AZ Angler Reports: Avoid debris in Roosevelt Lake; catch cats in Tucson

Roosevelt Lake

Roosevelt Lake
Roosevelt Lake

From Jim Goughnour of Rim Country Custom Rods:

I have major updates on Roosevelt Lake this week, so let’s get right to them.

First, the lake level remained constant this past week at 38-percent full but you’ll recall last week the water level increased for the first time in a long time. The water level has come up about a foot of the past two weeks.

More good news is that the Salt River is flowing at about 500 cpfs and the Tonto Creek is flowing at about 50 cfps. The water coming into the lake is a chocolate brown color at both ends of the lake. On the Tonto end the discolored water is down to Rock Creek and on the Salt River end it’s as far as the Grapevine ramp. Along with the dark brown water, there is a lot of debris that has been pushed into the lake. Be extremely careful it you’re boating this week especially where water is flowing into the lake.

The water flowing into the lake is also impacting the water temperature. The freshwater entering the lake is in the low 70s while the clearer water in the main portion of the lake near the dam, is in the high 70s to low 80s.  The increased water level and the nutrients the freshwater brings to the lake are vital to the success of the fishery.

The water changes in the lake didn’t seem to have much impact on fishing reports. Fishing overall was called “good” this past week. For the first time this fall, I received reports that jigging spoons was catching good numbers of fish in 30 feet water.

Bass are feeding heavily right now on shad, and bass that are being caught have full bellies. These schools of bass chasing shad can be seen in the backs of coves, main lake points or along cuts on the shoreline. This time of year, you should always have a clear or silver color Rio Rico tied on a rod and ready to go.

Crankbaits were reported successful this past week and lots of fish are still being caught on a dropshot technique using almost any colored 4-6-inch worm and fishing in 10-20 feet depths.

Crappie fishing was called “pretty tough” this past week. With all the changes to the water condition this past week, crappie just seemed to be nowhere. If you’re planning to crappie fish this week, look to the mid lake areas. Experienced crappie anglers are using a vertical technique and fishing in 25-35 feet of water and always in brush or trees.

A 5-foot-6 to 6-foot ultra or light power and an extra-fast action rod is required to feel the bait through the brush. When fishing vertically for crappie, 95 percent of the time the hook will be in the roof of the mouth, so don’t be afraid to set that hook when you feel the bite.

Mogllon Rim lakes and streams

Trout stockings of the Rim lakes and streams has ended but there are lots of good trout still in Rim Country waters. Fall has arrived on the Rim, so if you’re planning a fishing trip, be sure to dress in layers. It will be around 40 degrees in the mornings and a very pleasant 65 degrees in the afternoons.

Green Valley Lake

Also, the Community trout stocking program is about start stocking trout into Green Valley Lake right here in Payson. The first stocking will occur the week of Oct. 13-17. You’ll recall that AZGFD changed the rules earlier this year so the Community Fishing Program is now included as part of your standard Arizona fishing license, no special tag is required.

Call Rim Country Custom Rods if you have any fishing rod questions or would like to know how a custom built rod will make you a better angler. Rim Country Custom Rods can be reached at 928-468-0263.

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

Willow Springs Lake

Shane V.: Saturday, Oct. 4 — Fishing from shore was hit and miss.  Seems yellow/green PowerBait was the ticket.  Got the boat out about 1 p.m.  Trolling where the main part of the lake enters the two arms and we’re catching pretty regular up until around 5 p.m.  While trolling, we caught fish on all of the following: bright green rooster tails; dark green and silver rooster tails; trout pattern rooster tails; yellow and red panther martins; rainbow trout pattern floating Rapalas.

WhtMtnTroutCrescent Lake/Big Lake

Ann M.: I took my family to the White Mountains … we fished four days at Crescent Lake and a couple days at Big Lake. My wife caught this 20-inch rainbow trout on Oct. 1 at Big Lake. A friend we fished with also caught an 18-inch rainbow trout the same day. Overall the fishing was slow. They were both caught using mice tails fished off bottom.

Rose Canyon Lake, Tucson

Mary S.: My son, daughter, and I went fishing at Rose Canyon Lake yesterday.   I talked with the forest ranger.  It closes on October 26.  We ended up catching 5 fish, but we saw others catching much more.  Considering it was stocked last week, we were not surprised.  It was a beautiful day there yesterday.  Couldn’t have asked for better!

Catfish from Silverbell Lake in TucsonSilverbell Lake, Tucson

Jared H.: Spent Saturday and Sunday morning (Oct. 4-5) at Silverbell Lake in Tucson.  The stocked cats were biting both mornings, especially Saturday.  All four fish caught Saturday were pushing, or more than, 2 pounds.  Sunday was the kicker with a 24-inch channel cat.  It was most likely more than 5 pounds and was a big surprise — so much fun to fight and land.  Included a couple pictures.  Really appreciate the urban stocking system.

Weekly Fishing Report: The Reel Deal

Fall fishing is here, so let’s get right to it. Here’s a rundown of what’s changed since last week.

Kinnikinick Lake turns “brown”

Great news for Kinnikinick Lake — we just completed stocking about 10,000 brown trout. The fish averaged 5-14 inches. Fishing should be excellent this fall. If you’re on Facebook, see more details from our Flagstaff Regional Facebook page.

Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona reopens

See the story from fox10phoenix.com.

On Tuesday, however, the upper reach of Oak Creek didn’t look good. Our biologists didn’t see any fish, but they didn’t electrofish the creek so some fish could remain. There was a lot of gray silt on the bottom of the creek and biologists didn’t find many bugs under the rocks they turned over for fish to eat. The creek was also pretty murky. Because of this, the Department decided not to stock the upper part of the creek. The hatchery will continue stocking the portion down from Sedona.


Seasonal trout fishery at Silver Creek reopens

On Wednesday, the Silver Creek catch-and-release season reopened.

The fishing staff from Cabela’s was on hand, just like in years past. Also once again this year the Phoenix and Sierra Vista South Arizona Chapters of Project Healing Waters attended opening day.

Both Apache trout and rainbow trout were stocked again this year, with some fish tipping the scales at more than 3 pounds or so. A few trout are around 10 pounds.

The seasonal fishery is catch-and-release only.

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 east on Hatchery Road 1 mile to the Silver Creek Hatchery, park in the parking lot, and follow the signs to the creek.

Remember that trout from this seasonal fishery must be immediately released unharmed – no trout may be kept. It is artificial lure and fly only with barbless hooks. The catch-and-release season is Oct. 1 to March 31.

Besides being a seasonal fishery, Silver Creek does have another unique quality – because the creek is spring fed and stays at a constant temperature it is not subject to freezing, which provides anglers a nice high country trout fishery to visit during winter.



Fossil Creek will open to fishing this Saturday, Oct. 4

Remember Fossil Creek is a catch and release chub fishery with a fly and lure single barbless hook regulation.
In case you missed it, our fall/winter trout stocking schedule is out. See the schedule and plan out some trout-fishing excursions.

Thank you, anglers!

Arizona fishing opportunities wouldn’t be possible without the Sport Fish Restoration Program. It was created through the Dingell-Johnson Act of 1950 (Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act) and the Wallop-Breaux amendments of 1984.

Through a federal excise tax paid by manufacturers on fishing gear and motorboat fuels, it provides grant funds for fishery conservation, boating access, and aquatic education.

Catch a license

Good luck fishing, and remember that buying a license online helps conserve wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations. Help yourself and your future loved ones.

ANGLER REPORTS

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

Tempe Town Lake
Richard S.: I went bass fishing on the early morning of Friday, Aug. 26. I caught nine bass and one channel catfish in about three hours. Drop-shotting was the ticket, though one bass and the cat came trolling a Rooster Tail in white and red color.

I fished mostly the east end, by the buoys that protect the dam. Best color was a light blue, funny enough morning down did not work at all! Second best color was “holographic shad” from roboworm. One advice: get there early, by 8 AM the byte really slows down. And remember to use navigation lights if you launch the boat at 5 AM as I did, it’s still dark but row boats with their lights are around.


Chevelon Canyon Lake
Travis D. and Joel C. fished on Monday: Other than an underwater dam repair crew, we had the whole lake to ourselves, not another soul. The spillway was flowing fast and fairly deep. We hit the water late at about 7:30 a.m. but within 30 minutes we were getting strikes
.

Using a canoe we went upstream towards the inlet of the creek, only hitting a 20-minute stretch of nasty headwind. About a quarter-mile downstream of the inlet we started picking up some nice ones, including a fat 3.13-pound brown and several rainbows between 2-3 pounds. Their colors were beautiful and they put up some awesome fights on light tackle. Except for a couple smaller ones caught on spinners, most, including the larger ones, were caught on spoons while we trolled.

Total tally for day was 21, with only a few being less than ten inches. We got off the lake at 5 p.m. and debated hiking down to the pool below the spillway to try our luck there, but we knew we had a long trek ahead of us, pulling the canoe up the road by foot.

Though the difficulty of getting a larger boat to the lake and then back up again was an extreme obstacle, it was completely worth it and will be done again.

SEE THE FULL REPORT.

Northern Colorado River to receive trout

First stocking south of Davis Dam in nearly a year

BULLHEAD CITY, Ariz. –– Trout stocking south of Davis Dam has been on hiatus for nearly a year, but that will change beginning Oct. 1.

Trout from Arizona Game and Fish hatcheries, and raised by the US Fish and Wildlife Service at the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery, are ready for the first stocking south of Davis Dam since late 2013.

“This is great news and a fantastic opportunity for anglers on the Colorado River,” said Matt Chmiel, the Fisheries Program Manager for the Game and Fish Region 3 office in Kingman. “While fishing in the area has remained strong, trout have been recognizably absent for nearly a year.”

On Nov. 21, 2013, the Willow Beach hatchery conducted an emergency stocking of 11,000 rainbow trout when the low lake level made it impossible to draw in water due to a damaged lower-level pipeline. This fact, along with additional federal budget cuts, resulted in the closing of the sport fish part of the hatchery.

In early 2014, Game and Fish provided the national hatchery with 22,000 sub-catchable rainbow trout to raise to a catchable size while lake levels were high enough for the one functioning pipeline to draw in water.

“However, the lake level will soon be dropping and the time has come to stock the fish,” Chmiel said. “The timing is critical. All 22,000 fish must enter the river before water levels drop below the intake valve.”

Chmiel explained stockings will continue for several weeks in October at Rotary Park and Davis Camp.

“But there’s no need to focus on just those two locations,” he said. “Trout disperse quickly and many areas along that stretch of the river will work.”

For rainbow trout, Chmiel said small spinners and PowerBait are often effective, although marshmallows can work.

“Fishing is just a great way to relax and spend some time with the family with few interruptions,” Chmiel said. “Getting kids outside and away from the computers helps create an important connection with the outdoors.”

A fishing license is $37 for in-state residents and $5 for all youth ages 10-17. The license is good for trout and is valid for 12 months.

For a statewide fishing report, log on to the Game and Fish Department’s website at azgfd.gov. Licenses are available at the any of the Game and Fish regional offices or headquarters as well as at license dealers throughout the state and online at www.azgfd.gov/fishing.

Weekly Fishing Report: The Reel Deal

The window of sunlight that scours our waters is increasingly short-lived. Top-water action is picking up statewide. Elk have been heard bugling in the high country, there’s less boat traffic, fewer anglers, and yet far better fishing – welcome to anglers’ paradise.

First, before we consider conditions and what’s biting, let’s recognize the foundations of wildlife management. Good a time as any with National Hunting and Fishing Day Saturday, Sept. 27.

On May 2, 1972, President Nixon signed the first proclamation of National Hunting and Fishing Day, writing: “I urge citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in ensuring their proper management for the benefit of future generations.”

And with that, we recognize the hunters and anglers who, more than 100 years ago, were the most boisterous supporters of conservation and scientific management. They were led by fellow sportsman, President Theodore Roosevelt. Let’s celebrate with tight line and successful hunts.

It’s a transition phase into fall in many senses. The final summer trout stockings just took place at Woods Canyon Lake and Willow Springs Lake. Bull elk should be calling like crazy. A great fall spot for elk calling is Knoll Lake on the Mogollon Rim, which not only is a nice trout lake, it’s a scenic drive there along the famous Rim Road. Soon, the aspens should be showing off a new, fall wardrobe. Catfish stockings began last week at many Community Fishing Program lakes and ponds. And don’t forget that Oct. 3 marks the opening day of the quail, squirrel and duck hunting season.

Soon, the winter trout stocking schedule will be posted online. The first stockings the week of Oct. 5 will go to Huffer Pond, Beaver Creek (wet), Mingus Lake, West Clear Creek, Fain Lake, Lynx Lake and the Lower Salt River. See our Fish&Boat Arizona map for locations.

This is also a great time of the year to visit Lees Ferry. Fishing’s good, but anglers are few. This is the off-season as many trout anglers are probably off experiencing a good trout bite where the landscape’s clad in autumn colors.

This time last year, crappie fishing really began picking up at Roosevelt Lake. Check your fishing log, if you keep one, and see if that was your experience.

Other good bets this weekend are throwing your favorite top-water baits at Saguaro, Canyon, Apache and Roosevelt. Stripers are still stripping anglers’ line at Lake Pleasant (see the newest Anglers Report.)

Good luck, and remember that buying a license online helps conserve wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations. Help yourself and your future loved ones.


Silver Creek seasonal trout fishery opens Oct. 1

SHOW LOW, Ariz. — Get your most festive trout fishing hat ready – the seasonal trout fishery at Silver Creek opens Oct. 1.

“The opening has become a fun fishing get together,” said Hatchery Manager Ken McGown. “The cadre of opening day participants seems to grow each year.”

McGown said the fishing staff from Cabela’s will be on hand to help out, just like in years past. Also once again this year the Phoenix and Sierra Vista South Arizona Chapters of Project Healing Waters will be attending opening day.

“The anglers themselves have turned this into kind of an informal opening day fishing festival of sorts,” McGown said.

There will be both Apache trout and rainbow trout stocked again this year, with some fish tipping the scales at more than 3 pounds or so. A few trout will be around 10 pounds.

However, don’t expect to take anything home but smiles and memories – this seasonal fishery is catch-and-release only.

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 east on Hatchery Road 1 mile to the Silver Creek Hatchery, park in the parking lot, and follow the signs to the creek.

Remember that trout from this seasonal fishery must be immediately released unharmed – no trout may be kept. It is artificial lure and fly only with barbless hooks. The catch-and-release season is Oct. 1 to March 31.

Besides being a seasonal fishery, Silver Creek does have another unique quality – because the creek is spring fed and stays at a constant temperature it is not subject to freezing, which provides anglers a nice high country trout fishery to visit during winter.

ANGLER REPORTS

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


Colorado River (Picacho State Park to Imperial Dam)

Charles S.: After a few weeks off for some surgery, I finally managed to make it back to fishing the river. This particular weekend I guided a family on the river, water temps in the current hovered around 83.5 degrees in the current and 85 to 86 degrees in the lakes. Water quality is still pretty poor, with visibility around 10-12 inches in the areas that have any meaningful water flow. Water levels were low, which is normal for this time of year, though it seemed to have more flow than normal.

After spot-checking a bunch of key areas, we finally decided to go with crankbaits for the bulk of our lure selection, although we did do OK tossing smaller, soft swim baits in select areas. It’s been a while since I have fished with anyone other than my wife Peggy and almost forgot the joy that comes from taking others fishing. Pictured is Justin M. with a nice largemouth, Justin is a big man and his size makes the fish look small, even though it weighed in at 3.5 pounds. We caught a wide range of fish, big and small, and I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that we won’t see any major storms and that the water visibility will improve in a few more weeks.

From what I could tell the fish have pretty much gobbled up most of the baitfish balls, so crankbaits should continue to produce well for the next month or so.

Pena Blanca Lake

Doug L.: My friend Mike and I went to Pena Blanca yesterday, Sept. 20. Dodging a few light rains showers, we arrived at the lake about 8 a.m.

Water was running a small amount down the wash into the lake on its south end. The entire lake was chocolate brown. Getting on the water, we found what I call peat moss floating over a good portion of the lake, including branches and logs that had washed in.

The quarter of the lake in front of the dam was impossible to fish. We heard water going over the spillway. We eventually caught four small bass, which were released. All were caught drop-shotting. We gave up about 1:30 p.m. and headed home.

If you want to fish Pena Blanca for bass, I would recommend waiting a couple of weeks or longer to let the water and debris clear out some.

Patagonia Lake

Cody P.: So we got to Patagonia Lake Saturday morning at around 8 a.m. on Sept. 20. It was raining pretty good but it let up within the hour. We tried fishing during the day but only caught a bluegill. So we decided to wait until about 8 p.m. and went out again with our poles rigged for catfish.

The water was extremely murky from the rain but the catfish must have loved it because they were biting like crazy. I reeled in two large channel cats back to back that were about 5 and 6 pounds, maybe bigger or smaller; we didn’t have a scale. My brother in law reeled in a what felt like a 4-pounder and I caught about five small stockers with in about 2 1/2 hours. So all in all it was a very good night of fishing and I can’t wait to get back out there again.

Fortuna Pond, Yuma

John H.: The evening started off pretty slow for the channel cats, but about two hours after sundown the bite was on. He hit on chicken liver about two hours after sunset.


Bartlett Lake

Paul J.: Went to Bartlett Saturday. Expected to catch the usual one-pound bass — Bartlett is full of so you can understand my surprise when I caught a 5-pound bass on my third cast of the evening. Biggest fish I’ve caught at Bartlett.

Lake Pleasant

Derrick F., Striper Snatcher Guide Service: Despite a wrench in the late-summer fishing pattern with an incredible amount of rainfall and run-off, the fish are still capable of being caught. I’ve been seeing a consistent amount of shad fry, striper fry and full-size shad gradually rising in the water column in most northern creek arms.

It is important to match these baits they are chasing. I prefer reaction baits like the 1/4 and ½-ounce Rat-L-Trap with a chrome/blue pattern being a neutral choice.

During the day, great-sized striper are capable of falling to a one-ounce spoon in the same color as the reaction baits mentioned. At night, the secret to catching big striper is simple: go somewhere where the small striper will not venture — for me that is a minimum of 100 feet of water and off main lake points with structure nearby.

SEE THE FULL REPORT

Weekly Fishing Report: The Reel Deal

Near-record striper bass from Lake Pleasant -- 28.38 pounds
Near-record striper bass from Lake Pleasant — 28.38 pounds

This week’s report features an all-star striper.

It’s well-known that Lake Pleasant is an excellent spot to target striped bass, but Jason Blauvelt of Peoria nearly set an inland waters, hook-and-line state record for stripers at the lake just northwest of Phoenix on Saturday, Sept. 13.

Read all about the catch.

Striper fishing at Pleasant has been good in 40-70 feet of water using anchovies and spoons.

If you want to catch a giant fish, it helps to use a big fish as bait. It’s one of the reasons anglers use life-sized lures called swim baits.

Please keep in mind that it is not legal to use striped bass or other sport fish as live bait to catch, well, other sportfish. But check the regulations at Lake Pleasant, Alamo Lake and the impoundments along the Verde and Salt rivers — it is OK to use live carp or sunfish as live bait (collected onsite only).

The nights in the deserts are dropping into the seventies and mountain nights are sinking into the chilly 40s — fall fishing conditions are underway.

Those lowering nighttime temperatures, and the shortened daylight hours, combine to drop water temperatures into the prime activity ranges for bass in the warmwater lakes and trout in the mountain waters.

Fishing the Tucson area? Rains pounded those southern Arizona waters, making catfish a primary target because they tend to not be as affected by muddy, stained waters as bass and sunfish.

Catfish stockings have returned to many of the Community Fishing Program lakes. See more details about the stockings in our new-and-improved stocking schedule.

Angler reports

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

Brent G.: Thought I would send a pic from Friday, Sept.12. Went to Lake Mary for pike.. nothing for 2 and a half hours then BOOM, caught this 11-pound, 10-ounce pike. Still looking for the monsters that I know are in there.

Max B. from Thursday, Sept. 11: The trout are hitting on PowerBait floating off the bottom about 3 feet, and on flies in the morning and early evening.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

See the full report.

Peoria angler nearly hooks state-record striped bass

Near-record striper bass from Lake Pleasant -- 28.38 pounds
Near-record striper bass from Lake Pleasant — 28.38 pounds

The fish —  whatever it was Jason Blauvelt hooked at the bottom of Lake Pleasant on Sept. 13 — took a deep, diving run. Blauvelt scrambled to loosen his drag. The fish slowed, then stopped.

“When I started pulling up,” Blauvelt said, “I couldn’t move him.”

Ten minutes later, after the fish made another major run to the bottom, Blauvelt had landed a 42 1/8-inch striper that by Monday weighed 28.38 pounds on the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Phoenix headquarters’ certified scale,

The fish that bit a 5-inch spoon around 3:30 p.m. was less than a pound away from an inland waters, hook-and-line state record for striper.

The existing hook-and-line record: Bob Liddington of Phoenix caught a 29-pound, 13.76 ounce, 45 ¼-incher out of Lake Pleasant on July 13, 2010.

“I had him frozen,” Blauvelt said. “By Monday it had lost some water weight … I didn’t have a swimming pool to throw him in.”

Needless to say, the catch also is an AZGFD Big Fish of the Year leader for the catch-and-keep striped bass category.

Lake Pleasant

Blauvelt, a guide with The Arizona Fishing Guides, was using 14-pound Sunline fluorocarbon line on a 7-foot-8 heavy-action Dobyns rod with a Shimano Curado baitcast reel.

“He had the spoon in the back of his mouth with his teeth running the line the whole time,” Blauvelt said. “Afterward, I went back to check the line, and when I gave it a pull, it snapped. If he had taken another run without me adjusting the drag quickly enough, it would have snapped.”

He began the day at the north end of the lake, catching small stripers and a few largemouth bass on 4-inch swimbaits.

Later on in the morning, Blauvelt and a client moved to the main lake and began graphing fish in about 75 feet of depth over submerged humps. The anglers would fish a school, jig spoons to catch a couple fish, then move to another school.

“And doing that,” Blauvelt said, “we ended up running into the giant.”

See information on fishing Lake Pleasant striped bass, and don’t forget to bring your fishing license.

Weekly Fishing Report: The Reel Deal

Lake Powell-2 (3)
LAKE POWELL

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.

ANGLER REPORTS

(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!

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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.

ANGLER REPORTS

(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!

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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.

ANGLER REPORTS

(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.

NEWS

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.

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All fishing, all the time

Wawang Lake Resort

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The Fisheries Blog

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