Northern AZ has a surprisingly good trout population. Mostly lakes but plenty of small streams with plenty of brown trout populations. This trip was a short one as the goal was to get across the imaginary line that would require a new license. So I hit one of the high country lakes at 9000’ for a one nighter. I pulled into the lake campground, quickly threw all my gear out and semi organized it to resemble a camp of some kind, just enough so someone wouldn’t take my spot, and started pumping up the pontoon. I made it to the lake late in the afternoon just in time to see the daily monsoon begin to creep over the mountain top and toward the lake. There was a little surface activity and a lot of weeds. This was my first time on this lake so I didn’t really have a plan but managed to squeak out a couple small rainbows within an hour before it started to rain lightly. Pretty proud of myself that I could still manage to catch a trout or two. I made a couple more casts in the increasing downpour thinking I would stick it out to see if it stopped. But at the first lightning strike in the distance I decided the fish weren’t biting at all and made my best jet ski impression with the oars and got off the lake.
The next day started out slow, but ended up awesome. After the sun was up for a while it became clear the damsel fly hatch was full blast and fish were leaping everywhere on the lake trying to catch the adults as they hovered over the water. I fished damsel nymphs shallow but all my fish came on dries. No complaints. In the afternoon, whenever cloud cover hit the lake fish began surfacing everywhere in every direction. I mean everywhere. The entire lake looked like one huge striper boil. When the sun returned, the action stopped completely in an eerie stillness.
I found myself not casting during the sunny periods but looking up and trying to time the next cloud to drift by. Then it was a crazy frenzy of casting, catching and unhooking fast to cast again. It was one of those rare spectacular events of nature that I rarely get to witness. Very awesome. The big fish of the trip ended up as an 18” rainbow, which is very respectable for this lake but the highlight was the two newly installed tiger trout that hit and fought like beasts. Beautiful, yet strange looking fish. I like ‘em…
As much as I hated to leave such a great place, at midday I packed up camp, got in the truck, and with the windshield wipers going full blast, plotted the route to the next stop….