Category Archives: News

A drenched desert: slideshow from a wet and messy week

Well this has been some kind of wet and sloppy week, right?

Tempe Town Lake has reopened once again, and at most desert impoundments, rivers and creeks statewide, run-off and high flows shook our desert fisheries into a sliding chocolate milkshake.

This slideshow begins with a kayaker at Phon D. Sutton on the Lower Salt River, heads to Stewart Mountain Dam, and ends with sights from Tempe Town Lake.


CREDIT: George Andrejko/AZGFD

 

Fishing will only pick up from here, folks. Grab your gear, a license online, 24/7 if you need one, and “Fish AZ.”

How was your wet and messy week? Catch any fish? Chat us up in the comments below.

AZ state record kicks off banner spring bass season

Once again at Lake Havasu, someone has hooked fishing gold.

“I thought it was a tree stump or rock,” Sue Nowak said. “Then the snag moved.”

The “snag”  turned out to be a 21-inch, 6.28-pound smallmouth bass that is a  Colorado River waters hook-and-line state record.

Nowak caught the monster 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.

Sue Nowak of Lake Havasu City with her Colorado River waters hook-and-line state record smallmouth bass.
Sue Nowak of Lake Havasu City with her Colorado River waters hook-and-line state record smallmouth bass.

And so, this catch answers our question from just one month ago: where will the next AZ state record come from?

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

havasu
Fishing at Lake Havasu heats up early.

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

rosybass
Bass fishing can pick up in March at Roosevelt Lake, where a southern sun heats up northern coves.

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

A full moon can trigger heavy spawning activity.
A full moon can trigger heavy spawning activity.

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.

Now’s the time to grab a fishing license online, 24/7, and get ready for spring bass fishing.

Try these out and get on a great springtime bass bite. Tell us how you do by sending your reports to BFishing@AZGFD.gov.

See more about fishing in Arizona

Peoria man catches 21-pound striper Thursday at Lake Pleasant

The first head shake gave it away. This wasn’t a log or boulder David Campbell had hooked Thursday afternoon. Whatever gulped his 1-ounce Kastmaster spoon at Lake Pleasant was alive.

After about 5 minutes of line-peeling action in the Castle Hot Springs area, the fish flashed in the water — it was a big striped bass.

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.

“The fight was sweet,” Campbell said. “It was pulling all the line out because we were trolling. So I told my partner to kick the motor out of gear so we could coast. I said, ‘This is a bull.'”

The inland waters, hook-and-line state record striper weighed  29 pounds, 13.76 ounces (45 1/4 inches). Bob Liddington caught that monster in 2010.

The striper is also a Big Fish of the Year leader:

Lake Pleasant, located in Lake Pleasant Regional Park, is just northwest of Phoenix.
Lake Pleasant, located in Lake Pleasant Regional Park, is just northwest of Phoenix.

The technique

Water conditions: Stained (mossy green), light chop
Tackle: One-ounce Kastmaster spoon, 16-pound Stren MagnaThin line (green color to match the mossy green water)
Water depth: 12-14 feet
Moon phase: Waning  gibbous (third quarter)
Presentation: Trolling at 900 rpms (about 2.5 mph)
Boat: Spectrum 19 1/2-foot

See more about fishing in Arizona

High flows from Bartlett Lake likely this weekend

Increased run-off from snow melt due to warmer weather, coupled with a storm forecast for this weekend, could result in releases between 5,000 and 10,000 cfs out of Bartlett Lake this weekend.

Already, the Verde River watershed is at more than 184-percent precipitation for the year; Bartlett Lake is at 83-percent full.

The flows would likely begin Sunday night, move through Granite Reef Dam and into the Lower Salt River early Monday morning. The flows in the lower Salt River could continue for several days depending on the amount of snow melt.

With these likely releases, please be aware of your location and do not cross flooded roadways.

At this time, the Roosevelt system has plenty of water storage capacity.

New fishing map for special regulations available

Seeing the Special Regulations that are in place for certain waters just got easier.

We set these special regulations to maintain the long-term welfare of our fishing waters and provide you some great sport-fishing opportunities.

This map has species-specific tabs for maps of Special Regulation waters and seasons, daily bag and possession limits, and length limits that differ from General Statewide Regulations or Statewide Daily Bag and Possession Limits.

See the map.

Please refer to the official Arizona Fishing Regulations for complete fishing rules and regulations.

 

Rainbow trout stocking restarts at Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery

Willow Beach, Ariz. – After a three-year hiatus, catchable-sized rainbow trout from Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery (NFH) will return to Colorado River waters downstream of Las Vegas.

The hatchery will release 2,500 rainbow trout into the cold waters below Davis Dam on Jan. 12. The trout measure up to 12 inches long.  Davis Camp and Bullhead City Park will be stocked once more in January, three times in February, four times in March, and once in April, for a total of 25,000 rainbow trout.

During the three-year hiatus of trout coming from the hatchery, the AZGFD continued stockings made possible by donations from local pest abatement districts.

Willow Beach trout stocking schedule

The Willow Beach area immediately downstream of the hatchery will be also stocked with 1,000 rainbow trout every Friday starting Feb. 3.

This weekly stocking schedule will continue year-round. See all the stocking schedules.

Rainbow trout production recently restarted at Willow Beach NFH after securing a reliable water source. A new pump and conveyance system delivers cold water to the federal fisheries facility that is needed by trout for proper growth.

Serving Arizona trout anglers

 

troutstock
Trout stockings on the Colorado River continue. On Monday, Dec. 19, there were 5,000 pounds of rainbow trout stocked into the Colorado River in three spots from Davis Camp to Rotary Park. The next trout stocking on Jan. 12 will come from the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery. It will be the hatchery’s first stocking in several years thanks to the completion of a new water intake system.

“It gives me no small delight to see rainbow trout come back into production at Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery,” said Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Region. “Many concerned folks put their shoulder to the wheel to see this through—to design and build a new water conveyance system, and jump-start trout production with fish from our state partners. The hatchery once again serves the angling public.”

The first batches of rainbow trout to be stocked were secured by a partnership with the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD). The hatchery has also started raising rainbow trout from the egg stage again.  In December of 2016, more than 110,000 rainbow trout eggs arrived from Ennis National Fish Hatchery in Montana. Those eggs have since hatched and quickly transformed into young trout to be stocked later.

About Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery

The hatchery, built in 1959, is located 12 miles downstream of Hoover Dam on the Arizona side of the Colorado River. It is one of 70 other such facilities in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Fish Hatchery System.

See more information about fishing in Arizona

New AZ fishing regulations to take effect Jan. 1

*** UPDATE: The 2017-18 fishing regulation are online ***

Some new fishing regulations will take effect beginning Jan 1. Be sure to look for the full 2017-18 Arizona Game and Fish Department fishing regulations online around the first of the year. Also, the new fishing regulations booklet will be available at all AZGFD offices and license dealers in early January.

Here are the changes:

  • Reduce the daily trout bag limit to five at the Colorado River from Lake Mead to California-Nevada boundary (including Lake Mohave and Willow Beach).
  • Reduce the daily bag limits to two bass, minimum size 13 inches; and four catfish in any combination at Whitehorse Lake.
  • Change the season and daily bag limit from Glen Canyon Dam to the Paria Riffle to two rainbow trout; artificial fly and lure only; barbless hooks only.
  • Close the Kino Environmental Restoration Project to fishing. The Kino Environmental Restoration Project is in Tucson (Pima County).
  • Change the daily trout bag limit to two, any species combination at Frye Mesa Reservoir.
  • Allow the use of fathead minnows caught on site to be used as bait at Riggs Flat Lake.
  • Create a year-round bow-and-arrow season for catfish at Apache, Canyon and Saguaro lakes, with a special regulation daily bag limit of five catfish in any combination.
  • Catch and release regulations for largemouth bass at Pena Blanca Lake and Dankworth Pond will have sunset and will no longer be in effect. The statewide limit of six bass will apply.

For more fishing information, visit our AZGFD fishing page.

Top 5 AZ fishing holes for this winter

In Arizona, winter doesn’t have to mean sending boats and rods and reels into hibernation. While outdoor recreation opportunities across many U.S. states shut down during the season of freeze, Arizona rolls on with trout stockings and water temperatures just warm enough to convince fish to bite during the holidays.

Although fishing tends to slow a tad this time of the year, there are some spots that are winter-friendly.

Here, then, are the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s top-5 fishing holes for this winter (click on the title to bring up Google-map directions):

5. Alamo Lake

alamolake
Alamo Lake has high populations of sportfish such as catfish, crappie and largemouth bass.

Alamo is a western Arizona dandy that can heat up quickly during the winter. At any given time from Nov. – Feb., Alamo can have some of the best crappie fishing in the state.

 

4.  Parker Canyon Lake

parker-canyon-lake-11-1-15-9
Parker Canyon Lake, at 5,400 feet of elevation, is stocked with rainbow November through March.

Not only does  Parker Canyon Lake in southern Arizona have great access with an abundance of shoreline options, its water temperatures remain cold enough to keep trout active throughout the day  — not just during the late evening and early mornings.

Parker Canyon Lake is stocked with trout through the winter.

 

3. Lees Ferry

Lees Ferry on the Colorado River is cold in the shadow of a canyon, but fishing opportunities remain steady.
Lees Ferry on the Colorado River is cold in the shadow of a canyon, but fishing opportunities remain steady.

Winter is traditionally the spawning period for this world-class wild rainbow trout fishery in northern Arizona that provides the awe-inspiring gateway to the Grand Canyon.

Catching trout in the rushing Colorado River along the spectacular red sandstone cliffs of the Marble Canyon Gorge is an experience beyond compare.

 

2. Lake Havasu

The world record 5-pound, 12.8-ounce redear sunfish was taken last year from Lake Havasu by Hector Brito.
Lake Havasu has some of the best bass fishing in the nation and water temperatures stay relatively warm during the winter.

This giant, shallow, solunar bowl in the desert heats up quickly during a warm winter sun and has a large variety for sport-fish.

Havasu also contains some monster redear sunfish — the world record 5-pound, 12.8-ounce redear was taken from Havasu in February of 2014.

The “West Coast of Arizona” hardly experiences winter.

 

1.  Lower Salt River

fish-catch-background
The lower Salt River is typically stocked with rainbow trout at Granite Reef, Blue Ridge and Phon D. Sutton.

 

Anglers get the unique experience of stream fishing for trout in the desert. The Lower Salt River, just minutes from some of the Valley of the Sun’s population centers,  is stocked with trout throughout the winter and offers good shoreline fishing options as well. A Tonto Pass is required.

Try nightcrawlers, small spinners, Kastmasters and flies. You might be able to catch some bass or sunfish in the deeper holes.

Tell us your favorite AZ winter fishin’ spots in the comments!

You’ll need a fishing license — purchase them online, 24/7. They’re good for 365 days and help conserve wildlife for future generations.

Not ready to get a license? Prepare for that eventual fishing excursion by signing up for the weekly fishing report.

Watch 665 pounds of trout shoot into Tempe Town Lake

Hundreds of anglers, many with families,  welcomed rainbow trout back for the winter stocking season at Tempe Town Lake Tuesday afternoon with a bang.

Or more like a countdown … and an explosion of trout and water through an Arizona Game and Fish Department stocking truck from our Page Springs Hatchery.

Check it out:

 

Free, and fun, family fishing

Families and community members came and watched trout being stocked — Tempe mayor Mark Mitchell even helped some kids stock a few fish:

mayorstocking

Then the free fishing clinic ensued. See all upcoming fishing clinics.

The event ended as the sun broke through the Tempe skyline and kids went home with smiles and memories of flopping fish.

ttlskyline

Trout stockings in AZ

Tuesday’s event was the first of five monthly Arizona Game and Fish scheduled trout stockings. There already were abundant populations of bass, bluegill, catfish and carp.

We’ll stock a total of about 10,000 pounds of trout into Town Lake during the winter.

See all the stocking schedules.

Also, to get a license, and to help conserve wildlife for future generations, head online, 24/7.

Get “out like trout” in Community fishing waters

By the weekend, thousands of pounds of rainbow trout will have been stocked into Community Fishing Program waters.

OK, we’ll even give you the exact day of the stocking …

Friday.

Thank goodness for that day.

All of the “core” waters, plus Water Ranch in Gilbert and Green Valley lakes in Payson  (23 waters total), are scheduled to be stocked.

Anglers will be able to catch some of the nearly 6,000 pounds of trout that are coming from Colorado.

We’ve scheduled a total of nine stockings into “core” waters and 15 stockings into Green Valley lakes. Also, there are two planned stockings for the expansion waters with a possible a bonus stocking in January.

See the schedule.

(This will explain which waters are “core” and which are “expansion.”)

How to catch Community trout

Wanna get fancy? Throwing flies can catch trout, too!
Wanna get fancy? Throwing flies can catch trout, too!

To catch ’em, try worms, salmon eggs, PowerBait, corn, cheese, marshmallows, artificial lures and flies.

The number one key to successful trout fishing is to use light line (2 to 6 pound test), small hooks (10-14 sizes), and small sinkers.

See more fishing basics.

Licensed to fish

Grab a license 24 hours a day, 7 days a week online (and help conserve wildlife for future generations).

See complete Arizona fishing resources