Weekly Fishing Report: The Reel Deal

Hello, anglers,

We call them “incentive” trout for a reason: To get you out on the water and hopefully onto some big fish.

The reports of big trout keep coming in. Ryan L. reported catching this rainbow trout that he said measured 23 inches and weighed 5.5 pounds.

Also congratulations to Harold Heres, who caught a 4.44-pound, 21.75-inch rainbow trout on PowerBait at Red Mountain Lake near Mesa on the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 1. The trout was entered in the Big Fish of the Year contest. Go get yours!

We’re getting things off right with incentive trout stockings that have just gone into many of the Community Fishing Program waters. Which ones? The trout have been stocked into all the waters but the Phoenix/Maricopa expansion and custom waters. See the stocking schedule. These fish are all at least 1 pound, which most being 3-5 pounds. (A few are 6-8 pounds.)

This is prime winter trout time.

Typically, it’s also winter crappie time. Might want to stay away from Roosevelt Lake if you want crappie. On the other hand, sounds like Alamo Lake could be a good crappie producer. Anglers were reporting that crappie were trying to turn on at this lake, which is located west of Wickenburg. A recent storm that blew through shut the bite down for a few days, but with high temperatures back into the 70s all we, things should turn on again. Crappie are definitely blue-sky lovers.

Go where the Bill Williams River enters the lake and you will see some ancient cottonwood tops sticking out of the water — that is a huge flat where the crappie like to hold.

The crappie might be in 30 or even 50 feet of water, but the active crappie are usually at around 15 feet deep. Keep in mind that crappie feed upward.

So slow troll and get your bait or jig down to just above 15 feet. For example, 6-pound Fireline and a 1/16-ounce curly tail swimming jig translates into 41.5 feet of line at a trolling speed 1.5 mph to reach 14 feet.

Also consider Bartlett Lake for crappie.

Don’t forget to bring your license! Need one? They can be purchased online. Your purchase helps conserve wildlife for future genrations! (The Arizona Game and Fish Department does not receive state tax dollars.)

White Mountains fishing updates

Significant access roads closed for the winter on Dec. 30, including Highways 273 and 261, and Forest Road 300 towards Woods Canyon Lake, Bear Canyon Lake, and Chevelon Lake. This has impacted access to a number of waters on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, but the incoming snowstorm would have limited much of that access anyway.

Most of the lakes in the region are entirely frozen over, or mostly frozen. As of Dec. 29, there wasn’t any ice cover that was safe to walk on and thus, ice fishing will have to wait for thicker ice conditions. The late onset of the ice cover will delay the ice fishing season, but will likely mean that no winter kills will occur.

There are only a few waters in the region that are fully accessible (open water or safe ice, open/clear roads), including Lyman Lake, Clear Creek Reservoir, Fool Hollow Lake, Show Low Lake, and Silver Creek.

Most waters are still ice covered, and Show Low Lake that was previously ice free now has partial ice that restricts boat launching. Ice cover should still be considered unsafe.

The ice came on very late this year and needs a little more time to build before it is safe.

Upcoming fishing events (Phoenix and Tucson)

BISCUIT_TANK_SMALLSaturday, Jan. 17 – Get some new rods and reels for the holidays? Break in your new fishing equipment at our free seminar seminar on Saturday, Jan. 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hirsch Conservation Education Area (Biscuit Tank). The area is located in the Ben Avery Shooting Facility on 4044 W. Black Canyon Blvd. in Phoenix.

See more details.

Saturday, Jan. 31 – Big Game Fish Bowl, 8-11 a.m. at Peoria’s Pioneer Park lake at 8755 N. 83rd Ave.

It’s going down the day before the Super Bowl! Wear your favorite team’s jersey and enjoy a variety of activities.

The fishing portion, an Arizona Game and Fish Department fishing clinic, is free. Rainbow trout will have been stocked just prior to the event. Loaner rods and reels will be available, and bait will be provided. No license is required for those who register.

For a $5 entry fee, the event also includes giveaways, gift cards, an event T-shirt, prizes, food and more while supplies last.

For more information, call 623-773-7137 or to pre-register, visit www.peoriaaz.gov/specialevents.

Saturday, Feb. 21 – Free fishing clinic at Silverbell Lake in Tucson, 8 a.m. – noon

See our Fish&Boat Arizona map for directions to our state’s primary fisheries.

See the full report for more details, and please share your fishing memories and pictures with us at BFishing@AZGFD.gov.

Angler reports

Parker Canyon Lake
Dennis D.: Howdy, my fishing partners and I hit Parker Lake on Dec. 20 and 27 for some early morning trout fishing. We hit our limit on the 20th in under 2 hours and the 27th took a bit longer as it appears the trout were spooked by the cold front that hit this past week. We did limit out on the 27th as well (18 trout) with the average size being 14 inches and weighing about a pound or so.

Fishermen should try salmon peach PowerBait with a small treble hook, or Berkley mice tails on a small snell hook along rock walls and as deep as you can get from the bank. The fish are there and they are hungry once you figure out what it is they want to eat.

Silverbell Lake
Phil C.: The windiest day of 2014. Limited out in 4 hours.

Lees Ferry
Brian S.: Went up to Lee’s Ferry during Christmas break. Fished two full days at the walk-in section. If you are going up dress warm. Very cold in the morning. Low 20’s and by wading in the cold water makes for a very cold day. The flows were about 9000 CFS in the AM and peaked around 15500 CFS in late afternoon. We fished from the Paria bar all the way up to the boat launch. The fishing was poor. My friend and I have been hitting Lee’s Ferry for about a decade and fish the walk in section every few months. We know every hole and where fish hold. This is the worst we have ever done. We both only managed to catch about 12 fish each over two days. I primarily fly fish and my friend spin fishes.

I caught a few on black zebra midges size No. 18 and red San Juan worms. I also had some luck with streamer patterns when the water was up. My friend was using Vibrex spinners and Pistol Pete’s. Some of the fish we caught look malnourished. Large head, big eyes and long skinny bodies. The biggest one we caught was only 14 inches. We talked to several other anglers. Mostly fly fisherman. The story was much the same. In fact several anglers got skunked.

Skunked at the Ferry? At this point I would rate the spin and fly fishing at the walk in section a 1 out of 10. I have to say this place has gone downhill. Either all of a sudden we have become bad fisherman or something is going on. We have had many of 100 fish days in years prior. The last two years there is a noticeable decline in the size of fish and quantity.

Pioneer Lake (Peoria)
Pete J.: Caught this big one at Pioneer Park today (Jan. 3) in Peoria.

Roosevelt Lake
Kevin M.: Slow day on the water, fished from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for crappie between the dam area and windy hill. Fished with jigs tipped with minnows, and minnows on bait hooks on dropshot rigs, at varying drift speeds and depths with only a few bass to show for our efforts. Only one vehicle in the parking lot when we launched and only saw three boats on the water while we were out, lowest amount I have seen out there in the near 20 years I have fished the lake. Sad state of affairs at this lake right now crappie fishing wise — hope it comes back at some point.

McQueen Pond (Gilbert)
Seow L.: Our family went to Gilbert community pond on the cold and cloudy New Year’s Day. My son left his fishing rod on the ground and was pulled by a fish into the water. His quick reaction, by reaching into the water and grabbing the rod, was to save the fishing rod and reel in this 2.25 pounder, the largest trout we have ever caught. 2015 fishing is off to a good start!

Roadrunner Pond
Everybody reports about good fishing and where to fish. I am going to report on where not to go. I know how to fish for trout — I have been doing it for 40 years . I was lucky enough to have some time off over Christmas and was able to give Roadrunner Park a try.

I wish I would have picked a different lake because Roadrunner was terrible. I tried everything — power bait, corn, spinners, Z-rays, worms and even old school salmon eggs and nothing worked. Nobody was having any luck and the lake seemed dead and lacking any aquatic life at all.

I was there at first light and there wasn’t even the occasion jumping of bait fish or boils on the surface that most lakes and ponds have from time to time . If you’re fishing time is short you might pass on selecting roadrunner.


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