Send your fishing reports to BFishing@azgfd.gov — one will be selected as Catch of the Week
Gunny C.: Finally a quality bass. 8-pounds, 2 ounces on March 15. Thanks to Johnny Johnson for the great informational videos!
Jack caught this monster 48-pound, 13-ounce striper in about 10 feet of water in the flats across from South Cove. He also caught another lunker on the fishing trip.
Pena Blanca Lake
Andrew: Fished the shore this last Sunday evening. Didn’t get any bites using small jigs. Caught sunfish and bass on nightcrawlers during sundown.
Jeff P.: Working the shallows between Grapevine and Schoolhouse, put 12 in the boat (catch and release), mostly on the smaller side, but also picked up a couple of good ones including the 19 incher in the photo. All were caught on clear/red hula grubs, Texas-rigged.
Desert Breeze Park (Chandler)
Anonymous: Viviana and her dad caught these two catfish late afternoon on Monday. Using chicken liver and are so excited for some spring fishing!
Max W.: Just wanted to let you know, chub fishing at Fossil Creek was on fire over the weekend. 5-6 fish an hour in the morning, all on dark simi-seals and wooly buggers. Things slowed down around 9:30 or so.
Dead Horse lagoons
Debbie A.: Taylor Allen (of Flagstaff) caught this largemouth bass on a drop shot. Sunday, March 19.
Also, motorized access to the upper arm of the Agua Fria River at Lake Pleasant will again be available thanks to a special development project of the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Boating Access Program. Through the cooperative efforts of the Department, the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, this unique boating and fishing opportunity will be available each Friday through Sunday throughout the spring, beginning Friday, March 24. Operating hours are from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and regular park entry fees apply (exact change required).See more information.
Alamo Lake. West of Wickenburg, Alamo Lake has lots of great camping sites, fish cleaning stations, and a lack of recreational boaters. Alamo doesn’t have a marina or boat gas. So you won’t be “waked out” by multiple ski boats. Jet skis won’t be cutting your lines. Lacking amenities can be a great thing for those who just want to fish. Plus, fishing is picking up — there have been reports of 3-5-pound crappie being caught this week.
Dead Horse Ranch State Park (and Verde River). Located in Cottonwood, the Dead Horse ponds are stocked with trout and are kid-friendly. The Verde River is being stocked. The Tuzigoot National Monument is a short drive away from the river. We even stock the river adjacent to the bridge leading to these fascinating hillside Indian ruins.
Roper Lake State Park near Safford. With great views of Mount Graham, the lake is stocked with trout. Besides tons of camping spots, they also have “camping cabins.”
Mary lakes in Flagstaff. Upper Lake Mary is full and spilling and Lower Lake Mary recently has had about 9,000 larger (10 inch) rainbow trout stocked along with about 8,600 smaller (6-8 inch) rainbow trout.
Roosevelt Lake. Simply camping galore and good fishing.
Thursday, March 9 — Concho Lake, Cluff Reservoir 3, Roper Lake, Dankworth Ponds, Lower Lake Mary. Wednesday, March 8 — Silverbell Lake, Kennedy Lake, Sahuarita Lake, Lakeside Lake, Caparral Lake Riverview Lake, Tempe Kiwanis Lake, Desert Breeze Lake, Veterans Oasis Lake, Copper Sky Lake.
At these free fishing clinics, loaner rods are provided, bait is free, and no license is required for those who register during event hours.
Saturday, April 8 — Youth Fishing Day, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m., Bonsall Pond (5840 W. Bethany Home Rd., Glendale). The AZGFD and city of Glendale will give out up to 1,000 free youth license on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Weather in the White Mountains region has been warming to highs in the 60s, and could nip the 70s this weekend. Many lakes are thawing, and more roads to some prime fishin’ holes will become open. The region, in a sense, is melting.
Fishing is good at Concho Lake, Silver Creek, and Becker Lake. Silver Creek is in the catch-and-release season, where in October there was a parasite outbreak — but fishing is now good. Concho Lake was stocked the week of March 8. Becker Lake is catch and release as well, but fishing for large rainbows and tiger trout is good.
Here’s a chart showing an overview of fishing ratings, followed by a look at each lake along with some other photos from Friday around this scenic, fishing heaven:
Mogollon Rim lakes
*Skim ice may be present, use caution. Ice coverage is unpredictable with warm days and cold nights. Forest Road 300 (Rim Road) to Woods Canyon Lake and Bear Canyon Lake is closed for the winter.
BEAR CANYON LAKE – Inaccessible. Forest Road 300 (the Rim Road) is closed for the winter as of Jan. 5.
BLACK CANYON LAKE – Fishing is poor. Try crankbaits for bass. Accessible on Forest Road 86. Road may be muddy and have snow on it but is accessible.
CHEVELON LAKE – Fishing is fair for large wild brown trout and rainbow trout. Forest Road 504 from the north is open.
WILLOW SPRINGS LAKE – Fishing is fair to poor for stocked rainbow trout and tiger trout. The gate to Willow Springs Lake is closed (the boat ramp is inaccessible), however the road to Sardine Point is open but has snow on it. The lake’s main body is open; however the fingers of the lake are snow and ice-covered. Temperatures are freezing. Ice is thin and unsafe.
WOODS CANYON LAKE – Inaccessible. Forest Road 300 (the Rim Road) is closed. Ice is thin and unsafe. There is some open water. You can walk in.
Pinetop/Show Low/St. Johns lakes
*Skim ice may be present, use caution. Ice coverage is unpredictable with warm days and cold nights.
FOOL HOLLOW LAKE – Fishing is fair. No ice. Rainbow trout are being caught. The lake is full. Fishing pier and platforms are accessible! Northern pike should be congregating to spawn this time of year, try throwing Rapala lures or streamers in shallow coves. Northern pike spawn and congregate in weedy shallow coves. Try crankbaits for bass.
RAINBOW LAKE – Fishing is fair to poor. Lake is full and spilling no ice. We are doing northern pike removals, so beware of gill nets during the day. We have caught some bass, many 17-inch catfish, lots of northern pike and even one 16-inch rainbow trout! Northern pike are congregating to spawn to shallow weedy coves. Try your luck, they are a tasty fish!
SCOTT RESERVOIR – Fair. No ice.
SHOW LOW LAKE – No ice. Fishing is fair. Holdover rainbow trout should be fishing well. The two fishing piers have been disconnected so that winter ice does not damage them, thus, they are not available for shore-fishing. The road over the dam is closed for the winter.
WOODLAND LAKE – No ice. Fishing is fair. Fishing dock is inaccessible.
PATTERSON PONDS – This is a community fishing water in St. John’s. A regular fishing license or a community fishing license is required to fish here. Channel catfish and sunfish fishing is fair, but trout fishing is good. Catfish were last stocked in October and rainbow trout were just stocked in Jan. 25! The pond daily bag limits in community fishing waters (2 trout; 2 catfish; 5 sunfish) apply.
White Mountains lakes
*Skim ice may be present or lakes may be frozen over. The 261 and 273 roads are closed. Forest roads are icy and snow packed.
BECKER LAKE – Fishing is good to excellent. Becker Lake is open to catch-and-release only for trout, artificial fly and lure only; single barbless hooks only. No bait. No trout may be kept. Many large, thick rainbow trout are being caught on white semiseal leach with olive or gray tail, or red chironomids under a strike indicator. Tiger trout are also being caught.
BIG LAKE – Inaccessible and ice-covered. Ice is still VERY thin and unsafe. During the winter survey on March 8, accessed with snow mobiles, ice was easily broken through just standing on it. There is some open water. Highways 261 and 273 are closed for the winter. Forest roads from the south are not passable due to deep snow.
CARNERO LAKE – Inaccessible but has some open water. Winter kill is NOT predicted here as of Feb. 16. Forest roads to the lake have deep snow in spots and are not accessible all the way to the lake by vehicle.
CLEAR CREEK RESERVOIR – Fishing is poor for trout, but fair for sunfish, bullheads, and bass. No ice.
CONCHO LAKE – Fishing is excellent. The lake was stocked last week with trout!
CRESCENT LAKE – Inaccessible and ice-covered. No open water as of March 8. Ice was 10 inches where we checked; however, ice may be unsafe with warm winter days melting the ice. A partial winter kill is predicted here as of March 8. Survey in April or May will determine if winter kill occurred and stocking will occur regardless if water quality is acceptable to stocking. We are seeing high pH and some suppressed oxygen levels. However, we look forward to fishing for large rainbow trout and brook trout in the spring! Highways 261 and 273 are closed for the winter.
GREER LAKES (River; Tunnel; Bunch) – All three lakes are full or nearly full, and ice-free. Large brown trout and rainbow trout are being caught in River and Tunnel. Greer Fire District will be conducting prescribed burns Feb. 22-March 10. The burns will be in the area of squirrel spring and the spade ranch areas. The community of Greer will be impacted by the smoke. Contact Greer Fire District staff if you have questions.
HULSEY LAKE – Open water. The road is snow packed. Fishing is fair.
LEE VALLEY LAKE – Inaccessible and ice-covered. Ice is thin and unsafe. Ice may be unsafe. Few fish remain here, although we are not predicting a winter kill. Highways 261 and 273 are closed for the winter.
LUNA LAKE – Fishing is fair. Road is ice-free. Fishing should pick up as water warms. Lake is murky colored.
LYMAN LAKE – Lyman Lake State Park is open. Fishing is fair for bass, walleye, carp and catfish. Use corn or nightcrawlers for carp and catfish. No ice.
NELSON RESERVOIR – Fishing is fair. Fish may have sores from a parasite called Lernaea; however, they are safe to eat.
White Mountains streams
EAST FORK of the BLACK RIVER – Roads are snow packed. This is only accessible from the south from Forest Road 26. Fishing is fair for brown trout. Moderate flows from snow melt.
LITTLE COLORADO RIVER in GREER – Fishing is poor. The stream was last stocked in September. Wild brown trout are also present in the stream. Moderate flows.
SHOW LOW CREEK – Fishing is poor. The road over the dam at Show Low Lake is closed for the winter.
SILVER CREEK – Fishing is good. Current regulations are catch and release with artificial flies and lures with single barbless hooks only. A protozoan infection called “Ich” hit rainbow trout in Silver Creek in October, causing significant stress, some mortalities of trout, and poor fishing, however, that bout of infection has passed. Fishing is good! This stream is ice-free all year round.
SHEEPS CROSSING/LCR – Inaccessible. Highway 273 is closed for the winter. Frozen over and snow-covered.
The new fish stocking season has begun in the Flagstaff and Williams region. That will include Lower Lake Mary, which has the highest water levels since 2010. Having been partially replenished, this 450-acre lake in Flagstaff is basically a new fishery.
We’ll be stocking some large rainbow trout into Lower Mary on Thursday, March 9 to kick things off.
And Lower Mary will grow ’em quickly.
This is Lower Mary on Monday after our fisheries biologists checked water quality:
The lake’s no more than half full, and with possible snow in this region through May, the lake levels likely will continue rising.
Your bait of choice? Make sure you have some worms in your arsenal. Earthworms tend to flee from their underground dwellings during heavy rains.
“There’s a lot of nutrients when Lower Mary fills, but this time of year they’re feeding on earthworms,” said AZGFD Wildlife Specialist Chuck Benedict. “You’re going from 30 acres of ground cover (before the winter) to a full 950 acres of cover if it fills. That’s a lot of earthworms that are coming out.”
Upper Lake Mary is still spilling.
Regular trout stockings for the White Mountains and Rim Lakes typically resume in April/May.
Some other updates:
Goldwater Lake, Fain Lake, Deadhorse lagoons
All are scheduled to be stocked this week.
Frances Short Pond, Oak Creek, Kaibab Lake
Our Page Springs Hatchery stocked Frances Short and Oak Creek this week. When Kaibab Lake stops spilling over, it will be stocked as well.
The road is not open and it has not yet been stocked.
Rob T. said, “Bite is non-existent! Not for a lack of fish nor a lack of anglers. Not even a bite. Nobody I saw or talked to fishing from shore had a bite either. I saw plenty of nice sized fish on the sonar deep but lock-jaw has set in. Water temp running 40-41 degrees and the lake is full and going down the spillway nicely. Here are a few shots from the launch ramp and then next email will have some sonar shots.”
The lake has been closed due to upstream Salt River debris.
In western Arizona, Alamo Lake resembles a chocolate milkshake as the lake has risen 13 feet in two days.
Shore anglers might have a chance to avoid debris — but not stained/muddy water. Boaters might have a difficult time avoiding floating debris — boat with extreme caution. The Salt River at Roosevelt was running at 3,934 cfs on Wednesday afternoon (2,978 at Tonto Creek at Rosy).
Update from Tonto National Forest: Forest Road 19, leading to Bartlett Lake, reopened Wednesday.
The following recreation sites have reopened to the public:
Bartlett Flat Campground
Yellow Cliffs Boat Launch
Rattlesnake Cove Picnic Area
SB Cove Shoreline Site
Jojoba Boat Launch
Phon D. Sutton, Coon Bluff, and Granite Reef Picnic Sites along the Lower Salt River have also been reopened for day use.
The Horseshoe Dam Road, Forest Road 205, leading to Horseshoe Reservoir and the following recreation sites remain closed:
Both Forest Road 20, leading to Needle Rock and Box Bar, and Lower Sycamore Road, Forest Road 1847/403 remain closed until the water recedes and road conditions improve.
This was the Verde River Wednesday afternoon at the Beeline Highway Bridge (by Fort McDowell):
OK, back to hooking fish. Water temperatures at many desert impoundments are hovering at or above 58 degrees, the mark that typically triggers pre-spawn bass activity.
Community fishing. The final scheduled trout stockings of the winter-spring season will take place the week of March 6. Catfish will return to Community waters the week of March 20.
Repairs at Rio Vista Pond have been completed. We were not able to stock the pond last week as scheduled due to the repairs — those fish went to Pioneer Lake i Peoria — but do plan on stocking it next week.
At Apache Lake this week, we determined a threadfin shad die-off was due to high numbers of golden algae. We continue monitoring the situation.
Alamo Lake rose 13 feet in two days and on March 1 was at 1,118 feet in elevation. Mark Knapp from Alamo Lake State Park said when the lake is done rising the main ramp should open. Cholla ramp is open, but there are log jams all over and fishing is poor. But in one month, fishing should be incredible. Get ready.
White Mountains regional updates. Accessible lakes as of Feb. 28 include Willow Springs Lake, but it is walk-in only (road is snow packed) and ice is thin and unsafe. The gate is closed. Sardine Point is open, but the road is snow packed. Fishing at Fool Hollow Lake is fair. There’s no ice and rainbow trout are being caught. Fishing pier and platforms are accessible. Northern pike should be congregating to spawn this time of year; try throwing Rapala lures or streamers in shallow coves. Northern pike spawn and congregate in weedy shallow coves. Also, there’s no ice at Show Low Lake, Woodland Lake, and Becker Lake. Big Lake is still inaccessible and has extremely thin, unsafe ice. Best bet in this region remains Silver Creek. See the full report.
(Send your Angler Reports to BFishing@AZGFD.gov – one will be featured as Catch of the Week)
Well this one was easy. Sue Nowak caught this 21-inch, 6.28-pound smallmouth bass that is a Colorado River waters hook-and-line state record. She caught it around noon on Thursday, Feb. 23 with a dropshot-rigged True Image mini shaker lemonade worm. She was fishing with Shaun Bailey’s Guide Service in Lake Havasu City.
At these free fishing clinics, loaner rods are provided, bait is free, and no license is required for those who register during event hours.
Saturday, March 11 — Family and Community Fishing Event, 8 a.m. – noon, Roper Lake State Park (101 E. Roper Lake Rd., Safford). For more information please contact Kelly Wright at Roper Lake State Park at (928) 428-6760 or the Sport Fishing Education Program at (623) 236-7240.
The smallmouth bass was weighed on an AZGFD certified scale at Bass Tackle Master in Lake Havasu City. See more about the catch.
Not only have record amounts of rainfall refilled many lakes statewide, giving anglers new areas to target, some of the biggest bass are usually caught during the spring season.
Here’s some tips:
Bass fishing in AZ: 5 springtime tips
Early-bird spawning activity: head west
For the next month, try western Arizona lakes such as Alamo, Havasu and Martinez, some of the first Arizona waters to heat up following winter.
Pre-spawn movement typically begins when water temperatures hit 58 degrees — during late February, that’s been about the water temperature at Havasu.
Prefer central Arizona? Some fish already are moving up on beds at Saguaro and Canyon lakes.
Remember: fish will be all stages of a spawn (pre-spawn or staging fish, actual spawning fish, and post-spawn). They don’t spawn at the same time, and will do so from March through June.
Dropshot worm the ticket at Havasu
At Havasu for the next couple weeks, you can’t beat a dropshot-rigged plastic worm. Use nothing heavier than 8-pound fluorocarbon line. Bass have been staging in 14-20 feet of water.
Early season bass: hit a warmwater hideaway
A southern sun blasts directly on the large, northern coves at Roosevelt Lake. From secondary points in about 10 feet of water, cast a buzzbait or spinnerbait to various shoreline spots.
After covering a lot of water with this technique, switch to a Texas rig and some sort of creature bait like a lizard or craw, flipping to isolated bushes or cover.
“First full moon in March” rule
Simply put, get bassin’ after the first full moon in March. Every year, a heavy wave of spawning activity follows this annual ritual.
Great news for weekend warriors — this year the full moon falls on Sunday, March 12.
Something new for the tackle box:
a yellow bass imitator
Relatively new on the market are crankbaits and swimbaits resembling a yellow bass. Try one at waters such as Saguaro, Apache and Roosevelt on the Salt River-chain that hold high populations of yellow bass.
Striped bass fishing seems to be picking up, as has been evidenced by an influx of striper success stories from Willow Beach on the Colorado River, Lake Pleasant, and especially Lake Mohave …
See our Catch of the Week below — a monster 21-pound striper was recently caught in about 13 feet of water at Lake Pleasant.
And we have a new moon this weekend. It’ll be cold — lows in the high 40s are predicted for desert regions — but grab some steamin’ hot coffee get out there and fish with submersible lights. Another option, if you’re fishing Lake Pleasant, is using live shad and fishing 11 a.m. to sunset in the northern coves.
Largemouth bass anglers can chase some potential pre-spawning fish at early-bird lakes such as Alamo, Martinez and Havasu out west, and even Saguaro Lake in central Arizona.
Some fish are moving in shallow from 50-60 feet of water depth. They’re not spawning yet, but anglers can target areas of bait fish with crankbaits early in the morning and switch to dropshot and Texas rigs as the sun comes up.
It’s not quite crappie time. In a month or so, be ready to load up at crappie hot spots such as Alamo, Roosevelt, Bartlett and San Carlos. (Tempe Town Lake has been producing some nice slabs.)
Updates: Topock Marsh, Rio Vista Pond, Upper Mary
Topock Marsh on the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge is closed through March 6 due to U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service management.
Rio Vista Pond in Peoria was not stocked this week, but repairs at the pond have been completed and the pond is scheduled to be stocked with trout for the final time of the winter season during the week of March 6. See the schedule.
Anglers can access Dogtown Lake near Williams, but we haven’t received any fishing reports. Upper Lake Mary on Thursday was about 3 inches from spilling.
Thursday, Feb. 16 — Community expansion waters. Wednesday, Feb. 15 — Red Mountain Lake. Tuesday, Feb. 14 — Goldwater Lake. Monday, Feb. 13 — Patagonia Lake, Pena Blanca Lake, Salt River (lower), Fain Lake. Saturday, Feb. 11 — Community waters: Chaparral Lake, Tempe Kiwanis, Desert Breeze, Copper Sky, Lakeside, Kennedy, Sahuarita, Alvord, Silverbell, Desert West, Pioneer, Surprise, Cortez, Encanto, Steele Indian School, Papago Ponds, Evelyn Hallman, Water Ranch, Red Mountain, Green Valley lakes.
(Send your Angler Reports to BFishing@AZGFD.gov – one will be featured as Catch of the Week)
David Campbell, of Peoria, brought to our Phoenix headquarters Friday morning a striper that officially weighed 20.92 pounds and was 35 inches long — about 9 pounds short of a state record. See the full story
Kelly K.: Last Monday (Feb, 20), I landed my personal best white bass from Lake Pleasant trolling a crank bait from my kayak. It was a successful catch-and-release and I’m kicking myself for not getting measurements. Thank you for making Arizona such a great warm-water fishery.
Ryan C.: Today I found my way down to Discovery Park during a break in the rainy weather. It was my only chance at fishing after having to cancel a birthday fishing trip up north because of the winter storm. This was my first time fishing these ponds and didn’t know what to expect.
The water was dark and sight fishing was out of the question. After searching the waters with all your typical trout lures and bait, I finally got a hit. This girl put up a good fight and was beautiful sight to see. She weighed 28 ounces and stretch to 16 inches. She was a personal best and quite a great unexpected birthday present.
Todd B.: Freestone Park was hot today. The trout bite was strong, and plenty of fish to go around. All the fish I caught were on a No. 4 Panther Martin. Not many people fishing on the ponds, but the attractions were loaded with families having fun.
Billy’s 7.6 pounds striper caught from the shore casting a Bomber Long A in a trout pattern. Billy and his brother started fishing at 2 a.m. Friday and had no luck with the newly stocked trout.
Being a resourceful fisherman, he started walking the shore casting the Bomber. The big striper chased the bait all the way into the rocks with the third cast the final time. The thrill of having that big of fish attacking his lure in 2 feet of water in the pitch dark — “Wow! I about jumped out of my skin the first time he did it,” he said.
The picture also shows the smaller striper he caught.
Morrison Ranch Lake
Chad M.: 8-pound Carp at Morrison Ranch lake yesterday (Feb. 19) on corn.
Heavy rains and run-off has Horseshoe Dam flowing, Kaibab Lake spilling and anglers dreaming of spring.
Fishing likely will be unpredictable with changing conditions. Another heavy storm is predicted statewide for Saturday and Sunday. Fish react to conditions and anglers must react to the fish. Anchor up to this rule: find the bait, find the fish.
Water is being let out of Horseshoe Lake, and Bartlett Lake is now at 95 percent full — up three feet since Tuesday. This featured image is from 2005 at Horseshoe Dam — the last time we had similar high rains and run-off:
A new moon is coming Feb. 26, so maybe plan to fish at night with submersible lights that weekend. With some stable weather, that weekend could be prime for great striper fishing at lakes such as Pleasant, Mead and Mohave.
Finally, at Pena Blanca Lake, the lake is full and water quality problems have improved — trout stockings are finally underway. It’s scheduled to be stocked the week of Feb. 27.
Thursday, Feb. 9 — Saguaro Lake, Canyon Lake; Wednesday, Feb. 8 — Fortuna Pond; Tuesday, Feb. 7 — La Paz County Park Lagoon, and Pond, Cluff Res. #3, Roper Lake, Dankworth Ponds; Monday, Feb. 6 — Goldwater (upper), Dead Horse Lake, Verde River (middle).
Next week: We’re scheduled to stock the Dead Horse Lakes, Goldwater Lake, Saguaro Lake, Red Mountain Lake, Cluff Pond, Dankworth Pond, Parker Canyon Lake, and Roper Lake.
A recent influx of snow and subsequent run-off is giving many Flagstaff area lakes a refill.
During the past two years, water levels at Kaibab Lake near Williams had been far too low to stock fish. Thanks to recent heavy rains, the lake is full and spilling.
All lakes in the Flagstaff region are ice free.
We will not be stocking all lakes, and the ones that will be stocked will not get fish until after March 1.
Some other updates from this region:
Dogtown Lake, near Kaibab on the south side of I-40, should be full. Anglers who can get into Dogtown might catch some of the holdover rainbows and browns since spring fishing can be pretty good. The lake has probably picked up 10 to 11 feet of depth since December and so the fishing might be a little slow, but the trout should be feeding.
Ashurst Lake is full. The road to Ashurst Lake remains closed and is very muddy and there are some heavy snow drifts.
Upper Lake Maryis about 1 foot from spilling (up 6 inches since Tuesday) and Lower Lake Mary is about 1/3 to 1/2 full. If more moisture comes this weekend, Upper Lake Mary will probably spill into Lower Lake Mary — and so it might fill this year.
Frances Short Pond will be stocked with the normal weekly stockings starting in March. Anglers should be able to catch fish at Frances Short right now since they were catching them before it iced over (and since it was full at that time, the fish-to-water ratio is the same.) For all of the other lakes, until we can stock the fishing will probably be somewhat poor.