Category Archives: The Trawl

Where will the next AZ state record come from?

This winter has already been a mixed bag: record snow levels in some places followed by some warmer weather. That’s Arizona!

While it’s next to impossible to predict what the rest of winter has in store for us and what water levels might turn out to be, it’s always kind of fun to think about where that next state record fish might come from.

Plus, winter is a great time to think about upcoming fishing trips and where to prioritize your efforts.

This is just one biologist’s opinion, but here are some thoughts of where a few of our most popular game fish might be caught:

Largemouth bass

Inland waters, hook-and-line record: 16 pounds, 7.68 ounces, Canyon Lake, 1997

Saguaro Lake is known for its potential record bass.
Saguaro Lake is known for its potential record bass.
  • Saguaro Lake: No surprise for those who have been fishing this scenic lake — there have been great numbers of bass of larger than 10 pounds being caught lately. And there are no signs of that slowing down.
  • Canyon Lake: Always a perennial favorite to foster the next state record largemouth.  After all, it’s where the current record (16 pounds, 7.68 ounces) was caught, and its population has the highest levels of Florida-strain genetic influence (bigger bass) of any water in Arizona.
  • Colorado River waters: If you like to fish the big river on the west end of the state, the Imperial Division and Cibola Division are great bets to catch a largemouth that weighs in the “teens.” Mittry Lake also has big largemouth that rivals Canyon Lake in Florida-strain influence.

Flathead catfish

Inland waters, hook-and-line record: 76 pounds, 8.64 ounces, Bartlett Lake, 2013

The state record flathead catfish taken in April of 2013 by Eddie “Flathead Ed” Wilcoxson from Bartlett Lake.
  • Bartlett Lake: Hard to argue this one: it boasts the current record.
  • Lake Pleasant and Roosevelt Lake: Both are dark horses to take the record away from Bartlett.  Flatheads of more than 50 pounds are routinely being caught at both of these reservoirs, with reports of 60-plus pounders somewhat common.

Channel catfish

Inland waters, hook-and-line record: 32 pounds, 4 ounces, Parker Canyon Lake, 1987

Large channel catfish caught during surveys at Parker Canyon Lake.
Large channel catfish caught during surveys at Parker Canyon Lake.

This one is a little trickier as there is no clear-cut place to catch trophy-sized channel cats (if there is, please let me know).

That said:

  • Parker Canyon Lake:The current record (32 pounds, 4 ounces) came from this lake down on the border.  Parker Canyon could still have another record lurking.
  • Topock March, Lake Havasu, Alamo Lake, Apache Lake, Saguaro Lake: Your odds are probably equal at these lakes. The Colorado River record was from Topock Marsh: 35 pounds, 4 ounces.

Rainbow trout

Inland waters, hook-and-line record: 15 pounds, 9.12 ounces, Willow Springs Lake, 2006

Don't sleep on Dogtown -- potential record trout lurk here.
Don’t forget about Dogtown Lake near Williams — potential record trout lurk here.
  • Becker, Carnero or Luna lakes in the White Mountains: These lakes grow trout fast, but are susceptible to winter and summer kills (mostly because of low oxygen).  If all goes well this winter, there could be some really big trout that come out of those lakes.
  • Dogtown Lake: This is a sleeper lake near Williams. The addition of woody habitat during the past few years has really contributed to high growth rates for trout.

Tiger trout

Inland waters, hook-and-line record: 0 pounds, 9.23 ounces, Willow Springs Lake, 2016

Tiger Trout raised at the Tonto Creek Hatchery

A newcomer to the state last year, the tiger trout’s maximum potential size in Arizona waters is unknown. But one thing is for sure: the current record of less than a pound from Willow Springs Lake will fall.

  •  Willow Springs, Woods Canyon, Carnero and Becker lakes:  These lakes are stocked with tigers. Trout grow quickly at Special Regulations waters Carnero and Becker, so try these lakes for tigers weighing more than 5 pounds.

Arizona state fish records

For a complete list of Arizona State Fish Records, see pg. 40 of the 2017-18 Fishing Regulations. While you’re at it, check out all our fishing resources.

Got a license? Get ’em online, 24/7 — this helps us conserve wildlife for future generations.

Which record are you going to set this year?

Andy Clark is the AZGFD statewide sportfish management program supervisor

Gilbert man catches state record for native roundtail chub

General area of the Verde River where Hoffman caught his state record catch-and-release roundtail chub.
General area of the Verde River where Rudolph Hoffman caught his state record catch-and-release roundtail chub.


It’s the native fish with a sporting fight. On Feb. 13 on the Verde River above Clarkdale, Rudolph Hoffman of Gilbert found a large pool of water and began cranking in multiple roundtail chub. The first measured at about 17 inches. Then another at 18 … then 18 1/2 inches …

Finally, a 19-inch chub took a 1/4-ounce bronze spoon with a spinning rod and 8-pound fluorocarbon line.  This Gila robusta set a state catch-and-release record for roundtail chub. (Topping Dave Wagner’s 16-inch roundtail caught 2011, also on the Verde).

“There is really something special about being able to catch and release a fish that has been part of our Arizona waterways for tens of thousands of years,” Hoffman said.



Rudolph Hoffman's state record chub. Native to Arizona, the roundtail chub is a sport fish with a pesky fighting ability and willingness to take many of the same flies and lures used for trout.
Rudolph Hoffman’s state record chub. Native to Arizona, the roundtail chub is a sport fish with a pesky fighting ability and willingness to take many of the same flies and lures used for trout.


The Department has initiated numerous conservation efforts since the early 2000s. Maintenance of healthy roundtail chub populations were likely influenced by all of these conservation measures in the Verde River.

By 2008, several flood events and conditions aligned to boost their populations. A few high-flow years helped young chub to survive. Conservation efforts by the Salt River Project’s Habitat Conservation Program and the Department have led to healthy populations of chub in the Verde River and across the state. These efforts included the development of a brood stock of chub to be raised at the Bubbling Ponds Hatchery, near Cornville, Ariz., and a stocking strategy to enhance wild populations of chub in the Verde River.



AZGFD biologists tempering water for chub release.
AZGFD biologists prepare to stock chub.


There also are special fishing regulations for the Verde River and its tributaries that likely have benefitted the chub — it’s all catch and release, and downstream from Granite Creek to Horseshoe Dam, anglers can enjoy unlimited daily bag limits for smallmouth and largemouth bass, and channel and flathead catfish.

So why not chase some of these Arizona natives during your next fishing trip?

“These chub fight better than smallmouth,” said Matt Chmiel, Aquatics Program Manager in the AZGFD Kingman office. “I’ve caught both and every one of the chub fought better than the smallmouth. Fishing from a canoe one time I had three chub break me off on 4-pound line.”


Typically, the length of a roundtail chub is 8 to 18 inches, weight is 4 ounces to more than 3 pounds, and they potentially reach 8 years of age. George Andrejko/AZGFD
Typically, the length of a roundtail chub is 8 to 18 inches, weight is 4 ounces to more than 3 pounds, and they potentially reach 8 years of age. George Andrejko/AZGFD


Roundtail chub location and habitat

Roundtails are found in moderate-sized, perennial rivers throughout the state. Chub occupy pools and eddies, often concentrating in swift swirling water below rapids. There’s a special regulation fishing season in Fossil Creek featuring roundtail chub and headwater chub: open Oct. 1-April 30, catch and release, artificial fly and lure, single barbless hooks only.


How to fish for roundtail chub

Roundtail chubs can be caught by catch-and-release special regulation, readily take artificial flies and lures, and put up a strong fight. Effective tackle includes small spinners, spoons, and flies.

Fishing with ultralight tackle and light line is an exciting way to fish for roundtail chub on an Arizona river. Make sure to check the fishing regulations for special regulations.

Chub feed mainly on aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates in the spring and summer months, and algae in the fall and winter months.

Get Saucy: Enter Wild Sauces Contest

White Fish Fillet in lemon and herbs sauce - stock image
White Fish Fillet in lemon and herbs sauce – stock image


Mmmmmmm, sauce!

Is there a go-to sauce recipe you use to enhance the flavor of Arizona’s wild fish? We want to publish it in Arizona Wildlife Views magazine!

Send your special sauce to our Wild Sauces Contest. Johnathan O’Dell, author of our “Fare Afield” series, will try all the entries this year as he fishes, hunts and eats his way across Arizona. The winning recipe will be announced next year in a Fare Afield article.

The winner will receive “Arizona’s Official Fishing Guide” and “An Introduction to Hunting Small Game in Arizona” (a $47 value). The deadline to submit your recipe by email to is 11:59 p.m. March 31, 2016.

One recipe per person, please!

What do you want to know?

The Arizona Game and Fish Department believes in giving you the best chance you can at catching fish so you can create even better memories with friends and family in front of our scenic views and wildlife. So let’s get to know each other a bit more.

In order to serve you better, we’re opening up our comments section below, and posting this poll, so you can let us know what kinds of questions you would like answered in this blog.

Maybe it’s a how-to video on tying a dropshot, or the best way to fish Lake Pleasant. Or maybe you’d like to know the best springtime setup for bass fishing at Saguaro Lake.

Leave a comment, take the poll, and we’ll do our best to include answers in future articles.

Now let’s get ourselves off these computers and go fishin’!

Is the “Alabama rig” legal in Arizona?

The Alabama rig is a rig with several lures (five or more) joined by stiff wires, similar to umbrella rigs used for trolling.

Alabama rigs with more than two lures would not be legal for angling in Arizona.  Such a “rig” would be legal if it had no more than two lures.

So is the “A-rig” legal in the Grand Canyon State? Yes, when rigged with two soft bodies with jigheads and hooks instead of four.

An example of a rig that would be legal in Arizona is a rig with two swimbaits containing hooks and any number of hookless swimbaits or other hookless fish attractors (equalling total of two lures).

Example of  a legal Alabama rig setup:


 Legal Rig set-up - 2 soft bodies with jig heads and hooks = 2 lures
Legal Rig set-up – 2 soft bodies with jig heads and hooks = 2 lures


And now, an illegal setup:


Illegal Rig set-up - 4 soft bodies with jig heads and hooks = 4 lures
Illegal Rig set-up – 4 soft bodies with jig heads and hooks = 4 lures



Here’s is Arizona Revised Statutes 17-101 A1—“Angling” means the taking of fish by one line and not to exceed two hooks, by one line and one artificial lure, which may have attached more than one hook, or by one line and not to exceed two artificial flies or lures. 

Lures are not defined in statute.  However, a lure is designed and intended to catch one fish.  As such, a spoon, soft bait,  jerk bait, piece of yarn, etc., with no hook incorporated, would not be considered a lure (anglers often refer to these as “attractors”).  A test for whether a rig is legal in Arizona would be:

  • If a “rig” (Alabama or otherwise) were to be de-constructed, each piece that can catch a fish separately would be considered a lure. If more than two lures (that can catch a fish separately) are de-constructed, the rig is not legal in Arizona.

Hope that helps! Good luck fishing this legal type of A-rig. Be sure to check out all the fishing rules and regulations.

And if you’re new to fishing, we have a Fishing Basics page that can get you started.

Improvements at Francis Short Pond (Flagstaff)

Francis Short Pond

Good day,

I just wanted to give the City of Flagstaff and the Arizona Game and Fish kudos for the improvements made at Francis Short Pond. I stopped by today for the first time since the “weed removal” project. I have to say WOW!!!

It looks amazing. Tons of new shore space for anglers (there were multiple times in the past I had to turn around and go home due to no room to drop a line). The pond is also full of water from the recent rains. I was unable to fish today but saw a couple guys catching bluegills one after another. I can’t wait until it is stocked this fall for trout.

As an angler of this pond for over six years now I am excited to see what the future holds. Thanks again for making this a great local fishing hole.

— Daniel L.

Anglers report

Note to Grandpas: Fishing on fire at Greer Lake


Otis from Greer, Ariz. — Grandpas, please take your youngsters to the Greer Lakes to fish. All three lakes are like trout farms and you and your little ones won’t be disappointed.

I am a local and will offer support to weekenders and locals alike. I’ve been killing the local fishing holes since February and won’t bore you with the details (I’m smoking 23 trout tomorrow).

Use only worms and Rapala lures from shore. Rapala lures for trolling and I guarantee fish!

If AZGFD would like more input from locals, I will be happy to post weekly with details, secrets, and insight. More to come, but only if you and AZGFD would like.



I absolutely love fishing.  I fish often, but have only caught a handful of fish in my lifetime.  We went today and I caught my FIRST EVER rainbow trout at Pioneer Park!  I wish I had been able to get a picture of it.  My wife dropped the fish when she was helping me get the hook out.  It was a good sized fish too!

Anyway, just wanted to drop a line of thanks for restructuring the fishing licenses.  Not only is it more affordable to the average person, it seems to really encourage folks to get out and spend some quality time with their kids.  As a disabled veteran going through the process to be designated “total and permanent” I appreciate the addition of the three year complimentary license while that is resolved.  Fishing has greatly improved my quality of life here in Arizona; thank you for being a part of that.

Best Wishes,

Cathie Z.