The Reel Deal

Hello, anglers,

Now is the time to hit the high country lakes and streams. There simply are tons of fish being stocked. That includes our native Apache trout in the East Fork of the Black River, the Little Colorado River at Greer and Sheeps Crossing, not to mention Silver Creek. Haigler Creek and the East Verde River also sound like they’ve been hot spots. These creeks are family memory makers.

Lower Lake Mary
in Flagstaff and Woods Canyon Lake on the Rim also have allowed some anglers to fill their creels.

At Silver Creek, about anything has been working for the trout – worms, salmon eggs, and PowerBait, for example. For fly-fishers, No. 18 prince nymphs and pheasant tails have been successful, too.

Desert regions are hitting triple-digit temperatures this weekend, so head to higher elevations for a refreshing blast and be sure to check the summer stocking schedule.

Don’t forget to bring your fishing license. Need one? You can purchase any from our simplified license structure online.

It should be spawning time for bluegill. These tasty fish should be in any of the northern coves in desert lakes. The bigger fish should be moving in, getting ready to lay their eggs. Try nightcrawlers and meal worms. And if you’ve never caught a bluegill on a fly, you’ll find out what a fighter a sunfish can be on light tackle.

Top-water options also are abundant. Fish are chasing shad on shorelines. Reports are particularly good out of Canyon Lake. As is the situation at most desert lakes, the majority of bass are in post-spawn. Bass also will chase crankbaits at a slow-trolling speed. Half-ounce football jigs with jigger craws and dropshots with Roboworms also are good bets. Largemouth bass can be in shallow and deep waters this time of year, so don’t rely on one pattern. Try various depths and tackle options and crack the combination.

Two near-record redear sunfish caught at Lake Havasu

Now that redear sunfish are entering their typical May-June spawn, Hector Brito’s pending world record redear caught in February that weighed 5.80 pounds – and was not a spawner – could be in jeopardy before the International Game Fish Association even certifies it.

These redear were caught last week and weighed 5.23 and 5.74 pounds, respectively.

Ever eaten a redear sunfish, a.k.a. shellcracker? Excellent table fare.

Time to get out to Lake Havasu and “Play Like You Mean It.”

Big Fish of the Year striper caught at Lake Pleasant

Don’t forget about striper action at Lake Pleasant. Alvin Sellers of Phoenix, on Tuesday, May 13, caught this 38-inch striper that weighed 23 pounds, 9.28 ounces and is a new leader in the Big Fish of the Year (BFOY) catch-and-keep category.

He reported catching it with a spoon.

See all the 2014 BFOY leaders.


(Send your fishing reports and photos to

Steve T. witnessed Camden, 5, and his sister Kinley, 3, catch their first fish May 9 at a remote Mohave County pond: They were visiting Grampa and Grama in Kingman and found the bluegill and catfish were biting really well. They came in from San Diego and were using worms. They even touched the worms. All fish were caught and released and so were the worms that were leftover. It was a very exciting day for both of them.

Mike R. sent in a picture of his girlfriend’s first fish in Arizona, caught at Gilbert’s Discovery Park: After a few hours of getting a few bites here and there, my girlfriend Brandi D. of Fountain Valley, Calif. reels in a beautiful 21.5-inch channel cat from the lower pond at Discovery Park in Gilbert. The fish set itself off a piece of bacon fat on a circle hook. This was her first fish caught in Arizona and was made possible by the expansion of the Community Fishing Program.

Many thanks to the AZGFD. It was a moment she will not forget!

Dan H. fished Canyon Lake Saturday, May 10 with success on sunfish and bass – and he urges other anglers to do the same: We fished Canyon Lake this morning and caught two sunfish and four largemouth and two smallmouth bass.

We weren’t out very long but saw several bigggggggggggggg bass still guarding their beds; the ones we caught were 1-2 pounds. But the majority were post-spawn. We had bass chasing our crankbaits on a slow-trolling speed.

But if you aren’t at Canyon Lake right now, you need to quit your job and drop whatever you’re doing and go to Canyon Lake!!!!!!

Charles and Chris Fayer on Friday, May 2, fished Luna Lake: From reading the Weekly Fishing Report from Game and Fish, my wife Chris Frayer caught this 20-inch 3.5-pound rainbow trout at 10:30 a.m. trolling with a brown trout Tasmaning devil lure. It’s the biggest fish she’s ever caught. Thanks AZGFD for making dreams come true.

Jason S. also has had good luck at Canyon Lake, most recently Thursday, May 8: I’ve been fishing it pretty regularly. I caught a 9-pounder early this month, but late at night and pretty close to midnight on a ½-ounce football jig with a jigger craw.

Only caught three that night, but one of the others was around 5 pounds. I went Tuesday of this week and used the same jig for the first hour or so and only caught one, so I switched to a dropshot — which I rarely use — but it worked. Ended up catching 12 that night.

I went again last night (Thursday, May 8) for a few hours and used a dropshot again and ended up with six — biggest one was around 4 pounds. Most of my fish were caught pretty close to the shore… not too many hits when I got off it too far. All of my fishing is after dark when all the skiers are gone.

Frank W. fished Lake Mohave May 8-9: Smallies are off the beds, however, I did find one male still guarding. The smallies were in a post-spawn mode, roaming the flats and hanging around shallow rocks. Caught 20 each day, with a number in the 2.5-3.5-pound range. Largemouths were harder to find, it was hard to tell if they are pre-spawn or post-spawn. Only found two on beds. Did manage to catch 10, but all were nice sized.. 3-5 pounds. In both cases most fish were caught using a craw imitator. Largemouths were both shallow and deep — no real pattern.

Matt M. and a friend were fishing Pena Blanca Lake last weekend: I got blanked for trout and bass, but he managed to pull in five bass. He was using a worm rigged weedless and was casting into the bank. One was about a pound and the others were way less than that.


What’s your fish story? In the eighth segment of “Fish Stories,” In this latest segment of Fish Stories from the “AZGFD” YouTube site, take a ride on Willow Springs Lake (a great spot to fish right now) as Bobby Avery tells his fish story!

See this video from the “AZGFD” YouTube site!

Have a fond memory? An exciting experience? Or, just a special day on the water with family and friends enjoying Arizona’s amazing outdoors? Email your story to, and we may share it with others online, in print, or on television.

Stay tuned for future additions of “Fish Stories,” which will frequently appear here in print, online or on television.

See the full report.

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