The Reel Deal

Hello, anglers,

Planning for Memorial Day weekend involves knowing what to avoid as much as what to fish for.

First, we’re doing our largest stocking of warmwater fish in the Lakeside-Pinetop and Show Low areas in more than 20 years.

This will give White Mountain anglers extra incentive to get out to the lakes this Memorial Day weekend. See all the details.

Also, it’s time to get ready for Arizona’s Free Fishing Day.

You can fish Arizona waters for free on Saturday, June 7, making this an ideal time to take the family out for some fun and relaxing outdoor recreation.

This day will be celebrated as part of National Fishing and Boating Week. On that Saturday, no fishing licenses are required for persons fishing any public waters in Arizona.

OK, here are some things to consider before heading out:

Fire restrictions

Woods Canyon fire

A Woods Canyon fire was reported at 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, May 21 at 2.5 acres near Woods Canyon Lake on the Black Mesa Ranger District. By 4 p.m. the fire had grown to 150 acres and crossed FR 195.

On the Apache-Sitegreaves National Forests, Stage II Fire Restrictions are starting on May 23. As of Thursday afternoon, the lake area and store were open. See the Apache-Sitegreaves website for updates.

See a full list of Fire restrictions in Arizona.

Reservations reminder

Memorial Day camping reservations are recommended. At Alamo Lake State Park, for example, Park Ranger Mike Knapp said the park on Wednesday had more than 90 reservations for the weekend.

Be “Bear Aware” out there

As temperatures climb and Arizonans head north, human encounters with bears in the high country and in expanding mountain communities are on the increase.

Arizona Game and Fish Department officials are asking people to “Be Bear Aware,” especially while recreating in the cool pines during Memorial Day weekend. Homeowners and recreationists should take precautions to minimize potential conflicts with bears and other wildlife.

See tips on how to best avoid such human-wildlife encounters.

Trout tagging reminder

Those visiting the East Verde River (where the fishing has been exceptional) are again reminded that if a trout with an external radio tag is caught, they may keep OR release the fish.

If you catch a tagged fish, please call the number on the colored tag (623-236-7538) with the following information:

  • Location of the caught trout
  • Identification number on the colored external tag
  • Date the fish was caught

See all the details of our program that is examining stocked trout movement and fate.

Crappie report

Alamo Lake

A couple of boats from the Arizona Crappie Association night fished Alamo Lake on Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18 with good success. We found the bite in the trees across the lake from Cholla ramp in 18-20 feet of water fishing with minnow rigs vertical or with lighted floats 8-10 feet down.

Friday night’s bite was a very light bite. We found that it was either a slight movement in the rod tip fished vertical or slight movement in your bobber that indicated that you had a bite. Fish seemed to be more aggressive on Saturday night with harder hits.

The vast majority of the Crappie caught were in the 9–10.5-inch class, which were returned to the lake. There seemed to be a larger class size of crappie caught on Saturday night. Good numbers were caught between our boats with 45 on Friday night and about 100 on Saturday but again, keepers were few and far between. It was still fun fishing even though most of the crappie were a bit small which of course limited our take home numbers.

Didn’t fish much during the day, but a couple were caught trolling grubs around the same areas we fished at night. Had to fish shallow for these fish also.


(Send your fishing reports and photos to

Fishing a canal at 99th Ave. And Bethany Home Rd., Andrew reported using garlic bait in the evening to catch an 8- and 11.5-pound carp near Cardinal Stadium.

Matt S. from Rose Canyon Lake reported that fishing excellent Monday, May 19, at dusk: Caught a limit of rainbows using orange PowerBait 2-3 feet off the bottom.

I really enjoy reading the weekly fishing reports, thanks for the great work!

Tom L. said he had an awesome time last weekend at Knoll Lake: Friday was a little slow with one being caught in the morning on green PowerBait. We went back in the afternoon at 1 p.m. and stayed until about 4:30 and got four more.

Other anglers told us that the lake was stoked about noon on Friday with 3,500 trout and it really showed on Saturday. We fished a good four hours Saturday morning and about 2 hours in the evening and ending up catching 35 trout.

You could see the stockers cruising along the dam and large schools of close to 100. I was tossing a silver Super Duper just beyond the school and reeling it through and could see the trout swarm the lure. We had several back-to-back-to-back casts where we caught fish every time.

Sunday morning we went back for a hour before we packed up camp and got another seven.

Best action right now seems to be in the morning by throwing lures into the ripples and boils of rising trout. Super Dupers seemed to be best bet but Panther Martins and Mepps were hot too. Biggest fish that I saw caught goes to the female Osprey. Watched her scoop up one about 13 inches or so then make a couple victory laps overhead showing all the anglers how it’s done.

Our grand total between the six of us that went was 47 rainbows caught. Great weekend!

Clayton P., and I, Jacob G., reported good fishing from kayaks at Butcher Jones in Saguaro Lake Saturday, May 17: It was my first time on a kayak. We fished the coves for awhile, but our best fishing was by the shoreline on the main lake.

Fishing was really good. I caught some really nice largemouth bass and a few nice bluegills. We were using crankbaits. Don’t know the weights ‘cause my scale got wet and quit working. Clayton finally caught his first fish in Arizona!

Believe it or not it was a nice 13-inch crappie! I was so surprised and excited for him! I’ve never seen or caught a crappie at Saguaro. This was the second time he has come out with me fishing. First, was at Woods Canyon Lake and we had no luck. He is definitely hooked now!

See the full report

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