Fish Arizona's High Country
Show Low Creek flows into Fool Hollow Lake, providing a natural feeding ground for a variety of wildlife and a very diverse fishery. The lake is at 6,300 feet in elevation, and comfortably nestled within Arizona’s White Mountains. Large and smallmouth bass, walleye, pike, and trout are all swim the depths of this Arizona high-country gem and offer anglers an exciting chance at a mixed bag of fish. This moderately sized 150-acre lake has an average depth of 23 feet and a great variety of habitat types to target when fishing from either boat or shore. Learn about the tactics that work below, then plan your Fool Hollow Lake fishing adventure! Before your trip, don’t forget to check out the weekly Arizona Game and Fish Department fishing report…
North eastern Arizona doesn’t typically come to mind when thinking of the best bass fishing spots in the country, although there are certainly spots that will surprise you! Fool Hollow Lake is one of those hidden gems that kicks out both quantity and quality fish on a year after year basis. Largemouth and smallmouth bass are lurking here waiting for a well-placed lure to invade their space, and either species can be caught with regularity by lucky anglers.
Casting gold or olive crankbaits with a white bottom fished parallel to the shore or weed lines is a great way to scout for bass populations. Fish other “reaction” type lures like spinnerbaits and chatter baits until you find where some bass are hanging out. Return to these same spots later and try a 4” watermelon or watermelon/black Senko to pick up a few more fish. By covering ground early with reaction baits, anglers can systematically eliminate many fishless areas only to focus where fish are actually spending their time. After returning to spots that produced some action, use a methodical approach by slowly fishing soft plastics until you find just what the Fool Hollow bass are looking for.
Smallmouth are a little different than their largemouth cousins, although very often they can be caught on the same types of baits. A favorite tactic for Fool Hollow smallmouth is to throw yellow, gold, black, or white inline spinners near weeds and rocky shorelines. Vary the retrieve speed and depth until the smallmouth let you know what is working. Small two and three-inch grubs fished on a 1/8 oz jig head also produce a number of smallmouth here. Keep in mind also that bass (both largemouth and smallmouth) love to eat craw fish. Hard and soft plastic baits that imitate this popular bass food and fished appropriately near rocks will often coax a few bass into biting.
This high country trout fishing destination is stocked throughout the summer by the Arizona Game and Fish Department with hatchery raised, hard fighting rainbow trout. Fool Hollow Lake provides great year-round trout fishing however, as many of the fish elude anglers and predatory species within the lake to older, and much larger! Many anglers cut their teeth by fishing for trout with bait, and after experiencing success, graduate to more complex methods of catching these beautiful delicious fish. Regardless of your chosen fishing technique, many of the standard trout fishing methods used throughout Arizona will work well at this lake too.
As a right of passage, and a technique nearly as old as modern man has been fishing for trout, bait presented under a bobber still catches trout very well. The trick is to vary the depth at which your bait is suspended until you figure out at which depth the fish are presently located. Also try fishing in both shallow and deep water at varying depths, although keep in mind, trout will change their preferences almost overnight so what may be working one day may need to be refined the next. Salmon eggs, corn, and nightcrawlers seem to work well at Fool Hollow. Arrive at the lake with offerings of each to ensure you are able to find the bait (and depth) the fish like during your stay.
Bottom fishing for trout is also a viable tactic, and should be tried along with the above mentioned techniques. Dough baits like Berkeley's Power Bait in a variety of scents and colors (even with glitter) are available at nearly all sporting goods stores. Rigging dough bait properly is just a bit more complex than fishing under a bobber, but you can check out this great rigging option before your trip to pick up all the necessary tackle before going after the trout.
Lures can be used to catch Fool Hollow trout with regularity and precision after deciphering which type and depth the fish currently prefer. Arrive at the lake with several of the following options to ensure you have what the fish are looking for. In-line spinners like Rooster Tails, Mepps, and Panther Martins will essentially catch most of the species in the lake, but are most commonly used to target trout. Try black, brown, white, yellow, and rainbow colors fished at differing speeds and depths until you find a concentration of fish. Remember that these small spinners rely on the flash and vibration of their blade to attract a strike, so periodically check the performance of your lure to ensure you're putting out a great offering. The spinners can be thrown by shore anglers, or trolled behind a boat with similar success.
Pike fishing at Fool Hollow can, at times, be absolutely fantastic! That's good or bad depending on how one looks at the situation. Pike are voracious feeders. Their predatory lifestyle, and the large sizes they attain, can be a recipe for disaster for other fish within a body of water. Because of this, both Arizona State Parks and Trails and the Arizona Game and Fish department ask that all pike caught at Fool Hollow are kept by anglers and not returned to the lake. Luckily, there's no shortage of other fish in the lake at present, and the food chain has been kept in check.
Typically, fast moving lures that imitate other fish species work well for pike. At Fool Hollow, baits that imitate rainbow trout are gaining popularity and working very well on larger fish. Don't be afraid to throw 8" to 10" lures for pike! Their large toothy mouths trap even larger fish on a regular basis and an 8" lure might seem like a simple mid-morning snack to bigger pike. Large spoons that imitate wounded baitfish, spinnerbaits, large crankbaits, and big inline spinners can all work form time to time as well. The trick is to try a bunch of different baits until you find what is working, and then stick with it until you are no longer receiving strikes.
Look for pike cruising the shallows while they are in search of their next meal. Their large snakelike bodies displace lots of water and their swells can be seen from quite a distance. Sneak within striking distance and commence casting to the feeding pike to induce a strike. Because of their relation to the bank, pike are a great option for anglers fishing from shore. It's peaceful to take a morning walk around the lake and cover a bunch of ground while looking for feeding pike. And once they hit...Hold on!! The peaceful morning could soon turn into a battle you will never forget! Pike are great fighters, and their white flaky meat is very delicious. Next time you're at Fool Hollow targeting other species, keep some large lures on hand just in case you have an encounter with a monster pike, the lifetime memories will be worth it.
Although another state park, Lyman Lake, may boast a larger walleye population than Fool Hollow, this high country lake more than makes up for it with the size of walleye that live here! Several "double digit" fish have been caught here over the years and Fool Hollow is certainly a viable option for anglers looking for that outsized walleye. Tactics vary for these delicious predators, although typically they can be found near the lake bottom because their large eyes are sensitive to light. They can be found in shallow water during the spring spawn however taking advantage of warmer water that creates better spawning conditions than the chilly depths of the lake.
Fishing deep diving crankbaits that imitate baitfish species are a go to technique for Fool Hollow Lake walleye. Spoons vertically jigged over deep, rocky areas will pick up fish here from time to time as well. Because of their general sensitivity to light, night fishing for walleyes is very popular, and largely productive. Try to incorporate another dimension to your lure delivery by adding beads above your lure to create sound, or use one of many mass produced crankbaits that come from the factory with rattles inside their bodies. Even though walleye can see better than you might think in the dark and murky night lake water, triggering a second sense might be all you need to trigger a strike. Bait fishing anglers will pick up some walleye on nightcrawlers, although these are usually caught incidentally while fishing for other species. Unlike other species in the lake that can be caught with regularity from shore, walleye fishing typically requires a boat to access the deepest, darkest portions of the lake that walleye most often frequent.
A valid Arizona fishing license is required for anglers 10 years and older. Licensing information is available online at Arizona Game & Fish, or purchase a fishing license at a local dealer.