?
Fossil Creek is one of only two National Wild & Scenic rivers in Arizona and is fed by springs coming from the cliffs of the Mogollon Rim. Over 30 million gallons of water are discharged each day at a constant 70 °F. The high mineral content leaves travertine dams and deposits, giving rise to fossil-like features.
In 2005, Arizona Public Service (APS) decommissioned the Fossil Creek Dam and Flume, restoring full flows to Fossil Creek.
Fossil Creek is a rare riparian area within an otherwise arid landscape. Many plants and wildlife depend on Fossil Creek for habitat, including otters, beavers, leopard frogs, and common black hawks.
In 2009, Congress designated Fossil Creek as a Wild and Scenic River to protect the river’s amazing attributes for years to come. The Forest Service is mandated to develop a Comprehensive River Management Plan (CRMP) that will analyze existing conditions and prescribe management designed to protect the area.
Fossil Creek has a number of Dilzhé’é (Western Apache) cultural sites. The Dilzhé’é lived along Fossil Creek for generations and several families consider this to be their homeland.\
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 AZ. 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 AZ. 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.
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 Lake Mary/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.
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.
No reproduction in part or whole (for commercial purposes) without the written permission of Cabins On Strawberry Hill resort. Copy Right Cabins On Strawberry Hill 4/16/2001 – 2003