Fly Fishing in Greer, Arizona
Greer, Arizona is a beautiful small town in Northeast Arizona. Far away from the hot desert of Southern Arizona, Greer is tucked into the White Mountains and surrounded by some phenomenal trout fishing water. Greer isn’t located near any major city, so the lakes and rivers are rarely busy and filled with unpressured fish. Visiting Greer is always near the top of my list during my spring and fall fishing trips.
Geography and Topography
The terrain in Greer and the areas surrounding sit at over 8,000 feet in elevation. The 11,400-foot Mount Baldy sits to the southeast of town and several other peaks over 10,000 feet are easily seen wherever you turn. Anglers will find themselves in Ponderosa Pine forests surrounded by high grasses and clear sight lines.
It doesn’t matter if you’re fishing the North Fork of the White River east of town or Big Lake south of town, you have access to beautiful forests, rolling hills, mountain peaks, and thousands of acres of National Forest land.
Due to several fires in the past 20-30 years, many of the forests around Greer are recovering. Thousands of acres have been burned, so there are many areas around Greer with young forests beginning to return.
Type of Water
There are over 600 miles of trout water within 30 miles of the town of Greer. Plus, there are nearly 2 dozen lakes close to town that have trout populations as well. These rivers and streams are regularly stocked throughout the year with populations of brown, rainbow, and apache trout.
Overall, you’ll find that the water in Greer (and most water across the state) requires technical fishing skills. Fish are dependent on precipitation and can be heavily impacted by current weather conditions. As a result, they’re picky with when and how they’ll expend their energy. Each body of water has hiding places for these fish, but you’re going to have to work to find the holding areas.
In the rivers, expect riffles, small pools, eddies, and cut banks. In the lakes, you’ll find a decent amount of structure near shore, and a few deep portions of water near the middle of the lake.
In the summer months, Greer temperatures are generally around 75 degrees and can drop into the 40s at night. In the spring, expect mid-40s to mid-50s with it dropping below freezing at night. In the fall, the temperatures are similar to what you would find in the spring.
Greer isn’t an area that sees an excessive amount of precipitation. The local waters rely on the monsoon season in July and August as well as the snow throughout the winter. The town sees around 23 inches of rain per year and around 6 feet of snow per year.
It’s not the wettest climate, so fishing a few days after rainfall is almost guaranteed to be a success.
Fishing on the Black River & Surrounding Waters
When I visit, I like to fish the Black River, White River as well as Little Colorado River. My personal favorite, however, is the East Fork of the Black River. I love the technicality required to fish it.
Best Time of Year to Fish the East Fork of the Black River & Surrounding Waters
The best time of year to fish the Black River and surrounding waters is in the spring after runoff concludes as well as in the fall. The East Fork of the Black River isn’t very large. At most, it stretches 30-40 feet wide. The water levels can get low in the summer, so post-runoff time in the spring is ideal and so is the fall amid monsoon season.
How To Access the East Fork of the Black River
Since there are so many thousands of acres of National Forest land near Greer, there isn’t a ton of private land you have to worry about entering. To access the East Fork of the Black River, anglers need to drive south of town on State Highway 261 and take Three Forks Road southeast until they hit Forest Road 81 (which eventually turns into FR 276). Once you hit FR 276, you have about 10-12 miles of fishable water. You can drive along the river until you find your perfect spot. This is about 25 or 30 minutes from Greer.
Gear & Flies to Use
In the spring and fall, I like to use a dry-dropper rig on a 5-weight 8’ rod. I’ll use a size 16 Prince Nymph that’s fished below a hopper pattern. Usually, the Chubby Chernobyl works well.
If the fish aren’t hitting the dry-dropper, I’ll rip Woolly Buggers and crayfish patterns through the pools. There are some nice-sized fish that sit deep in these pools during the fall, and they respond very well to streamers.
I’ll make sure I have a 7' 3x or 4x leader paired with 4x tippet when fishing with my dry dropper rig. If I’m throwing streamers, I tend to use a 1x or 2x 9’ tapered leader.
Recommended Fishing Techniques
If I’m throwing my dry-dropper rig, I spend time drifting my flies near boulders, eddies, and through the riffles. I’ll cast my flies 15-20 feet upstream, make one mend, and let it drift through the sweet spot. I generally don’t spend too much time on one spot. If I’m not producing fish in the first 10-15 casts, I’m moving a few feet upstream and trying again.
When I fish streamers, I look for deep water. I don’t care if it’s fast or slow, I just want it to be deep. Fish sit in deep water and respond well to an aggressive streamer. I’ll cast above the deep water, let the streamer fall in the water column, and strip aggressively once it gets in low in the water. I’ve found some success dead drifting and swinging, but quick strips as it floats across my fast have worked best.
Types of Fish Near Greer
As mentioned earlier, the waters around Greer are filled with brown, rainbow, brook and Apache Trout. The Apache Trout is the prize possession because it’s the only native trout to Arizona and it’s the state fish. Many of the waters around Greer have Apache Trout populations.
Greer, Arizona is a hotbed for all sorts of outdoor activities, but fly fishing is rarely prioritized by most tourists. As a result, the water is left wide open for diehard anglers looking to test their skills on some beautiful trout that are eager to eat.