Weekly Fishing Report: The Reel Deal

Summer is hot and sticky and dizzying in the daytime, but its sounds and weather rhythms can get fish whacking baits. Cicadas are singing high-Cs at Lees Ferry, anglers are reporting flurries of trout feeds at various honey holes, and more high-country weather fronts will have fish feeding aggressively as the thunder bumpers roll in.

Rigged and ready?

Check the summer trout stocking schedule.

Up at the Ferry, the cicada bite is on. This should continue through August. As terrestrials such as the cicadas awaken, fish look for cicadas and other surface-drifting terrestrials by shoreline vegetation.

Overall, fishing can be tough in July, but with hot daytime temperatures and a weekend full moon, nighttime fishing becomes an even better, and cooler, option.

Plus, fish tend to feed better on the full moon (a universal fishing law, if there ever were one). Although submersible lights may not be as effective, they’ll still help gather small bait fish, and in turn the predators you want peeling your line.

Some anglers load up on striped bass even though the moon phases aren’t agreeable, especially at Pleasant, Mead and Powell. Not hearing much on the crappie angling right now, but Alamo, Roosevelt and Bartlett should all be decent. Also try fishing near the old river beds of these lakes.

Locate all these lakes on our Fish&Boat Arizona map.

The old summer pattern holds true: fish are most active at sunrise and sunset, or at night. At sunrise, begin in the coves and switch to main lake points, humps and islands. As the sun sinks into its hammock, try main lake points and secondary points in coves.

Fire restrictions

The Coconino and Kaibab National Forests has lifted their fire restrictions. Due to significant and widespread rain and rapidly decreasing fire danger, the Coconino and Kaibab National Forests in northern Arizona will lift all fire restrictions at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, July 8.

See all the details.

Also, see a full list of fire restrictions in Arizona.

Fish the East Verde River, return any tags (please)

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.

Celebrate family fishing with Sunfish Derby in Show Low

The city of Show Low and the Arizona Game and Fish Department, along with Hatch Toyota, will host a Sunfish Derby July 12 at Fool Hollow Lake. Ages 1-18 can register.

On-site registration is 6-7 a.m. with the event running from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Complimentary refreshments and snacks will be provided in the morning.

See the full-sized event flyer.

Receive an additional prize ticket with early registration at Hatch Toyota starting July 1.


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

Saguaro Lake

Dave T.: I have never submitted anything to the AZGFD. However, after the action at Saguaro Lake (Butcher Jones area) I had to submit.

Weekly, I read the fishing report at AZGFD and read the July 1 post regarding the top-water action. Naturally, I gave it a try. Went about two 2-2.5 hours without a hit until I decided to put on Hula Popper top water. Best decision ever!! Fished the shallow water up against the cattails and this was my first catch of the day…a 4.6-pound largemouth bass. The bass completely jumped out of the water to snag this lure.

All fish were caught using the Hula Popper. I went out at sunrise but did not start getting hits until 10:15 a.m. You can see that the 4th of July weekend action at the beach in the background had not affected on the fishing action.

Hope this is useful for fellow anglers. The advice posted on July 1 regarding the top-water action definitely helped me.

Rose Canyon Lake

Cody P.: Just went fishing July 2 at Rose Canyon Lake and the trout were biting like crazy. I couldn’t find a color of PowerBait that they wouldn’t bite on. The lake levels look like they’ve dropped quite a bit, but it hasn’t seemed to affect the trout. They were pan-size, but all in all a very fun day.

Riggs Flat Lake

Anonymous: Fished with my daughter for two days and had really good action on both days.

We kept nine good sized trout and released a whole lot more. We were using live baitfish caught on the banks of the lake; they’re mainly hiding in the weeds, so it’s pretty easy to catch them with a net or a bucket.

The lake is really weedy — not sure if there are still white amur in the lake, but if you’re fishing out there and hook into one, please, please, please release it. We lost a couple of fish in the weeds and people were getting snagged in there, too.

The east side of the lake is almost unfishable due to the weeds. There are pockets in there where you can fish, but most of it is covered in weeds. Corn, salmon eggs, PowerBait, and spinners didn’t really trigger any hits.

We got one bite from corn, one on salmon eggs, none on PowerBait, and four on small spinners.

The trout really preferred live bait. Meal worms and the lake’s bait fish produced most of the action and the biggest fish.

Big Lake

Adam B.: I arrived at Big Lake about 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 1. The clouds were already building in the sky and the wind was whipping, creating white caps on the lake.

Fished for 6 hours and netted three large rainbows, each about 3 pounds, one caught off the bottom using chartreuse PowerBait, while the others were caught using silver cowbells with a nightcrawler attached.

Second day was far less windy, and using the cowbells again we were able to net six large rainbows, and two brook trout. Probably would have caught more, but a large thunderstorm chased us off the lake.

Later on I talked to a few other anglers who had been at Big Lake for over a week who said that PowerBait and cowbells were the only two methods either of them had caught any fish on.

The lake is very low, about 7-10 feet down, and launching my boat was more difficult than in previous years. However, the water was clear and no algae was visible in the water. Had a great time, and am so happy to see new forest growing after the fire. I plan to be back soon!

Woods Canyon Lake

Steve B.: I went to Woods Canyon yesterday (July 2) for a day fishing trip. I fished from about 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and caught 20 rainbows trout! It was my best day ever! All were safely released for others to enjoy. I caught all 20 on yellow PowerBait on the bottom. Great fishing and great weather made for an outstanding day.

Riggs Lake

Tom P.: Went fishing up at Riggs Lake on Mount Graham in Southeast Arizona. Caught a dozen or so nice trout in a couple of hours. They were biting on PowerBait off the bottom and flies on top.

Simeon: Water levels are down, looks like 5 or 6 feet lower than the normal level. Lots of mud and seaweed to be found, lots of tackle lost.

Lots of jumping and splashing done by small rainbows putting a dent in the fly population, but only saw limited success with people using fly rods. Some were having luck on sherbet PowerBait. The trout didn’t want much to do with our corn or worms, which only produced hits a couple times an hour. Most of what bit were smaller fish that were too little to get our hooks in their mouths.

Was able to find a beautiful brown sitting on the bottom with nightcrawlers right after the sunset, approximately 7:15 p.m. My best advice is to load up the weight so you can launch your line past the seaweed, sit your bait on the bottom, and be patient.

Top water fishing only seemed to only produce smaller fish.

Red Mountain Lake

John S.: My wife and I enjoy your online fishing resources. We saw a photo of a catfish taken at Red Mountain Lake. We have the following photos and YouTube video (link below) of one I hooked July 2 2 ON A FLY.

We wanted to quickly release the fish, so there are no measurements — he fought for 20 minutes or longer and needed to be quickly released. A few onlookers also took photos (including the one of my wife and I) and their own videos.

See the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-I6ZyszUdk

Ashurst Lake

Tammy B.: Our family went to Ashurst on June 19-23.

I know everyone has said that the fishing wasn’t very good, but we caught plenty of trout.

The fish were biting on corn PowerBait, fishing on the bottom with a Carolina rig set up. We were fishing from the shore. They were best around sunup and sundown, but we fished all day and caught all day. There were some that were 13.25 inches and plenty of nice sized fish.

Colorado River (Picacho State Park to Imperial Dam)

Charles S.: Peggy and I fished out in the current for the entire 4th of July weekend. Water temps in the current were 83.5-85 degrees and water level was average.

All of the largemouth we caught were between 2.5-3.5 pounds, and every one of them were caught with creature baits. They may have been hitting other soft baits, but since we didn’t throw anything else, I really don’t know for sure.

Air temps were pretty brutal, often hovering near 115 degrees, so much of our fishing was done in one-hour intervals — one hour of fishing and another hour cooling off with a long soaking in the water.

I think fishing in the current is going to be pretty consistent for the next few months. When it comes to choosing an area to fish, my advice is to try to fish areas that get the greatest amount of shade in the morning hours, even a 2-foot radius of shad will make a world of difference. The fish are not only more active, but they also appear to group together in the shady areas. This is unlike what they do in full-on sun where it appears that many bass prefer to stay buried in the weed cover and largely inaccessible, unless they are actively feeding.

But I always remind myself that in the Colorado River, my larger fish have often been caught during midday in full sun and in unlikely places with extremely fast flows. Of course if it looks fishy, then by all means fish it.

See the full report.

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