Brian Westfall Sr. Casting on the Black River, Arizona

Brian Westfall’s, both Jr. and Sr., Ben Manahan, and I spent four mid-May days backpacked into the heart of darkness – Arizona’s Black River. The hike is always a challenge and seems more so every year.

Yet the rewards can make you feel young. Scores of fish will do that to you.

Black River AZ Rainbow Trout Back

Black River AZ Brown Trout

Black River AZ Brown Trout

Many techniques were  effective. Nymphing would take fish all day, but larger flies drew vicious strikes. Both Tim Oliver’s Rubber-legged, Mid-bead Simi Seal leeches and Josh Owens’ Black River Bugs drove them crazy. We are fortunate to have them as shop tyers.

Towards late afternoon pale duns, baetis, and other bugs came off prompting the fish to look up. Appropriately-sized attractors fooled ’em.

Mayfly on Pine Tree Black River AZ

The aches and pains will fade away, but the moments spent in the backcountry hiking, fishing, and hanging around the campfire with friends will prevail.

Black River AZ Rainbow Release