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.