Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fishing The Rim: Willow Springs Lake

What a great weekend fishing on the Mogollon Rim! For those who don't know, the Mogollon Rim is the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau. The rim is one of the most unique geological features I've ever seen. It reminds me of a giant "stair step" because it rises straight-up thousands of feet and extends some 200 miles from Flagstaff to the White Mountains. On top, the rim is covered with pine trees. In fact, the Mogollon Rim has the largest stand of ponderosa pine in the United States. Pretty crazy when you think that just an hour (or less) drive south you're back in the desert. Up on the rim, it feels like you're much further north. And the lakes remind me of some of the lakes back home, surrounded by pine trees and full of animal life. With the beautiful scenery, great camping, lots of hiking trails, and the many lakes, it makes for a really great spot to spend the weekend, though I hear in the summer time its always packed.

Willow Springs Lake
Jimbo fishing on Willow Springs Lake
We got to fishing on Willow Springs Lake almost immediately. A short hike from the road brought us to a more remote section of the lake, away from the crowds of people fishing around the dock. We started off using Powerbait and were instantly rewarded. Jim caught one on his first cast. It took me a little longer, but I managed to get two that first day (to Jim's seven). Nothing huge mind you, just pan sized rainbow trout, but it was still a great time. 

Mogollon Rim camp
Mogollon Rim camp
We decided to brave the wind and camp on the rim, just a few feet from the edge. It was a really pretty spot, but very windy in the late afternoon. Luckily for us the wind died at dusk both days. For dinner that first night I cooked our day's catch in some aluminum foil over the fire. I stuffed the fish with onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and about a tablespoon of butter each. I've cooked trout this way a few times, and it always turns out delicious... Nothing beats fresh caught trout.

Cooking the day's catch
 We fished all day the next day and both of us slayed, especially Jim, who's Rainbow Powerbait proved to be what those trout favored. It was a great day of fishing and enjoying the bird life. There are tons of birds on those lakes and they are very active. We saw a great blue heron, ravens, duck, osprey, hawks, and even a bald eagle. At one point an Osprey swooped down right in front of us and snatched a trout up out of the water. It was so awesome! I actually heard its wings slicing through the air about 10 seconds before I saw it. A few minutes later I saw a fish floating belly up in the water. I trained my camera on the spot thinking the Osprey might come back, and he did (he missed the fish though). Unfortunately the pics didn't turn out very good, but it was such a cool thing to witness up close.

Osprey pulling up after a missed dive on that belly-up trout.

Overall it was a great trip. There weren't many people out on account of it being early in the season. I guess it is still too cold for most of the Phoenix crowd. I'm just glad I was able to bring some fish home, especially after getting skunked so much recently. Before I left for the trip Sarah looked at me and said rather seriously, "Bring me home some fish baby"... And I did just that.

My first catch on Sunday
Reference for Mogollon Rim info - http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/regions/southwestern/RimLakes/index.shtml

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