The Reel Deal

Hello, anglers,

Think lazy. As a general rule, wintertime fishing means going to a slower-than-normal presentation — jig with longer pauses, retrieve spinners with ease, strip flies with patience. Wintertime fish tend to be lethargic, and aren’t always as willing to chase down a bait, lure or fly. Yeah, they can be lazy.

Present in front of their jaws if possible. Fish deep, where water is typically warmest, before trying other areas of the water column. At the desert impoundments, many of the heftier largemouth bass are particularly deep. With this weekend’s chillier weather, expect that to be the case the entire week. Go for a crankbait bite for a hour before light, then throw that trusty dropshot.

Sounds like the striper action can still be pretty good at Lake Powell. Wayne Gustaveson went to Warm Creek on Jan. 27 and dropped spoons in 65 feet of water for 2 hours of non-stop action (most were fat 17-20 inch yearlings, he said.) See more in the full report.

Trout time. Beginning Monday, Feb. 3, we’re scheduled to stock rainbow trout in the following areas – the Verde Valley (Dead Horse Lakes); Prescott (Fain Lake, Lynx Lake and Watson Lake); Phoenix/Mesa (Apache Lake); Tucson/Safford (Cluff Pond, Dankworth Pond, Graham County Pond, and Pena Blanca Lake); and finally, Parker Canyon Lake (La Paz.)

Our Fish&Boat Arizona map will lead you to all these fisheries. Also, see the full details on the winter trout stockings.

Finally received a good crappie report from Bartlett Lake. Anglers been slaying the crappie on the upper end of Bartlett past the no wake buoys. Try a 1/16 or 1/8-ounce jig with a 2-inch curly tail grub. John Deere green, green and black, and white have been good colors. Remember that as of Jan. 1, some regulations changed and crappie daily bag limits are no longer unlimited. An angler can keep 15 crappie daily.

Anglers also need to be aware that the Arizona Game and Fish Department asks outdoor recreationists to help protect important eagle breeding areas by honoring the closure of 23 areas across the state. See full details of these closures.

Resident anglers can get the Community Fishing Program license included with the $37 General Fishing license, or by itself for $24. Licenses are now good for 365 days from the date of purchase. Go online to review the full details of this new and simplified license structure and purchase any license. Truth is, the purchase of a license does far more than allow you to fish or hunt. It supports the ability of all of us to conserve this invaluable natural resource — our one escape into freedom in these ultra-busy times — for future generations.


Q & A

Q: (From the Arizona Game & Fish Facebook page) Rick B., a first-time angler, asked what he needed to get started fishing at Community Fishing Program water.

  • A: Rick: You can try fishing your nearest CFP lake/water for the stocked rainbow trout. Make sure to fish during the week the trout are stocked — it’s much harder after the first three days the fish are stocked. I’d suggest simply fishing with a bobber and hook, with PowerBait, salmon eggs (two Pautzke eggs on a small hook work great) or a worm a couple feet under the bobber (trout tend to stay near the top of the water right after they’re stocked.) Also try just using sinkers to put the bait on the bottom. It’s always a good idea to target different areas of the water column to see where the fish are biting. Check out this “Fishing Basics” page from our new EasyAZ Fishing For Kids blog for some diagrams and tips to get started. Hope that helps! — Nick

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