Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

Some bass have come in shallow for pre-spawn, fanning beds at early-bird lakes such as Alamo, Havasu and even Saguaro. But, at Saguaro last weekend (right), windy weather made sight-fishing tough.

We’re on the verge of some great spring fishing conditions – we might need some more steady, calm weather before anglers start reporting banner fishing days. The feel-good weather has opened fishing options in Show Low and Pinetop, where lakes are ice free. Fishing is relatively poor, but at Fool Hollow Lake, some anglers have been catching walleye …

In the Flagstaff/Williams region, the majority of the lakes are still frozen and the Coconino National Forest has not yet opened any of the gates, so there isn’t access to any of the Coconino lakes. Typically, the Coconino N.F. doesn’t open up the gates until mid-April/early May — depending on the year and amount of snow.  Dogtown Lake on the Kaibab National Forest is a decent option.
Crappie fishing is getting pretty good at Alamo Lake (and bass fishing supposedly is turning on there, too).

Now to Bartlett Lake. The Tonto National Forest has closed the Jojoba (main) ramp, and the Yellow Cliffs ramp remains closed. Bartlett Lake is less than 50 percent full.  The ramps will remain closed until the water levels rise enough to safely reopen the boat ramps. This situation could change soon, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, boaters can still launch from the dirt at their own risk. According to the Tonto N.F., because of an insurance policy, marina operators have to launch boats themselves and so are charging $20 to launch, and $20 to exit. Read more.

Bill Luke Bass Days is a month away. Come out to Pleasant Harbor Marina in north Phoenix March 18-20. For everyone, there will be a day and nighttime festival featuring a cornhole tournament, carnival rides, vendors, food, wildlife exhibits and live music. Read more about this exciting, annual event.

Although this is the time many anglers renew their licenses, our licenses are valid for 365 days from the date of purchase. Buy your license online and fish our great state for a year (and help conserve all species of wildlife while doing so.)


Angler Reports

(Send reports and pictures to


Watson Lake

Steven: My wife, Jing Kwoh, caught her first limit of trout on Jan. 31 at Encanto Lake by the north point of the Enchanted Island, including a 2 pound, 4-ounce trout on garlic chartreuse PowerBait. The others were caught on small treble hooks with sweet corn or salmon eggs. I saw others doing surprisingly well catching trout on hot dogs.


Tucson area

Shane D.: Fished Dankworth pond for 3 hours with no bites.  Talked to several groups; no one was having any luck.  We tried fishing off the bottom with different colors of PowerBaits and salmon eggs.  Tried Panther Martins and roosters tails as well as flies.

Fished Cluff Pond for 3 hours also.  Caught one trout on top with a fly.  Tried fishing off the bottom also with different colors of PowerBaits and salmon eggs.  Tried Panther Martins and roosters tails.  No one there was catching anything.  Other fisherman joked with us that we caught the only fish in the pond.

San Francisco River — the word is fishing for flatheads and channel cats is good.  Worms and chicken liver.


Discovery Ponds in Gilbert


Seth E.: Feb. 19 — caught two very plump rainbow trout at Discovery Ponds in Gilbert measuring in at 13.5 inches each, both caught on a size 10 hook with lemon twist PowerBait. Happy fishing; wet those lines!




Silverbell Lake in Tucson

Mark L. of Tucson: Thursday, Feb. 18: I went to Silverbell Lake 20 minutes before sunset hoping to get a couple of trout bites.  I was fishing with Walmart marshmallows and 4-pound test on an ultra light 5-foot pole, when I got hit! I could see out about 20 feet that he was a big one and very “angry.”  It took me about 5 minutes to reel him in, I attempted to get him in my net but he didn’t fit. Once I landed and got him home, he weighed 18 pounds and was 24 inches long.  A nice prize for my long hours on the banks of Silverbell Lake.



Desert Breeze Lake in Chandler


Sue P.: Glen Parmelee, a snowbird from Wisc., caught this 18-inch rainbow while casting a mousetail at Desert Breeze Lake in Chandler.

Lake Havasu

Tom B.: Water level is about 4.5 feet below normal — most brush edges and reeds are out of the water.  Fished Cattail Cove downstream on Friday, Feb. 19, and Site Six launch and on the California side on Saturday.

Morning water temps about 56 to 57 degrees, warming to 60 to 61 in the backs of coves by EOD.

Found fishing to be very tough.  Saw some bass in coves on the AZ side in about 15 to 7 feet water outside Bill Williams Arm on Friday…all largemouth and they would move away from me, out in front of the boat, but not flushed.

None were really near the man-made cover.  Got one nip on Friday.

There was a tournament on Saturday….I did not fish it.  Caught two smallmouth bass in about 13-15 feet.  One undersized smallie dropshotting and the second on a weightless plastic off a main lake point with a wake-created mud line. It seemed necessary to really slow down…all my other bites were at a near dead-stick technique. Of the three parties I spoke to on Saturday…all were struggling.


Upcoming free fishing clinics

What: “Just for Kids” Fishing Festival
When: Saturday, Feb. 27, 8 a.m. to noon
Where: Kiwanis Lake, 5500 S. Mill Ave., Tempe
Comments: This family event is co-sponsored by Arizona Game and Fish and Anglers United. Instructors will be on hand to provide loaner rods, as well as bait and fishing information. Come on out and bring the whole family. Fishing licenses are not required for those who register with AZGFD staff during the planned event. See you there!
See the rest of the fishing clinics schedule.



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