Catching Big Trout at Chevelon Canyon Lake on the Mogollon Rim in Arizona

By Shaggy Outdoor Team

February 20, 2023

Shaggy Outdoor Team are catching big trout at chevelon Canyon Lake on the Mogollon Rim

Fly Fishing for Trout in Arizona Starts at Chevelon Canyon Lake

If you’re looking for a remote, beautiful spot to fish and hike, look no further than Chevelon Canyon Lake on the Rim in Arizona.

Located on the Mogollon Rim just a few miles northwest of Heber-Overgaard, it’s an easily accessible yet secluded getaway. Whether you’re coming from Flagstaff or Phoenix, there are plenty of ways to reach this stunning lake full of natural trout off forest road 169.


Before you pack up the car and start heading east on the 260 out of Payson. You may want to understand the lake and the friendly and non-friendly requirements in front of you.

Both Kyle and BJ, from the Shaggy Outdoors Team, have been fishing this lake for several years now we don't want anyone unfamiliar with the lake and access to think this is an easy lake to fish from.

Read on and find out a little more about the fish and natural boundaries for access and fishing regulations.

Before you move on, check out this video taken from Chevelon Canyon Lake.

What you need to know about Chevelon Canyon Lake Before You Head Out

Location and Construction

The lake is located in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, along the Mogollon Rim near Overgaard and Heber. It was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1965 as part of a flood control project along the Little Colorado River Basin. 

To access the lake from the Chevelon Canyon Lake Campground, take Highway 260 east from Payson or West from Heber-Overgaard to Rim Road 300. This is also known as the Woods Canyon Lake turnoff. 

Once on Rim Road 300 follow that to Forest Road 169 and turn right. Take 169 approximately 14 miles to Old Rim Road or you see the sign on the east side of the road noting a turn-off for Chevelon Canyon Lake Campground. Take this road east to the end and just over one mile down the mountain you will reach the lake.

Chevelon Canyon Lake Campground Amenities:

The campground offers up to 39 sites with no major amenities. You have a campsite and picnic table.  While we have seen small campers at this campground the road to the campground is not easy and anyone towing a trailer should be cautious.

There are no amenities like drinking water or restrooms. The restrooms at the campgrounds haven't been open for a few years and there are no other amenities in the area.

From the campground, there are several hiking trails that take you down to the lake and around the lake for overnight backpacking pleasure.

To get to the lake itself for fishing, one must hike down a fairly steep one-mile trail that leads to a boat launch area. Any boats, kayaks, or float tubes will need to be carried down to the lake as there is no vehicle travel on the trail.

Those taking a small boat or kayak can have an electric motor on the lake with less than 5 horsepower.

How The Shaggy Outdoors Team Fishes Chevelon Canyon Lake

We are a fly fishing crew and fly fishing at Chevelon Canyon Lake is best done using float tubes or other small craft such as canoes or kayaks.

There is nothing like hooking a holdover brown trout that hasn't eaten in a few months. The way they attack the fly and start fighting can send shivers down your spine. And whether we hook into only one for the day or several over the course of a day, each one is special and provides a lasting memory.

There is limited access around the lake for those looking to hike and fish from the shore. The immediate damn area at the bottom of the one-mile hike offers the safest shore fishing for 1/4 to 1/2 mile. The sheer cliffs surrounding the area of the lake prohibit access and limits a shoreline fishermen's ability to see or catch big fish. 

Wading is definitely not suggested as the structure of the lake is a vertical descent from the edge of the shore. Many areas have steep drop-offs and unknown structures below the surface of the water. 

The float tubes allow us access to all different portions of the lake. Getting to the coves or hitting the deep middle of the lake provides us with opportunities that others are not afforded. 

What Fish Are in Chevelon Canyon Lake

The lake is fed by Chevelon Creek and has rainbow and brown trout. The lake is not stocked by the Arizona Game and Fish and any fish caught are natural.

We are a catch-and-release group of anglers and the lake has a strict limit of 2 fish per day. 

Make sure you abide by the fishing rules for this lake so everyone has the opportunity to enjoy these big trout.

Fish can be caught using flies or artificial lures

While we have been down to the shore and seen all kinds of different bait and lures, the sign at the top of the mountain says 2 fish limit and artificial lures only.

Following the rules is not in everyone's plan. Families can be found swimming and being rowdy at the shore's edge.

Hiking Trails in The Area

In addition to fishing, visitors can take advantage of several hiking trails that wind through forests around Bear and Woods Canyons Lakes as well as Chevelon Canyon itself.

These trails range from easy loops close to campgrounds to more strenuous climbs up hillsides leading away from lakeside areas - so whatever your skill level hikers will find something suitable!

Where to Get Flies for Your Rim Lakes Fishing Trip

So you are heading out of town and ready to grab some flies. Check out Sportsman's Warehouse in Flagstaff, Mesa, or Show Low. They have a good selection of flies for every fishing trip. Click below and see what's in stock and pick them up online and save yourself a trip to the store. 

Final Thoughts on Fishing Chevelon Canyon Lake

When comparing the Rim Lakes, Chevelon Canyon Lake makes an excellent destination for fishermen who want some peace and quiet while casting their lines in pursuit of trophy size Brown and Rainbows.

The most difficult lake to get to, make sure you are aware of two major factors when taking your family to this lake. First, the hike down is easy, but the one-mile hike up is hard for kids and those out of shape. Second, the lake is located on the north side of the Mogollon Rim. You are back in the cedar trees and the weather is warmer than that of camps and other lakes on the rim. 

Make sure you are prepared for the hike and the weather. The lake is beautiful and we have had several great fishing trips to the lake. You can have an amazing time. And for you experienced and in-shape fisherman, you have to put this lake on your bucket list.

The best of the Rim Lakes for families is Woods Canyon Lake and Willow Springs Lake. Both of these lakes have boat ramps and Woods Canyon Lake has a store and boat rentals. 

Take a drive to the Rim and check out the wildlife scenery and enjoy the weather. Remember, it is your responsibility to pack out what you pack in. Don't be that hiker or fisherman and junk up our lakes and forests. Your mom won't be there to pick up after you so, DO IT YOURSELF!!!!