Outdoor Gear Reviews, Tips & Adventure Stories to Inspire an Outdoor Life

Tag: Mountains

The Thrill of the Catch: Why Fly Fishing Offers a Unique Challenge

why fly fishing is better
Fly fishing provides a deeper connection with nature and a greater mental and physical challenge.

Fishing has been a popular pastime for centuries, with many people taking to the water in search of a big catch. However, while traditional fishing has its own charm, there is something special about fly fishing that sets it apart. It’s a technique that involves using a lightweight artificial lure, or “fly,” that is cast with a special type of fishing rod and reel.

Compared to traditional fishing, fly fishing requires a unique set of skills and techniques. The experience is also different, as it provides a deeper connection with nature and a greater mental and physical challenge. In this post, we will explore why fly fishing offers a unique challenge for anglers that traditional fishing does not. We will look at the gear, the technique, the catch, and the overall experience, highlighting what sets it apart from traditional fishing. So, whether you are an experienced angler or a curious beginner, read on to learn why fly fishing may just be the challenge you’ve been looking for.

The Gear

Fly fishing gear
A typical fly rod and reel setup – engineered to work together to create the delicate presentation needed to catch fish “on the fly”.

One of the first things you may notice about fly fishing is the unique gear required for the sport. Fly rods, reels, and lines are specifically designed to work together to create the delicate presentation needed to catch fish. Compared to traditional fishing gear, fly fishing gear is much lighter and more flexible, allowing for greater precision and control when casting.

The rod is typically longer and thinner than traditional fishing rods, allowing for greater casting distance and accuracy. Reels are also different, as they are designed to hold lightweight fly fishing line and are typically much smaller than traditional fishing reels. Fly fishing line is much thinner and lighter than traditional fishing line, which allows the angler to cast the fly more delicately.

The gear used is an essential component of the experience, and it takes some getting used to. Compared to traditional fishing gear, fly fishing gear may feel more challenging to handle at first, but with practice, it becomes second nature. The unique combination of the fly rod, reel, and line creates a specialized system that sets fly fishing apart and makes it a unique challenge for anglers.

The Technique

In addition to the unique gear, fly fishing also requires a specialized casting technique that is different from traditional fishing. Fly casting involves using a series of fluid motions to create a tight loop of line, which then propels the fly forward to land delicately on the water’s surface.

Fly casting requires a high level of precision and control, as the angler must not only cast the fly with accuracy but also control its speed, direction, and presentation on the water. Unlike traditional fishing, where the bait is typically dragged along the bottom of the water, fly casting involves mimicking the natural movements of insects that fish feed on. This means that the fly must be presented to the fish in a way that looks natural and enticing, which requires a delicate touch and careful attention to detail.

Fly casting can take time to master, and even experienced anglers may struggle with the technique in certain weather conditions or with different types of flies. However, the challenge of fly casting is part of what makes fly fishing so rewarding. It is a skill that requires practice and patience, but once mastered, it allows the angler to present the fly with precision and control, increasing the chances of catching the elusive fish.

via Gfycat

The Catch

One of the most rewarding aspects of fly fishing is the catch itself. Fly fishing offers a unique challenge when it comes to catching fish, as it requires a greater level of skill, patience, and strategy than traditional fishing.

First, fly fishing typically targets specific species of fish, most often trout, which can be more challenging to catch than others. These fish may require the angler to use specific types of flies or techniques to attract them, and they often have a keen sense of sight and smell, making them harder to fool.

Additionally, it often involves catch-and-release practices, where the fish is returned to the water unharmed. This requires the angler to handle the fish with care and precision, ensuring that the fish is not injured during the release process.

Finally, the satisfaction of catching a fish on a fly is hard to beat. Unlike traditional fishing, where the bait is typically swallowed whole by the fish, fly fishing involves setting the hook on the fish with a delicate touch, which requires a higher level of skill and finesse.

The catch is often the highlight of any fishing trip, and fly fishing offers a unique challenge that makes the experience even more rewarding. Whether it’s the thrill of catching a rare species or the satisfaction of releasing the fish unharmed, fly fishing provides a unique catch that sets it apart from traditional fishing.

catching a trout in a net
Nothing beats getting a beautiful trout into your net.

The Experience

Beyond the gear, the technique, and the catch, fly fishing offers a unique experience that is hard to find in any other activity. It takes you to some of the most beautiful and remote places in the world, where you can connect with nature and enjoy the peaceful solitude of the great outdoors.

fly fishing group
Fly Fishing can be enjoyed with friends, family, or even strangers and it provides an opportunity to connect with others who share your passion for the sport and for the outdoors.

The sound of the water rushing by, the chirping of birds in the trees, and the feeling of the sun on your face all combine to create a sense of calm and tranquility that is hard to find in our busy, fast-paced world.

Fly fishing also offers a chance to disconnect from technology and the stresses of everyday life. Without the distractions of phones, emails, and social media, you can fully immerse yourself in the experience and enjoy the beauty of the natural world around you.

Moreover, it’s a social activity that can be enjoyed with friends, family, or even strangers. It provides an opportunity to connect with others who share your passion for the sport and to learn from experienced anglers who can offer tips and advice to help you improve your skills.

In the end, the experience is about more than just catching fish. It’s about connecting with nature, challenging yourself, and enjoying the beauty of the world around you. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, fly fishing offers a unique experience that is hard to beat.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, fly fishing offers a unique challenge that sets it apart from traditional fishing. From the specialized gear to the intricate technique, it requires a higher level of skill, patience, and finesse than other types of fishing. However, the reward of catching a fish on a fly, the opportunity to connect with nature, and the chance to disconnect from technology and the stresses of everyday life make it all worthwhile.

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, fly fishing offers a challenge that can be enjoyed at any level. So next time you’re looking for a new adventure, consider trying your hand at it. It’s a rewarding experience that offers a unique challenge and an opportunity to connect with nature in a way that few other activities can match.

Looking to experience the special style of fishing for yourself? Check out these Best-Selling Fly Rod & Reel Sets on Amazon:

Clear Your Mind and Boost Your Mood: The Psychological Benefits of Mountain Air

why is mountain air good for you
Research shows that mountain air can help aid in mental health.

When we think about the benefits of spending time in nature, we often focus on physical health benefits such as improved cardiovascular health or increased physical activity. However, there are also many mental health benefits to spending time in natural environments, particularly those at higher elevations where the air is thinner and cleaner. In this article, we’ll explore the science behind the psychological benefits of mountain air and why it’s so good for our minds as well as our bodies.

For many of us, spending time in nature can be a refreshing break from our busy, technology-filled lives. We may find ourselves feeling more relaxed, calm, and at ease after a hike in the mountains or a weekend camping trip. But what’s actually happening in our bodies and brains when we’re exposed to mountain air? And why might this be so beneficial for our psychological health?

In the following sections, we’ll delve into the science of mountain air and explore how exposure to this natural environment can improve mood, reduce stress, and enhance cognitive function. By the end of this article, you’ll have a greater appreciation for the power of mountain air to clear your mind and boost your mood.

The Science of Mountain Air

Mountain air is often described as fresh, clean, and invigorating. But what exactly makes it different from air at lower elevations, and why might it be beneficial for our psychological health?

One key difference is the composition of the air itself. At higher altitudes, the air is thinner and contains less oxygen than at lower elevations. In fact, at the summit of Mount Everest, the air pressure is only about one-third that of sea level, making it difficult for climbers to breathe without supplemental oxygen.

While most of us aren’t scaling Everest, even moderate elevation changes can have an impact on our bodies. As we breathe in mountain air, our lungs have to work harder to extract the oxygen we need, which can increase our heart rate and respiration. This increased oxygenation can lead to a number of health benefits, including improved physical endurance and reduced risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and stroke.

But the benefits of mountain air go beyond just physical health. Research has also shown that exposure to natural environments, particularly those at higher elevations, can have positive effects on our mental well-being. One study found that spending time in nature led to decreased activity in the part of the brain associated with rumination and negative thought patterns, suggesting that exposure to nature may help reduce symptoms of depression. Another study found that participants who spent time in nature had lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) compared to those who spent time in an urban environment.

Overall, the combination of thinner, cleaner air and exposure to nature at higher elevations appear to offer a unique set of benefits for our physical and mental health. In the following sections, we’ll explore how exposure to mountain air can improve mood, reduce stress, and enhance cognitive function.

How Mountain Air Improves Mood

why is mountain air good for you
Mountain air is different in composition – it’s thinner and cleaner.

Have you ever noticed how you feel more relaxed and content after spending time in the mountains? There’s a reason for that. Exposure to mountain air can have a positive impact on our mood, helping us feel more calm, centered, and happy.

One way that mountain air can improve our mood is through its effects on the neurotransmitters in our brains. Research has shown that exposure to natural environments can increase levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in regulating mood and happiness. Mountain air may be particularly effective in this regard, as the increased oxygenation from breathing in thin air can enhance the brain’s ability to produce serotonin.

In addition, spending time in nature can help reduce stress and anxiety, both of which can have a negative impact on our mood. When we’re in nature, our brains enter a state of relaxation, with decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex. This shift in brain activity can lead to decreased rumination and negative thought patterns, helping us feel more at ease and less stressed.

Finally, exposure to mountain air can also help us feel more connected to something larger than ourselves, whether it’s the natural world, the universe, or a sense of spirituality. This feeling of connectedness can be particularly powerful in improving mood and enhancing well-being.

Overall, the combination of increased oxygenation, reduced stress, and a greater sense of connectedness can all contribute to the mood-boosting effects of mountain air. So the next time you’re feeling down, consider taking a trip to the mountains for a natural mood lift.

How Mountain Air Reduces Stress

Stress is a common part of modern life, and it can have serious negative effects on our physical and mental health. Fortunately, spending time in the mountains and breathing in fresh mountain air can be an effective way to reduce stress and promote relaxation.

One of the ways that mountain air can help reduce stress is through its effects on the body’s stress response system. When we encounter stressors in our environment, our bodies release cortisol, a hormone that prepares us for “fight or flight” responses. While cortisol can be helpful in short bursts, chronically elevated levels of cortisol can have negative effects on our health, including increased inflammation and a weakened immune system.

Research has shown that spending time in natural environments, such as the mountains, can help reduce cortisol levels and promote relaxation. In addition, the increased oxygenation from breathing in thin mountain air can help improve blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain, which can also have a calming effect.

Another way that mountain air can help reduce stress is by promoting mindfulness and reducing rumination. When we’re surrounded by the beauty and majesty of the mountains, it’s easy to let go of our worries and focus on the present moment. This can help us break out of negative thought patterns and reduce rumination, which is a common contributor to stress and anxiety.

Finally, spending time in the mountains and breathing in fresh air can also be a great way to disconnect from the digital world and reduce the distractions and demands of modern life. This can help us recharge our batteries and return to our daily routines feeling more energized and focused.

Overall, the stress-reducing effects of mountain air can be a powerful tool in promoting both physical and mental well-being. So the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, consider taking a trip to the mountains to breathe in the fresh, clean air and reconnect with nature.

How Mountain Air Enhances Cognitive Function

In addition to its positive effects on mood and stress, spending time in the mountains and breathing in fresh mountain air can also have a powerful impact on cognitive function. Here are some of the ways that mountain air can help enhance your brainpower:

why is mountain air good for you
Feeling anxious, down, or depressed – mountain air might just what the doctor ordered.
Increased oxygenation

One of the key benefits of mountain air is that it is thinner than air at sea level, which means that it contains less nitrogen and more oxygen. This increased oxygenation can help improve blood flow to the brain, which can enhance cognitive function and mental clarity. In fact, research has shown that even short-term exposure to high-altitude environments can improve cognitive performance.

Reduced air pollution

Another benefit of mountain air is that it is generally cleaner and less polluted than air in urban environments. Exposure to air pollution has been linked to cognitive decline and an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. By contrast, breathing in fresh, clean mountain air can help protect your brain from these harmful effects.

Increased physical activity

Spending time in the mountains often involves physical activity, whether it’s hiking, skiing, or mountain biking. Research has shown that regular exercise can help improve cognitive function by increasing blood flow to the brain, promoting the growth of new neurons, and reducing inflammation. So, if you’re hitting the trails in the mountains, you’re not only getting the benefits of fresh air, but also the benefits of exercise.

Reduced stress and anxiety

As mentioned above, spending time in the mountains and breathing in fresh air can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. This, in turn, can help improve cognitive function by reducing the negative effects of stress on the brain.

Spending time in the mountains and breathing in fresh air can be a great way to enhance your cognitive function and mental clarity. So, if you’re looking for a natural way to boost your brainpower, consider getting out of town and into the mountains.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, spending time in the mountains and breathing in fresh, clean mountain air can have a range of positive psychological benefits. From improving mood and reducing stress to enhancing cognitive function, the science is clear that mountain air is good for you.

While more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind these effects, there are several factors that likely contribute to the benefits of mountain air, including increased oxygenation, reduced air pollution, and physical activity. Additionally, the natural beauty and tranquility of mountain environments may play a role in promoting relaxation and mental well-being.

So, if you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or mentally fatigued, plan a trip to high elevations to breathe in some fresh air and soak up the natural beauty of these incredible environments. Whether you’re hiking through a forest, skiing down a mountain, or simply taking in the view, spending time in the mountains can be a great way to clear your mind, boost your mood, and enhance your cognitive function.

Need an Outdoors fix? Check out our guides to camping, boondocking, stand up paddleboarding and more!

Snowboarding in Search of Solitude

Snowboarding at Sunrise Park Resort in Greer, Arizona
Perfect conditions and no lift lines set the tone for my “Search”

The Need for An Escape

This year’s winter storms have been good to our local ski resort. Consistent snowstorms have brought incredible conditions and plenty of fresh powder. It’s been years since I’ve been snowboarding, but with the growing stress at work and home combined with the recent snowstorms, I can hear the mountain calling.

As I leave home for the high country, I feel a cloud of uneasiness. I shouldn’t be doing this. There’s more drama than usual at home. I’m leaving behind unfinished tasks at work. I don’t even know how to set up an out-of-office email. Regardless, I need to disconnect. I need the rush of adrenaline and the freedom my snowboard provides. Those who depend on me may not be happy today, but they will get a better version of me tomorrow… that’s what I keep telling myself at least.

Pulling into the ski resort, I check my phone. I’m still unsure about being unavailable for the day. I take a few moments to respond to emails in a way that hides that I’m not in the office but will take care of anything important by the end of the day.

At the base of the mountain, I strap into my snowboard for the first time in years. It feels better than I had imagined it would. I take a few deep breaths and remind myself how fortunate I am that today my “office” is the mountain. It’s a Wednesday – a slow midweek day for the ski resort – and I have the slopes to myself. I’m excited to spend the day alone on the mountain and to forget about everything else.

View from the top of Sunrise Park Resort in Greer, Arizona
“Each time I reach the top, I make sure to take a few moments to drink in the views.”

Rediscovering Rhythm

All morning, I balance the thrill of each run with the quiet of the lift back to the top. I enjoy the rhythm. I do my best to fully appreciate where I am. Each time I reach the top, I make sure to take a few moments to drink in the views.

As the morning rolls on, I’m proud of myself for avoiding the distractions that undoubtedly await in my pocket. My phone has been vibrating with notifications all morning, but I have resisted checking them. I remind myself that whatever and whoever is jockeying for my attention can wait. The rest of the world will be just fine without me today.

After a few more runs, I can feel my body loosening up and my blood pumping. My once-cold toes are now comfortably toasty. The mountain is becoming familiar again and my confidence is growing.

On the lift, I dig my phone out of my pocket to take a few photos. Unable to completely ignore the long list of notifications waiting for me, I search for anything with an emergency status. I give my wife a quick call to check in. She isn’t feeling well and has called in sick to work. We are both absent from work today, but only I am enjoying myself.

I feel a sudden wave of guilt. Playing hooky from work is one thing, but having fun while my wife is home sick isn’t sitting well with me. I remind myself that there’s nothing I can do and I try to get my mind back on the mountain.

The Dreadlocked Snowboarder

I decide to take a break to refocus. A cold beer by a warm fire should chase away distractions. As I reach the lodge, I’m disappointed to learn that it’s “cash only” today. A fellow boarder at the bar senses my cashless condition and offers to buy me a beer. Appreciative, I recognize that accepting the beer will require me to take a few moments to sit and chat with him.

Between the guy’s long dreadlocks and his endless smile, he looks like he’s got some great stories to tell. Today though, I’m on a mission to do things solo and I politely refuse his offer. I know it’s an asshole move, but solitude sounds better than stories right now. As I leave, he turns his attention to another patron at the bar. I smile as I overhear the beginning of a story involving Shaun White, MDMA, and the Netherlands.

Before heading back to the slopes, I take a detour to check out the lodge. I take my time walking through the various rooms to clear my mind of the demands and responsibilities back home. The only schedule I am on today is my own and it’s liberating.

Riding the Lift at Sunrise Park Resort in Greer, Arizona
Chairlift rides alone provide me time to breathe, think, and process

Having sufficiently purged my mind, I strap back into my board and head for the lift. I’ve been able to ride the lifts alone all morning. These quiet rides up the mountain have been opportunities to think and to process and I’ve enjoyed it. As I approach the lift, I’m looking forward to yet another solitary ride.

A Change of Plans

Just before picking up the lift, my plans change though. Instead of having our own chairs, another guy in line invites me to ride with him. I’d rather ride alone, but I reluctantly join him on the next chair.

Once we both get settled, I look over at my chairmate. Sitting next to me is the dreadlocked snowboarder from the bar. I’m embarrassed that I avoided him earlier, but thankfully, he doesn’t recognize me in my full snowboard gear. I learn that he’s a snowcat operator enjoying the mountain on his day off. He tells me about his long overnight shifts grooming the resort’s runs, the vertigo he sometimes experiences during storms, and his role in keeping the mountain in tip-top shape. He shares that he is also a “snowboarding coach”, and proves it as he shouts tips to boarders as they pass us below. While eccentric, he is a kind soul who authentically cares about those he crosses paths with.

As we talk on the lift, I’m hit with the irony of the situation. I ditch this guy in the bar and minutes later I’m stuck on a chair with him. I’ve been trying my best all day to be alone. He’s been trying to meet everyone on the mountain. I’ve been seeking to escape the entanglements of others. He’s been looking for more connections.

Mushroom Mountain and a Buddy’s Wisdom

He points to a mountain off in the distance. He tells me that it’s his favorite place in the area and that he harvests mushrooms there in the summer. I ask more about the location – how to get there and about the hike to the top. We talk about the barely-visible cell phone tower that a buddy of his works on. As he shares more about his friend’s work, he mentions something that sticks in my mind, “Because my buddy spends so much time on top of mountains, time moves slower for him.”

My mind starts to wander. Can time truly be slowed down? And if it can, does high altitude hold the key? I let the concept linger in my brain for a few more minutes before concluding that “time slowing down” is more likely caused by mind-altering substances than mountaintop experiences. Still, something about the idea continues to rattle around in my consciousness.

Once we reach the top of the mountain, I say goodbye to my new friend. While on the lift together, he had told me about a powder-filled trail on the other side of the mountain. I set off for this rare virgin powder feeling grateful for our time together. Though I am on the mountain to be alone, I’ve enjoyed hearing his perspective on life… and on “time”.

The Sacred Powder Trail

Finding the dreadlocked snowboarder’s powder trail requires a journey across the ski resort to a less-traveled side of the mountain. Locating the run, I take some time to study it from the top. Between deep breaths, I acknowledge my fortune. Just down the hill lies deep, flowing powder touched previously by only a few skiers. The fresh powder beneath me is stunning, but I am also struck by my utter isolation here. The nearby lodge is a ghost town. There are no lifts overhead and no voices to be heard in the distance. A quick 360-degree scan reveals that I am completely alone on this side of the mountain.

Snowboarding at Sunrise Park Resort in Greer, Arizona
“I strap into my snowboard for the first time in years. It feels better than I had imagined it would.”

Undaunted, I whisper a quick “thank you” to the dreadlocked snowboarder and I push off down the hill. The powder is deeper and heavier than I had anticipated. My board disappears beneath me as I carve through the flawless snow. Tired, I have trouble keeping the front of my board above the snow’s surface. I have yet to fall today, but now every movement is a tactic to avoid eating snow.

My descent down the mountain slows as I take frequent breaks to catch my breath. I know that it’s critical to keep my board on top of the deep snow and I’m failing miserably. It quickly becomes clear that I have no business chasing this powder. Unable to sufficiently slow down in these conditions, I need a plan.

Can’t Stop Until The Mountain Stops Me

I notice a narrow snowmobile track down the middle of the run and I head for it. Within the track, the snow is packed just enough to allow me to control my speed. Now committed to staying inside the track, I snake side to side across its slender width.

My speed starts to increase as the slope steepens. Needing to make wider turns, I am forced back into the powder to try to secure an edge. Without warning, my board digs into the deep snow and I am abruptly sent flying over the front of my board. The crash is instantaneous and intense. My face burrows violently into the powder and a cloud of snow envelops me.

I lie there in silence for a few moments. Face down deep in the snow, I see only white. I sit up and take inventory of the situation. Other than my pride, nothing is hurt. I’m caked in snow, but my board and bindings are fine. It was an ugly fall, but thankfully, not a disastrous one.

Rethinking the Search

The quiet reminds me again of how alone I am. I am on a remote side of the mountain on a slow, midweek day. I chose to ride an ungroomed trail that few had dared try before me and not many were likely to follow. If my fall had been serious – if I had been injured or had an equipment failure – there’s a decent chance I would have spent the night on the mountain.

I had been searching for solitude all day. I had ignored countless emails from work. I had relished each chair lift taken alone. I had even declined a free beer to avoid talking with a stranger. On that powder-filled trail, I had found the solitude I had been searching for only to find myself so alone that I was in danger.

After clearing what feels like pounds of snow from my body and board, I determine that this run will be my last of the day. I had pushed this exercise of aloneness as far as I dared.

I ride down to the bottom of the mountain and head for the car. As I pass by the lodge with my board in hand, I look for the dreadlocked snowboarder. I imagine having that beer with him, detailing my nasty fall on the isolated trail, and begging him to tell me more about his theories of “slowing down time.” Unsuccessful in my search, I pack up and head home.

Learning to “Slow Down Time”

The four-hour drive home gives me time to reflect on my experience on the mountain. It felt good to be back on my snowboard and the time alone was renewing. But I am most aware of how much I need others in my life. I need the unexpectedly wise words of strangers to reveal the secrets of life. I need the laughter of others’ insane stories about professional athletes taking party drugs in foreign countries. I need the community of others to avoid disaster and for support when disaster inevitably arrives.

Something about being on the mountain demands reflection. Up here, you can’t help but take regular pauses to remind yourself of where and who you are. Perhaps this is the “slowing down of time” the dreadlocked snowboarder mentioned – mountaintop experiences that force us to rethink our connections and reset our pace.

I want to learn how to “slow time down” during the times of my life when I can’t get to the mountain. I won’t always be able to escape the demands, pressures, and expectations of others, but I can mimic the mountain’s rhythms – regularly pausing, taking a few deep breaths, and appreciating the view. Hopefully, in these “slower” moments, I’ll be better at remembering the role of others in my life and recognizing how grateful I am for the opportunity to share life with them.

Panoramic View of the top of Sunrise Park Resort in Greer, Arizona
Mountaintop experiences force us to rethink our connections and reset our pace.

Fly Fishing in Greer

Arizona isn’t known for its trout fishing. Much of the landscape doesn’t allow for the ideal conditions for trout to grow big. But in Arizona’s White Mountains, there is some really fun fly fishing in Greer, Arizona.

Growing up, some of my best memories were fishing with my dad.  We weren’t very good fishermen, but the reward of landing a fish was a feeling unlike anything else. Back then, we were lazy fishermen, usually resorting to some sort of smelly bait left on the lake bottom overnight.  We would wake in the morning hoping that a catfish was on the other end of the line.

As an adult, my interest in fishing waned.  The time and effort required was no longer worth the reward.

As I had my own kids, I wanted them to experience the thrill of landing a fish and my interest in fishing grew again. This time though, I wanted to approach fishing differently.  I had begun to fall in love with the outdoors, looking forward to camping, hiking & exploring the wild areas around me. A camping trip on the Dolores river in Colorado, I tried fly fishing and have never looked back.  That first time, I had no idea what I was doing, but the skill required captivated me. That first trip, I spent hours each day on the water.

Since then, I’ve picked up some better gear, learned more about bugs, and have a lot more experience.  I’m still not very good at fly fishing, but my love for it has only grown.

Arizona’s White Mountains

For years, I have heard that the White Mountains held some of the best trout streams in Arizona. The village of Greer was often mentioned as the ideal place to base to explore the nearby fishing. Greer is a beautiful little town that sits in a small valley with the Little Colorado River running through the center of town. Along with the Little Colorado, the Greer area has 3 lakes, multiple creeks, and more private stocked ponds than you can count.

This summer, I stayed in a small rental cabin in the heart of Greer to try to explore as much of Greer’s fly fishing as my time would allow. In the few days I was in Greer, I fished only a small portion of what Greer has to offer, but here are my thoughts.

Greer Lakes in Greer, Arizona
River Reservoir (left) & Tunnel Reservoir (right) in Greer, Arizona
Fly Fishing in Greer, Arizona
Fly Fishing at River Reservoir

Greer Lakes

Just a few miles north of the town of Greer, lie the Bunch, Tunnel, and River Reservoirs – otherwise known as the Greer Lakes. Surrounded by the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, these lakes are absolutely gorgeous and uniquely peaceful. A lot of water can be covered quickly at these smallish lakes. I don’t have a float tube, so I casted from the shoreline on all 3 lakes.

Tunnel Reservoir

I had no luck at my first stop, Tunnel Reservoir (the smallest of the Greer Lakes), but really enjoyed having the lake to myself for the morning.  Next, I walked about 10 minutes to Bunch Reservoir.

Bunch Reservoir

Bunch is a bit bigger than Tunnel and some of its small cliff shoreline makes it difficult to fly fish.  I landed a small rainbow at Bunch and noticed a large amount of wildlife footprints at the water’s edge.

River Reservoir
Little Colorado River in Greer, Arizona
The LCR downstream of River Reservoir

My final stop was River Reservoir, easily the largest of the 3 lakes, and in my opinion, the most beautiful. Bunch and Tunnel mostly spring out of flat terrain, but River Reservoir has more of a small canyon-lake feel. The water in River is held back by a 30-40ft rock dam, from which the Little Colorado continues on the back side of.  This span of the LCR north of the dam is dazzling. I’ve heard there are some big browns back there, but my time spent fishing it yielding nothing.

River reservoir was really fun to fish.  I netted a few small bass here that were fun to catch on my fly rod. I was not fortunate enough to run into the rainbows that the float tubers here seems to be constantly hooked up with. The fish are there, but as with all 3 of these lakes, fishing from out on the water is the way to go.

While the Greer lakes aren’t the best fly fishing in Greer, the experience  this water provides is a great way to spend a few hours. If you’re more interested in “catching” than “fishing”, bring a float tube or other type of boat to get out to where the fish are.

The Little Colorado River (in town)

Molly Butler Lodge in Greer, Arizona
Molly Butler Lodge: A great spot for a break in fishing

One of my favorite parts of Greer is the path that winds through town known as the Greer Village Walkway.  The northern part of the walkway starts near where the LCR crosses under the main road.  There are a number of spots which you can throw your fly here. In the summer months, AZ Game and Fish stocks the Little Colorado in Greer. I’ve seen fish holding near the walkway, but haven’t had much luck netting any.  The great thing about this section of the LCR is how easy it is to access.  It was a short 5 minute walk from my cabin in the middle of town, so I found myself fishing these stretches when I only had a few minutes.

Another great part of this area is that you can take a break and grab a beer at Molly Butler Lodge which is a 2 minute walk away.

Note: you can’t park or fish from the bridge. There is a small area you can park for short period just north of the bridge on the west side of the road.

The West Fork of the Little Colorado River

In the middle of the town of Greer, the West Fork of the LCR meets the East Fork. Both of these stretches are Apache trout recovery streams which means they hold Apache Trout – one of only two trout species native to Arizona. The Wallow fire devastated much of the area in 2011 and the trout population of the East Fork of this river was severely damaged. Fortunately, the West Fork fish sustained minimal damage and it’s a destination to fish for Apaches in the Greer area.

I fished the West Fork right on the edge of town where Highway 373 dead ends.  At the end of the 373 lies is the Government Springs Trailhead and includes parking and a bathroom.  The Government Springs Trail travels upriver along the West Fork and it is specularly beautiful. This trail is lush and green in the summer months. It can be followed for just over 5 miles to Sheep’s Crossing – an area next on my list to fish.

The water of the West Fork can be difficult to access.  The brush along the water grows thick and is dense, but just following the trail further will yield plenty of spots to throw your line. Honestly, I’m not sure sure if the best approach to this area is to “bring your rod along on your hike” or to “get some hiking in while you fish”.  Either way, this is an area not to be missed while fly fishing in Greer.

Searching for Apache Trout

Apache Trout in Greer, ArizonaWhen I visited, I did more hiking than fishing, but searching out the holding fish was the highlight.  The Apache trout in these waters, while not overly abundant, exist in enough quantity to assure you’ll catch one. In the summer months, this water is stocked regularly with Apaches.

I’ve had success here both fishing pockets of deeper water and shallower riffles that I didn’t think were holding fish.  The water runs really clear and can be pretty shallow at times, so prioritize your surprise to be most effective.

Wild Hops from Greer, Arizona
Wild hops harvested from the Government Springs Trail

I’ve caught a number of apaches here and have spent hours roaming this trail. From what I’ve seen, this is my favorite place to fish in Greer.  Even if the trout aren’t biting, you’ll enjoy yourself.

Note: we found an abundance of wild hops growing along the Government Springs trail last time we visited.  I’m planning on home-brewing some beer with the wild hops I harvested soon.

Private Stocked Ponds

Greer has countless small ponds, many of which are stocked with trout.  Many of the cabin rental properties have stocked ponds.  I did not have a chance to check out the fishing in any of these, but I plan to visit the Greer Meadows Lakes on a future visit.  There is a cost involved, but I’ve heard of large trout being caught in the private ponds in Greer. Guides are also available at Greer Meadows Lakes to ensure your success.

Greer has become one of my favorite places in Arizona. It’s the highest elevation town in Arizona giving it perfect summer temperatures and snow-filled winters. The best part is the area’s abundance of nearby water to fish – often just steps away from your rental cabin.

If you do explore fly fishing in Greer, I highly recommend Antler Ridge Resort Cabins. I stayed in the Mountain Vista Cabin (#4) while I explored Greer.  Antler Ridge is perfectly located in the middle of town, steps away from the walkway, Molly Butler’s and the Little Colorado. They have cabins of all sizes and if you make Antler Ridge your choice for your next trip to Greer, you won’t be disappointed.

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