Fishing Big Lake Arizona is fantastic for hooking trout! And then cooking them up over your campfire. Does that sound like a plan?
We used to fish all the time. Not so much since retirement. But still like checking in with how anglers are doing at lakes we visit.
We remember the fun our son had, about 7-years old, reeling in sunfish & even trout! And the fun we had, plus the delish meals.
We'll get you the details and best tips about fishing at Big Lake in the White Mountains of Arizona. A wonderful setting.
Big Lake's shoreline goes for about 8 miles. Surface area about 575 acres.2
One season we parked ourselves at the shoreline fishing for crayfish (they're invasive) & caught tons of them! Cooked them up over our evening campfire for dinner.
Didn't do that again: wasn't thrilled with effort vs. reward! But fishing for FISH is altogether a different ratio!
From Pinetop-Lakeside, take 260E. Right turn onto Hwy.273. Then depending on your campground site, or boating intent, take one of these routes:
What types of fish will you catch at big lake? How can you get prepared to catch them? What are the best tips for catching these fish?
We have some insider Fishing Big Lake Arizona lowdown for you.
Big Lake is deeper than most in the area, averaging almost 16' deep. Mostly resulting from the dam bulwark elevation in 1953.
That helped keep weed growth in check. Weedy areas with increased aquatic growth are Railroad Cove, Marina Cove & South Cove.4
The water quality is stable, mostly contributed via area & local mountain snowmelt. Winds contribute to water blending, helping maintain adequate dissolved oxygen levels. Alga blooms have been minimal.4
However, keep in mind Drought Conditions. This has been affecting water levels, which also affects boat ramps.
Now considered the best area trout fishing lake.4
More anglers fish from the shoreline, than they do from various types of boats. There are three Boat Ramps, all accessible in high/normal water:4
Main Ramp adjacent to the Big Lake Store
South Cove - Usually serviceable at all water levels.
Arizona regulations must be followed when fishing at Big Lake.5
It's really important to be prepared. Know The Regulations when fishing Big Lake Arizona.
You'll love fishing for trout at Big Lake. Arizona Fish & Game stock the lake regularly. Rainbow and brook trout are favorite catches.1
Very young 3-4 weeker (150,000 fingerlings) Rainbow Trout are stocked each spring. In fall 40,000 older, but just under limit, Rainbows are stocked.4
Around springtime, yearly stocking for Cutthroat (60,000 fingerlings) & Brook trout (50,000 fingerlings).
But they adjust these numbers if need be, to get/keep their plan on track.4
Arizona Game and Fish Department has a Big Lake Management Plan for the years 2020 through 2030. They're emphasizing cold water sport fishery usage.
To promote that goal, they're stocking Rainbow, Cutthroat and Brook trout. In the past, they'd stocked Brown & Apache trout, also Artic Grayling, but no longer.
The want to ensure fishing success in Big Lake Arizona.
They'll survey, aiming for an angler catch rate of 1 Rainbow Trout per hour between May & September. They created a similar, but lower goal for Cutthroats & Brookies.
What it comes down to is keeping those coming to do fishing in Big Lake happy!
They want at least 80% satisfaction from Arizona anglers. Thus their aim is to assess what still needs to be done, developing plans for improvement.
That even includes educating people newer at fishing to be successful.
Many anglers have fantastic results fishing for trout at Big Lake. They have tips.4
Early Season - More shallow spots at the shoreline is the best bet. Trout like those areas scouting out minnows & crayfish that survived the winter.
Later in the Season - When it's warming up, go out farther for deeper water. They're also typically attracted to red-coloring in lures & flies.
What type of trout fishing at Big Lake Arizona?
Usual Pole Set-up - 4 to 6 lb. test line with 8 to 12 size hook.5
Bait Casting - What's often best is a bottom set-up with an 1/2 ounce egg-sinker.
Bobber With Your Spin Cast - This works best with non-floating baits like worms or salmon eggs.
Fly Fishing - In Big Lake Arizona, some fly lures & plugs work well.
Consistently freezing temperatures at Big Lake generally begin late autumn.
Big Lake begins icing up in December. The ice-over lasts through March, sometimes into April. Snowstorms can occur during this time, leading to road closures.4
Large snowpack with formidable snowdrifts impede traveler access to Highways 273 and 261. They typically reopen when finally plowed.
Therefore dependable opportunity to enter Big Lake is iffy at that time of year. In fact, until Big Lake ice melts, road crews are unlikely to plow these highways.4
However, ice fishing at Big Lake Arizona is fine if you can get there!
Ice fishing is doable at Big Lake, if you can get there.
How can you get there? Snowmobiles! Do you have one? Or if not, and are ambitious enough for this - you can rent one.
BIG LAKE ICE FISHING RULES:4
ICE FISHING SAFETY & NEEDS:
Nearby to Big Lake, is Reservation Lake, where this was filmed. Same kind of experience, using minimal equipment!
What is really needed, especially once experienced?
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