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Loved by fly fishermen and breath-taking in its setting, Lee Valley Lake sparkles below the flanks of Mount Baldy.
At 9,418 feet (2,871 m) in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, as such the facilities located here are managed by that authority, Lee Valley Lake is Arizona's highest elevation reservoir. It is located approximately one hour's drive from Pinetop, using Highways 260 and 273 and Forest Road 113. Access is restricted in the winter when roads are closed due to snow, generally December to early April.
Lee Valley Lake has 35 acres (14 ha) with a maximum depth of 20 feet (6.1 m) and an average depth of 9.5 feet (2.9 m). It's located on Lee Valley Creek, an Apache trout recovery stream. The Apache trout is Arizona’s official state fish. The creek naturally flows into the East Fork of the Little Colorado River, however, the spillway directs overflow to the West Fork of the Little Colorado River. Both streams are also designated for Apache trout recovery, thus Lee Valley Lake finds itself at the heart of three Apache trout recovery streams and is managed accordingly. By a fortunate set of circumstances, the Department is able to provide anglers with one-of-a-kind fishing opportunities. The Arizona Game and Fish Department owns water rights in the lake, so water levels can be maintained. The lake is stocked with catchable-sized and subcatchable Apache trout several times a year. Some of these fish overwinter, reaching a good size the following spring.
Lee Valley Lake can only be fished with artificial lures and flies. Float tubes are popular and easy to use at this lake; however, fishing success from shore is comparable to fishing from a float tube or a boat. Lee Valley holds the state record for Arctic grayling. Either ends of the dam are good places to fish from shore. Fly-fishing is probably the most productive technique at this lake. Wet flies to try are hare's ear nymphs, small peacock ladies and prince nymphs in sizes 14 to 16. Just before dark, surface action is quite good with dry flies, such as small Adams, mosquito or midge larvae, and light Cahills in sizes 16 to 20. Spinning lures to try are small Panther Martin, small Z-ray or a very small Kastmaster fished from the dam.
Statewide fishing regulations apply and a trout stamp is required. The daily bag limit is two trout, which includes grayling, each must be a minimum of 12 inches (300 mm) long. For unlicensed anglers under the age of 14, the limit is one trout. Boat motors are restricted to electric motors only.
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