Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

Early morning at Canyon Lake
Early morning at Canyon Lake, Arizona

Spring fishing is here in all its bedding-bass, crisp-morning glory.

Yet the vernal equinox, or the first day of spring when the Earth is neither inclined toward, nor away, from the sun, isn’t until March 20.

Still, this week’s full moon will likely coincide with consistent, warm weather. The result? Springtime spawning conditions for largemouth bass gracing the desert impoundments.

So many great options can be at the end of the line. Flathead catfishing is picking up, and Arizona has become a destination for these bruisers. Crappie are active, stripers are stripping line at Lake Powell and Lake Pleasant, trout stockings will transition into those of catfish, and redear sunfish have are world-class status at Lake Havasu.

Also, Maricopa County Parks will open motorized access to the Agua Fria boat ramp at Lake Pleasant starting Saturday, March 19, and Sunday, March 20, from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.  It will also be open on Fridays through Sundays the following weekends.

High country update

Roads are opening up and lakes are unthawing in some high country lakes. Forest Road 149 to Willow Springs Lake and 300 south to Black Canyon Lake are open and both lakes are ice free. Big Lake is ice free, too. Holdover trout, anyone?

Fishing for licenses

Now’s a good time to get, or renew, your fishing license.  Buy your license online  and fish our great state for a year (and help conserve all species of wildlife while doing so).

Arizona Game & Fish Department Outdoor Expo is April 2-3 

The annual Arizona Game and Fish Department Outdoor Expo is coming soon! This event located at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility is free and offers lots of activities for the whole family. There will be two kids fishing tanks, live wildlife exhibits, cowboy shooting competitions, boating exhibits, plus archery and firearms activities.

Admission and parking are free. Concessionaires will be on site if you would like to purchase food and beverages, plus vendors will be on site selling outdoor-related products.

The event runs 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 2 and 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sunday, April 3. The Ben Avery Shooting Facility is located at 4044 W. Black Canyon Blvd in Phoenix, which is about ½ mile west of I-17 on Carefree Hwy.


Family fun: Bill Luke Bass Days starts Friday

A great family event, Bill Luke Bass Days is at Pleasant Harbor Marina in north Phoenix Friday-Sunday! 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.

Read more about this exciting, annual event.

Angler Reports

(Send reports and pictures to

Apache Lake

Doug F.: On March 13, caught many of these girls on spinnerbaits. Released them all — great day on the water.

Brandon P.: Just wanted to share this beautiful catch I made at Apache Lake on Monday of the biggest smallmouth bass I have ever caught. I released it back into the water for another fisherman to have a great catch.

Caught them about 9-10 a.m. in a rocky cove in about 8-10 feet of water. Caught ‘em on simple live worms using a slip sinker and stuff so I could bounce it off the bottom a bit. I got a lot of bites but this one hit that worm hard.

Dogtown Lake

T.J.: 10 year old Matthew R. (with a brown trout). Weight 3 pounds, measured 19.5 inches.

Chaparral Lake (Scottsdale)
Johnny N. of Phoenix caught his first largemouth bass, and two catfish. Used plastic worm for bass, and nightcrawlers for the catfish. Caught the bass at 8 a.m.and catfish around 7 p.m.

Upcoming public fishing events

Family Fishing Day

When: Saturday, March 19, 8 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Where: Silverbell Lake at Christopher Columbus Park, 4600 N. Silverbell Rd., Tucson

Comments: This family event is being put on by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Game and Fish staff will be on hand to provide loaner rods for those who don’t have their own, as well as providing bait and fishing information. Come on out and bring the whole family. The event is free and fishing licenses are not required for those who register with Game & Fish Staff during the planned hours of the event. See you there!

Contact: Please contact the Tucson Game and Fish Department office at 520-628-5376 for more information.

See the full fishing events schedule.



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