Hulsey Lake Q & A

by Arizona Game & Fish Department


Q: What is the status of Hulsey Lake? It was emptied to fight the fire a couple years ago. Then I heard that while it was empty you were going to go in and get rid of the silt that had developed over the years before you refilled the lake. It depends on who you are talking to what story you get about Hulsey. It WAS one of the nicest small lakes in the entire area around Alpine. Also, what is the status of Luna Lake? It was an overgrown mess the last time (a year ago) I tried to fish it.

Thank you for the wonderful job that you and the rest of the folks at AZGFD do. The back country would truly be a mess without your continuous efforts. Michael W.

A: Michael: Thanks for your question and kind words -- much appreciated! I turned to our Pinetop-based Fish Program Manager Mike Lopez for this one. Here's what he said:

"The situation with Hulsey has been that we have been waiting for hydrologists to tell us that the watershed has recovered enough after the Wallow Fire (2011). We have had intentions of dredging the bottom to remove the silt and ash that came in after the fire; however, forest hydrologists had advised us that dredging before the watershed has recovered enough would only result in more silt filling the improvement.

Just recently (two weeks ago), the forest told us that the watershed looks stable enough now and their engineers are currently working on a plan to dredge the lake. We will be applying for a Resource Advisory Committee grant to fund the dredging. If that comes through, we could possibly close the head gate on Hulsey this fall and let it fill during the winter and stock next year.

Regarding Luna Lake, it is fishing well right now. It always has good water quality in the spring after it fills during the winter. Plus, ice cover on the lake kills back some of the algae blooms and weeds. So now is the time to fish Luna Lake.

As the year progresses, the irrigation company pulls out water to irrigate in New Mexico, so the water level goes down. And as the water temperatures increase, the algae blooms and weeds grow aggressively and impacts the fishing.

We have lost our weed harvester program, so we will no longer have that tool to address the weed problems. But the problem is actually excessive nutrients that fuel the algae and weed growth. Addressing excessive nutrients is very difficult, but we have a few ideas that we hope to implement soon that will help with the problem. We are working closely with the Friends of Luna Lake group out of Alpine to get some work started. It will be a long road to improving conditions at Luna Lake and will take some additional funding. Until then, the springtime is the best time to fish at Luna."

Hope that helps, and thank you again for your question! - Nick

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