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.
Jim P.: Went fishing yesterday, March 9, at Parker Canyon Lake. I was surprised to find a very heavy algae bloom in the lake and it was a brownish color. I have never seen algae in that lake before. I could see only a few inches into the water. Fishing for trout was very poor.
Winter fishing is OVER. Highs for the next week are predicted to be in the mid-to-high 80s in desert regions and 60s in the high country.
Spring perfume is in the air, we have a full moon this weekend, and trout stockings are kicking off again in the Flagstaff/Williams region. (Friday update: from Thursday to Friday we stocked a total of about 12,000 rainbow trout into Lower Lake Mary. )
Anglers braved a tough winter of erratic weather and now it’s time to hook, and maybe cook, some fish. Warm water temps plus a full moon Sunday means there could be some great bass fishing in shallow water this weekend, and next week, and maybe through May. With all the rains and increased ground cover, those shallow spots will likely be in new areas. Explore away.
Be sure to send your reports and photos to BFishing@AZGFD.gov — one will be selected as Catch of the Week.
Lake Powell. Walleye and largemouth bass fishing is raring to go at Lake Powell. Water temperatures will reach the mid-50s by the weekend. Largemouth bass are the first to respond to this warming, followed by smallmouth bass. Wayne Gustaveson’s report will give you all the Powell tips you need.
Bartlett Lake. The lake is 99-percent full and water temperatures on Wednesday were 54 degrees and warming to 58.
Flagstaff/Williams area. Fish stockings have resumed, including at Lower Lake Mary, which is around half-full for the first time since 2010. Read more.
First major wave of spring bass spawning. It’s the first full moon in March — more bass will be moving in shallow to spawn. It’s already been a banner spring bass fishing season. See some springtime bassin’ tips.
Saguaro Lake levels are down. The lake levels dropped 11% in 3 days. The levels were decreased to accommodate maintenance at Mormon Flat Dam. The dam outage is expected to last until around mid-March. But some bass already are spawning.
Community fishing stocking transition. The final scheduled trout stockings of the winter season took place this week. Catfish will return to Community waters the week of March 20. See the latest Community news.
Monday, March 6 — Frances Short Pond, Goldwater Lake, Oak Creek, Dead Horse lagoons; Tuesday, Feb. 28 — Patagonia Lake, Pena Blanca Lake; Monday, Feb. 27 — Verde River (middle), Salt River. See the full schedule.
Public fishing events
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 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.”
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.
Todd B.: Fished Desert Breeze Lake today (Sat., Feb. 11) for 2 hours in the afternoon. My first time to the lake and I am in love with both the beautiful park and the lake itself. I was using an ultralight rod throwing small Blue Fox spinners.
Countless bites and landed a few decent sized trout around 12-13 inches. I saw other anglers plunking with little success. In these smaller bodies of water, my best luck is always with spinners or spoons.
Spinners and spoons are good because you can use them to search for the fish, while covering each inch of the lake in a couple of hours. I tried a few sizes of lures ranging from Nos. 2- 0s. My best action came on No. 1s.
Thanks AZGFD for the many community waters close to home.
Michael W.: Another great day of fishing at Fain Lake! In 5 hours of fishing, I caught and released 95 beautiful rainbow trout, ranging from 9-12 inches. Fish caught from right corner of dock at a depth of 18 inches to 4 feet, on 1.5 inch crappie tubes. Weather Conditions: Cool and partly cloudy. Water conditions: stained.
Rod: Hope each of you are well and able to fully enjoy these 70-degree temperatures. 70 degrees in February, wow! Anyhow I managed to get on the water just about noon today, right when the winds were building up. I got in some good rowing exercise. The winds were below my no-float threshold of 20 mph. They built up later on to make me question my decision to goof about in the dinghy.
Anyhow it turned out I caught three fish in 3 hours of fishing. Small, medium, and extra largemouth! Sorry no measurements (I’m pretty sure the last two were well over 5 pounds), but I’ve got photos and memories. I can tell you that they were all caught using a 2-inch grub on a 1/32-ounce jig on 4-pound mono. All of them were really fun using the ultra-lite rig! Talk about a full load on the pole.
What is more challenging is to get the dinghy positioned for a proper photo. That wind was blowing me about while trying to get a proper photo using the self timer on the camera.
Sounds like fishing action in desert regions is picking up thanks to stable weather — especially for largemouth bass. We have a full moon to possibly trigger some early spawning activity at western lakes such as Alamo, Havasu and Martinez.
Already there have been reports of small populations of bass moving in shallow at lakes such as Canyon and Saguaro (most bass remain deep and water temperatures at most desert lakes are in the low-to-mid 50s). Crankbaits and spinnerbaits have been the most widely reported successful baits.
Moderate rain is predicted to fall in central Arizona on Sunday, so plan accordingly.
A couple of trout stockings remain for Community waters before catfish return in late March.
Thursday, Jan. 26 and Friday, Jan. 27 — Canyon Lake, Saguaro Lake, all “core” waters except Rio Vista, as well as Patterson Ponds, and Green Valley lakes. Tuesday, Jan. 24 — Pena Blanca Lake, Council Ave. Pond, Yuma West Wetlands Pond. Monday, Jan. 23 — Lower Salt River, Verde River (middle).
Next week: We’re scheduled to stock the Verde River (Clarkdale to Camp Verde), the lower Salt River, Parker Canyon Lake, Patagonia Lake, Hidden Shores (Imperial Dam), Parker (La Paz), Somerton (Council Park) Pond, Yuma West Wetlands.
This new section will periodically show what our fisheries biologists have been doing in the field to improve fishing in Arizona.
These habitat reef balls are planned to be deployed into Roosevelt Lake this spring. Habitat serves as excellent structure/shelter for sport-fish species such as bass, crappie and bluegill for anglers to target.
Justin M. fly-fished the Lower Salt River on Friday. The river is scheduled to be stocked with trout next week and was flowing at 13 cfs below Saguaro Mountain Dam on Tuesday.
Try the Phon D. Sutton, Water Users or Granite Reef Recreation Areas.
Justin M. said, “I have been fishing the Salt River the past six weeks or so on every Friday. Most of the time I’m fishing at Water Users and have had success every outing. All I do is fly fish anymore and have caught quite a few bass and lots of bluegill
For the bass, my most productive flies have been AZ simi seal leeches in canadian black, halloween, blood red and olive. Another productive fly pattern has been cheechs low fat minnow. Its a bluegill imitation.
For the bluegill, on warmer days I’ve done fairly well getting them on the surface with a beetle imitation. Other productive flies i’ve had great success with is a hares ear soft hackle pattern I tied up. The only time I tried for trout was a couple of weeks ago when it was raining and cooler.
Fished below the bridge using the hares ear soft hackle and caught and released 14 trout in a matter of a couple of hours. I have talked to other anglers on my outings and have been told that they were having luck with nightcrawlers, small spinners, and one fella was doing well for bass on dropshot with a green Roboworm.”
Brian S.: Temps are warming up and in a few areas the bass are moving up, however most are still caught deep. This beauty was caught in 35 feet with a hinged spinnerbait with a zoom fluke trailer.
Utilizing sonar electronics is critical for deep water fishing. Find them, mark a way point and slowly work your baits into the strike zone. Pay attention to your sonar through the entire process because once you entice one to bite, have your angling buddy be ready with a flutter spoon or Kastmaster as you may find you just ignited a school of them. Hopefully your angling buddy is ready with the net as well.
Karrie R.: I thought I’d share this flathead catfish I caught from shore at Pleasant today: 22 pounds on a dropshot with a worm. It was definitely cold, but worth the catch! 🙂 Also caught an 8-pound carp and 3-pound channel catfish. Tight lines!
Max W.: The upper portion of Silver Creek fished great over the weekend. People were doing really well on egg patterns and small midges. One of my buddies even managed to pull out this big guy on a Tenkara Rod– not bad for his first fish on the fly!
Nicholas J.: Decided to spend the day outside at Desert Breeze since it was such an amazing Arizona winter day. All three of the kids caught a fish of their own. (Zac, Nikyah, and Mason Jaurigue).
Pretty sure all three were “incentive” trout. We got out there about 10 a.m., however we didn’t get our first fish until almost 2 p.m. Then all of a sudden the other two fish were caught. All three within 30 minutes of time.
The yellow corn/garlic mixed PowerBait is what finally caught them their first fish — after trying all the others we had in our box. Hope everyone else had as good of a weekend.
Craig S.: I’d been going to Kiwanis Lake to fish for the last stocking for a change of scenery and for its ease of getting around as I have a spinal injury.
My third trip (Jan. 18) I fished for about 6 hours in different spots/seats etc. to try and stay comfortable throughout the day. I’d seen 12 3-ish pounders already taken and who knows how many others I didn’t. I was about to rap up yesterday (Jan. 17) around 4 o’clock and just as I picked up the rod I got the hit! At first, I thought I had hooked a cat. It was pulling good and stayed down.
There was an easy 25-plus yards of line out. My poles all have 6-pound line with slider weights and small treble with PowerBait (salmon eggs) on one and the other had a crawler with a tiny white PowerBait ball to look like mouse tail. After about 10 minutes I got to see it and “Wow.” I felt so good and reinvigorated after landing it as this is the biggest trout I’ve ever had.
I have a Berkeley scale and it was 3.4 pounds on it. Caught Jan. 18 around 4:40 p.m. Best I’ve felt in a few weeks and today I’m still feeling better than average.
Damien B. Caught Friday, Jan. 15, a big rainbow caught at Kiwanis Park. Caught on a gold Kastmaster.