As the temperatures drop, fall fishing is heating up! Here’s the latest fishing report for some of our favorite waters.
Lee’s Ferry: HOT
After a summer full of unprecedented high flows, the Colorado River below Glen Canyon dam is now consistently running well under 10,000 CFS. What does this mean for Arizona anglers? Great wading conditions and hot fishing. Fish double tungsten zebra midge rigs in shallow water using size 16-18 flies. Dries are still productive as well, especially in the late afternoon. Try tying on cicada imitations or other big bug imitators like an orange stimulator with rubber legs. Other Lee’s Ferry favorites include gray scuds and San Juan worms.
Rim Creeks: Excellent
Less than 2 hours from the Phoenix metro, the Mogollon Rim boasts some of the best cold water in the state. Success on Rim creeks often comes down to presentation and stealth. Be wary of movement and shadow and make a plan before committing to a cast. Try fishing dry dropper rigs with terrestrials or Hi-Viz foam caddis. Smaller tungsten pheasant tails and prince nymphs are a good choice for droppers.
Keep an eye out for fall storms. A brief period of rain on the Rim is often enough to stir up the water and trigger more predatory strikes from the wild browns. In these conditions, try stripping or swinging woolly buggers, leeches, and small streamers. Try swinging with a sinking line. Unfamiliar with the streams up on the Rim? Stop in the shop today to plan your next adventure!
Oak Creek: Excellent
Oak Creek is fishing well. Dry droppers are still catching fish this time of year. Bead headed hare's ears and flashback pheasant tails are a good bet under your dropper. Focus on bugs size 16-18. As the weather continues to cool, try swinging and stripping streamers, like a Beldar Bugger, through the larger pools for pre-spawn browns. Focus on using darker patters in black, olive, or gray. During high sun in the afternoon, drifting leeches can be a productive method when fish are finicky. Remember to pack a few extra layers – the head of the canyon gets quite a bit cooler than the lower sections near Sedona. Our favorite? The Free Fly Bamboo Heritage Fleece Hoodie.
Silver Creek: HOT
Open for the season and stocked with some monster trout, Silver Creek is where you want to go for a big rainbow. The fish are usually a bit more aggressive earlier in the season, so now is the time to hit Silver Creek. Use indicator rigs with small flies that have a bit of color, like a blood red chironomid. San Juan worms, squirmy worms, eggs, and leeches are all a good choice. If fish are on the surface, try casting parachute midges in sizes 20-22. Don’t forget a quality net!
Be sure to read regulations carefully. Fishing is catch and release only on Silver Creek from October 1 to March 31. Single barbless hooks are required.
Black River: Excellent
Hidden in the White Mountains, the Black River is an excellent spot to chase wild trout. Larger streamers in dark colors (olive, tan, gray) are starting to produce bigger browns during their pre-spawn bite. Now is the time to throw something big, like a Jawbreaker. Fishing weighted stonefly nymphs is a productive technique, especially when water levels are high. Target smallmouth bass with crayfish patterns and darker streamers.
White Mountain Lakes: Good
Fishing is generally hot in the high country this time of year. Try fishing streamers off of deeper points, especially during low-light hours. Crayfish patterns are often productive. If you’re planning to fish streamers, make sure to use a sinking line to get flies into the strike zone. When fish are on the surface, a Griffiths’ Gnat is always a good choice. If fishing under an indicator, chironomids and leeches are great patterns to use. Try fishing near structure and lake points and very slowly retrieving these rigs.
Verde River: Good
Rainbow trout stocking is underway below Dead Horse Ranch. One of only two Wild and Scenic Rivers in Arizona, the Verde can be an excellent fishery. Try fishing a bead head Pop's Bugger in dark colors and swinging soft hackles. This overlooked stretch of river is only a short drive from Phoenix and offers quality trout and bass fishing opportunities.
San Juan: Good
Ready for a weekend trip? One of the best tailwaters in the country is only a half-day drive from Phoenix. If fishing under an indicator, use small midge larvae, pupa, and emergers in sizes 20-24. Make sure you have enough weight to get these tiny flies into the strike zone. If fish are just under the surface, try a hatching midge in sizes 16-18. Don’t be afraid to swing streamers through the riffles and runs. We like a size 10 Squirrel Leech in orange. Remember: barbless and single hooks are required. The water gets frigid in this desert tailwater; make sure to pack a warm pair of waders if fishing from shore. We love the Orvis Pro Zipper waders.
Salt River: Good
Rainbow trout stocking is up and running on the Salt. Try stripping woolly buggers through the larger pools and drifting scuds and hare’s ears through runs. Dark colored tungsten midges size 16-18 are a good bet as well. Keep an eye out for a BWO hatch in the early mornings. Besides trout, the lower Salt has a good largemouth bass population. Bass will hit woolly buggers as well and will often rise for small poppers in the mornings and evenings. A bead head Simi Seal Leech in size 8-10 is a good pattern for multiple species. Water flows remain at their summer levels, making sight fishing for carp and suckers more difficult. The Salt is a great place to practice your fly casting. Interested in picking up some expert casting tips? Check out our workshops.
Dead Horse Ranch: Good
Rainbow trout stocking is scheduled to begin in mid-October. This state park has great access and is an awesome spot to learn how to fly fish or hone your casting skills. Anglers can enjoy catching multiple species, including rainbow trout, channel catfish, largemouth bass, and bluegill. Slowly stripping wooly buggers and leeches is a great technique to hook up with multiple types of fish. Colorful egg patterns and mop flies will catch fish as well.
Clear water is here on our urban canals. When targeting carp, bright-colored egg patterns, like a Glo Bug size 10 in chartreuse, work well. If actively feeding on the surface, fish will often take a dry fly like a hopper or stimulator. Leech patterns are excellent as well, and can be swung in the current when the water clarity drops. Remember: keep your distance and cast well in front of feeding fish. Targeting carp on the fly can be quite thrilling and is often only steps away from your front door! Pro tip: hop on a bike to maximize the amount of water you cover. Stay out of the sun with our staff favorite shirt!