FISH STORIES: Angling for Duck with DJ

What’s YOUR fish story? In the latest segment of Fish Stories, D.J. Rothans tells about that day in 1966 when he brought home a duck and a fish. Enjoy the latest segment of Fish Stories from the AZGFD YouTube site!


Have a fond memory? An exciting experience? Or, just a special day on the water with family and friends enjoying Arizona’s amazing outdoors? Email your story to, and we may share it with others online, in print, or on television.

Stay tuned for future additions of “Fish Stories,” which will frequently appear here in print, online or on television.

Arizona Game and Fish rescues more than a half-million trout from Sterling Springs Fish Hatchery

With Slide Fire raging nearby, fingerling trout transported to safety

SEDONA, Ariz.—With the Slide Fire bearing down on Sterling Springs Fish Hatchery, the Arizona Game and Fish Department on Saturday, May 25, rescued some 600,000 trout fingerlings from the hatchery and transported them to safe sites.

The Sterling Springs Fish Hatchery typically produces 1.6 million eggs annually. In addition, the hatchery is responsible for 68 percent of the trout production for stocking in state waters. The emergency fish rescue operation that began at 6 a.m. helped ensure Arizonans will have trout to catch, and protected a portion of threatened, native Apache trout.

Four trucks made two trips each to transport more than 350,000 rainbow trout and 150,000 brown trout to Page Springs Hatchery, as well as more than 80,000 Apache trout to Canyon Creek Hatchery. Another 200,000-plus fry remain in Sterling Springs Hatchery tanks, too small to move, yet relatively protected.


Before the rescue, the Slide Fire incident management team ensured the hatchery was safe enough to allow Game and Fish personnel to enter and exit with minimal risk.

“Wednesday afternoon, things were getting pretty bad close to here,” said Bryce Sisson, manager at the Sterling Springs Fish Hatchery. “We could see flames less than a quarter mile from the hatchery that afternoon when we left. A helicopter was dropping water real close to the hatchery. It was looking pretty scary on Wednesday.”

Water for the hatchery is delivered through a pipeline more than 1 mile long. Any fire compromise to the pipeline, which is fragile and above ground, would have quickly killed fish. Also, when monsoons come, water delivery again is at risk from a potential overland flow of ash, silt and debris that could put all trout in the hatchery runways at risk.

Fishing report: The latest from Rim Country


Roosevelt Lake, Arizona fishing report

From Jim Goughnour of Rim Country Custom Rods

Good morning rim country anglers – I heard a report that enforcement officers will be on Arizona lakes this weekend ensuring boat owner comply with the rule to have the plug removed from the boat to prevent movement of mussels. Remember that Clean, Drain and Dry is a law in Arizona.

The water level in Roosevelt Lake dropped another 1% past week and currently stands at 48% full. The Tonto Creek is flowing at 10% of its normal rate while the Salt River is at 20% of its normal rate for this time of year. The water temperature is increasing and shallow water will now begin reach 80 degrees during the afternoon. The water clarity is improving each week and is almost back a clear condition.

Bass fishing was called excellent this past week…

BASS FISHING WAS CALLED EXCELLENT AT ROOSEVELT LAKE… by local experienced anglers. The bass transition from the spawn into more of a normal summer pattern is underway but many bass are still in a post spawn stage. The top-water bite we’ve been talking about the past few weeks was very strong this past week. A Rico top water bait was reported very successful by several anglers from early morning until mid morning.

Buzz baits, Zara spooks, and shallow running jerk baits were catching good numbers as well. If you see bass chasing shad in shallow water, cast beyond the boil and retrieve the bait as fast as you can. Remember the shad are in a panic mode, so a slow retrieve will not look natural to a pursuing bass. As the sun gets higher, bass will seek deeper water and cover or structure to protect them. Try a weightless Senko, dropshot, Texas-rig or Carolina rig in 15-25 ft water. The new moon we will have this week will make for some excellent night fishing.

The crappie fishing was called fair this past week.

But the night time bite is still reported better than during the daylight. For crappie fishing at night, the only bait to use is a live minnow. Hot spot for crappie reported last week was at the Marina tires for the second consecutive week. Crappie lights at night will be effective this coming week due to the new moon.

Trout fishing on the Rim Lakes was called excellent again this past week.

Power Baits on the bottom, worms or salmon eggs were reported successful. Small spinner baits such as a Mepps, Super Duper, and Panther Martin are working on an ultra-light rod.  Fly anglers are having success using wet flies such as streamers in the early morning and late evening. Look for trout under logs, behind boulders or overhangs in the creeks. If you come across a small pool of water in a stream, the trout will be nearby so fish those pools thoroughly.

Take some time this Memorial Day weekend to think about the brave men and women that made the ultimate sacrifice for our Country so that we can enjoy our freedom, and be sure to display your flag.

Have a great week of fishing and I hope see you on the water.

Anglers Report: Lake Pleasant striper bonanza

Lake Pleasant/George Andrejko-AZGFD
Lake Pleasant/George Andrejko-AZGFD

Thanks to Barry W. for this Friday, May 23, striper fishing report from Lake Pleasant:


I went striper fishing at Lake Pleasant a few days ago. There was a little bit of top-water boils happening, but fishing was very slow for the first couple of hours in the morning.

We tried dropping anchovies at a few different areas with no luck. Finally I found a school of stripers in one of the coves on the northern side of the lake.  I started to chum, and after about 10 minutes we dropped anchovies down.  We started catching very small stripers.

My buddy and I decided we would keep chumming, but maybe try dropping spoons down and jig. That was the key!!! We started hooking 2-4 pound stripers.  The heavier spoons were getting deeper to the bigger fish, instead of the smaller fish picking it off first.  The secret is to chum to keep the school interested and suspended under your boat.

We kept the school interested for about an hour and a half.  The exciting thing was watching the spoons drop down and see them fall through a school of 60-100 fish.  Keep trying different areas, find the fish and switch up fishing techniques and you will have great success at Lake Pleasant.

I had the pleasure of teaching my daughters Girl Scout troop a fishing class at Dog Town Lake up near Williams on the 17th. Yes, there is a huge water shortage in the area but the lake is still producing great trout fishing.  The PowerBait was a huge hit and the key colors seemed to be, white, rainbow, and American pie. These are newly stocked trout so most of them are small between 8-10 inches.

Be sure to use light line and smaller size hooks like size 12-16.  The water is low but seems to be a lot better than the other lakes in the area.

The Reel Deal

Hello, anglers,

Planning for Memorial Day weekend involves knowing what to avoid as much as what to fish for.

First, we’re doing our largest stocking of warmwater fish in the Lakeside-Pinetop and Show Low areas in more than 20 years.

This will give White Mountain anglers extra incentive to get out to the lakes this Memorial Day weekend. See all the details.

Also, it’s time to get ready for Arizona’s Free Fishing Day.

You can fish Arizona waters for free on Saturday, June 7, making this an ideal time to take the family out for some fun and relaxing outdoor recreation.

This day will be celebrated as part of National Fishing and Boating Week. On that Saturday, no fishing licenses are required for persons fishing any public waters in Arizona.

OK, here are some things to consider before heading out:

Fire restrictions

Woods Canyon fire

A Woods Canyon fire was reported at 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, May 21 at 2.5 acres near Woods Canyon Lake on the Black Mesa Ranger District. By 4 p.m. the fire had grown to 150 acres and crossed FR 195.

On the Apache-Sitegreaves National Forests, Stage II Fire Restrictions are starting on May 23. As of Thursday afternoon, the lake area and store were open. See the Apache-Sitegreaves website for updates.

See a full list of Fire restrictions in Arizona.

Reservations reminder

Memorial Day camping reservations are recommended. At Alamo Lake State Park, for example, Park Ranger Mike Knapp said the park on Wednesday had more than 90 reservations for the weekend.

Be “Bear Aware” out there

As temperatures climb and Arizonans head north, human encounters with bears in the high country and in expanding mountain communities are on the increase.

Arizona Game and Fish Department officials are asking people to “Be Bear Aware,” especially while recreating in the cool pines during Memorial Day weekend. Homeowners and recreationists should take precautions to minimize potential conflicts with bears and other wildlife.

See tips on how to best avoid such human-wildlife encounters.

Trout tagging reminder

Those visiting the East Verde River (where the fishing has been exceptional) are again reminded that if a trout with an external radio tag is caught, they may keep OR release the fish.

If you catch a tagged fish, please call the number on the colored tag (623-236-7538) with the following information:

  • Location of the caught trout
  • Identification number on the colored external tag
  • Date the fish was caught

See all the details of our program that is examining stocked trout movement and fate.

Crappie report

Alamo Lake

A couple of boats from the Arizona Crappie Association night fished Alamo Lake on Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18 with good success. We found the bite in the trees across the lake from Cholla ramp in 18-20 feet of water fishing with minnow rigs vertical or with lighted floats 8-10 feet down.

Friday night’s bite was a very light bite. We found that it was either a slight movement in the rod tip fished vertical or slight movement in your bobber that indicated that you had a bite. Fish seemed to be more aggressive on Saturday night with harder hits.

The vast majority of the Crappie caught were in the 9–10.5-inch class, which were returned to the lake. There seemed to be a larger class size of crappie caught on Saturday night. Good numbers were caught between our boats with 45 on Friday night and about 100 on Saturday but again, keepers were few and far between. It was still fun fishing even though most of the crappie were a bit small which of course limited our take home numbers.

Didn’t fish much during the day, but a couple were caught trolling grubs around the same areas we fished at night. Had to fish shallow for these fish also.


(Send your fishing reports and photos to

Fishing a canal at 99th Ave. And Bethany Home Rd., Andrew reported using garlic bait in the evening to catch an 8- and 11.5-pound carp near Cardinal Stadium.

Matt S. from Rose Canyon Lake reported that fishing excellent Monday, May 19, at dusk: Caught a limit of rainbows using orange PowerBait 2-3 feet off the bottom.

I really enjoy reading the weekly fishing reports, thanks for the great work!

Tom L. said he had an awesome time last weekend at Knoll Lake: Friday was a little slow with one being caught in the morning on green PowerBait. We went back in the afternoon at 1 p.m. and stayed until about 4:30 and got four more.

Other anglers told us that the lake was stoked about noon on Friday with 3,500 trout and it really showed on Saturday. We fished a good four hours Saturday morning and about 2 hours in the evening and ending up catching 35 trout.

You could see the stockers cruising along the dam and large schools of close to 100. I was tossing a silver Super Duper just beyond the school and reeling it through and could see the trout swarm the lure. We had several back-to-back-to-back casts where we caught fish every time.

Sunday morning we went back for a hour before we packed up camp and got another seven.

Best action right now seems to be in the morning by throwing lures into the ripples and boils of rising trout. Super Dupers seemed to be best bet but Panther Martins and Mepps were hot too. Biggest fish that I saw caught goes to the female Osprey. Watched her scoop up one about 13 inches or so then make a couple victory laps overhead showing all the anglers how it’s done.

Our grand total between the six of us that went was 47 rainbows caught. Great weekend!

Clayton P., and I, Jacob G., reported good fishing from kayaks at Butcher Jones in Saguaro Lake Saturday, May 17: It was my first time on a kayak. We fished the coves for awhile, but our best fishing was by the shoreline on the main lake.

Fishing was really good. I caught some really nice largemouth bass and a few nice bluegills. We were using crankbaits. Don’t know the weights ‘cause my scale got wet and quit working. Clayton finally caught his first fish in Arizona!

Believe it or not it was a nice 13-inch crappie! I was so surprised and excited for him! I’ve never seen or caught a crappie at Saguaro. This was the second time he has come out with me fishing. First, was at Woods Canyon Lake and we had no luck. He is definitely hooked now!

See the full report

Update: Woods Canyon Fire

Campgrounds in the Woods Canyon Lake area and the Woods Canyon store remain open.

From Apache-Sitgreaves NFs website

Springerville, AZ—The human-caused Woods Canyon fire on the north side of Woods Canyon Lake on the Black Mesa Ranger District is currently at 88 acres with 40 percent containment. Dozer and handlines have been created on the east and west sides of the fire. Crews are still battling spot fires on the north side. No structures or powerlines are threatened at this time.

Resources on the scene include a single engine air tanker, hotshot crew, two Type 3 helicopters, two Type 2 crews, one water tender, and several engines. Helicopters are dipping water from Woods Canyon Lake. No injuries have been reported.

All campgrounds in the Woods Canyon Lake area and the Woods Canyon store are open. Some parking in the area is closed to visitors while it is being used for fire logistics. The Rocky Point day use area is open.

Woods Canyon Fire Starts near Woods Canyon Lake

From the Apache-Sitgreaves NF website

SPRINGERVILLE—The Woods Canyon fire was reported at 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, May 21 at 2.5 acres near Woods Canyon Lake on the Black Mesa Ranger District.

By 4 p.m. the fire had grown to 150 acres and crossed FR 195.

Resources on the scene include a heavy air tanker, two Type 3 helicopters, one Type 2 crew, and several engines. Helicopters are dipping water from Woods Canyon Lake. Additional resources have been ordered. No structures are threatened at this time. The cause is under investigation.

 About the Woods Canyon fire

Date/Time Reported: Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Location: near Woods Canyon Lake

Cause: Under investigation

Size: 150 acres

Landscape/Fuels: Ponderosa pine on fairly flat ground

Follow the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests on Twitter (@A_SNFs) for instant updates on fire information, fire restrictions, and fire prevention.

Know Before You Go!  To help you understand where and when fire restrictions and possible closures exist, there are several resources available.  The public can obtain additional fire information via the following:

Encounters are increasing – be “bear aware” out there

PHOENIX – As temperatures climb and Arizonans head north, human encounters with bears in the high country and in expanding mountain communities are on the increase.

Arizona Game and Fish Department officials are asking people to “Be Bear Aware,” especially while recreating in the cool pines during Memorial Day weekend. Homeowners and recreationists should take precautions to minimize potential conflicts with bears and other wildlife.

Bear sightings also are on the increase around southern Arizona.

The root cause of any human-wildlife encounter is typically food. Keep a clean camp.

“Don’t intentionally feed wildlife – it will just get you and the wild animal in trouble,” said April Howard, the large carnivore biologist with Game and Fish. “Cook and eat your food 100 yards from your sleeping area.”

Here are some tips to keep you safe, and to discourage bears while camping.

  • Never intentionally feed wildlife. Even bird feeders can become attractants if they are not placed out of reach of bears and set up properly to prevent spillage.
  • Don’t camp near hiking trails, water or berry patches.
  • Secure all garbage. To do so, use bear-resistant containers, hang garbage from a tree (garbage should be 10-15 feet high and 4 feet from its hanging surface) or keep garbage in a vehicle.
  • Keep tent and sleeping area clear of any food and other scented items such as deodorant, lotion and toothpaste.
  • Walk or jog in groups. Pay attention to your surroundings when hiking, jogging or bicycling.
  • Supervise your children (especially toddlers) and keep them in sight at all times.
  • Keep your pets on a leash – don’t allow them to be free roaming. Free roaming pets can be a cause of adverse human/bear encounters, especially dogs chasing female bears with cubs.
  • Don’t leave pet food out where bears and other wild animals become habituated to it.
  • Manage the vegetation around your home to eliminate hiding and daybed use cover for bears and wildlife.
  • Remember that the majority of standard coolers are not effective at keeping a bear from breaking in and stealing its contents. There are companies that specialize in bear-resistant containers.

If you encounter a bear in Arizona consider these suggestions:

  • Never get between a female bear and her cubs. Do not try to intervene with a bear chasing your dog back to you. Let the bear focus its attention on your dog and not switch its aggression towards you.
  • Stay calm.
  • If a bear has not noticed you, do not get its attention. Continue facing it, and slowly back away.
  • If a bear has noticed you, make loud noises by clanging pans, using air horns or whatever is available.
  • If attacked, fight back. Bear and mountain lion attacks are predation events and you are considered the prey.
  • If a bear has noticed you, don’t run unless it is dangerously close. Get inside of a vehicle or building. Running elicits what is called a predator-prey response – if you run, the animal might instinctively want to chase and catch you. Despite their imposing size, bears are quick and can reach speeds of 40 mph.
  • Make yourself look as big and imposing as possible.
  • Speak loudly or yell – let it know you are human.

Preparing for bear encounters

“Plan and prepare before camping or hiking,” Howard said. “Contact the appropriate park or forest service and find out if there has been any bear sightings or issues.”

Keep in mind that when wildlife and humans come into conflict, the wildlife will almost always lose. Due to public safety concerns, a bear that is conditioned to humans and causes property damage or injury, or has lost its fear of humans is a dead bear. Don’t feed them either intentionally or unintentionally.

Although the department will trap and relocate a nuisance bear that happens to come into conflict with humans, once a bear loses its fear of humans or is habituated to eating human-provided food (both typically occur), the department has limited choices. Capturing and relocating a problem bear is not a viable public safety option.

Another factor to keep in mind is that relocated bears do not always have long life expectancies. Bears are extremely territorial. Putting a bear into another bear’s territory is setting the animal up for a different type of conflict — one that can be fatal.

“Your actions will affect these bears’ survival,” Howard said, “and that’s why it’s important to follow these simple bear safety procedures and protocols while camping and hiking so bears don’t have to be euthanized.”

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.


Woods Canyon Lake, Lake Havasu, in top 100 family-friendly place to fish, boat

Lake Havasu smallmouth-3 (2)
Smallmouth bass caught in the London Bridge Channel of Lake Havasu

Anybody within Arizona borders who has been to Woods Canyon Lake or Lake Havasu know how family-friendly these parks are.

Now they’re nationally known.

According to the highly-credible Recreational Boating and Fish Foundation, Woods Canyon is ranked No. 61, and Havasu No. 65, in the top 100.

See the full list.

All fishing, all the time


All fishing, all the time

Wawang Lake Resort

FISH: Walleye, Northern Pike, Perch, White Fish

The Fisheries Blog

Five fish scientists discuss fun and interesting topics about fish.