Most people associate Arizona with the Grand Canyon and the Painted desert. They see red rock, mesas and long stretches of barren, desert, wasteland. Well that is simply not the case at all and here on the White Mountain Apache Tribal lands are an abundance of water recreational opportunities available to everyone, including fishing. Fishing is often overlooked when talking about this area because of the world class hunting. It would be a huge disservice to leave out the fishing and other recreational activities that you can take part in the area. The Trout fishing opportunities on the many lakes in the White Mountains are superb with chances to hook into brown trout, cutthroat trout, brook trout and Rainbow trout. With lakes upwards in size to 1,400 acres to small little alpine lakes way up high. If going after still water trout is not your thing and you would rather hit the river for some catfish the Salt River is nearby with plenty of cat-fishing chances or you can go after some trout on the Black river as well. Fishing is not for everyone, and if fishing is not for you there are other opportunities as well. There is of course swimming in the lakes and rivers, sunbathing, or if you want something with a little more spice…you can go tube down the river or join a guided white water rafting trip!
The White Mountains are home to a lot of lakes and streams that are teeming with fish. These high Alpine lakes formed by snow melt and glaciers as well as their high altitude ensure that the trout are happy and healthy. After all trout love cold water! The largest lake in the area is Sunrise Lake, it tops in at about 1,400 acres and offers fishing and boating recreation. Hawley lake and Earl Park lake are home to many Cabins built and managed by the Community development corps. These lakes are home to some nice brown and brook trout. Since these waters are colder and higher up they also are home to a host of the beautiful brook trout. Which means of course there are chances for the super rare and elusive tiger trout (Brook and brown trout sterile hybrid). These lakes (Hawley and Earl Park) at higher elevation are closed during the winter as they are not accessible. There are plenty of other lakes and streams in the area with fish-able water year round, with the peaks being the spring through the fall seasons. Now, this area has a lot of chances, but it also has a lot of regulations. So be sure that you double check with them all to make sure you are legal and have the right permits.
There are also rivers in the area. The Black river and the Salt river are known to be great places for recreation. With regularly updated fishing reports posted weekly its easy to stay on top of what you need and where you need to be. Fishing and use of these rivers do require a special permit and have their own host of rules and regulations. So again, be sure to check them all out and make sure you are well educated. There is nothing more embarrassing and expensive than being wrong in front of the game warden. An easy way of course to avoid breaking the rules is to employ the use of a local fishing guide. Like the hunting guides in the area they are skilled, trained and professional. They have the answers to the questions you want and they know ever bend and mend in the river. Fly fishing, conventional, bait, or spinners its not matter. Lake, river, stream or pond there is a guide for you in the area willing to take you fishing. Going with a guided outfitter gives you a lot of chances you otherwise may not have, including access to areas maybe not open to the public or known. Fishing guides are their own culture and are a wealth of information. The worst thing you can do is book one and ignore them, listen to what they have to offer and you will be reeling in some tanks for sure. Of course trout are not the only fish in the area. The Salt river is known for its channel cats and there is very little in this world that is more fun than a day on the river in a boat slaying cats.
Fishing is of course not for everyone, and even those of us that DO enjoy fishing its nice to take a much needed break. After all your arm does need a break once in a while when you are filling a boat up with fish. So what better way to beat the summer heat and relax than floating down a lazy river in an inner tube. You will want to check with the local river guides to find the safest places and they will be sure to set you up right. If safe, and easy…if lazy is not your thing and you want a white knuckle experience, then book the services of one of the many local river guides for a whitewater experience. It will be an experience you and yours will not soon forget and above all its an absolute blast. Ripping down a raging river in the heat of the noon-day sun as white caps splash you as you bound and bob down the white water and rocks. It will get your adrenaline going and your heart pounding. With plenty of breaks in between to allow yourself time to breathe before your next rapid experience!
The White Mountain Apache Tribal lands offer the end user a ton of opportunity on the water. Fishing, relaxing, or ripping down a river. It makes no difference what you want, its here and available to you. So do not waste another second and start to plan your trip to this area. Guides for fishing and rivers are here to help or grab a map and do it yourself. Just be sure you double check the fishing and water regulations in the area so you stay legal and safe. As always, the best way to avoid trouble is to hire a local guide and to listen to them! Visit the White Mountains today!