Regional Reports-West

Big Lake

It's a bit of a climb to get to Big Lake in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, but it's worth the effort to have a crack at the numerous rainbow, brook, cutthroat and Apache trout. Situated at 9,200 feet, the 200-acre lake is 45 miles southeast of Pinetop. Boat fishermen top-line troll with Panther Martins, Z-rays and Kastmasters. Bait-casters use nightcrawlers and Berkley Power Bait. Flyfishermen do best from float tubes in the Railroad Cove area and cast Woolly Buggers and minnow-imitating streamers. Rainbows make up about 75 percent of the catch and run 12 to 20 inches with a few five- to eight-pounders landed each year. The limit is six trout daily. Access is via Route 260 from Pinetop to 273. There are campgrounds, launch facilities and a store that has boat rentals around the lake. A resident license is $18; nonresidents pay $26 for five days or $51.50 for the season. Contact: Arizona Game and Fish (520-367-4281); Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (520-333-4301); Big Lake Tackle and Supply (520-333-2896).