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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 …
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.