Weekly Fishing Report: The Reel Deal

Lake Powell-2 (3)

Widespread rains, and early-week flooding in the Phoenix areas, have generally helped drop water temperatures. Look for fish to possibly get more active. It can take a couple of days or more for the fish to get active again, but when they do you will likely see them enter more aggressive feeding patterns.

For starters, the top-water striper bite, especially at Lake Pleasant, should begin to pick up. Get there at first light or you might miss the boils. Cover lots of water and look for birds or surface activity. Try top-water lures, jerkbaits and flies. (Zara Spook Juniors and buzzbaits tend to be successful this time of the year.)

As water temperatures slowly drop during this fall transition, fish will move up in the water column, along with shad. Top-water options will improve. This is a good weekend to find out.

And be sure to check out the Lake Powell information in the full report. You might run into some of the best fishing you’ll find this year for striped bass, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass.

In the high country, the cool, refreshing rain might just be the ticket to lower water temperatues that get the bite going there as well, assuming that associated runoff doesn’t make the water turbid. Trout don’t always like cloudy water.

This might just be the event to bring the trout into the shallows at places like Big Lake, Woods Canyon, Willow Springs and the like. Already last week at Big Lake, some trout were busting surface bugs in the shallows at sunset.

Buying a license online helps conserve wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations. Help yourself and your future loved ones.

Community Fishing Program: return of catfish, Water Ranch in Gilbert special regulations

Catfish stockings resume next week!

Deliveries of 1.5- to 2-pound catfish are scheduled to restart the week of Sept. 14-19 at the CFP “core” waters.

During the hot summer months from June 25 through Sept. 15, there are no scheduled catfish stockings at Urban Fishing Program waters. Once lake temperatures begin to drop entering the fall season, then catfish stockings can resume again.

Welcome back, Mr. Whiskers.

The core waters are: Desert Breeze and Veterans Oasis in Chandler; Copper Sky in Maricopa; Red Mountain and Riverview in Mesa; Pioneer and Rio Vista in Peoria; Alvord, Cortez, Desert West, Papago Ponds, and Steel Indian School Pond in Phoenix; Chaparral Lake in Scottsdale; Surprise Lake; Evelyn Hallman Pond and Kiwanis Lake in Tempe.

Check out our Fish&Boat AZ map for locations of the state’s top fisheries, including the CFP waters.

Water Ranch Lake in Gilbert has been approved to become a special-regulations water beginning Jan. 1.
Regulations will be catch and release for bass and sunfish and catch and keep for trout, catfish and other species. The lake will be stocked once per month.

Until Jan. 1, daily bag limits will remain four catfish and four trout.

Finally, Freestone Park Pond in Gilbert will be added to the CFP. The Arizona Game and Fish Department will begin stocking the pond in October.

Silver Creek seasonal trout fishery opens Oct. 1

This festive fishing get-together seems to draw more participants each year. This is the opening of the catch-and-release season (Oct. 1 – March 31.).

Silver Creek is five miles east of Show Low on U.S. Route 60. Turn north off Highway 60 onto Bourdon Ranch Road for five miles to Hatchery Road. Then head eat on Hatchery Road 1 mile to the Silver Creek Hatchery, park in the parking lot, and follow the signs to the creek.

Trout from this seasonal fishery must be immediately released unharmed — no trout may be kept. It is artificial fly and lure only with single, barbless hooks.

A seasonal fishery, Silver Creek is spring fed and stays at a constant temperature. Because it is not subject to freezing, it provides anglers ideal wintertime, high-country trout stream angling.


(Send your fishing reports and photos to Bfishing@AZGFD.gov.)

Apache Lake

Tom A.: Had a very good time fishing on Apache Lake this weekend. We used Rapala Nos. 5 and 7. The weather is cooling a bit, and the yellow bass were out in force as well, like we haven’t seen all summer. These pictures say it all.

Sunrise Lake

Eric K.: My dad and I took my 4-year-old daughter up to Sunrise Lake on Saturday, Sept. 6. This was her first fishing trip and just like I had learned from my dad, it was time to pass on the tradition.

My father and I didn’t have the highest expectations from neither my daughter nor the fishing, but wanted to get out anyways. We arrived around 9:15 a.m. and rented a boat for 2 hours. The gentlemen mentioned that people were catching by the dam and we noticed around 20-plus people fishing from shore. We decided to venture out around the island on the east side of the lake.

We anchored, and after a few quick photos for mom, we showed my daughter how to cast. Like most kids and the lack of patience my daughter immediately asked if she could reel in. Before I could finish my explanation of the need to leave the bait in the water, I noticed her rod tip bouncing like her brother after a late-night dessert. As I watched her eyes light up with excitement and terror of not knowing what to do next, I quickly showed her how to reel up the line.

She was too excited for words, and at that moment I knew she was hooked. Her first fish was a rainbow trout and was around 13 inches. She watched as we took the fish and put it on the stringer. She quickly cast back out and within minutes was pulling in another fish. And then another shortly after.

As much as my dad and I were excited for her, we started to get frustrated at the fact we hadn’t caught one.

Just as we sarcastically joked about it my dad caught a huge trout. Had to have been 18-20 inches and weighed at least 3-4-plus pounds. He was shocked to see the size of this trout and looked at me to help get it in the boat.

Unfortunately, we didn’t bring a net as most of our fishing trips in Arizona have never required one. The fish shook the hook as my dad tried to lift the fish out of the water and in the boat. On my dad’s very next cast he caught a fish similar in size to the other ones my daughter caught.

Before long I started to catch them as well. I was amazed at how great the fishing was. Before long, and in less than 2 hours, we caught our limit. As we pulled anchor and took a few more photos, my daughter looked to me and her grandpa and said that “it was the best day ever!”

I must say that I was surprised to have such success in such a minimal amount of time on the water. We enjoyed everything about going to Sunrise Lake that day and can’t wait to go back up very soon!


Weekly Fishing Report: The Reel Deal


Fall, finally, is sneaking through summer doldrums.

In the high country, as the nights get longer and cooler, the trout start feeding more and more aggressively to put on body fat before winter conditions arrive, providing some of the best fishing opportunities of the year.

Funny, because angler days decrease in the fall as the fishing gets better.

Remember that brown trout spawn in the fall. Curious where? Check out our Fish&Boat AZ map for locations of fisheries, and a listing of species. After clicking on the “Fishing Search” tab, click on “brown trout” (under the Fish Species headline) and on the map see the best public waters to fish for them. Pretty awesome feature.

Back to our fall foundations. At Big Lake last weekend, an angler reported catching a 5-pound cutthroat trout that had spawning colors and was full of eggs. A little early for their spawn. Just in the past few days at Big Lake, the water has “turned over,” with cooler water flipping to the bottom and warmer water rising. This has caused some fish to rise as well. On Wednesday as the sun set, fish began hitting bugs on the surface within a few feet of the shoreline on the south end of the lake. Bring your fly rod. Lures such as Z-Rays and crickhoppers began to be effective as well. That said, most of the fish remain deep.

Ah, that swinging, squeaky-gate cry of elk. Jim Goughnour of Rim Country Custom Rods said bull elk were heard bugling in Payson this past week. The rut is getting underway. Good time to hit Woods Canyon or Willow Springs lakes.

Want to fish for something different? Head to the East Fork of the Black River for some native Apache trout and wild brown trown. The stream was stocked last week with 1,000 Apache trout, which was the last stocking for the season. The flows have been moderately high and a little turbid.

In lower elevations, fishing for striper and catfish has produced the best reports. See the 55-pound flathead catfish to the right caught recently from the Colorado River.

Don’t forget your license!

Buying a license online helps conserve wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations. Help yourself and your future loved ones.


(Send your fishing reports and photos to Bfishing@AZGFD.gov.)

Lake Havasu

Kathy B.: Nice blue channel catfish caught Aug. 28 at Lake Havasu near the Chalk Cliffs. Caught about 9 a.m. on cut anchovies. Weight was 15-pounds, 4-ounces, length unknown. This was Kathy’s largest catfish ever.

Dead Horse State Park

When to Dead Horse lagoons on Sept. 3 in Cottonwood. We went to Lynx Lake first and didn’t even get a bite, used hot dogs and chicken liver. Left about 10 a.m., and headed for Dead Horse.

We got there around noon and fished the first lagoon. Caught three catfish using shrimp, biggest being 21 inches long and weighed four pounds. All in all a good day.

Colorado River

George T: Channel catfish caught in the Colorado River. I’m using anchovies, a 2-ounce flat weight and a 3/0 circle hook.

Rose Canyon Lake

Daniel: I fished Rose Canyon Lake this morning, Aug. 28 with my two sons. We are not experienced anglers — in fact, we have never caught anything prior to today. We were experimenting with various soft lures, and PowerBait (with a bobber and off of the bottom) with no luck — not even a nibble.

Then on a whim I decided to try a red spoon lure and was very surprised when I immediately caught my first fish! I handed that lure over to my son and in minutes he had his first fish as well. Then my other son blanked on the spoon but caught multiple fish with a slow retrieve using an orange rooster tail lure. We quit when we felt we had enough fish for the family, which did not take long.

We were at the lake early, but the bite picked up from 7:30-9 a.m.

I was expecting a quiet camping day but it turned into an outing we will not soon forget. Nothing beats a successful day fishing with your sons!


Weekly Fishing Report: The Reel Deal

Storms early in the week dumped on many fisheries statewide, which not only cranked up any inflows, it created a jolt of nutrients and oxygen that turned some fish on.

At some lakes, the inflows may be a bit turbid. A key can be fishing the edge of a stain line. Also fish near a feeder creek where there is an influx of nutrients that brings in bait fish, and in turn, sport fish.

That said, it sounds like the lower Colorado River from Picacho State Park to the Imperial Dam has been much better for flathead catfish than bass. The bass bite reportedly was poor due to the storms lowering the water temperature and making the water murky.

But Rich Fritz isn’t complaining. He caught the above flathead catfish out of the Colorado River in Yuma on Aug. 24 that measured 48.25 inches and weighed 55 pounds and 11.84 ounces. It’s a new Big Fish of the Year leader for the flathead catch-and-keep category. Catfishing also is great at Alamo Lake and Bartlett Lake.

Catfish stocking will return to the Community Fishing Program lakes on Sept. 14. Get rigged and ready.

The high-country summer trout stockings are winding down. In the White Mountains, we’re stocking Fool Hollow Lake (400 13-inch rainbow trout), Show Low Lake – (850 13-inch rainbows), Willow Springs Lake (1,895 rainbows), Woods Canyon Lake (3,060 rainbows), East Fork Black River (1,000 Apache trout), Little Colorado River in Greer (500 Apache trout), Sheeps Crossing (500 Apache trout), and Silver Creek (500 Apache trout).

Our Fish&Boat Arizona map will show plenty of other options.

Also, see a full list of fire restrictions in Arizona.

Buying a license online helps conserve wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations. Help yourself and your future loved ones.

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend by kicking back with a rod in hand and an ice chest full of fish.


(Send your fishing reports and photos to Bfishing@AZGFD.gov.)

Encanto Lake

Vini U.: It’s been a great week to fish for carp at Encanto Lagoon, day or night. They’ve even been biting in the pouring rain. I caught all three of these fish off of 4-pound test on an Ultra-Light rod. Use a few pieces of corn and a No. 6 hook and you’ve got yourself a great fight on Ultra-Light tackle.

Colorado River (Picacho State Park to Imperial Dam)

Charles S.: I fished the river on Sunday and Monday and the bass bite was extremely poor. Recent storms and lower air temps have lowered the water temps by about 5 degrees, with average surface temps around 83.5 degrees, water is still murky. We fished both current and a few of the lakes and only caught a few dinks over the entire weekend. We were asked by a few bass fishermen if we were able to establish any type of pattern and I could only hang my head in shame. With the Labor Day weekend upon us, I doubt I will do much fishing until after the holiday. The good news is that almost everyone that fishes for flatheads are reporting that they are catching lots of double-digit fish as well as a few trophy fish.

Steele Indian School Park

Andrew R.: This bass was caught by my girlfriend on a Zoom plastic motor oil/ chartreuse 5-inch worm. Greatest catch of hers and weighed 2.4 pounds on site. Caught on Aug. 23 about 2 p.m. in about 10 feet of water between weed lines. Location was Indian School and Hayden. Indian School Park, I believe. Small, non-stocked lake.

She has been actively fishing for about one year and has excelled in every type of fishing that I have presented her. The motivation and willingness to learn has led to her catching catfish, trout, carp, bluegill, and largemouth bass. With a little know how and the right tools she can seek and destroy any type of fish she is after.

Ryon G.: At Steele Indian School Park, caught nice size catfish on dip bait on Aug. 22 at 8 p.m. Pounds unknown — did not have a scale with me, but it was 25.5 inches long.

Saguaro Lake

Steve: I fished Saguaro from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 15. Had some top-water nibbles from 5 a.m. to 5:30 a.m., but nothing hooked. I was using top-water hard bait.

Switched to a Texas rig in all colors from 5-30 feet of water… nothing. Rigged up a 3-inch swimbait for 5-10 feet of water and caught three largemouth bass in the 2-3.5-pound range.

The water temp was 85 degrees, no wind and very little traffic. Fished until 9 a.m. with no action after 7:30 a.m.

I went back to Saguaro on the 18th (Monday). Hit the water at 4 a.m. and fished until 9 a.m. There was a fishing tournament going on and there were about 27 boats at the boat ramp. Since they weren’t getting on the water until 5 a.m., I went around them. Usually I watch these guys and try to mimic their fishing methods — not today.

I got back to Shiprock (I think that’s the name). I noticed a load of fish at 5-10 feet and 25-30 feet with shad above and below the bigger fish.

I started throwing top water above the shad and got nothing. Switched to a 6-inch swimbait and hooked nine largemouth bass by 5:45 a.m. All were 2-4 pounds. The sonar showed the shad collecting from the surface to about 10 feet with the larger fish at 15 feet.

While tying on some different lures, I started seeing and hearing some serious top-water action. Threw some top-water bait and got nothing.

Switched to a shallow (1-3 foot depth) crankbait and pulled in a 4.5-pound and a 5-pounder in less than 10 minutes.

I followed the action west through the canyon toward the big water and caught another 10 largemouth.

Around 8:30 am the fish started going deep. I had to make a decision… keep fishing or go home a look for a job. Decided a job would be best if I want to keep the boat.

Lake Pleasant

Bruce B.: Stripers under lights in 60-70 feet, Aug. 22.

Arivaca Lake

Joe N. in Amado: I made a trip to Arivaca Lake this (Friday) morning. The lake is super low and there is a lot of vegetation between the boat ramp and the nearest point of water, which is approximately 200 yards.

Even with the rain it has received it is still very low.

The best bet for getting on the water would be a kayak, canoe, or something light you could throw in the bed of a truck or rooftop. Didn’t do any fishing, but I’m sure you could have some success early mornings and towards evening. This is going on the third year of not enough rain from the monsoons to fill the lake.

If it continues….it may be helpful to install some sort of a low water ramp or access farther down the lake where everyone unloads their boat. I’ve visited the lake several times and always find that I can’t get my boat in the water even though it’s only a little 12 feet.

You guys did an awesome job on the new boat ramp and floatable dock, but I think it’s gonna be a long time before it gets any use. I believe the water table needs to come up 4-5 feet before there will be any use of the new ramp and dock.

Other than that, the road leading down to the lake is in good shape. Good luck to those of you who can get on the water and enjoy the fishing. It’s still a very scenic and peaceful place to go and spend some time with the family.

Hope this helps as I haven’t seen any recent reports about Arivaca Lake.

Tempe Town Lake

C.P.: Rich S. reported he cracked the code… I went out there today and had a great time. Caught three largemouth bass in about an hour and a half using a Carolina rig.

All three were keepers, but I released them because I was just having fun.

This is the type of fishing that makes fishing fun. My Carolina rig: red No. 2 hook with a rubber crawdad on a 12-inch lead, swivel, red glass bead, half-ounce brass slide weight. Thanks, Rich S.


Game and Fish Department investigates

use of aircraft to harass wildlife

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is investigating a reported incident of harassing wildlife with an aircraft. Multiple reports were received by the Department on Aug. 22 and 23, 2014 from a number of concerned archery hunters who witnessed the incidents. Read the full article.


Weekly Fishing Report: The Reel Deal

It’s the forehead-soaked homestretch of summer. Consider fishing the night, morning or high country. First, though, pick a species.

So what are you looking to catch?


The nighttime striper bite at Lake Pleasant still is one of the best bets going. Take anchovies, set out a high-quality submersible light, drop some ‘chovies deep (80-plus feet), and wait for the “zing.”

Looking for bass of the largemouth variety? Try Saguaro Lake. Night fishing has been excellent, and in the morning, bass are chasing bait. Try top-water lures and swim baits in the mornings. As the morning progresses, throw dropshot-rigged Roboworms (morning dawn with a chartreuse tip and red crawler are good colors). Anglers can target humps, points, boulders, reef signs and grass bottoms. Of course, locate the food source (shad, for example) and you’ve found the fish.

Bassin’ is also good at Roosevelt Lake. Try the Salt River end of the lake throwing a dark-colored jig using a flippin’ technique, or a dark-colored worm on a dropshot.


OK, here are some hot spots. In the White Mountains, fishing is good at Show Low Creek (being stocked this week with 1,190 rainbow trout), Woods Canyon Lake (3,030 trout) and Big Lake. Willow Springs Lake also is being supplied with some ‘bows.

In the Flagstaff area, Kinnikinick is a viable option. Escape the crowds, and because it’s spring fed, it often has a nice summer bite. Some decent browns linger here as well. The lake is full, and some anglers last week were fishing worms on small hooks (size 8 or smaller), catching fish around weed beds near the boat ramp. Plan a trip here for Labor Day weekend.

Boaters should stay away from Ashurst Lake – the water level has dropped to the point that launching boats is not allowed.


How about Bartlett Lake, home of the heaviest recorded fish of all time? Try toppling “Flathead” Ed Wilcoxson’s 76.54-pound flathead catfish landed last year (pictured to the right). Or just take something home that’s good to eat.

It’s prime flathead catfish season. Try live bluegill or small carp as bait. Look for the deeper holes, especially up-lake where there is a little current. For bluegills, try the backs of rocky coves using nightcrawlers or meal worms on light tackle.

Our Fish&Boat Arizona map will show plenty of other options, as well as the locations of those mentioned above.

Also, see a full list of fire restrictions in Arizona.

Buying a license online helps conserve wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations. Help yourself and your future loved ones.


(Send your fishing reports and photos to Bfishing@AZGFD.gov.)

Lake Pleasant

John A.: Good morning, I was just writing you to let you know how our trip was at Pleasant this weekend. Me, my buddy Drew, my dad and father-in-law fished just inside the bend at Agua Fria.

The striper bite was non-stop from about 6:30 p.m. until 8 a.m. when we were leaving. All in all we caught striped bass on anchovies, minnows and shrimp with the heads still on them. The shrimp was the ticket that night — it caught the biggest one for us which was around 2 pounds. Most of the bass that night were one-half to one pound with 104 being caught for the night. The best rig setup for me that night was Carolina rig with shrimp. As far as the catfish go, well, we caught about six and let me say this: I think the anchovies were bigger, haha. So we threw them back in and continued on with our night.

Barry W.: I have been fishing Pleasant over the last month and it’s kept me busy. The night fishing has continued to be excellent for stripers. It’s been an adventure trying to find a good night that does not get interrupted by monsoons so be careful out there. The key is to find the deep water. Fish are being located at 80-100-plus feet deep.

The key is having a great submersible fishing light. The brighter the better when it comes to the light. Frozen anchovies are working great for bait. Keep in mind that that the warm water unthaws them quickly, which means fish get it off the hook quickly. Be ready for a quick hookset. If you’re missing the hooksets, try using worms. They stay on the hook longer and increase your chances for a successful hookset.

The top-water boils have been minimal on average (in my opinion) for the earlier part of August. The great news now is that the boils have picked up greatly throughout the day and also last longer on average.

We hit a boil in a northern cove at sunrise last Saturday morning that lasted 30-40 minutes in length. Every cast we had a striper on and many double headers. The exciting news is most of the stripers hitting our lures were 3-4 pounds in weight. The biggest striper of the morning was a 5 ponder that measured 23 inches.

Silver Kastmaster lures are working fantastically and so are shad jerk baits. Don’t forget about those top-water Spooks also. The picture I provided are just some of the striper we decided to keep and clean for dinner. Great time of year to be fishing AZ waters.

Good luck fishing everybody.

Anthem Park

Carp caught Tuesday, Aug. 19 at 11 a.m. in the rain. My setup was a medium action 6-foot-6 pole, and 12-pound test mono with a barbless circle hook. No weights, and I used bread. The fish was 43 inches. Did not get the exact weight — think it was like 35 pounds.

Saguaro Lake

Steve: I fished Saguaro from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 15. Had some top-water nibbles from 5 a.m. to 5:30 a.m., but nothing hooked. I was using a top-water hard bait. Switched to a Texas rig in all colors from 5-30 feet of water… nothing. Rigged up a 3-inch swim bait for 5-10 feet of water and caught three largemouth bass in the 2-3.5-pound range. The water temp was 85 degrees, no wind and very little traffic. Fished until 9 a.m. with no action after 7:30 a.m.

Colorado River

Backwater in Parker

Kallee O.: A hog bluegill. 🙂 I had 1/100th jighead with a Berkley trout worm, chartreuse.

Picacho State Park to Davis Dam

Charles S.: Here’s to another weekend of great bass fishing. Peggy and I fished over the weekend and water surface temps were around 88.5 degrees with storms intermittent throughout the weekend.

Water clarity continues to be poor with lots of sediment and debris in the water. And as far as air temps go, it was hotter than “you know what” and topped off with a lot of humidity. I don’t know which time of the day is worse for me, in the morning before my coffee sets in, or after six hours of broiling in the sun.

We jumped right back into last week’s pattern which was fishing in the current, and the bass did not let us down — in the morning it was almost one bass after another. Weights were ranging anywhere from 4-5-plus pounds (and of course a few dinks here and there) and we took most of the fish on jigs or brush hogs. While the fish were not stacked right on top of each other, I still felt that the poor water clarity aided in keeping the fish in fairly close proximity to each other: 20 feet apart would be a fairly accurate statement.

Since the way we fish usually breaks convention for largemouth bass fishing, I also want to add a little about what fishing in the current means to us. We have a 24v 5-speed trolling motor on an 18-foot bass boat, and when we fish the current, it’s normally set on setting 4 or 5 (5 is max thrust) and if the water is really flowing… it’s not uncommon to see my wife holding us in position with the main engine. So that’s what I mean when I say we are fishing in the current on the Colorado, or an awesome body of water like the Mississippi River for all that matters.

Good luck and remember to practice catch and release.


See the full report

Weekly Fishing Report: The Reel Deal


Unless you’re fishing as the sun takes its first peak at daytime, it’s night-fishing time. Fish statewide will tend to become more active at night with the drop in temperatures, and predatory fish become opportunistic.

Heading away from a full moon, the use of submersible lights will become a more effective option for catching stripers in such lakes as Lake Pleasant.

In general, the top-water bite seems to be worth a shot, but hardly on fire.

It’s also a great time to fish the creeks below the Mogollon Rim. They are family memory makers, too.

When fishing these creeks, it’s not necessary to bring the master tackle box. Fish with grubs or grasshoppers if you can find them and float them through the ripples with no weights on a small hook (No. 10 or 12) and light lines (around 6-pound test — fluorocarbon if possible).

Despite the fishing pressure, Woods Canyon Lake continues to be a hot spot. It’s no wonder. We stock about 55,000 fish per year into Woods. We just stocked another 3,030 rainbow trout into this department-built fishery on the edge of the Mogollon Rim. Nearby Willow Springs Lake is another great bet, although probably crowded as well on weekends. Get to both early for a camping spot. Fish deep in the early morning or late afternoons.

Also being stocked in the White Mountains are: Fool Hollow Lake (400 large, 13-inch rainbow trout); Show Low Lake (850 large, 13-inch rainbow trout); Willow Springs Lake (1,895 rainbow trout); and Silver Creek (500 Apache trout).

Our Fish&Boat Arizona map will show plenty of options.

Also, see a full list of fire restrictions in Arizona.

Buying a license online helps conserve wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations. Help yourself and your future loved ones.

(Send your fishing reports and photos to Bfishing@AZGFD.gov.)

Green Valley Lakes
Andrew: I fished this morning, Aug. 10, and caught upwards of 20-30 bluegill on mealworms and nightcrawlers from the fishing dock, was catching crappie on trout magnets with a little bit of PowerBait on the hook before sundown last night.

Bear Canyon Lake/Saguaro Lake
Rich S.: Went to Bear Canyon last weekend. Caught trout on slip bobbers tipped with nightcrawlers set at about 10 feet. No lure hits at all. Also caught trout on pink sherbet PowerBait on a little bait hook with two splitshots about 12 inches up.

Went to Saguaro Wednesday (Aug. 6). Fished from 4-7 a.m. Had to go to work. Caught two nice 3-pounders on Carolina-rigged senkos, green color. Single boils only, no multiples. Some guy was throwing a spook and caught three tiny bass.

Colorado River (Imperial Dam to Picacho State Park)

Charles S.: I fished over the weekend and water temps were around 85-88 degrees; the current still had left over funk from last week’s storms.

Peggy and I spent most of Sunday trying to put together a decent pattern to fish on Monday and was tough going. We looked at a few of our haunts in the current but didn’t bother flipping the usual places and decided to move back into Martinez Lake where the fish had previously been hitting soft swimbaits.

But as fate would have it they wanted nothing to do with soft “fish” swimbaits. Ironically bass in Martinez were hitting Texas-rigged 6-inch lizards that swam through the vegetation — unfortunately all of the fish were small and…boring.

Later Sunday afternoon we went back out into the current. In an attempt to overcome the loss of visibility in the water, we started throwing substantially larger baits, in particular half-ounce jigs with rattles and large trailers. That decision seemed to do the trick, and we closed out the day with a nice fat 16-inch smallmouth bass.

On Monday morning we decided to go with the same pattern we fished the evening before and within the first 40 minutes we had boated four largemouth of more than 3 pounds and one at 5 pounds, all on the same jig combo.

Because the water clarity was still very poor in the current, the fish were holding extremely tight on the structure we were fishing. I think the large size of the bait teamed with the rattles really made a difference this outing — of course you also need a lot of luck!

Apache Lake

Ray C.: First trip to Apache, caught two small largemouth bass, an 8-inch smallmouth and this 5-pound cat.

Tried a lot of different techniques, drop shot rigged and Texas-rigged PowerBaits, Roboworms, crawdads, trolling. Caught the cat trolling a Hot Shot S.E. 25 in red and chrome off the points. Guess we should have brought hot dogs 🙂

See the full report

Weekly Fishing Report: The Reel Deal


A couple biological factors could pep the bite this weekend. Our waxing gibbons moon (as of Thursday) is “growing” into a full moon, and fish simply bite better during a full moon, especially at night.

Also consider that monsoon rains have drenched different areas, and moderate rains are predicted this weekend throughout the state. If your lake of choice has been blanketed with a good dose of rain, fish near a feeder creek. This area, with its influx of nutrients, can be a good place to locate bait fish, and in turn the sportfish you hope to dupe into visiting your boat.

Sportfish are starting to spring from their summer doldrums and wreck surface lures. The surface action seems to be picking up at Lake Powell (famous for triple-digit days), Lake Pleasant, Lake Havasu, Saguaro, Canyon, Rosy – pretty much name it.

This time of the year, these sportfish start to get more active chasing shad at or near the surface. Sometimes this results in boils, where the shad jump out of the water to escape predators.

At first and last light, try poppers, chuggers, buzzbaits and stick baits such as a Zara Spook, where you “walk the dog,” making the lure dart back and forth, dancing on the surface as though it’s a wounded shad. Never know when a bass will surprise you by blasting the lure and scattering the surface. Nothing like it.

Catfish catchers — it sounds like Lake Havasu is a hot spot for channel catfish. See the new report from Havasu.

Jim Goughnour of Rim Country Custom Rods said trout fishing remains good to excellent on the Mogollon Rim. Lots of trout are being caught at all of the popular rim trout lakes on PowerBaits, worms, and flies such as a wooly bugger, he said. Early mornings, and just before dark, were reported as active feeding periods for trout.

That should give you the best weekend option. See the full report for more and check the angler reports for late-breaking fish bites. Our Fish&Boat Arizona map will show plenty of options.

Also, see a full list of fire restrictions in Arizona.

Buying a license online helps conserve wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations. Help yourself and your future loved ones.


(Send your fishing reports and photos to Bfishing@AZGFD.gov.)

Blue Ridge Reservoir (C.C. Cragin)

Tom T. of Fountain Hills: Went to the old Blue Ridge Reservoir Saturday, Aug. 2, with a 14-foot rim lakes-type boat. Launching was about as bad as it gets.

Backed down one lane about 1,000 feet dodging kayakers on both sides, especially at the bottom. Water is so low the last half of the “ramp” was bouncing over normally submerged rocky terrain.

Parking was the longest, steepest walk I have ever done in 25 years of fishing in mountain lakes. With muddy roads, rain, and launching hassles I thought this could be epic as fishing pressure should be light. My guess was right.

We used three different patterns of needlefish at 6 feet, under downriggers, and caught over 20 rainbows and lost 10 in 3.5 hours. There were only three boats fishing.

I took Cooper Loyet and Zach Langer of Fountain Hills out for the first time. They are hooked! This is a beautiful flooded canyon lake best fished from boat. Very little access of any other kind as the walls are all rock and very steep.

Colorado River (Picacho State Park to Imperial Dam)

Charles S.: Peggy and I fished for three days last weekend and the water temperature in the current was around 87-88 degrees and about the same in Martinez Lake.

A pair of weekend storms put a lot of runoff and debris into the water, water clarity was extremely poor, thus making fishing quite difficult.

On Saturday and Sunday, we only caught two keepers and four dinks during those two particular days of fishing, and all of them were taken off-current. On Monday morning the water in the river was even worse than the days before — it actually looked like chocolate milk was flowing through the river.

But not all was lost, as we found some areas with really nice water in Martinez Lake. On Monday we caught four keeper bass and three dinks, all of them came on swimbaits, which have been working quite well for the last few weeks.

I am not sure if it was a fluke, or that the bass are really desperate for food and getting out of their comfort zones, but one of the keeper fish that we had caught in the tail-end of a backwater was a nice smallmouth bass. It’s not as uncommon as one would think to catch stripers or flatheads in the shallow backwaters, but catching a smallmouth in a shallow backwater was a first for me.

Hopefully by the time the weekend rolls around the river will have partially flushed itself out and water clarity has started to improve. I have some new homegrown rigs that I want to test out in the current, but they need good water clarity to be 100-percent effective.

Davis Dam

David W.: August 1, 9 p.m., Davis Dam. Side right by the buoy line … my pole got slammed. I reeled up a 16-pound, 31-inch monster catfish after a good fight and almost getting spooled … thanks to my son Daniel for helping me net this monster. Not sure I could of done it without him.

Caught this beast of a catfish off anchovies. Stay tuned for our next report, and keep your lines tight!

See the full report

“Robot fish” engage angling community near Payson


PAYSON, Ariz. — Call them robot fish, mechanical fish, even Frankenfish.

In the tiny Payson community of Beaver Valley, hatchery-raised rainbow trout hover in pools of the East Verde River, or perhaps enjoy the shade of a shoreline undercut. Then there’s a different sort of rainbow trout in these waters – ones that mill around with a pair of protruding, lightweight tags.

These fish have undergone surgery.

A new method of trout research

Since April, Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists at the Tonto Creek Hatchery have begun implanting the lightweight wire tags into a small portion of rainbow trout to determine the fate and movement of stocked hatchery trout.

Now far removed from surgery, recovery room-like buckets of water, and finally their hatchery runways, many tagged rainbows are wild and healthy in the East Verde. A tiny tag protrudes from the back, another from the belly.

The community is abuzz about these high-tech fish.

Ask the Kreimeyers. Also near the banks of the East Verde in Beaver Valley lives Roger and Linda Kreimeyer, married 49 years. They’re at the heart of a community engaged by the Game and Fish research project.

“I get phone calls all the time: ‘Did you see the stocking truck today?’” Linda Kreimeyer said. “It’s a fun event for families here. Everyone is curious about tagged fish. They want to see these mechanical fish.”

She laughs, then gazes down toward the tributary of the Verde River that begins at the Mogollon Rim near Washington Park, then flows mostly southwest through Gila County and the Tonto National Forest.

Trout anglers: please returns tags to AZGFD

Game and Fish biologists are still asking anglers who catch a tagged fish to return the tags. The Department in April issued a news release asking anglers who catch a tagged trout to call the number on the colored tag (623-236-7538) with the location of the caught trout, identification number on the colored external tag, and date the fish was caught.

After all, future generations of anglers depend on such conservation efforts.

Those in Beaver Valley have taken notice of the project. It might be a stocking truck pulling up to the tiny creek, even a Department biologist or volunteer pointing a large antenna at the river to detect the position – and, in turn, fate or movement — of a tagged trout, part of the technology of telemetry. Sometimes, an angler will catch one of these “robot fish,” which Game and Fish biologists say are safe to eat.

It’s one of the more unique and lengthy projects anglers might witness.

“We’re getting phenomenal results,” said Arizona Game and Fish Department Fisheries Research Biologist Jessica Gwinn. “And we’re very excited that the angling public is interested in our project and participating with us.”

Game and Fish biologists will survey the East Verde River from 2014-2015, and then perform the same research methods in the East Fork of the Black River from 2015-2016.

As for the project on the East Verde River, conclusions are likely to form in 2017 or 2018.

“We want to follow the trout through several seasons,” Gwinn said. ““Early project results indicate a great return on the tags.”

Around Beaver Valley, anglers seem to understand their role in conservation, showing their passion for wildlife in part by engaging in the heritage-rich sport of fishing.

“Fishermen are really taking ownership of this project,” Gwinn said. “They live here, so they do have ownership of this stream.”

Weekly Fishing Report: The Reel Deal

For many students getting ready to go back to school, it’s time for the last fishing hurrah of summer.

It’s cicada time, so anglers can make a trip to Lees Ferry for some wild trout. This entryway to the Grand Canyon will also enthrall you with time-etched pink sandstone cliffs towering a thousand feet or more above the mighty Colorado. It’s truly the sandstone cathedral of fly fishing — there is nothing else quite like it on this planet.

Can’t forget another world class fishery – Lake Powell. Stripers are boiling, which means these boilers likely will hit any appropriate lure within the boils. Powell has around 1,700 miles of shoreline to explore and dozens of lonely hidden canyons that might not see a fisherman in weeks or even years. Catch striped bass, small mouth bass, largemouth bass and walleye that linger into your dreams.

Lake Pleasant also remains a hot option for stripers. Hit the northern coves for some daybreak, top-water action. Top-water fishing truly is a unique experience – you actually see the fish skyrocket from the water and crash a lure.

It’s also flathead catfish time. The flattie in the photo to the right was caught by a man fishing the Slim Memorial Catfish Tournament on Saturday.

At Big Lake, some anglers are limiting out on rainbow and cutthroat trout using PowerBait and nightcrawlers in 20 feet of water, said Joni from the Big Lake Store. Some 80 degree days have pushed trout down a bit, and so having a boat to reach these fish will be a particular advantage. Garlic-flavored PowerBaits have been effective.

Stocking some stockers? Here a rundown of what stocker trout are being dumped in the White Mountains: Willow Springs Lake (1,895 rainbow trout); Woods Canyon Lake (2,450 rainbow trout); East Fork Black River (1,000 Apache trout); West Fork Black River (50 Apache trout); Little Colorado River in Greer (500 Apache trout); Sheeps Crossing (500 Apache trout); Silver Creek (625 Apache trout).

That should give you some options. See the full report and check the angler reports for late-breaking fish bites. Our Fish&Boat Arizona map will show plenty of options.

Also, see a full list of fire restrictions in Arizona.

Buying a license online helps conserve wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations. Help yourself and your future loved ones.

(Send your fishing reports and photos to Bfishing@AZGFD.gov.)

Willow Springs Lake

Max B.: Good evening. Taylor Williams, Lori Burnett, Jordan Burnett and Max Burnett of Avondale caught this feast on Willow Springs Lake on Thursday July 24, using PowerBait and nightcrawlers. They are cooking on our Canyon Point campsite grill.

Francis Short Pond

Matt K.: Action there now is really good in the morning until about 9 a.m., or late afternoon after a storm. The catfish are biting on hot dogs under a sinker off the bottom.

I also caught quite a few panfish on a fly rod using a wet black ant. They also like poppers with a short darting motion across the surface, and damselflies, but the black ant is most effective, especially in the shallows near vegetation in the water.

Deadhorse Ranch State Park

Bryan S.: Kids enjoyed catching bluegills, center lagoon, nightcrawlers, then just a piece of plastic worm. They would bite at empty hooks, so big fun for the Family. Some small, 6-8 inch bass were swimming around, but no bites. For the weedy bottom shore use the casting stations and top-water lures.

Apache Lake

Brandon B.: To all my fellow anglers,

For anyone who thinks they need a boat, underwater sonar or high tech equipment in order to catch fish, not so.

My brother and I caught numerous fish on shore over the weekend of July 18-21 at Lake Apache with only our fishing poles, rods, and our go to bait, cooked hot dogs and nightcrawlers. Best times to fish are between 2-8 a.m.

My brother and I caught several large and smallmouth bass, the largest weighing in at more than 4 pounds.

Other species of fish we caught were yellow striped bass, bluegill, sunfish, carp, channel and bullhead catfish. Average weight for catfish were between 8-12 pounds. The carp in the picture was an astonishing 32 pounds.

Overall, an unforgettable weekend at one of our favorite lakes. So grab your poles and your favorite bait and get out there.

Sunrise Lake

Ben D.: Fished four days, Thursday, July 17 – Sunday, July 20, 6:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Caught 35 fish between two adults and three kids — 20 were keepers. Two were 17-inch rainbows and everything else was 14-16 inches. Used different combinations of PowerBait each day.

Colorado River (Picacho State Park to Imperial Dam)

Charles S.: Water surface temp in the current has been around 87 degrees and I thought water clarity was pretty good, especially when you consider that last week’s storms introduced a lot of debris and run off into the water.

Lake and backwater temps are close to 90 degrees in some areas. And of course air temps this time of the year range between 109-115 degrees. I noticed that vegetation is starting to emerge in some backwaters and lake areas, so you may want to try fishing some of the matted areas — frogs are always a good choice.

But being the river rats that we are, Peggy and I did just about all of our fishing in the current and I must say that we did pretty well casting swimbaits in the mornings and flipping creature baits in the afternoons. We certainly caught our fair share of dinks, but we also caught a good amount of largemouth in the 4-pound range. We fished in the rain and between multiple storms, one key factor for catching fish was when the low barometric pressure would move in, the bigger bass would really hit the baits with a vengeance.

See the full report

Weekly Fishing Report: The Reel Deal

Pine time.

Monsoon rains (that even closed a highway near Prescott) have helped our high country lakes, and with steady, high temperatures in the 100s in lower elevations, it’s time to peruse some options in the pines.

Tough to beat the Mogollon Rim Country. You can fish Woods Canyon, Willow Springs Lake, Christopher Creek, Tonto Creek, Canyon Creek, Haigler Creek, and Bear Canyon — all on the same trip if you so desire. Take along a rain jacket and get ready for monsoon rains to wash the desert heat out of your body.

Lynx and Fain Lakes are going to receive a major influx of catfish the week of July 28. Lynx will receive 1,000 pounds and Fain will be stocked with 500 pounds of the whiskered fish.

“Catfish are more tolerant of the warmer temperatures,” said Matt Chmiel, fisheries program manager for the Game and Fish Region 3 office in Kingman. “During the hot summer months they are the best option for stockings in area lakes.”

One of the most popular lakes is Big Lake in the White Mountains. This is our largest high country lake and it’s also fairly deep, which translates into good fishing opportunities even during the dog days of summer. Shore fishing might not be all that great right now — boats really help. It just so happens there are plenty of boats to rent from those at the Big Lake Store.

Just down the road from Big Lake is another summer favorite — Reservation Lake. As with Big, it is best fished from a boat, canoe, kayak or float tube. Be sure to get a White Mountain Apache fishing permit.

Where are all these lakes located. Check out the Fish&Boat Arizona map.

Like to hike? You can actually hike and fish all the way from Sheeps Crossing down into the Greer Valley, but it takes some planning (and possibly two vehicles). But if you hike more than 100 yards from the bridge crossing at Sheeps, you will probably find water that hasn’t been fished much. Go a quarter mile or more and you might find some undisturbed pools where Apache trout lurk in the shadows. A mile out and you’ll feel like a true pioneer.

If you have an adventurous spirit and don’t mind traveling miles of scenic back country roads traversing the top of the Mogollon Rim, try Knoll Lake. Whether you come in from the Woods Canyon side or the Clints Well side, you’ll have to navigate across the famed Rim Road where scenic vistas seem to unfold around every dusty corner. Keep your camera handy.

We also have some new fishing regulation proposals you should check out. Make your voice heard.

Also, see a full list of fire restrictions in Arizona.

Buying a license online
helps conserve wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations. Help yourself and your future loved ones.

Happy with the new license options?
Send a success story to

Your purchase of a hunting and fishing license helps conserve wildlife and provide outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations. Please help promote the funding of conservation by telling us how our new and simplified license structure has benefitted yourself, your family and/or your friends.

That way, we can spread the word of such changes as the license being good for 365 days from the date of purchase, and the $5 Youth Hunt and Fish Combination. Please email your success stories to nwalter@azgfd.gov.

Thanks for supporting our mission to keep Arizona wild!

Tag, you’re it!

Please return trout tags from East Verde River to AZGFD

Those visiting the East Verde River are 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.


(Send your fishing reports and photos to Bfishing@AZGFD.gov.)

Apache Lake

Patrick S.: My boys Nolan Smith and Dylan Smith caught this at Lake Apache over the weekend. It was awesome. They were legends of the lake that weekend.

Cluff Ranch Ponds

Ben B.: Bluegill and other panfish are far to easy. We’ve caught them on meal worms, bits of night crawlers, PowerBaits, etc. The bass have been a bit finicky, but we’ve had success with crankbaits in shady areas on the west side of the pond.

Graham County Fairgrounds pond

Ben B.: We’ve caught bass on curly-tailed grubs, crankbaits, and jigs. Bright colors seem to do better. Bright yellow, orange, neon green, etc. I think they see it better in that stained water. I often start around 5am until I have to go to work, but the bite doesn’t seem to pick up until around 6 to 6:30.

Saguaro Lake

Went out to Saguaro at 3 am last Friday (July 18) and once the sun came up, knocked them dead on top water. 5-inch silver Slug-Gos. All nice healthy fish.

Kinnikinick Lake

Darren W. Just wanted to share this 17-inch rainbow trout caught on an elk caddis July 8.

Mike A.: After hearing about the massive trout stocking at Kinnikinick we were eager to give it a try. On Saturday the 19th we made the trek from Phoenix and fished the shore from late afternoon until dark. We could not even a get bite from any of the supposedly 15,000 trout in there. We tried everything; spinners, spoons, PowerBait, and nightcrawlers. An Osprey circled overhead and made a few diving attempts but came up empty handed. We weren’t the only ones.

My guess is that the muddy, warm water conditions were a factor in pushing the fish deep and shutting down the bite. As disappointing as the fishing was, the perfect weather and scenery made it hard to be bothered.

See the full report

Weekly Fishing Report: The Reel Deal

This is prime time for high country crayfish and “low country” catfish.

When the trout bite slows down, grab a bucket, some string, a stick and some meat (bacon, hot dogs or even fish guts will work) and go harvest some mud bugs. In fact, you’ll be helping the environment — crayfish are not native to Arizona and cause immense problems in our trout waters.

If you’re in the north-central region at trout haven Willow Springs Lake, which is being stocked this week, anglers can also throw out some Yamamoto Senkos and jerkbaits for post-spawn largemouth bass. Some anglers also love to troll small crankbaits for trout and get a bycatch of bass. To top it off, crayfish crawl here, too.

It’s also prime flathead catfish season. Arizona has proved to be a destination for these monster flatheads. More proof is the above photo sent in by Katie S. of a 41-pound flathead taken from Bartlett Lake. See a video about how to catch Arizona flatties.

This week we’re also stocking trout into Fool Hollow Lake, Show Low Lake, Silver Creek, Bunch Reservoir, Little Colorado River-Greer, Little Colorado River-Sheep Crossing, Canyon Creek, Christopher Creek, East Verde River (please return any tags from trout), Tonto Creek, Woods Canyon Lake, Ashurst Lake and Dogtown Lake. See the entire summer trout stocking schedule.

Back to craying. Some anglers’ favorite lakes include Woods Canyon, Willow Springs, Knoll, Ashurst and Kaibab. But you’ll find crayfish in most of our high country lakes. The damage crayfish do to some of our trout streams can be staggering — these voracious crustaceans eat everything from frogs and vegetation to fish and insects.

Crayfish hunting is great for kids and young-at-heart adults. Children especially can get bored if the fish aren’t biting. Crayfish can sometimes provide non-stop action. And, not bad camp fare as well.

Typically, those folks who don’t like crayfish have overcooked them.

Here’s a simple cooking process: Boil water in a pot, then take the pot OFF the fire and put in the crayfish (do not put the pot back on the fire). In just a few minutes, the crayfish will turn bright red, which means they are done.


You can also get a packet of seasonings called a “crab boil” at most supermarkets and add the spices to the boiling water.

Look up some recipes for crayfish and take your pick.

Grab a license online – our new structure offers more value than ever.

Also, see a full list of fire restrictions in Arizona.

Forest Service law enforcement searching

for individual(s) who placed rebar in roads

Flagstaff, Ariz. – Forest Service law enforcement is asking the public for any information related to sharpened rebar that was purposely placed on and near forest roads in the Happy Jack area.

At least five pieces of these spiked rebar placed on a forest road were responsible for slashing at least eight tires over the weekend. It appears the rebar is being placed in areas frequented by off-highway vehicles (OHV).

“The end of the rebar has been flattened and sharpened to a point and the exposed point has been painted to blend in with the road surface,” said Mogollon Rim District Ranger Linda Wadleigh. “The objects pose a serious threat to everyone, and that doesn’t just mean people recreating on a motorcycle or OHV, it includes people walking, hiking and even wildlife. We are taking this very seriously and asking the public to keep an eye out and report suspicious activity in the area.”

Anyone with information regarding who may be placing these dangerous rebar should contact Forest Service law enforcement at 928-527-3511.


(Send your fishing reports and photos to Bfishing@AZGFD.gov.)

Saguaro Lake

Clint: Saguaro Lake has continued to be a hot spot. I caught this 5-pound bass hiding in the grass by the reeds. I’ve had my best luck fishing with soft baits and a dropshot always seems to bring the fish into the boat. Overall, Saguaro has been my favorite lake to fish.

Jim F.: My wife and I fished Saguaro Lake from mid-morning on July 10 until 9 am July 11, hoping to duplicate our top-water success from a few weeks ago, but it just didn’t happen. We only caught three fish during the entire excursion, but all were good sized. That’s why it’s called fishing, folks. We will be back out this coming weekend to try to redeem ourselves.

Rainbow Lake

Jael: Caught catfish, green sunfish and trout on nightcrawlers. Started at around 6 a.m. and finished around 8 a.m., from the shore, caught a lot of catfish ranging from 6 inches to 2 feet. Released all unharmed!



Bartlett Lake

Katie S.: (See picture at top) July 4, 10:20 pm., north side of Bartlett Lake. Used baby carp about the size of your palm. We swam our lines out about 50 yards out and let them sink! I caught a 41 pounder and 25 pounder!:) My “Uncle Critter” caught several!:)

I’ve only caught 5-15 pounders at Deadhorse State Park. Great expierence! I’m hooked on catfishing now!

See the full report

All fishing, all the time


All fishing, all the time

Wawang Lake Resort

FISH: Walleye, Northern Pike, Perch, White Fish

The Fisheries Blog

The Fisheries Blog: Six fish scientists discuss fun and interesting topics about fish.