There are approximately 20 lakes on the Navajo Nation. Some are easier than others to reach and all require a special Navajo fishing permit. The area is so beautiful and unpopulated, it’s worth the trip. During the week, regardless of the location you’ve chosen, you’ll enjoy virtual seclusion.
Before you go
Before you go, if you want to brush up on fishing techniques, Arizona Game and Fish Department offers free Public Fishing Programs in Mesa, Flagstaff, Prescott, Cottonwood and Payson. Check for dates and locations at www.azgfd.gov. Lake Powell is the only lake in the area that requires an Arizona license.
Navajo fishing licenses — regulations, fees, applications, etc. — are handled by the Navajo Nation Department of Fish & Wildlife, www.nndfw.org. Children under 12 are not required to have a license. A list of permit sale locations, such as Wal-Mart in Winslow, AZ, and Gallup, NM, is also online. If you have a small watercraft you’d like to bring along, regulations and permit information can be found at the same website.
According to inside information, fishing is best at Wheatfields Lake. An average-size trout pulled from this lake is 16 to 19 inches. That sounds perfect for dinner, and you’re allowed to catch up to eight per day. In spring, the lake is restocked with more than 5,000 rainbow trout. Do not bring minnows, crayfish or waterdogs to use as bait. Any other common trout bait or lures are permitted.
Fishing from the shore is common or you can inflate your watercraft, paddle your kayak or canoe, or motor your fishing boat around the lake. The choice is yours. Don’t forget your sunscreen. This high desert country can produce surprisingly fast sunburns.
Wheatfields Lake is located in the Chuska Mountains on Diné Biítah Scenic Road, Indian Rt. 12, approximately 41 miles north of Window Rock, AZ. Park your RV or pitch a tent under the cool pines for a beautiful camping experience. A side trip to Canyon de Chelly National Monument is an easy 40-mile drive from this location with several scenic overlooks along the way.
After a full day of fishing and bird watching, drive south on IR 12 to Window Rock for the amenities offered at the Quality Inn or to the Navajoland Inn nearby in St. Michaels.
Most lakes on the Navajo Nation offer casual fishing. They’re relaxing, inexpensive and provide a wonderful excuse to get away and enjoy the outdoors. Information about Navajo lakes, fishing reports and lake conditions, regulations and more can be found at www.nndfw.org. Camping and Navajo parks and hiking permit information is handled by the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department, www.navajonationparks.org.
Lake Powell Fishing
Lake Powell has more shoreline than the state of California! The lake has almost a dozen varieties of fish, with striped bass producing the largest catch, that can measure up to several feet in length. A Navajo Nation fishing permit is not required to fish here, however you will need an Arizona permit to fish in Arizona waters. If you cross over to Utah waters, you’ll need a stamp for Utah as well.
Antelope Point Marina on Lake Powell is the newest and most luxurious spot on the Navajo Nation. This is the place to plan a dream vacation. Rent a deluxe houseboat for three days or a week. If a houseboat is more than you bargained for, perhaps a Patio Pontoon will do for a day. The marina also has ski boats, deck cruisers, personal watercraft and kayaks. Click on www.antelopepointlakepowell.com for rental information.
Just down the road from the marina is Antelope Canyon Navajo Tribal Park. A tour into the slot canyon takes about an hour and will serve up a memory for a lifetime. Don’t forget your camera! For a place to rest your head, drive to Quality Inn, owned by the Navajo Nation, only seven miles away in Page. Book your room online at www.ExploreNavajo.com.
If after all this advice your creel turns up empty, order off the menu at Ja’dí Tooh at Antelope Point Marina — the finest restaurant on the Navajo Nation. Order Cedar Plank Salmon, an eight-ounce salmon filet cooked to perfection on a plank of cedar, smothered in their dynamite sauce. This floating one-of-a-kind restaurant is accessible from both land and water. Dine with one of the most spectacular lake views in North America. That’s a catch guaranteed to be a success!
(Brought to you by the Navajo Tourism Department)