Category Archives: Uncategorized

Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

Some erratic weather is making fishing hit-and-miss in general across the state, but, no doubt, this is the time to be ready for break-out fishing. Watersheds across the state are receiving record moisture — Roosevelt Lake will likely exceed 70-percent full during the next two weeks.

Let’s get right to some Fish AZ news:

  • Channel catfish are back in core Community waters. See the stocking schedule through the summer.  They were stocked Thursday, March 23 and word is the fish are large and healthy.
  • The gate to Willow Springs Lake is open and reports are that fish are biting. There are tiger trout here — go see how much they may have grown during the winter …

    Willow Springs Lake on Tuesday, March 21.
  • All of the Williams-area lakes are full.  Since all of the lakes are full this year, we don’t have enough trout to stock all of the lakes (if you don’t stock enough fish in a lake, folks can’t catch them).  This year we are only planning on stocking Kaibab Lake and Dogtown Lake with rainbow trout.  As soon as the lakes stop spilling we will start stocking Kaibab and Dogtown.
  • Most Flagstaff area lakes are full and spilling.  Ashurst Lake, Lower Lake Mary, and Frances Short Pond will be stocked with trout this year. Lower Lake Mary has had about 16,000 larger (10-inch plus) rainbow trout stocked during the past couple of weeks along with about 8,600 smaller (6-8 inch) rainbows.
  • Ashurst Lake is full. The road is open and the first load of 2,700 rainbow trout was stocked last week.
  • Bartlett Lake is full and the water is clearing up. Bass fishing is good in 2-12 feet from the dam to the river using crankbaits, spinner baits (white or chartreuse) and baby brush hogs.

Stocking report

Rainbow trout

Thursday, March 23 — Channel catfish in “core” Community waters. Thursday, March 16 — Lower Salt River, Oak Creek, Frances Short Pond. Tuesday, March 14 — Patagonia Lake, Wet Beaver Creek, West Clear Creek. Monday, March 13 – Verde River (middle), Lynx Lake, Frances Short Pond, Lower Lake Mary. Sunday, March 9 — Concho Lake, Cluff Res. 3, Roper Lake, Lower Lake Mary.

 

See the full schedule.

Catch of the Week

Send your fishing reports and photos to BFishing@azgfd.gov —one will be selected as Catch of the Week

Jack caught this monster 48-pound, 13-ounce striper in about 10 feet of water in the flats across from South Cove.

See all the Angler Reports

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, 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.

See the full schedule

SEE THE FULL REPORT

Weekend Roundup: Angler Reports

Send your fishing reports and pictures to BFishing@AZGFD.gov — one that includes a photo will be featured as Catch of the Week

Here’s the latest from your fellow anglers (click on the water for directions):

Tempe Kiwanis Lake

Mike M.: Cheyanne Montes caught this on a first-cast strike at Kiwanis  on Saturday March 11.   Set the hook just like Dad taught her … and go Irish!

Rainbow Lake

Blake Frost with a northern pike at Rainbow Lake — her second fish ever.

Lake Havasu

Drex A.: Caught this one on a drop shot in Lake Havasu.

Parker Canyon Lake

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.

Patagonia Lake

Anonymous: March 9, bass 15 1/2-inch bass trolling using plastic bait.

See more about fishing in Arizona

A melting region: White Mountains fishing updates

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.  

Anglers fish from a pier Friday, March 10 at Becker Lake. George Andrejko/AZGFD

 

 

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.

Snow and snow melt by Young Rd. of Highway 260 on Friday, March 10. George Andrejko/AZGFD

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.

A family fishes Patterson Ponds Thursday, March 9 in St. Johns. George Andrejko/AZGFD

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.

Blake Frost with a northern pike at Rainbow Lake — her second fish ever.

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.

An angler fishes from a pier Friday, March 10 at Becker Lake. George Andrejko/AZGFD

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 on Thursday, March 9 at Becker Lake. George Andrejko/AZGFD

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 on Friday, March 10. George Andrejko/AZGFD

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.

See more about fishing in Arizona

High country reports: fish stockings resume, Lower Lake Mary rejuvenated

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:

Lower Lake Mary is as full as it’s been since 2010.

 

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.

Ashurst Lake

The road is not open and it has not yet been stocked.

Dogtown Lake

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.”

See more about fishing in Arizona

Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

Flooding has caused closures to roads and many popular Tonto National Forest campgrounds.

Tempe Town Lake reopened to water activities Thursday, March 2 at 4 p.m.

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:

  • Riverside Campground
  • Ocotillo
  • Fisherman’s Point
  • Horseshoe Campground
  • Mesquite Campground

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.

At Lake Havasu on Thursday, Feb. 23, a smallmouth bass Colorado River waters hook-and-line state record was set. See the story as well as some springtime bass tips.

Other fishing notes:

  • 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.

Stocking report

Friday, Feb. 24 — Community “core” watersThursday, Feb. 23 — Dankworth Ponds. Wednesday, Feb. 22 — Community expansion watersTuesday, Feb. 21 — Parker Canyon Lake, Dead Horse lakes, Dave White Pond, Roadrunner Pond, Bonsall Pond, Full  schedules

Catch of the Week

(Send your Angler Reports to BFishing@AZGFD.gov –
one will be featured as Catch of the Week)

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.

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.

Read all the Angler Reports

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.

See the full schedule

SEE THE FULL REPORT

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

Arizona Fishing Report: The Reel Deal

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 …

Les with his striped bass from Lake Mohave. The striper action is good on Lake Mohave, especially near the dam. Anchovies fished down deep are working the best. The largemouth bass bite is picking up in the coves.
Les with his striped bass from Lake Mohave. The striper action is good on Lake Mohave, especially near the dam. Anchovies fished down deep are working the best. The largemouth bass bite is picking up in the coves.

 

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.

Stocking report

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.

Full  schedules

Catch of the Week

(Send your Angler Reports to BFishing@AZGFD.gov – one will be featured as Catch of the Week)

striperpleasant

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

Read all the Angler Reports

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, Feb. 25 — Just For Kids Fishing Festival, 8 a.m. – noon, Kiwanis Park (5500 S. Mill Ave., Tempe).

See the full schedule

SEE THE FULL REPORT

Filling and spilling: Flagstaff area lakes highest in years

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.

img_2368-copy
Kaibab Lake near Williams can finally be stocked with fish after two years of extremely low water levels. Photo courtesy Kaibab National Forest.

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.

    20170215_141912
    Ashurst Lake is full
  • Ashurst Lake is full.  The road to Ashurst Lake remains closed and  is very muddy and there are some heavy snow drifts.
  • Upper Lake Mary is 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.

See more about fishing in Arizona

Weekend Roundup: Angler Reports

Send your fishing reports and pictures to BFishing@AZGFD.gov — one that includes a photo will be featured as Catch of the Week

Here’s the latest from your fellow anglers (click on the water for directions):

Lake Pleasant

lakeplezbass

Scott L.: Caught this last night (Tuesday, Feb. 14) out at Lake Pleasant in a cove using a cut of anchovie total length was 20 inches. I couldn’t weigh it.

We were fishing with frozen anchovies hoping for some catfish or stripers but hooked this instead. I love fishing in Arizona.

Desert Breeze Lake (Chandler)

dbtrout

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.

Fain Lake (Prescott Valley)

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.

Gilbert Riparian

img_5892

Anonymous: My husband slayed this guy on Feb. 8 at the Gilbert Riparian on soft bait.

Parker Canyon Lake

parkercanyonbass

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.

A great beginning to a new year of fishing!

 

Copper Sky Lake (Maricopa)

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Domingo S.:  This was caught at the fishing clinic at Maricopa Park last month (Saturday, Jan. 14).

 

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Future of baitfish in AZ: problems and solutions

Does anyone use live baitfish anymore?

Well heavens, yes — especially if you’re fishing for big flathead catfish or crappie, right?

And when I say live baitfish, I mean just fish. Talking about other types of live bait such as worms, crayfish, waterdogs, and so on, would make the conversation much longer. And this is a blog. So let’s just talk fish.

The problem is the use of non-native baitfish: it’s great bait, but it out-muscles native fish and other aquatic species.

We’ll talk about some possible solutions.

But first, the problem of non-native livebait.

Non-native baits a management challenge

The speckled dace is a native fish to Arizona.The speckled dace is a native fish to Arizona

In recent decades, using live baitfish was the best way to catch your dinner.  But with more and more people  practicing catch and release, fishing with live bait has become less popular, almost to the point that if you do use live bait, you could be criticized.  This is because using live baits typically results in deep hook-sets that make releasing a fish back into the water unharmed a challenge.

The other challenge — from a management standpoint — is that all of the well-known and legal baitfish species are non-native to Arizona and can have detrimental effects on native fish and other aquatic species.

They are good for bait because they are easy to raise, and they survive on a hook.

For these same reasons, they are also ultra-competitive in  Arizona lakes and streams and out-muscle native species for food and space.

Also, these non-native species of fish come from fish suppliers outside of Arizona.  So water, plants, snails and all kinds of other non-native stuff can come along with them and end up in your bait bucket.

Why anglers should care:
money and fishing memories

Did you know some of your fishing license dollars are spent on mitigating the harmful effects of non-native species?

Yep, we are charged with providing quality sport-fishing opportunities — among many other things — while simultaneously ensuring our native aquatic species are protected and enhanced.

If fish, and other non-native aquatic species, just stayed put and didn’t move upstream or downstream, it would make it a lot easier.

But we all know water flows all over the place (downhill mostly), along with everything else  in the water.  So when people use live baitfish in one spot, and a few live ones are let loose, those fish and everything in your bait bucket will eventually be all over that watershed.

And that’s exactly what has happened during previous years. There are few wet spots in Arizona that don’t have some sort of non-native aquatic organism competing for food and space with something that has evolved in that spot.  More and more non-native aquatic invasive species are being discovered or identified every year.

So what to do?

Live baitfish solutions: some considerations

The Sonora sucker is another possible native baitfish that could be a solution to our state's nonnative baitfish problem.

The Sonora sucker is another native baitfish
that could be part a solution

  • Working towards raising enough native baitfish in our existing hatcheries. We believe it would help to raise species of baitfish native to our state in enough numbers that baitfish dealers wouldn’t have to import baitfish. Then all the non-native species that come along for the ride with the baitfish from other states would no longer hit our borders.It’s just one part of the puzzle, but it’s a start. If this works, it could help us spend more of your fishing license dollars on stocking, enhancing fish habitat and forage, and less on mitigating the harmful effects of non-native species.
  • Make sure enough native baitfish can be raised and maintained in the sizes anglers want. Native species need to be hardy enough to survive on a hook. It still won’t be OK to “dump your bait bucket” when you’re done fishing, but when a native minnow gets off your hook, it won’t endanger anything.

So that’s it. There’s still a lot to be done, and catching and using bait species at your favorite lake or stream wouldn’t change — even if it’s a non-native species. The only changes would be what’s available for purchase at a bait dealer and what species you could legally move from one spot to another.

So stay tuned!

Andy Clark is the AZGFD statewide sportfish management program supervisor