STORY BY: Guy J Sagi
Ackre Lake, spelled Akre Lake according to the Forest Service, is located on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests roughly 25 miles south of Alpine. The location’s a strategic one, too, because it’s the only real public fishing “lake” for miles.
There’s another reason this 2-surface-acre impoundment with an average depth of 10 feet is noteworthy. The waterway is home to Apache trout and an off chance to land another rare state resident.
A U.S. Fish and Wildlife report in 2011 explains, “The primary fishery is cold water featured species, with Apache trout and Arctic grayling. The choice of these species was to assure the stocked species would be compatible with the wild recovery population of Apache trout downstream in Fish Creek.” Biologists admit catches of grayling, stocked last in 2000, are exceptionally rare, though. The brook trout added until 1985 apparently no longer exist in the lake.
Only artificial flies and lures are allowed at the catch and release destination. Those regulations, combined with relatively remote location does, however, make for one of the few underutilized outdoor resources in the state. In fact, not a single respondent in a statewide angler survey in 2001 said they fished the lake.
Take State Route 191 roughly 25 miles south from Alpine, then turn west on Forest Route 8312 (dirt) to reach the lake. There are unimproved and rarely used tent campsites nearby, but there is no boat launch, potable water or any other facilities.
My visits to the lake have been too few and far between, despite the fact the drive from Alpine to Clifton is one of my favorites—if for no other reason than visiting Hannagan Meadow. Douglas fir and blue spruce skirt the lake at an elevation of 8,600 feet. Water ices over most cold months, often resulting in fish kills. As a result, the best times to wet a line are in late fall. Anglers I’ve spoken to insist flyfishing is the best technique. Check the before going, though, because Forest Service roads in the area often close due to winter weather.
In 1998 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service introduced Mexican gray wolves in the nearby Blue Range Primitive Area, so keep your eyes and ears open. If you’re lucky you might get to hear one of these big predators calling.
As for the history of the earthen dam that created the 2-acre impoundment, a 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife report sadly admits, “Nothing is known about the age of the dam.”
Guy J. Sagi has been writing about and photographing the outdoors for more than three decades. You can catch a glimpse of some of his camera work by visiting GuySagi.com.