Weekend Roundup: Angler Reports

Send your fishing reports and pictures to BFishing@AZGFD.gov — one that includes a photo will be featured as Catch of the Week

Here’s the latest from your fellow anglers (click on the water for directions):

Desert Breeze Park Lake

rm-troutRichard J.:  My 4-year-old son literally asks me every day if we can go fishing. Of course the answer is” yes.”

In the first week of this year, he caught his first trout at Desert Breeze Park (hanging on the stringer) on a piece of leftover English muffin with cheese on it from McDonald’s.

Then a couple days later caught a nice 16-inch rainbow at Red Mountain Ranch Park on green PowerBait.

Willow Springs Lake

Went Thursday to get in ahead of the weather. Cold, windy, sunny until late afternoon. Clouds moved in fish biting. Lost three. Tried it Friday. Clouds, warmer, zero wind. Zero bites. Enjoyed both days. The main body of the lake is ice-free.  The East arm iced over. I couldn’t see the West arm.

Red Mountain Lake

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Jim E.: I caught another largemouth on Jan. 12 at Red Mt. Lake when another fisherman (Tom) accidentally snagged a shad while fly fishing and gave it to me.

On the first cast I caught it.  I was so excited I didn’t weigh or measure it I just had a few pictures taken and released it. The first one I ever caught was on Dec. 12  and a bit bigger than this one — what a thrill. I also owe my catches to Shaun who gave me the tip to use the shad as bait after he caught a beautiful largemouth with shad.

Shaun is there a lot and maybe the best fisherman there. He tows a cart on the back of his bicycle with about a dozen poles and knows how to use them.

Fain Lake

Michael W.: Tuesday, Jan. 17 — Fishing remains HOT!  In 3 1/2 hours of fishing, I caught and released 70 beautiful rainbow trout, ranging from 9 -13 inches.  Fish caught on south side of bridge at a depth of 18 inches, on 1.5-inch crappie tubes.  Weather conditions: cool and cloudy. Water conditions: stained.

Jan. 12 — Non-Stop Action At Fain Lake! In 2 hours of fishing, I caught and released 29 beautiful rainbow trout, ranging from 8-13 inches.  Fish caught on south side of bridge at a depth of 2-4 feet, on 1 1/2-inch crappie tubes.

Note: Lake was stocked with fish this week! Weather Conditions: cold and cloudy. Water conditions: stained.

Surprise Park Lake

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Brandon G.: Caught this 18 1/2-inch rainbow trout — possibly 4.5 pounds.

See more about fishing in Arizona

Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

Meanwhile in Arizona … we’re still fishing. And we’re off to a great start this year with this heavy precipitation — hope the wet stuff keeps falling.  Let’s get right into the winter highlights:

  • Hot spots this week will be the “core” Community Fishing Program waters where we just stocked some monster rainbow trout. See the schedule of what’s been stocked.
  • The 2017-18 fishing regulations are available online and as booklets at AZGFD offices as well as license dealers.
  • The Yellow Cliffs boat launch is once again open at Bartlett Lake. As of Thursday there was 17 feet of water depth at the launch.
  • Rainbow trout from the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery have been stocked into Colorado River waters downstream of Las Vegas after a 3-year hiatus. Read more from our Fish AZ blog.

 

Catch of the Week

Send your Angler Reports to BFishing@AZGFD.gov –one will be featured as Catch of the Week

Photo credit: Lazy Trout Motel and Cabins
Photo credit: Lazy Trout Motel and Cabins

This young man caught this 4-pound brown trout Jan. 9 out of Tunnel Reservoir. This time of year, bunny leeches, simi seal leeches and woolly buggers work well in all of the Greer lakes when there is open water. We consider all ice unsafe.

See all the Angler Reports

 

High country updates: Greer, Becker lakes

Cinda Howard of Fly Fish Arizona … and Beyond (www.flyfisharizona.com)  had this Thursday, Jan. 12 report from the Greer lakes and Becker Lake:

Currently the Greer Lakes are ice-free and they are finally full again. On Jan. 9, there was a young man who caught a 21″, 4 lb brown out of Tunnel (pictured above). This time of year, bunny leeches, simi seal leeches and woolly buggers work well in all of the Greer Lakes. For bait, try worms.

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A nice Becker Lake rainbow trout caught recently from a pier.

Becker Lake is also ice-free and has been fishing very well. I have done well fishing from the pier but if you have a boat, casting to the banks has been very productive. Fish seem to be sitting really close to the bank. My best flies are bunny leeches in white, black and tan.

Public fishing events

Free fishing clinics, loaner rods are provided, bait is free, and no license is required to those who register during event hours.

Saturday, Jan. 14 — City of Maricopa Youth Fishing Day, 8 a.m. — noon, Copper Sky Lake (45345 W. Martin Luther King Blvd., Maricopa).

The lake will be stocked prior to the event with 420 pounds of trout.

SEE A PRINTABLE EVENT FLYER

View the full schedule

Nets and waders: Working for you

This new section will periodically show what our fisheries biologists have been doing in the field to improve fishing in Arizona.


In December, another 80 Juniper trees were sunk in Dogtown Lake as part of the Dogtown Fish Habitat Project.  Since the project started in 2014, more than an acre of fish habitat made of Juniper trees has been added to the 80-year-old reservoir.  This project is a cooperative effort between the AZGFD, Kaibab National Forest, Northern Arizona Flycasters and Trout Unlimited.

Stocking report

Rainbow trout

Thursday, Jan. 12 — Colorado River (Willow Beach). Read more. Wednesday, Jan. 11 and Thursday, Jan. 12 — All Community waters scheduled to be stocked with trout this week (marked with a “T” on the schedule) were stocked with larger-than-average trout. Thursday, Jan. 5 — Dankworth Ponds, Roper Lake, Cluff Reservoir # 3. Wednesday, Jan. 4 — Parker Canyon Lake.

See the full schedule.

READ THE FULL REPORT

Rainbow trout stocking restarts at Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery

Willow Beach, Ariz. – After a three-year hiatus, catchable-sized rainbow trout from Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery (NFH) will return to Colorado River waters downstream of Las Vegas.

The hatchery will release 2,500 rainbow trout into the cold waters below Davis Dam on Jan. 12. The trout measure up to 12 inches long.  Davis Camp and Bullhead City Park will be stocked once more in January, three times in February, four times in March, and once in April, for a total of 25,000 rainbow trout.

During the three-year hiatus of trout coming from the hatchery, the AZGFD continued stockings made possible by donations from local pest abatement districts.

Willow Beach trout stocking schedule

The Willow Beach area immediately downstream of the hatchery will be also stocked with 1,000 rainbow trout every Friday starting Feb. 3.

This weekly stocking schedule will continue year-round. See all the stocking schedules.

Rainbow trout production recently restarted at Willow Beach NFH after securing a reliable water source. A new pump and conveyance system delivers cold water to the federal fisheries facility that is needed by trout for proper growth.

Serving Arizona trout anglers

 

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Trout stockings on the Colorado River continue. On Monday, Dec. 19, there were 5,000 pounds of rainbow trout stocked into the Colorado River in three spots from Davis Camp to Rotary Park. The next trout stocking on Jan. 12 will come from the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery. It will be the hatchery’s first stocking in several years thanks to the completion of a new water intake system.

“It gives me no small delight to see rainbow trout come back into production at Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery,” said Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Region. “Many concerned folks put their shoulder to the wheel to see this through—to design and build a new water conveyance system, and jump-start trout production with fish from our state partners. The hatchery once again serves the angling public.”

The first batches of rainbow trout to be stocked were secured by a partnership with the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD). The hatchery has also started raising rainbow trout from the egg stage again.  In December of 2016, more than 110,000 rainbow trout eggs arrived from Ennis National Fish Hatchery in Montana. Those eggs have since hatched and quickly transformed into young trout to be stocked later.

About Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery

The hatchery, built in 1959, is located 12 miles downstream of Hoover Dam on the Arizona side of the Colorado River. It is one of 70 other such facilities in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Fish Hatchery System.

See more information about fishing in Arizona

Weekend Roundup: Angler Reports

Send your fishing reports and pictures to BFishing@AZGFD.gov — one that includes a photo will be featured as Catch of the Week

Here’s the latest from your fellow anglers:

Canyon Lake

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Winter bass fishing in Arizona can remain fair to good despite colder water temperatures, something that makes Arizona a fishing destination during the winter of freeze.

John S.: Winter bass fishing at Canyon Lake!  Caught late afternoon using Roboworm dropshot at about 15 feet.

Lynx Lake

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Brandon R. of Surprise: Fished Lynx on Sunday, Jan 8. Lake level is high. Excess water has been running over the spillway for the last 5 days.

Fishing off the bank is limited due to water level. Found a nice point to fish from. Water clarity is medium to low visibility. Used PowerBait Nuggets in chartreuse glitter and rainbow on about a 3 foot leader.

Have to cast toward the center, as the trout are in deeper water.

Caught 10 rainbows in a 6-hour period, with an average length of 12-16 inches. Very surprised, as change in water levels tend to throw off the bite there. Will wait until levels recede a bit to have more options of where to fish. All in all, a very good day of fishing!

Riverview Lake (Mesa)

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“Tul” Tuileva:  This fish (rainbow trout) was caught on Friday, Jan. 6, and weighed 2.1 pounds and was 18 inches long.

See more about fishing in Arizona

Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

Water temperatures across the state have dropped to their winter standards, and snow and ice has slowed or stalled driving in the high country — but no precipitation is predicted for the high country this weekend.

See a slide show of pictures from our Fish AZ blog showing recent lake conditions.

Be sure to check the Arizona Department of Transportation website for the latest road conditions. Also, some new fishing regulations are in effect.

First, anglers can pick species to target, grab a license 24/7 online (if needed) then figure out where you’ll go and how you’ll fish ’em.

Here are some updates and a few popular species to target:

Rainbow trout: some incentive

Trout fishing in Arizona is at its best in the Community Fishing Program waters, where larger-than-average trout are being stocked the week of Jan. 9-14.
Trout fishing in Arizona is at its best in the Community Fishing Program waters, where larger-than-average trout are being stocked the week of Jan. 9-14.

Trout is probably the best winter option for putting dinner on the table or bragging to buddies about high catch rates.. Next week we’re going to stock “incentive” trout into many Community Fishing Program waters — see the “core” waters for the week of Jan. 9-14 for a list where they’re being stocked.

Some will be as heavy as 5 pounds.

Bass

 

Bass fishing can be good during the winter in the lower Salt River.
Bass fishing can be good during the winter in the lower Salt River.

Know your winter tactics — it’s not an easy time to catch bass. With typical wintertime water temperatures (surface temperatures at desert impoundments tend to be in the low-50s this time of year) a largemouth bass becomes lethargic and may feed once at first light and be satisfied for a couple days.

This isn’t to say avoid bass fishing. Just be prepared. And fish slowly.

Some tips:

  • Creep a dropshot-rigged Roboworm (bass are eating a lot of orange and red colors, such as Salt River craw) along the bottom. Wait for a possible, subtle bite as the bait is falling. This is where bite-feeling techniques such as holding or thumbing your line as the bait is falling can be critical to catching a bass.
  • Use better gear such as fluorocarbon line and sensitive rod tips. Check online about the advantages of having tungsten weights.
  • Consider that about 10 percent of largemouth bass in our lakes will be staying shallow, or within the first 10 feet of the bank, throughout the day. As the sun comes up, many will travel deep where they might settle into a comfortable 66 degrees (say, 25 feet down.) This also is where the shad has been. The deeper the water, the more plentiful the bait.
  • Target points, humps, reefs and islands.

Crappie

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Crappie fishing in Arizona can be excellent during the season of freeze.

Crappie are heading deep and grouping into larger schools near large pods of baitfish, as they tend to do during the winter.

See a Fish AZ blog article about how to hook them.

So there you go! See our Fish&Boat Arizona map for directions to our state’s primary fisheries.

Catch of the Week

Send your Angler Reports to BFishing@AZGFD.gov –
one will be featured as Catch of the Week

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This 16-inch rainbow trout was Allison R.’s only bite of the day — and now it’s Catch of the Week. She caught it Dec. 30 at East Clear Creek.

See all the Angler Reports

 

Free public fishing events

Free fishing clinics, loaner rods are provided, bait is free, and no license is required to those who register during event hours.

Saturday, Jan. 14 — City of Maricopa Youth Fishing Day, 8 a.m. — noon, Copper Sky Lake (45345 W. Martin Luther Kind Blvd., Maricopa).

See the full schedule

Stocking report

Rainbow trout

Thursday, Dec. 29 — Community waters: Green Valley Lake (No. 1, 2 and 3), Alvord Lake, Desert West Lake, Pioneer Lake, Surprise Lake, Rio Vista Pond, Cortez Lake, Encanto Lake, Steele Indian School, Papago Ponds, Evelyn Hallman Pond, Red Mountain Lake, Chaparral Lake, Riverview Lake, Kiwanis Lake, Desert Breeze Lake, Veterans Oasis Lake, Copper Sky Lake, Lakeside Lake, Sahuarita Lake, Kennedy Lake, Silverbell Lake.

See the full report

Thank you, anglers!

Arizona fishing opportunities wouldn’t be possible without the Sport Fish Restoration Program. It was created through the Dingell-Johnson Act of 1950 (Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act) and the Wallop-Breaux amendments of 1984. Through a federal excise tax paid by manufacturers on fishing gear and motorboat fuels, it provides funds for fishery conservation, boating access, and aquatic education.

SEE THE FULL REPORT

White Mountains lake conditions: see for yourself

Before you head to the White Mountains region (or are you already there? ), take a look at some pictures of the lake conditions.

Fishing is fair at Show Low Lake, Fool Hollow Lake, Willow Springs Lake, and Nelson Reservoir.  Silver Creek is in the catch and release season, which had a parasite outbreak in October, but fishing is now good.  Patterson Ponds in St. Johns were stocked in mid-December with catchable rainbow trout.

Access to Woods Canyon Lake and Bear Canyon Lake is closed as of Jan. 5 via Forest Road 300.  Access to Big Lake is closed as of Dec. 23 via roads 261 and 273.  Other roads are icy and snow packed.

See our Fish & Boat Arizona map for locations to these waters.

Now for the snapshots:

Bunch Reservoir

There is partial ice cover at Bunch Reservoir.
There is partial ice cover at Bunch Reservoir.

Carnero Lake

Carnero Lake is ice covered. Forest roads to the lake have deep snow in spots and are not accessible all the way to the lake by vehicle.
Carnero Lake is ice covered. Forest roads to the lake have deep snow in spots and are not accessible all the way to the lake by vehicle.

River Reservoir

River Reservoir, like at the other Greer lakes Tunnel and Bunch, are full or nearly full, and partially ice covered. The ice is thin and not safe.
River Reservoir, like at the other Greer lakes Tunnel and Bunch, is full or nearly full, and partially ice covered. The ice is thin and not safe.

Tunnel Reservoir

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Tunnel Reservoir, like at the other Greer lakes River and Bunch, is full or nearly full, and partially ice covered. The ice is thin and not safe.

Willow Springs Lake

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Fishing at Willow Springs Lake is fair for stocked rainbow trout and tiger trout. No ice and the road is open (may have some temporary skim ice in early mornings.)

Luna Lake

(At the dam)

Luna is partially ice covered. Fishing could be fair to good in the open water, but stay on the shore and off the ice.
Luna is partially ice covered.

(At the upper end)

Fishing could be fair to good in the open water, but stay on the shore and off the ice.
Fishing could be fair to good in the open water, but stay on the shore and off the ice.

Rainbow Lake

Fishing for trout is poor. The lake is low and weedy. No ice present.
Fishing for trout is poor. The lake is low and weedy. No ice present.

See more about fishing in Arizona

Fishing winter crappie in AZ: how to hook ’em

Many anglers have reported spotting huge schools of  black crappie on fish-finders at lakes such as Roosevelt and Canyon. Other good lakes to try are Apache and Bartlett. (Crappie fishing at Alamo Lake reportedly is poor.)

With some stable winter weather, this can be an excellent time to fish for crappie and they head into deeper waters of our desert impoundments and form large schools.

But some anglers will troll jigs with grubs, roadrunner jigs, small crankbaits, and vertically jig with 2-inch grubs and Rapala Jigging raps — without any bites.

Why not?

Jim Goughnour of Rim Country Custom Rods offered some solutions:

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Winter crappie fishing in AZ can be excellent — just know how to set the hook

AZ winter crappie fishing: feeling a light bite

  • The recent fronts moving through the area have been impacting the bite. So my first thought is to advise anglers to make sure they’re fishing during the right day. … large schools of crappie are relatively easy to find right now. Actively feeding crappie are in 20-25 feet depths.
  • If fishing deeper depths that lack cover such as trees, stumps or rock piles, an angler could be trying to catch inactive fish.
  • The best bait for Roosevelt at any time of year is a Lit’l Fishy bait. It’s a shad imitation bait in a pearl color with a blue stripe on the back (they are available at the Hwy 188 Tackle store in Tonto Basin). Fish this bait vertically and slowly over the school using a 1/16-ounce jig head hook.
  • During the winter, the bite is far less aggressive. The equipment should include an ultralight 5-foot, 6-inch spinning rod and PowerPro braided 4-pound line (I prefer the yellow color). The braided line is needed due to the extremely light bite. If the angler is not using this equipment, they may not be feeling the bite.
  • The bite feels like the rod is slightly bending due to pressure. I typically mark my line at 30 feet, and when I reach that depth, I slowly raise the entire rod — not the tip — about 2 feet. If I feel anything … I set the hook. Using this technique, 99.9% of the crappie will be hooked in the roof of the mouth. Unlike a trolling technique where the crappie may be hooked in the lip, using this technique you can set the hook. If after lifting the rod a few times, I don’t get a bite, reel up about two turns on the reel and repeat the rod lifting process.”

New Year “slab” from Canyon Lake

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Jon A. caught this 14 1/2-inch crappie, his first fish of 2017 caught at Canyon Lake on the first day of the new year.

There is hope. Jon A. caught this 14 1/2-inch crappie on Jan. 1 at Canyon Lake. Jon said, “The crappie were in full winter mode holding deep and completely gorging themselves on shad in the morning. It was caught on a minnow jig and released soon after the photo was taken.”

So go get some winter crappie! Need a license? Get ’em 24/7 online and help conserve wildlife for future generations.

See more fishing resources

Weekend Roundup: Angler Reports

Send your fishing reports and pictures to BFishing@AZGFD.gov — one that includes a photo will be featured as Catch of the Week

Here’s the latest from your fellow anglers:

East Clear Creek

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Allison R.: Caught this trout (about 16 inches) on Dec. 30 out at East Clear Creek. Only bite of the day.

Lakeside Lake (Tucson)

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Benjamin B.: Caught Dec. 29 at Lakeside Lake in Tucson.

Fain Lake

Michael W.: Fain Lake has been restocked with rainbow trout!  In 3 hours of fishing, I caught and released 35 rainbows, ranging from 8-9 inches.  Fish caught at southwest side of lake, in 2-4 feet of water, with 1.5 inch crappie tubes. Water Conditions: Muddy. Weather Conditions: Cold & Cloudy.

Alvord Lake

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Angel G.: Caught at Alvord Lake, Dec 17. Weighed 6 pounds (fish at right). My wife caught 2 and I caught 3  — including the big one. Caught these with PowerBait.

Editor’s note: The daily bag limit at Alvord Lake is four trout per day. This catch was legal because it was caught by two anglers. See all the fishing regulations.

See more about fishing in Arizona

How to beat winter striper fishing blues

The winter season is here and striper anglers want to relive holiday stress by hooking some line-zinging stripers.  This can be a tough adjustment for anglers who are used to filling coolers with 40-80 fish on a trip like they do during the summer and fall seasons.

I have solutions!

Where to fish? Somewhere over the rainbow

bowtrout

One solution is called rainbow trout fishing, and this is the time of year to enjoy an awesome winter bite for a beautiful rainbow colored fish. Many anglers are reporting great results with many guys catching their limits within an hour or two.

Anglers can fish around the city in the Community ponds and lakes or the other fisheries that are stocked on a regular schedule.  Try using PowerBait or meal worms on 4-6 pound test line or cast small Mepps, Kastmasters,  and roostertail spoons.

AZ winter striper fishing tactics: go midday

co-river-striper

If you still have the passion to go after the striped bass, try going from midday (noon to 5 p.m.) when the fish seem to be most active.

If you’re able to cast-net live shad, the shad will help cause a bigger bite and more keeper-size fish. Shad can still be found in shallow water near the shores or structure.  If you can’t catch shad, use frozen anchovies and don’t forget to chum to attract and hold a school under the boat.

Continue to cover water when casting and try different speeds when bringing the lure back to the boat.  It’s somewhat normal to have a school of fish under the boat with no aggressive bites.  The key is to be patient and to drop that bait or artificial lure at different depths to trigger a fish to bite.

With the water temperature getting to lower 60-degree water, the striper are not as active and will need more enticing to bite.

This is my recommendation for the “Striper Blues!” Go trout fishing, and wait until the new year for more striper action.

Check out more fishing resources, and Tight Lines!

Barry Worman is the moderator of the Arizona Striper Fishing Facebook page

Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

For six months, nights were becoming longer, peaking Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 3:44 a.m. The first day of winter.

As we cross that peak and daytime gradually lengthens toward spring, it’s time to focus on what species and waters are best for winter fishing. First, our Community Fishing Program waters are being stocked with trout. See the schedule.

We have some new fishing regulations coming into effect Jan. 1 — see the details.

Also, be sure to check the ADOT website for road conditions before traveling this weekend. Ice fishing is not recommended due to unstable conditions of ice. Please be cautious – we consider all ice unsafe.

I’ll be out of the office until Jan. 3 and there won’t be a fishing report next week. But be sure to check-in here next Wednesday night — we’ll discuss how to beat the winter striper fishing blues.

Nets and waders: working for you

This new section will periodically show what our fisheries biologists have been doing in the field to improve fishing in Arizona.

lmbWe recently conducted our annual electrofishing survey on the backwaters of the Imperial Division of the Colorado River to gather data on relative abundance, size, growth of fish and to detect any large-scale changes in the fish population.

The largemouth bass population appears to be doing well – the largest sampled was 23.9 inches and 9.5 pounds. More than 20 percent of the largemouth bass captured during the survey were 15 inches or larger. A high number of young-of-the-year largemouth were sampled as well – possibly an indication for a future robust population in this area.

A total of 2,235 fish were sampled at 17 survey stations — including 206 largemouth bass. Other species collected included bluegill and redear sunfish, black crappie, warmouth sunfish, threadfin shad, gizzard shad, blue tilapia, common carp, striped bass, flathead catfish, and channel catfish.

Give the gift of fishing

Need a last-second gift idea? Buy a license online, 24/7, and get a license for family or friends. (A $5 youth combo hunt/fish license makes for a great stocking stuffer).

Stocking report

Tuesday, Dec. 20 — Cluff Reservoir, Roper Lake, Dankworth Ponds.

Monday, Dec. 19 — Deadhorse Lake, Verde River (middle), Fain Lake, Saguaro Lake, Colorado River (3 spots from Rotary Park to Davis Camp).

Thursday, Dec. 15 — Lower Salt River.

Wednesday, Dec. 14 — “Core” Community fishing waters, Patterson Ponds (St. Johns), Patagonia Lake.

See the schedule.

Catch of the Week

Send your Angler Reports to BFishing@AZGFD.gov
one will be featured as Catch of the Week

 

Digital Camera

Jim E. with the first keeper largemouth bass he’s caught at Red Mountain lake after 15 years of fishing this lake east of Mesa.

See all the Angler Reports

 

Thank you, anglers!

Arizona fishing opportunities wouldn’t be possible without the Sport Fish Restoration Program. It was created through the Dingell-Johnson Act of 1950 (Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act) and the Wallop-Breaux amendments of 1984. Through a federal excise tax paid by manufacturers on fishing gear and motorboat fuels, it provides funds for fishery conservation, boating access, and aquatic education.

SEE THE FULL REPORT

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