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Black Canyon Lake is a lake the Arizona Game and Fish Department built in the 1960s along the Mogollon Rim to provide water recreation opportunities for the public. Despite being affected by the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski Fire, Black Canyon Lake remains a popular and beautiful spot for picnics, camping and fishing. Because of the fire, the entire area around Black Canyon Lake is open for day use only due to the danger of falling trees. The facilities are maintained by Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest division of the USDA Forest Service.
Situated at 7,000 feet (2,100 m), the lake is located 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Heber on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. To access, turn south on Forest Road 300 from Highway 260. Drive 2.4 miles (3.9 km) and turn east, or left, on Forest Road 86. Drive 3 miles (4.8 km) further to the lake turnoff. Access is restricted in the winter when roads are closed due to snow, generally December to early April.
Black Canyon Lake has 78 acres (32 ha), with a maximum depth of 60 feet (18 m) and an average depth of 35 feet (11 m). Like other Rim lakes, Black Canyon is deep, and historically has been low in nutrients. Because of nutrients from the fire and ash, Black Canyon Lake is now managed as a put-and-grow fishery. The Department stocks fingerlings, sub-catchable and catchable-sized rainbow trout in the spring and early summer, with additional catchables stocked in the fall. The lake also currently contains illegally introduced green sunfish and largemouth bass.
Fly fishing from a boat or float tube is a good way to catch large numbers of fish at this lake. Use prince nymphs, peacock ladies, hare’s ear nymphs or black, brown or green wooly buggers. You’ll get good surface bites in the evenings using dry flies. Trolling spinners early or late in the day would be a good way to go after some of the larger trout.
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