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Thu, Aug. 06

Area lakes full, stocked and ready to fish
Wet, wet winter creates awesome fishing locally

Williams resident Bob Kimball casts out enjoying a relaxing morning at City Dam beyond Buckskinner Park. Most of Williams¹ surrounding lakes are now fully open and are being stocked for fish.

Williams resident Bob Kimball casts out enjoying a relaxing morning at City Dam beyond Buckskinner Park. Most of Williams¹ surrounding lakes are now fully open and are being stocked for fish.

Words circulated last month that the Arizona Game and Fish Department would not be stocking the lakes surrounding Williams this spring but in actuality, the AGFD is already one step ahead.

"It's not true at all, actually we've already been stocking the Williams lakes," said AGFD Fisheries Program Manager Scott Reger in late April.

According to a tentative stocking schedule compiled in March, the months of May and June show Cataract, Whitehorse, Dogtown and Kaibab Lakes having been stocked twice. Williams City Dam will be stocked as well, but along with Santa Fe, officials must wait until both stop spilling over to stock them.

Williams lakes will continue to be regularly stocked through September according to the document and AGFD Fishery Specialist Chuck Benedict says it's all Rainbow trout.

All the fresh trout are catchables, which means they are at least 10 inches. In general, the limit is six in any one fishing excursion, except for the Elk, Middle, Perkins, and JD tanks. Those areas are all-release/no-kill and anglers must fish by fly or lure only, using single barbless hooks.

As far as tips for the casual catcher, Benedict suggests using something bright.

"When they're stocking them fresh in the spring, I like to use flashy lures, myself," Benedict offers. "They seem attracted to the brighter, flashy lures."

John Weatherhead, of Sportway Supplies in Williams, offers a few more suggestions. He reports trout customers are getting results using chartreuse or sherbet-orange Power Bait, but that earthworms and millworms are also doing well.

Weatherhead also reports that trout aren't the only fish to be found in Williams lakes. Catfish anglers are getting their fair share at Cataract and Kaibab with the typical baits, such as chicken liver. In addition, Weatherhead has begun making his own catfish bait made from local materials, but says the exact recipe is a family secret.

Crappie have picked up as well at the McClellan Dam and at Kaibab.

There are, of course, several different ways of fishing to get your catch. Many enjoy fly-fishing, some spin and others bait. Weatherhead says that there isn't necessarily one general method that is better than the rest, but rather the most successful method is whichever one an angler has the most experience with.

"It's a lot like hunting," Weatherhead explains. "If you know how to use it, you'll do well."

He added that children or inexperienced fishers should probably use bobbers when lake fishing so they have something to keep their eye on. Bobbers, he said, also often keep kids from getting bored.

Currently, Whitehorse, Kaibab, and Dogtown Lakes are all open with full camping allowances. City Dam ‹ accessible through Buckskinner Park ‹ is regularly open for day use only and offers no camping except for special events permitted by the city.

Cataract Lake remains day use walk-in only and is closed to camping. Kaibab National Forest Spokesperson Cathie Schmidlin says wet weather and the replacement of a restroom facility are keeping Cataract closed, but that officials are hoping to open it within one week.

At the same time, the Forest Service is warning Dogtown/Whitehorse/Kaibab users that crews have been removing piles of leftover thinning debris at each location. Since removal includes chipping and hauling, disturbances will occur.

Schmidlin is also warning users to stay away from the piles for both obvious safety and other reasons.

"The wood, although tempting, should not be used for campfires since most of it is still green, and we want children to stay away from the piles for safety," Schmidlin explained.

Fishing and hunting licenses are available in Williams at Kaibab Lake through area concessionaires Southwest Recreation between 4 and 5 p.m. seven days per week. Ask the campground hosts for more information or call 699-1239. Otherwise, licenses can be obtained online at the Sportway Supplies Web site at www.bullsn5a@aol.com or on the AGFD Web site at www.azgfd.gov.

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