I am going to PHX for business Jun 12-18 and am hoping to do some trout fishing over the weekend. I'm willing to travel a bit (up to 4 hours) and spend the night away from PHX. Also willing to hire a guide if necessary. Does anyone have any suggestions?
There are many trout streams and lakes within 4 hours of Phoenix--not really in the "Phoenix area", but definitely within a 4 hour radius. What kind of fishing are you looking to do? Lakes, rivers, small streams, trout parks, go after wild big browns, catch a native Apache trout, etc?
Thanks for the reply. Probably looking for small stream trout fishing. The idea of catching a native apache is appealing. Based on a little internet research it seems the White Mountain area might be my best bet. Do you know anything about that area?
Your very best bet is Lee's Ferry on the Colorado. You drive to Marble canyon and cross the river then drive North into the park. There are motels and a Campground. You need to contact Lee's Ferry Angles. Take a look at their WEB page. It will give you all kinds of information. Terry and Wendy Gunn are world class fly fishers. I have fished with Lee's Ferry Angles several times. They operate a fleet of jet boats and all the guides know the river. You can rent an outboard jet for around $100 a day. That is a good way to go but you need to have some experience with a jet boat.
One bonus is fishing the river from Lee's Ferry landing up to the dam at Lake Powell. A lot of history and fishing the deep canyon is a different experience. There is limited fishing with out a boat. You have maybe a half mile of fishable water that you can wade. We use to drive up the first day and wade fish that evening. Then take a guide the next day.
The trip is about 315 miles and you might not want to go that far.
The White Mountains are the one area I fished the least when I lived in that area, but there are a number of streams in that area that are managed for Apache trout. I've heard that the Black River is excellent, but there are many other nice streams in that region. I fished Cibeque once and it was nice, but I didn't catch a whole lot of fish-that's the extent of my experience on the Reservation, unfortunately. You'll need a daily permit from the tribe, but these are easy to obtain. I'd recommend picking up a copy of Rex Johnson's book, Arizona Trout: A Fly Fishing Guide, for the info that I'd get crucified for posting on a public forum. Some of the neatest trout streams in Arizona aren't regularly stocked, and are small enough that if too many people went there, even if one in ten of them were taking fish home with them, the result would be no more game fish in these streams. BTW- there's also some Apache trout-holding streams off the Reservation, in the southeast portion of the state (PM me for details if you're interested), but the biggest Apache trout water is on the Reservation.
Frank, I agree Lee's Ferry is some of the finest big trout fishing in the state, and it's about 4 hours, if I remember correctly, from Phoenix so it's do-able. There are some huge Rainbows there, and lots of them too- I heard the density is nearly 50,000 fish per mile, and there's 15 miles of prime river there.
However, there are some detractors- at least from what I found when I lived in Arizona. Like you pointed out, the wadeable fishing is very limited, and it's a huge, fast river to wade in, at the walk-in section, so a boat is pretty much a necessity. There are no real hatches there. Midges, scuds and San Juan worms work year round, which simplifies things; however, the largest fish tend to hit the smallest flies that can be dead drifted for the longest distance, which is another challenge. The river level fluctuates throughout the day so you'll sometimes be fishing across more than one deep channel, so as not to get stranded on some shoal in the middle of the river- dead drifting skills are put to the test here. Since a boat is required, and a guide is a good idea, this adds money to the endeavor- although the guide increases your chances of success and your chances of NOT ruining your propeller on an unpredicted rock and accidentally being sent down into the Grand Canyon, which is something to keep in mind here- however money is money, and with the economy and gas prices the way they are, this can be a real concern for some people.
The alternative to Lee's Ferry that I found when I lived in Arizona was to fish some of the "smaller", (unnameable on public forums) streams in the Rim area of the state. I have caught 17-22" rainbow and brown trout on woolly buggers from streams that I could easily walk across- though of course it's the deeper pools of these step-across streams that hold the largest fish. Instead of having to use small flies and excellent line control, I've found that little skill is required to catch even large trout in small streams, which I think is because of comparatively light fishing pressure and perhaps also the inherent scarcity of food resources in physically limited ecosystems like small streams.
I missed hsmith's comment about fishing small streams. Your experience was much like mine at Lee's Ferry. I didn't spend much time on the high country streams. All my effort went into fishing from Lee's Ferry. One year I had the second largest rainbow caught fishing with Lee's Ferry Anglers.
Most of the up river fishing is from sand bars. That makes the wading a lot easier. It is a great fishery.
I should probably say that when I lived in Flagstaff, it was as a college student, so the theme of my experiences flyfishing around there was that I had lots of time for it but very little money for it. Lees Ferry was almost always out of reach for me, but fortunately there is some really good fishing in the high country. The guide book I mentioned can vastly increase your chances of finding a small stream that will have some big fish in it. The key is either light fishing pressure (remote locality, or if it used to be stocked but isn't anymore), or if a stream is associated with a lake, such as below the spillway, or upstream from the lake proper.
-Second largest rainbow with Lees Ferry Anglers.- Not bad at all, Frank!
Thanks to all for the info. Based on what y'all have said and info from the AZ flyfishing site I'm looking at a guided trip to the White Mt. area to try for apache trout. I appreciate the input and will report on the trip when I return.