Big Lake

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  • Big Lake is one of Arizona's highest-altitude angling destinations and features fishing that leaves you wondering if it's the 9,000-foot altitude or the fishing that leaves you breathless.

    Big Lake came to be in 1930 when a dam was constructed on the East Fork of the Black River. Part of the old Apache National Wildlife Refuge, it was originally intended as a water fowl project. Because the dam was only 10 feet high at that time, winter kills were common. To remedy the situation the Arizona Game and Fish Department doubled the height of the dam and by 1965 the lake was full.

    Anglers who prefer artificial lures might start with a Z-Ray. gold or silver finishes with some sort of red or orange coloring work extremely well. When you troll, a limit is almost a certainty if you use a brown Wooly Worm on the end of cowbells. Wet flies are a pretty good bet.. -G.J Sagi, from the travel handbook Fishing Arizona

    Big Lake also has Brook Trout and Cutthroat Trout. You can also expect to catch a great deal of craw dads if you want some appetizers. I caught a 5 gallon bucket full of them one time with my two buddies. We put some cheese and a rock in a square of gauze and tied it to some fishing line. The craw dads get there claws stuck in the gauze. You can eat them or use them for bait. -Tom

    • Big Lake is 50-percent ice-covered and there is minimal fishing from shore -- boats are not able to be launched.
  • GPS:
    the gps for Big Lake trail is Latitude: 33° 53' 4.80"N Longitude: 109° 24' 54.88"W
    Phone Numbers for more information::
    Game and Fish (928)367-4281
    Restrictions/Season of Use:
    Big Lake is open from May to November
    Road Conditions:
    Paved to dirt
    Land Ownership:
    Big Lake is owned by the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest
    Ranger Station/District:
    Pinetop Game and Fish (928)3674281 or the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest at (928)333-4301
    Entrance Fees/Permits:
    You will need a White Mountains pass available on this site coming soon.
    The elevation at Big Lake is 9000 feet
    Max Surface Acres:
    Average Depth:
    The depth at Big Lake 26 ft
    Bag Limit:
    There will posted signs for bag limits on Rainbow and Apache trout
    Boat/Engine Restrictions:
    You can only have a 10 horse motor on this lake
    Boats to Rent:
    You can rent boats at Big Lake and a lot of the other lakes of the White Mountains
    Big Lake has a several nearby campgrounds
    Barrier free Access:
    Trailer Spaces:
    Yes. Big Lake is a great place to bring a trailer
    Launching Area:
    Water Skiing:
    Cleaning Stations:
    No marinas at Big Lake
  • Located in the White Mountains, Big Lake is south of Springerville off the 273. Go west on the one of the exit to get to the lake. There are a few different roads to take to the west depending on what side of the lake you want to land on. Be sure to check ahead if your going in the winter because many of the road close do to ice. The Lake is at 9,000 feet you it is fairly common. There is snow mobile access though in the winter and most of the roads are paved.

User Comments

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  1. Sandra Bohannan
    What pound test is recommended for trolling as well as anchored fishing? Any suggestions on test brand/color etc., would be appreciated. Any additional advice welcome! Thanks kindly!