Undulating water that rippled across Canyon Lake, gently rocking the kayak, was felt from head to hips.
Paddling a new Ocean Kayak Tetra 10 Angler kayak for the first time, and during what was this angler’s first time at Canyon Lake, made for excitement that filled the head and heart with ideas of possible thrills: dreams of catching a big bass on a 6-inch rainbow trout swimbait, carving open water, and other endless adventures.
Losing the truck keys, however, wasn’t supposed to be one of them.
A community of paddlers and anglers
A “thank you” is in order. Four gracious (and sympathetic) kayakers offered this nearly stranded stranger, who somewhere among kayaking excitement lost the truck keys, a ride from the Salt River-chain lake in the Tonto National Forest to their mobile home in Mesa.
Then, a party invitation. A full moon party would be happening that night at the swimming pool of their 55-and-over senior community. Karaoke, conversation and wine.
Fishing, you see, can be the doorway to any adventure.
All you need is to purchase a license, some tackle and poles, and maybe a kayak (one option is checking Craig’s list for used ‘yaks.)
But one tip: keep your keys. Consider carrying a carabiner. Or even sign up for one of our free paddling classes — call 623-236-7219 for information.
Anyway, the party didn’t happen — this writer was able to find a ride from the senior community back to his north Phoenix home. But still in order was a cold Bud Light and some macaroni and cheese at the courteous kayakers’ Mesa mobile home. Almost made up for not catching a lunker bass.
What did redeem this whole mess two days later? Four fish tacos.
Bass fishing Canyon Lake, Arizona
Canyon Lake is the “land of lunkers,” and after our first winter rainbow trout stocking, some ambitious anglers begin to throw big rainbow trout swimbaits (usually 4-10 inches) in an attempt to catch one of those plus-size bass that occasionally feed on trout.
It’s hit-and-miss fishing; maybe an angler can catch one in a few hundreds casts.
No luck this day. Didn’t sound like any other anglers fishing the Boulder Creek area that day had big bass luck, either. But one pesky bass was on the full moon feed.
The setup for monster bass included a 6-inch Huddleston rainbow trout swimbait tied with a uni knot to 50 yards of 17-pound Stren fluorocarbon line (a roll of 200 yards was just $13 at Sportsman’s Warehouse), connected with a double uni knot to 20-pound braided line as backing. Purchasing components for this rig is like buying a really expensive scratch ticket (but a lot more fun.)
Canyon Lake, with its sandy-colored, arching features is one of the most unique fisheries in the country. See more information, including a map, of Canyon Lake.
Trolling a 3-inch, orange-and-silver Kamlooper spoon produced the above 13-inch largemouth bass around 2 p.m. in about 20 feet of water in Boulder Creek near the fishing pier.
The bass skyrocketed from the water four or five times, a memory-making sight for sure.
Then, Mr. Bass went from the water to the table.
Taco time (bass, not beans)
Two days later, the bass was filleted into 1/2-inch wide chunks, soaked in cold water, rolled in white corn meal, and fried in a shallow amount of peanut oil …
… then laid to rest on paper towels and sprinkled with salt and pepper …
… then finally into plus-size corn tacos shells (25-percent larger!) along with chunks of Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese and homemade medium salsa (thanks, Mary’s mom from Game and Fish). Few ingredients helped highlight a fresh fish taste.
Maybe the best part of fishing is the eating!
And at this point … what keys?