Heading North!

SLFFC members and one guest who attended the recent trip (left to right): Walt Woys, Tyson Warren, Dave Lott, Jeff English, Tom Larsen

Tom Larsen

As spring has rolled around the line, “I am heading north” has been heard frequently around Sun Lakes. This often means we are saying goodbye to friends who are part-time residents as they head back to summer homes. However, to the members of the Sun Lakes Fly Fishing Club (SLFFC), this statement has another meaning: “I am going fishing!”

Arizona is blessed with amazing biological diversity, including some excellent cold-water fisheries that produce several species of trout. Many of the most viable trout fisheries are located “up north” in the higher elevation parts of Arizona. Many of these fisheries are inaccessible during the winter months, so when the spring comes, trout anglers are eager to head out fishing.

A big benefit of the SLFFC is the shared passion for trout fishing and the willingness of members to share information with each other. During the springtime, members frequently take trips up north to pursue trout. Regardless of the location, or duration, members share trip information with each other and frequently travel to fishing sites together. Members share details about fishing locations, tactics, guides, and places to stay.

I had the pleasure to join several club members in May for a trip to Fish Camp at Christmas Tree Lake on the White Mountain Apache Tribe Reservation. This location is quite unique. The state fish of Arizona is the Apache Trout and the only state in the union that has them is Arizona. Their range is extremely limited, and Christmas Tree Lake is one of the best places to catch them.

The Apache Tribe runs a fish camp in May of each year. The camp includes a license to fish the reservation, access to the lake, lodging in wall tents heated by wood stoves, use of boats with electric motors, and three meals a day for a two-and-a-half-day camp. The camp closes in late May, but limited daily fishing permits are available later in the year. Check the tribe’s website at wmatoutdoor.org for more information.

What a great trip! We did not catch a lot of fish, but we had an excellent time. We had ospreys and eagles competing for the fish, ducks and geese sharing the lake, and a herd of elk wandering around. Evenings brought great camaraderie and more stars in the night sky than most city dwellers know exist, all capped off with campfires burning local ponderosa pine logs. What an adventure!

In addition to keeping our lines wet, the SLFFC supports the disabled veterans with Arizona Veterans Fly Fishing (www.azveteransff.org) by hosting different events for the veterans throughout the year. If you have fly fishing gear that’s no longer being used and would like to donate it, please contact George Abernathy at [email protected] or 490-521-1060.

The SLFFC’s philosophy is to bring people together who want to fly fish; no red tape, no politics, catch and release, just wet your lines and go hunting. Be an experienced caster or new to fly fishing, you’re welcome to our club.