Another Southwest Desert Story

For months the wife and I have been planning a vacation trip to Myrtle Beach.  However, Florence had something to say about that so it was a last minute scramble to change our plans.  This was not going to be an all-out fishing vacation but I knew I would be able to get a couple of days in.  I asked the wife what she thought about Arizona again.  I had a score to settle with the Sonora Sucker that is already 6 years old so perhaps now is the time for that.  The wife liked the idea so I did my homework.  The first stop would be Show Low, AZ where the state fish (Apache Trout) resides.  I found a little creek that receives some stocking so this was my starting point.

Silver Creek

A beautiful stream meanders through the upland prairie, something that looks similar to one of our lazy midwestern streams.  The area seemed semi-arid but the higher elevations grew fewer cacti than what you would see around the Phoenix area.  A few anglers had already beat me there but it didn't take long before I had three Apaches in the net.

It was only 8:30am so I had a choice to keep going for more and bigger Apaches or make the hour drive to Woods Canyon to try for another fish on my personal bucket list; the Tiger Trout.  AZ fish and game have been stocking two canyon lakes with these fish along the Mogollan Rim.  It's a beautiful area to visit.  I had until 1pm to get the job done while the wife caught up with her beauty rest at the hotel, so it was game on.

Mogollan Rim

It took awhile to find them and they were not biting easily either but they liked to chase my wooly bugger.  And before long I connected three times with these beautifully marked Tigers.

I was jacked to get these 2 species in half a day of fishing.  I would now have to let the wife do a few things.  So, on to Page, AZ we went.  Just a few points of interest along the Colorado River would be Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell. 

The ranger told me that 3 people had fallen off this cliff this year already.  It's hard to believe but I suppose you mix a little alcohol and go for a daring photo with 7,000 visitors a day and you are bound to have an occassional accident. 

The scenery on Lake Powell was amazing.  We ended up taking a 50 mile boat ride up the canyon.  If time would have allowed I would have liked to fish it.  You could see stripers and carp swimming all over.  

Now it was time to return to Phoenix and get a day to chase them Sonoras again that I have been dreaming about. 

I just love walking through these Suguaro forests to get to the fishing holes.  What unique critters will I find?  On the look out for Rattlesnakes and whatever else might sting.  And don't forget to bring a few bottles of water with you.  Hat tip to Surfraider for the spots and tips.  Surfraider would later be able to meet up with me.  

The Verde looked amazing!  After I negotiated the quarter mile hike through unfamiliar desert country all alone, I reach what I thought to be good looking water for Sonoras.  I was right as I connected with my first one but was soon disappointed as I tried to get the beefy Sonora without a net, it came off.  Then I hooked up with a second one and thought I would just try to hoist the sucker on the bank.  Again fish lost!  Now the disappointment is setting in.  Why did I forget the net in the car???  Argh!!!!  About a half hour passes by and I'm wondering if I will ever connect again when the rod starts tapping again.  Fish on!  And I am able to carefully land it.  Yes, my first Sonora Sucker!!!

Then Surfraider shows up and I am able to catch a couple more beautiful Sonoras.

Then perhaps the highlight of the day, as if it could get better, we see a Gila Monster walking around.  He appears to be a smaller one, maybe 2 feet long.  I didn't realize how rare these magnificent beasts were until Surfraider said that it was his first one to see in the wild.  It was absolutely the cherry on the top for me.  We were able to get a few pics before it got away into the brush.

What a memorable trip this has been.  Thanks again to Surfraider for his expertise and help.  Amazing trip!!!


Species List:


Glad to final meet you and happy that you got your Sonorans.  I am happier still that we got to see that Gila monster. 

BradleyR's picture

Great report, thanks for sharing :) Those are some really cool trout, and I didn't realize how awesome Sonoran's looked! Might need to go to AZ now lol

Mike B's picture

Great report C&B. I spent some time in Arizona long before I knew about Sonora suckers and roundtail chub. Would love to go again and do it right. Glad you did. Some nice fish, and found a gila monster. How cool is that!

mike b

andy's picture

Those 2 salmonids are super cool, and a Gila monster to boot.  Great trip, thanks for sharing!

Deftik's picture

Sick stuff C&B always enjoy reading your stuff. That Apache trout had me drooling.

Eli's picture

Great stuff. Very cool fishies




Cast_and_Blast's picture

Thanks guys.  I always enjoy taking the time for a quality report here.  It appears that I fled Arizona in just the right time with all the flash flooding and all they are now experiencing.  Sometimes timing can really work in your favor.   

Matt Miller's picture

I love spending time outdoors in Arizona, looking for new critters whether mammal, bird, fish or reptile. I did a fishing trip last year and caught Apache trout, Gila trout, Sonoran sucker and some exotic species near Phoenix.

I have yet to catch a tiger trout and it's on my list too! Nice job.

The Gila monster would have to be one of my "most want to see" North America critters. I thought it was about as difficult as finding a snow leopard. Good to know they can be found!

Great stuff. I love reading reports like this.

Hengelaar's picture

Great stuff, Mr. C&B!
Wow, seeing that country takes me back. True words about that special feeling you get, walking amongst those majestic Saguaros. I can almost smell the smells of the desert again...

Fishn sure is neat

The Tiger Trout is a beautiful fish!

Jeff Pavlik