Nelson Reservoir

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  • Nelson Reservoir is located on Nutrioso Creek. It has 90 surface acres with a maximum depth of 24 feet and an average depth of 8 feet. When the lake stops spilling in the spring, it is stocked with up to 20,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout until Labor Day. Stocking may end sooner if water quality conditions become unfavorable. Nelson Reservoir is subject to algae blooms and excessive weed growth as summer progresses. The lake contains native bluehead suckers and illegally introduced black crappie and green sunfish. The lake once contained brown, cutthroat and brook trout, but none remain today.

    Anyone who’s driven from Springerville to Alpine has seen Nelson Reservoir. A long and narrow lake, it follows the Nutrioso Creek Valley for nearly a mile. Fish that remain in Nelson Reservoir after summer stockings can grow to good size, making it a popular fishing site with local anglers.

    When the lake is first stocked in late spring, just about anything works. Try spinners such as Panther Martins or Z-rays, artificial flies and bait, especially night crawlers. As the weather warms, fish deeper with bait rigs. In the fall and spring, try trolling with wooly bugger flies or Panther Martin spinners, or suspend a night crawler below a bobber. The south end of the lake can become difficult to fish in late summer because of weed growth.
  • GPS:
    Latitude: 34° 03' 21.86"N Longitude: 109° 11' 25.63"W
    Phone Numbers for more information::
    Alpine Ranger District (928) 339-5000
    Restrictions/Season of Use:
    May be closed in the winter from snow and ice on the roads
    Road Conditions:
    Paved. Hwy 191 that runs by Nelson Reservoir is almost never closed. Only the section that goes south of Alpine may close during the winter due to snow
    Land Ownership:
    Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
    Ranger Station/District:
    Alpine Ranger District (928) 339-5000
    Entrance Fees/Permits:
    No unless the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest has it posted otherwise
    Max Surface Acres:
    On average 60 acres
    River Lake Impounds:
    Nutrioso Creek
    Average Depth:
    15 feet
    Bag Limit:
    The bag limit is six trout; three for unlicensed anglers under the age of 14, from April 1 through August 31; however, there is no bag limit on rainbow and brown trout from September 1 through March 31.
    Boat/Engine Restrictions:
    Electric Trolling motors or a 10 horse max gas motor
    Boats to Rent:
    There is no camping near the lake; the nearest camping being the Alpine Divide campground approximately 11 miles south of the lake, just off of Highway 180/191.
    Trailer Spaces:
    Launching Area:
    Yes a paved launching area
    Water Skiing:
    Cleaning Stations:
  • Nelson Reservoir is just north of Hulsey lake on Hwy 191 in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest or about 10 miles south of Springerville on the 191

Recent User Reports and Reviews

  1. HookedAZ
    Mar 9, 2017
    Fishing for trout is good. Fish may have sores from a parasite called Lernaea, however they are safe to eat. No ice. Fishing from the piers is still possible.

User Comments

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  1. AGFD bio
    Hwy 191 that runs by Nelson Reservoir is almost never closed. Only the section that goes south of Alpine may close during the winter due to snow.
      HookedAZ likes this.