The Reel Deal

Happy new year, anglers!

Fishing opportunities in Arizona abound this new year — and they start with the rolling out of our Community Fishing Program expansion. Get ready for 15 new waters! The lakes are perfect for anglers of any level to relax and catch fish in their community. They’re close, safe, and some of the best places for parents to teach their kids how to fish.

With the crisp weather, and kids on Christmas break, the time of the year is ripe to introduce children to this heritage-rich tradition.

Speaking of kids, those under age 10 fish for free. Under the new license structure that took effect on Jan. 1, youth ages 10-17 fish for $5 annually with the Youth Combo Hunt/Fish license. See the full details of the new license structure. The new General Fishing licenses include bundled privileges: trout, two-pole fishing, Community Fishing privileges, and privileges for fishing Arizona’s shared Colorado River waters with California and Nevada are now included in the price of the license (no need to buy separate stamps for those privileges). Plus, licenses are now good for 365 days from the date of purchase instead of for just the calendar year. Buy a license online.

The Department is introducing 15 waters to the CFP. See more information. On Saturday, Jan. 4, the fun begins at Pioneer Lake in Peoria’s Pioneer Community Park located at 8755 N. 83rd Ave. Come on out for the fishing clinic from 9 a.m. to noon. The clinic includes 100 loaner fishing rods, as well as bait. No fishing license is required to those who register. Want to learn how to tie a knot? Cast? Choose the right bait? Bill Larson, our contracted sport fish instructor, will be on hand to answer fishing-related questions.

Even better, the lake will begin to be stocked with catchable fish – we’re dumping about 500 pounds of rainbow trout (10-13 inches on average) into the lake prior to the event. Here’s the full scoop. Should be a blast for anglers who have waited a long time for this kind of fishery near their backyard.

By the way, there is a new moon this week, with very cold nights and some partially cloudy days. This creates great conditions for trout fishing, especially in our winter stocking waters.

In case you missed it, there are new fishing regulations that went into effect Jan. 1. The changes include doubling the statewide possession limit in all statewide and special regulation seasons and reducing the crappie daily bag limit from unlimited to 15 per day at Bartlett Lake and Roosevelt Lake.

Just like that, winter has progressed into a deep freeze. Most of the higher elevation lakes are ice-covered – state highways 261 and 273 have been closed by ADOT for the winter.

Finally, as a little present to kick off the new year, we’re presenting our first video segment of “Fish Stories.” See more details under “Fish Stories” below, or just watch the video of “Rylee’s First Fish” put together by Game and Fish Video Producer David Majure. You’re sure to laugh and, if your memory is a steel trap, reminisce about your first fish.

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