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A Tale of Two Lakes – Fall Fishing Guest Report

Image of Big Lake
Fall on Mt Baldy across Big Lake

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…..” – Charles Dickens, opening of A Tale of Two Cities

As John mentioned in a previous post, this summer had some of the worst water conditions up here on The Mountain I can remember. It sure is nice to see improvement with the arrival of fall….and it really crashed the party.

On 10/14/18 I fished Big Lake and today, 10/16/18, I hit Horseshoe Cienega.

I heard that South Cove of Big Lake was fishing well. I did not find that to be true this past Sunday, but did find fish near the mouths of Railroad and the adjacent cove. After offering the standard fare of nymphs and midges, I had better luck with dark colored Simi Seal Buggers. One really nice one slipped away, but I did get about a half dozen into the net in the 13-15″ class. They were fat and hard fighting.

Image of fish in net
Fish in Net

Today on Horseshoe Cienega was the opposite. They wanted the midges and were short striking the buggers. I was fishing large zebra midges and while orange and copper was the hot color, the tried and true black and silver worked as well.

Image of Rainbow Trout
Rainbow
Image of released rainbow trout
Rainbow Release

They were really hammering the midges off the dam. At first I was fishing them under an indicator, but eventually was just casting them out on a floating line and using a hand-twist retrieve. Several of the takes darn near ripped the rod out of my hand.

One word of caution, watch out and be prepared for weather!

image of Horseshoe Cienega
View Across Horseshoe
Image of snowpacked road
Snowpacked Road

So glad summer is over.

-Mike McLaughlin

Posted on

Hey All

Well….I hope you all enjoy the new site as much as I do.  Thanks to web master, Mike McLaughlin for the new look.  I know it was a lot of work and I’m sure he’s glad it’s done.  Still a few tweaks going on but the majority of the work is behind him.

I have been asked why no reports were going up this past Summer.  Our lakes and streams are as low or lower than I have ever seen…and I’ve been fishing up here since the 60’s.  I did not feel it was in the best interest of all of us for me to encourage people up.  The trout fishing in the lakes was spotty and really took a turn for the worse in August.  Big, Carnero and Luna all suffered some kill, not total but bad enough that I left them alone and tried new and different stuff.  Surprisingly some of the lakes fished well the whole time…you may have had to use some new techniques but the fish were still there and very healthy.  Pacheta and Earl Park fished really well.  In fact on Pacheta it was like shooting fish in a barrel.  They were really concentrated but in good shape and fought hard.

One good thing that happened was I had to adjust and try different approaches.  I am not a real big fan of indicator fishing.  I don’t have the patience to watch a bobber to see if it is going to make a move on still water.  Moving water is different but let’s not waste time getting into that.  I started naked nymphing in earnest and really enjoyed it.  I can fish as deep as 25 ft and still feel takes.  It makes me feel more like I’m fishing the fly instead of the bobber.  On several occasions where others were indicator fishing and catching small fish, I was constantly getting into bigger ones on the bottom….and most importantly…it was fun!  I had to make up new flies that rode with the hook up and came up with a new pattern that has worked for me everywhere I have gone…not every time but to the point on several occasions where it was working better than the usual patterns.  I caught rainbows, browns, bluegill, smallies and even a walleye on it.  You can also strip it if they are chasing.

I was able to hit Show Low lake and fish it the whole month of September when most of our trout lakes were suffering “Dog Days” and did well.  The lake was clear and only a 10 minute drive from my house.  One of my goals when I moved up here was to try and figure out the local lakes (Show Low and Fools Hollow) for smallies, largies and walleye.  I tried hard the first two years and mostly blanked.  I caught some fish but really had no pattern as to what I was doing.  I feel like I really made some progress this year.  It’s nice when you feel you’ve figured something out and you know what to expect when you hit the water.  I feel that way a lot with trout but bass are a different story.  October hit, the weather cooled and the fish moved.  Now I have to go find them again and figure out what will get them to open their mouths.  That is the fun of fishing anyway…figuring things out.

We have already had our first good snow up here.  More supposed to get here in a couple days.  Let’s hope it is a good wet Winter and another and another!!!!  I plan on hitting the trout lakes until they get hard and then it’s striper/bass time.  You gotta love AZ.  There is fishing all year long here.  You may have to travel a bit but it’s there….Have a great Fall fishing season.

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Big Lake

We had probably the best Becker Best Days this Saturday that we’ve had.  We finally hit it where Mother Nature was kind to us….thank you Madam.  Fishing was a bit tough at the lake but that has been the situation this whole Spring/Summer.  The fish are there and very healthy but are not quite as friendly as usual.

I hit Big Lake the following day with Tim for a few hours.  I landed five nice cutt’s stripping a small flashback bh pt.  Tim caught as many or more under an indicator.  The spawn is all but over and the fish are moving back out to deeper water.  Several of the fish I caught dropped eggs that were already starting to be absorbed.  Tim had the same experience.

The rains are pretty steady.  Monsoon is strong so far.  Let’s hope it continues.  It’s only going to help the lakes some…probably not much, but any new water is good.