THE REEL DEAL





The summer solstice isn’t here, but we’re feeling summer burning. Triple digits in the desert regions are driving bass deep and people into swimming pools and air-conditioned basements (we assume). Think where you might go if you were a fish — you might just find them.

Arizona’s Free Fishing Day is Saturday! Anyone can fish out state’s public waters for free. See all the details, including fishing events, possibly near you.

Our Department’s funding challenges – we receive no Arizona tax dollars – means we rely on the general public for participation in hunting, fishing and shooting to conserve and manage wildlife for future generations. So bring someone who hasn’t fished before to a lake this Saturday. Bring a kid. You’ll never forget it.

Let’s get right to the hot spots:

Lower Lake Mary

Please take your limits of six trout per day. Fisheries specialist Chuck Benedict says this is the best trout fishing he’s seen in his 25-plus years in the Department. The great fishing probably won’t last but a few more weeks, so take advantage before the lake gets too warm and lake levels drop.

Afternoon water surface temperature on Tuesday were 74 degrees. Anglers are catching limits on worms and PowerBaits (hint: try different colors; the trout have had a tendency to prefer a different color each day). Fish have been active even in the afternoons and in the shallows. But primarily fish deep. Fly anglers have been wading out in the channel in the upper end of the lake.

Oh, and one last hint while talking about this region: Dogtown Lake is getting extra fish.

Bartlett Lake

If you’re looking to learn a new technique, Bartlett Lake is your spot.

By many accounts, lots of bass from 8-12 inches are on fire. Just go to the lake and throw your favorite bass enticer in 6-16 feet of water.

See the full report for more details.

It’s a great time to take beginning anglers of all ages to Bartlett and catch some fish!

Mogollon Rim lakes

Trout fishing on the Rim lakes was called “over the top” excellent this past week, according to James Goughnour of Rim Country Custom Rods.

Lots of anglers reported great Memorial Day weekend trips, he said. PowerBaits, worms and salmon eggs were reported successful.

At Willow Springs Lake on Tuesday, we heard that rainbows, smallmouth bass, and crappie were hitting streamers, inline spinners, and crawfish crankbaits.

Small spinnerbaits such as a Mepps, Super Duper, and Panther Martins are working.

Bassin’ report

Most bass are in post-spawn mode and generally scattered across lakes. Look for the night bite on bass to improve in the coming weeks as triple-digit high temperatures remain consistent. The most consistent bite has been off dropshots. If these techniques are working for you, or if you’re having luck with different presentations, email your photos and fishing reports to BFishing@AZGFD.gov.

Striper fishing under the lights should be a prime option in desert lakes such as Lake Pleasant this weekend. Look for shad to be congregated around your lights as soon as you drop them.

Spawning bluegill also are a viable target. Try fishing just after the sun comes up and target the backs of coves and some of the humps in desert lakes such as Lake Pleasant, Canyon Lake or Lake Havasu. Pieces of nightcrawlers on small hooks (No. 10 or smaller) and 6-8 pound test line can get plenty of these tasty sunfish. Now’s the time to thrash panfish.

Fishing the East Verde River? Please return tags

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. 

Fire restrictions

See a full list of fire restrictions in Arizona. 

 

ANGLER REPORTS

(Send your fishing reports and photos to Bfishing@AZGFD.gov.)

Kyle K. and his daughter fished with wild horses at Black Canyon Lake over Memorial Day weekend: The horses came within 5 feet of my daughter Madison and myself. They hung out in this area for about an hour with many people coming up and taking pictures.

My daughter and I were using black with blue tail and green with watermelon flake Senkos. We had them Texas rigged and just dragging them on the bottom. Most success was at the northwest cove of Black Canyon Lake. A lot of bites but the ones we reeled in had that heavy pull.

Finally, William J. caught this catfish with his daughter from a canal in Peoria: Canal fishing on the west side with my daughter… Location secret 🙂

Gary N. with a Bartlett Lake report: Bartlett is very low, 45-percent full on Tuesday. Some areas are not recognizable from the previous year of high water. Bass are in the summer mode for the most part — small bass are very active around rock stringers on the main lake.

Some top-water action before the sun got above the horizon, again mostly small (less than 1 pound.) We caught 20 total between 5 a.m. and noon, the largest of which was 1-pound, 11 ounces. Regardless, a beautiful morning for fishing, and we were done before it got too hot!

Went to the Eastern Canal to see if what would bite, caught several small Common Carp and some large White Amurs on bread and corn. Here’s a pic.

Kyle A., said “Bartlett Lake is hot!” in his Bartlett Lake report from Saturday morning (May 28): Actually slept in and got a late start. Hit the water a little bit after 6 a.m. and fished until about 11:30. In that time we caught about 20 bass with three people in the boat.

All the fish were caught off of Texas Rigs using dark colored lizard imitations — green and red seemed to give the best luck. We were hooking them anywhere from right off the shore to 10-15 feet deep.

Most of the fish caught were working the shore starting at Echo Bay Cove and working towards the Yellow Cliffs just north of the Flats. We also went to the dam and worked back north but didn’t have much luck with all the jet skis and wake-boarders romping us.

I tried tossing a white spinner for about an hour and had no luck at all.

Most fish were typical Bartlett bass, but we did pull in a few with some decent meat on them.

The pictured fish is my friend Brett, it was his first time going bass fishing and he got to pull in his first four bass ever!

Earl S. with a Lake Pleasant striper report: We had been getting some decent stripers and white bass, then the normal hard strikes we had been getting became more subtle, but when we set the hook we were in for a surprise. All were females with roe, all within 15 minutes.

An anonymous fishing report from Tempe Town Lake: Fished from shore on west side of the lake. Caught five largemouth bass and lost two drop-shotting a zoom pumpkin seed worm from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Matt G. said he went to an eastern Phoenix canal to see if what would bite: Caught several small common carp and some large white amurs on bread and corn. Here’s a pic 🙂

  FISH STORIES

What’s YOUR fish story? In the ninth segment of Fish Stories, D.J. Rothans tells about that day in 1966 when he brought home a duck and a fish.

Enjoy the latest segment of Fish Stories 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 bfishing@azgfd.gov, 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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