Since moving to this state I have heard stories and read accounts of the White Mountain Apache Reservation and the miles of trout water that can be found there. Pete and I spent Thursday and Friday driving around, getting lost, and sampling several different locations found in the heart of the Reservation. Having never been to that part of the state and armed with a few very inaccurate maps, our goal was to see what was there and really get our bearings for future trips. The fishing was slow and much time was lost trying to figure out where we were and where we were going but in my opinion the trip was a success.
Our first stop was on the North Fork of the White River where we first set up camp and hiked up from the campground in the afternoon. Our first hint about the fishing should have been the large numbers of campers there on a Thursday with more than a few with a stringer full of trout. Most of the sites were full and even though we walked a mile or two we only had a few hookups a piece with no fish brought to the net. The evening was spent around a campfire discussing the following day’s options. We awoke for coffee and found that we had two large steers as breakfast guests. After breaking down camp we made our way to a small stream (shown above) flowing from one of the high mountain lakes and spent an hour or more exploring the canyon.
One small rainbow came out to play in a stream that looked unable to support any life whatsoever. We climbed out the canyon, had a bite to eat and blundered our way to Earl Park, a fly fishing designated catch and release lake. The time that we spent fishing this lake was not ideal being in the middle of the afternoon. We stayed at the lake for roughly three hours but the wind was so steady and miserable, we opted to check out one more spot before we embarked on our trip home. The East Fork of the White River was by far the most appealing piece of water that we stepped foot into with perfect pocket water and a multitude of bugs coming off the water. Despite these near perfect conditions, we did not have any luck connecting on any fish and darkness soon pushed us back to the truck and onto the road for the long ride back to town.
Overall, this trip to arguably one of the most beautiful spots in Arizona did not turn out like I had imagined. In planning, I had envisioned multitudes of fish being brought to my net, but that was not to be the case. Instead, much of our time was spent driving and scouting the area that was largely unmarked which made it difficult to accurately navigate the confusing backroads of the reservation. In the end, the experience and information gathered over the two days was extremely beneficial and I look forward to getting back to the White Mountains to put that information to good use.