The Reel Deal

Hello, anglers,


Now is the time to hit the high country lakes and streams. There simply are tons of fish being stocked. That includes our native Apache trout in the East Fork of the Black River, the Little Colorado River at Greer and Sheeps Crossing, not to mention Silver Creek. Haigler Creek and the East Verde River also sound like they’ve been hot spots. These creeks are family memory makers.


Lower Lake Mary
in Flagstaff and Woods Canyon Lake on the Rim also have allowed some anglers to fill their creels.


At Silver Creek, about anything has been working for the trout – worms, salmon eggs, and PowerBait, for example. For fly-fishers, No. 18 prince nymphs and pheasant tails have been successful, too.


Desert regions are hitting triple-digit temperatures this weekend, so head to higher elevations for a refreshing blast and be sure to check the summer stocking schedule.


Don’t forget to bring your fishing license. Need one? You can purchase any from our simplified license structure online.


It should be spawning time for bluegill. These tasty fish should be in any of the northern coves in desert lakes. The bigger fish should be moving in, getting ready to lay their eggs. Try nightcrawlers and meal worms. And if you’ve never caught a bluegill on a fly, you’ll find out what a fighter a sunfish can be on light tackle.


Top-water options also are abundant. Fish are chasing shad on shorelines. Reports are particularly good out of Canyon Lake. As is the situation at most desert lakes, the majority of bass are in post-spawn. Bass also will chase crankbaits at a slow-trolling speed. Half-ounce football jigs with jigger craws and dropshots with Roboworms also are good bets. Largemouth bass can be in shallow and deep waters this time of year, so don’t rely on one pattern. Try various depths and tackle options and crack the combination.


Two near-record redear sunfish caught at Lake Havasu



Now that redear sunfish are entering their typical May-June spawn, Hector Brito’s pending world record redear caught in February that weighed 5.80 pounds – and was not a spawner – could be in jeopardy before the International Game Fish Association even certifies it.


These redear were caught last week and weighed 5.23 and 5.74 pounds, respectively.


Ever eaten a redear sunfish, a.k.a. shellcracker? Excellent table fare.


Time to get out to Lake Havasu and “Play Like You Mean It.”

Big Fish of the Year striper caught at Lake Pleasant


Don’t forget about striper action at Lake Pleasant. Alvin Sellers of Phoenix, on Tuesday, May 13, caught this 38-inch striper that weighed 23 pounds, 9.28 ounces and is a new leader in the Big Fish of the Year (BFOY) catch-and-keep category.



He reported catching it with a spoon.


See all the 2014 BFOY leaders.

ANGLER REPORTS


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


Steve T. witnessed Camden, 5, and his sister Kinley, 3, catch their first fish May 9 at a remote Mohave County pond: They were visiting Grampa and Grama in Kingman and found the bluegill and catfish were biting really well. They came in from San Diego and were using worms. They even touched the worms. All fish were caught and released and so were the worms that were leftover. It was a very exciting day for both of them.



Mike R. sent in a picture of his girlfriend’s first fish in Arizona, caught at Gilbert’s Discovery Park: After a few hours of getting a few bites here and there, my girlfriend Brandi D. of Fountain Valley, Calif. reels in a beautiful 21.5-inch channel cat from the lower pond at Discovery Park in Gilbert. The fish set itself off a piece of bacon fat on a circle hook. This was her first fish caught in Arizona and was made possible by the expansion of the Community Fishing Program.


Many thanks to the AZGFD. It was a moment she will not forget!



Dan H. fished Canyon Lake Saturday, May 10 with success on sunfish and bass – and he urges other anglers to do the same: We fished Canyon Lake this morning and caught two sunfish and four largemouth and two smallmouth bass.


We weren’t out very long but saw several bigggggggggggggg bass still guarding their beds; the ones we caught were 1-2 pounds. But the majority were post-spawn. We had bass chasing our crankbaits on a slow-trolling speed.


But if you aren’t at Canyon Lake right now, you need to quit your job and drop whatever you’re doing and go to Canyon Lake!!!!!!

Charles and Chris Fayer on Friday, May 2, fished Luna Lake: From reading the Weekly Fishing Report from Game and Fish, my wife Chris Frayer caught this 20-inch 3.5-pound rainbow trout at 10:30 a.m. trolling with a brown trout Tasmaning devil lure. It’s the biggest fish she’s ever caught. Thanks AZGFD for making dreams come true.

Jason S. also has had good luck at Canyon Lake, most recently Thursday, May 8: I’ve been fishing it pretty regularly. I caught a 9-pounder early this month, but late at night and pretty close to midnight on a ½-ounce football jig with a jigger craw.

Only caught three that night, but one of the others was around 5 pounds. I went Tuesday of this week and used the same jig for the first hour or so and only caught one, so I switched to a dropshot — which I rarely use — but it worked. Ended up catching 12 that night.

I went again last night (Thursday, May 8) for a few hours and used a dropshot again and ended up with six — biggest one was around 4 pounds. Most of my fish were caught pretty close to the shore… not too many hits when I got off it too far. All of my fishing is after dark when all the skiers are gone.

Frank W. fished Lake Mohave May 8-9: Smallies are off the beds, however, I did find one male still guarding. The smallies were in a post-spawn mode, roaming the flats and hanging around shallow rocks. Caught 20 each day, with a number in the 2.5-3.5-pound range. Largemouths were harder to find, it was hard to tell if they are pre-spawn or post-spawn. Only found two on beds. Did manage to catch 10, but all were nice sized.. 3-5 pounds. In both cases most fish were caught using a craw imitator. Largemouths were both shallow and deep — no real pattern.

Matt M. and a friend were fishing Pena Blanca Lake last weekend: I got blanked for trout and bass, but he managed to pull in five bass. He was using a worm rigged weedless and was casting into the bank. One was about a pound and the others were way less than that.


FISH STORIES

What’s your fish story? In the eighth segment of “Fish Stories,” In this latest segment of Fish Stories from the “AZGFD” YouTube site, take a ride on Willow Springs Lake (a great spot to fish right now) as Bobby Avery tells his fish story!

See this video from the “AZGFD” YouTube site!

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

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



See the full report.

Brother, sister, catch first fish in Kingman, Arizona

Fishing with kids is great value

 

Steve T. sent in the following story:

??????????Camden (5) and his sister Kinley (3) caught their very first fish ever.

They were visiting Grampa and Grama in Kingman and found the bluegill and catfish were biting really well in a remote Mohave County pond on Friday, May 9.

They came in from San Diego and were using worms.  They even touched the worms.  All fish were caught and released and ??????????so were the worms that were leftover.  It was a very exciting day for both of them.

A child’s first fishing memory is one that usually never goes away. And about all it takes is some simple gear — a basic rod-and-reel outfit can be purchased for $20 at Wal-Mart, for example — and a Youth Combo Hunt and Fish License (children ages 10-17).

It costs $5.

And it’s good for 365 days.

Oh, and youth under the age of 10 and blind residents do not need to purchase a state fishing license to fish in Arizona. 

How do you get a license? Glad you asked.  ; )

Click here to purchase a license and get your kid into a healthy lifetime habit.

Make some memories, unplug kids, and with any luck, we’ll see you out there.

Get “Hooked on Fishing” at the Brian Pinney Memorial Fishing Clinic

PHOENIX — Get started in the heritage-rich sport of fishing for free by bringing family and friends to the Brian Pinney Memorial Fishing Clinic from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 17.

Fishing licenses will not be required for this Arizona Game and Fish Department-hosted event located in Phoenix at the Hirsch Conservation Education Area.

Loaner equipment will be available and mentors will be on hand to assist.

The clinic is named in honor of the late Brian Pinney, an avid sportsman who was recognized as a leader in the wildlife conservation community. He was devoted to introducing families to fishing and hunting and preserving the outdoor heritage. This annual fishing clinic will honor his legacy and contributions to Arizona’s wildlife resources.

To get to the Hirsch Conservation Education Area, take I-17 to Carefree Hwy, head west on Carefree Hwy., and turn right into the main entrance at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility (Black Canyon Blvd.) Follow the road as it curves to the left. Take the first right into a parking lot, then take your immediate right. The road will turn into dirt. Pass the Indoor Range and head toward the Hirsch Conservation Education Area. You will see a parking lot in front of the center, and a pond will be on your left.

For more information, call (623) 236-7219 with any questions.

The Reel Deal

OK, let’s start with Mother’s Day ideas. (It’s Sunday, remember?) Consider planning a trip to the high country where pine scents linger and rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout can make mom set her hook and etch a memory. Plus, if you live in lower elevations, it’s a cool relief. Mom deserves it.


Or just bring family and friends. Heck, go alone. Big Lake and Woods Canyon Lake can be productive. Both have stores and boat rentals. We’ll have stocked 2,000 rainbow trout into Woods Canyon through Friday.


Good news for those who are cutthroat crazy — at Big Lake, recent fish population surveys found numerous cutthroat up to 21 inches.


These highly productive waters have different stocking strategies. Woods Canyon, like many fisheries listed in our summer trout stocking schedule, is stocked weekly with rainbows throughout the prime trout fishing season. We call it a classic “put and take” lake. Get the fish within 7-10 days after the stocking.


Big Lake is our largest mountain fishery and is at almost 9,000 feet in elevation. One of our deepest trout lakes, Big Lake is only stocked a couple times per year — but with hundreds of thousands of young stock. These trout, although from a hatchery, grew up wild and free.


Finally, don’t forget that a bunch of brown trout were just stocked at Lynx Lake near Prescott.


Making fishy memories can be pretty simple – and cheap. For example, a Youth Combination Hunt and Fish license is only $5. This is required for youth ages 10-17. Like all our licenses, it’s now valid 365 days from the date of purchase. Why get kids into fishing? If you’ve ever heard a mother or father talk about taking their kids fishing for the first time, and what an incredible experience they had, you’ll know why.


Need a license? (Thought you’d never ask.) You can purchase one online.


(By the way, here’s a quick “did you know?” This money goes right back into wildlife conservation and management; the Department receives no general tax revenue … OK, one more: Hunters and anglers were the original conservationists! Their efforts ended unregulated market hunting that wiped out or threatened many wildlife species and helped create today’s regulated, science-based management. This has brought back sustainable, thriving populations of many wildlife species. Something we can all be proud of.)


Flathead catfish is still a viable target, but the big boys are not cruising around much, said Eddie “Flathead Ed” Wilcoxson, owner of the state’s heaviest recorded fish, a 76.54-pound flathead catfish. At the Flat Cat Classic last weekend at Bartlett Lake, the biggest fish was “only” 49 pounds. Flathead fishing will improve and possibly peak by mid-June. Believe it: Arizona is one of the nation’s best states for targeting monster flathead catfish. See a video on how to target these bruisers.


Rounding out some other species, the crappie spawn should be winding down. Most bass are in post-spawn mode and some anglers have reported some good top-water action. Bass typically spawn unti mid-June. See the full report for more details.


And don’t forget to check our Fish and Boat Arizona map to see Google-map locations of the state’s top fisheries.


I’ll be targeting some flathead cats this weekend. Good luck!


ANGLER REPORTS


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


Cecil G. and his son Trevor went bow-fishing for the spawning carp:
Came across a section of the Salt River below the lakes and found these huge tilapia in clear, shallow water. My son Trevor shot the first one witch turned out to be the largest at 8.25 pounds and we managed to get five total from 6.5 pounds to the big one at 8.25 pounds.


Noah caught a a big largemouth bass on Saturday, May 3 at Canyon Lake:
Took the family fishing … near first bridge I thought my wife was snagged again but nope she landed a nice largemouth bass. My son Noah also caught a nice largemouth…both 17-plus inches, both caught on dropshot rigged ox blood Roboworms.


Adam B. reported that Woods Canyon Lake was on fire last weekend: Got to the lake about 6 a.m. and fished until noon. Ended up catching 48 rainbows, all 6-20 inches, with a lot in the 10-15-inch range. The weather was clear, cool, with light wind. All fish were caught using Rebel crawdads trolling the lake, and all were released unharmed. Overall a great day on the lake!


Kevin M. went with his friend to Canyon Lake lask week and fishing from the early morning until noon: We both got our limit. Some nice fat ones. Biggest was only 4 pounds, but was a lot of fun. Started off slowly then picked up down towards the back in small coves with spinnerbaits and jerkbaits. Saw a lot of fish on beds. Caught a couple on the beds. That was fun. Good luck!

FISH STORIES


What’s your fish story? In the eighth segment of “Fish Stories,” In this latest segment of Fish Stories from the “AZGFD” YouTube site, take a ride on Willow Springs Lake (a great spot to fish right now) as Bobby Avery tells his fish story!


See this video from the “AZGFD” YouTube site!


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


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

See the full report.

The Reel Deal

Hello, anglers,

If you enjoy reeling and popping top-water plugs and watching a bass destroy the surface, then Lake Havasu might be your pick for a weekend fishing destgination.

Water temperatures at Havasu have topped out around 70 degrees and anglers can get ready to skim the surface with frogs, buzz baits, or Zara Spooks.

Havasu, with the emergence of monster redear sunfish (during their May/June spawn, the big redear will move in shallow), along a robust population of largemouth and smallmouth bass, has during the last few years become even more of a destination for recreational anglers. At a recent Bass Pro Team Open tournament, the largest bass weighed 9.70 pounds and the largest limit (five fish) was 28.14 pounds – a remarkable report that indicates this fishery’s potential.

Oh, and that 5.80 redear sunfish caught Feb. 16 by the chalk cliffs is still a pending world record. John Galbearth of Bass Tackle Masters said the International Game Fish Association needed only a picture of the rod used by Hector Brito in order to certify the 17-inch redear as a world record. Stay tuned.

Meantime, head out to “Arizona’s West Coast” and get in on all that action.

If you’re in western Arizona (or plan on going), Alamo Lake is a great bet for catfishing. Mark Knapp, the Park Ranger at Alamo Lake State Park, said on Thursday he heard the cats are busting shad right up on the shoreline. Some 2-5-pound catfish are waiting to grace your table.

We also have a new leader in the Big Fish of the Year Community Fishing catch-and-keep category for channel catfish. Duane Carble (right) caught a 26.25-inch, 7-pound, 3.84-ounce catfish from Red Mountain Park. Let’s see if someone can top that.

 

Catching trout

Trout stockings continue, so head to your favorite pine-scented spot and wet a line. Check out the entire summer stocking schedule, consult our Fish & Boat Arizona map if it helps, and head on out.

Fishing Lake Powell

Up at Lake Powell, water temperatures have broken the 60-degree mark and bass have built some nests. Crappie are searching for ideal spawning spots as well. Wayne Gustaveson, in his full report below, said this final week of April and the first week of May should be the best times for sight-fishing spawning fish.

In central Arizona, at lakes such as Roosevelt, Saguaro and Canyon, this past week’s full moon triggered a heavy wave of spawning bass. This should continue for another week. Some bass will spawn well into June.

Roosevelt Lake fishing update

At Rosie, crappie are in spawn and some have been feeding heavily on a post-spawn.

Don’t forget about northern Arizona, where last week Lower Lake Mary in Flagstaff was a scorching-hot spot for trout.


ANGLER REPORTS

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

Robert D. and his son caught some memories last weekend at Rose Canyon Lake: Here is a photo of my son James D. from one of his two weekend adventures to Rose Canyon Lake this past weekend. James was able to take his limit both days (six fish because he has a combo youth license) fishing with both PowerBait and also meal worms. The fat, tasty rainbow trout all came on PowerBait, and the meal worms resulted in small browns, which all were released. Fishing was quite outstanding and the road and campgrounds are all open for the season.

Doug F. with an April 20 report from Woods Canyon Lake: Brother and I fished for 6.5 hours and caught 70 (all released and were swimmers). Sizes were 8-17 inch. Weather was cool with light rain.

Catch of the week goes to Bo N. for his “catch” of cans: Yesterday afternoon (April 19) I raced up to the Lower Salt River from Tucson to do a little scouting. I arrived late, after 5 p.m., looked at 3-4 spots then decided to give the Pebble Beach area a try with the last hour or so of daylight. In just a few minutes I landed a medium-sized Sonora sucker and a small rainbow trout. But, a slow seam in the middle of the river had some curious bright spots so I waded out to investigate. It turned out to be hundreds of beer cans!


Being an International Game Fish Association representative and the son of a Forest Ranger, I couldn’t stand it so I stopped fishing and picked cans until my only garbage bag was full. Other anglers in the area looked at me like I was crazy. I’m sure 100s of people have walked right by this mess without picking up a single can. Shame on you, Arizona!

Next time I go to the Salt River I’ll bring two garbage bags.

William M. caught this flathead catfish (right) fishing from a kayak on Lake Martinez, April 15, using a savage gear 3D trout lure while wind-drift trolling for bass. He fought this flathead with 10-pound test line.

Charles. S. with a Colorado River report from Picacho State Park to Imperial Dam: Peggy and I did some lite fishing in-between Martinez Lake and the dam over the weekend. Water temperatures in the current averaged around 73 degrees and lakes and backwaters averaged around 74.5 degrees. Daytime air temps have been in the 90s, so expect the water temps as well as vegetation to grow exponentially in the upcoming month.

For our first day out we fished out in the current, but quite honestly there wasn’t much going on. I am going to blame much of that on the recent high water flows, which have dramatically re-arranged the bottom contours of the river in many, many areas.

Most of the sand bars got “topped” by the current, as well as spread over a greater surface area, causing prior depressions to fill and creating an overall flatter river bottom. I found one sand bar that grew by almost an eighth of a mile, so while the fishing areas in current have been altered quite a bit, we maximized our bang for the buck by taking time on the water to re-adjust our GPS maps of the river.

But enough about sand — on the second day we stayed away from the main current and scoured a few of the lakes. Ironically, lakes that were getting greater amounts of water flow during the recent water push were still pretty mucky looking. It didn’t matter if you were on the southern or northern ends of the lakes; most bodies of water were just dirty looking.

With the bass, in dare I say… post spawn, and on the heels of massive flooding, finding ‘em in the lakes was as challenging as ever. We worked the almost mired up banks near areas that previously held pre-spawn as well as spawning bass, and there wasn’t a bite to be had — not even a charge from a bluegill.

We later shifted our efforts to locating cleaner waters, and voila! While the banks were still pretty inactive, we did locate bass far from the banks at approximately 15-foot depths. The key that day was finding areas that had good underwater vegetation AND good water clarity. Bloody-looking silver rattle traps were getting the job done, though I wish I had allowed for more water time so I could experiment with some worms.

I would also like to add that I saw some extremely massive balls of baitfish this weekend. I always take that as a sign of being in a healthy fishing habitat.


Q&A


Q: What is the status of Hulsey Lake? It was emptied to fight the fire a couple years ago. Then I heard that while it was empty you were going to go in and get rid of the silt that had developed over the years before you refilled the lake. It depends on who you are talking to what story you get about Hulsey. It WAS one of the nicest small lakes in the entire area around Alpine. Also, what is the status of Luna Lake? It was an overgrown mess the last time (a year ago) I tried to fish it.

Thank you for the wonderful job that you and the rest of the folks at AZGFD do. The back country would truly be a mess without your continuous efforts. Michael W.

  • A: Michael: Thanks for your question and kind words — much appreciated! I turned to our Pinetop-based Fish Program Manager Mike Lopez for this one. Here’s what he said:

    “The situation with Hulsey has been that we have been waiting for hydrologists to tell us that the watershed has recovered enough after the Wallow Fire (2011). We have had intentions of dredging the bottom to remove the silt and ash that came in after the fire; however, forest hydrologists had advised us that dredging before the watershed has recovered enough would only result in more silt filling the improvement.

    Just recently (two weeks ago), the forest told us that the watershed looks stable enough now and their engineers are currently working on a plan to dredge the lake. We will be applying for a Resource Advisory Committee grant to fund the dredging. If that comes through, we could possibly close the head gate on Hulsey this fall and let it fill during the winter and stock next year.

    Regarding Luna Lake, it is fishing well right now. It always has good water quality in the spring after it fills during the winter. Plus, ice cover on the lake kills back some of the algae blooms and weeds. So now is the time to fish Luna Lake.

    As the year progresses, the irrigation company pulls out water to irrigate in New Mexico, so the water level goes down. And as the water temperatures increase, the algae blooms and weeds grow aggressively and impacts the fishing.

    We have lost our weed harvester program, so we will no longer have that tool to address the weed problems. But the problem is actually excessive nutrients that fuel the algae and weed growth. Addressing excessive nutrients is very difficult, but we have a few ideas that we hope to implement soon that will help with the problem. We are working closely with the Friends of Luna Lake group out of Alpine to get some work started. It will be a long road to improving conditions at Luna Lake and will take some additional funding. Until then, the springtime is the best time to fish at Luna.”

    Hope that helps, and thank you again for your question! – Nick



FISH STORIES

What’s your fish story? In the eighth segment of “Fish Stories,” In this latest segment of Fish Stories from the “AZGFD” YouTube site, take a ride on Willow Springs Lake (a great spot to fish right now) as Bobby Avery tells his fish story!

See this video from the “AZGFD” YouTube site!

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

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

See the full report.

Trout stockings to resume at Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery

Willow Beach
Willow Beach

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, in cooperation with Mohave County and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), succeeded on Tuesday, April 22, in creating a short-term solution to provide recreational fishing opportunities this fall in the Willow Beach-Bullhead City area.

Arizona Game and Fish will be providing some 21,000 juvenile rainbow trout to be reared and stocked through the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery, which is located along the Colorado River south of the Hoover Dam.

“This is a huge win for anglers in Arizona and Mohave County,” said Chris Cantrell, fisheries chief for Game and Fish. “This will have a positive impact on all Arizona anglers, particularly from Willow Beach south to the Bullhead City area.”

On Nov. 21, 2013, the hatchery, operated by the USFWS, conducted an emergency stocking of 11,000 rainbow trout when the low water level made it impossible to draw water. The hatchery, however, lost 20,000 fish due to a lack of water movement through the system. Since then, the hatchery has been unable to rear or stock sport fish.

Despite the hatchery’s pipeline and infrastructure damages, this solution will allow for short-term angling opportunities. Meanwhile, Game and Fish, USFWS and Mohave County will continue to work toward a long-term solution to supply trout to Arizona waters for recreational fishing opportunities.

Added Stewart Jacks, USFWS fisheries and aquatic conservation assistant regional director: “These are challenging times, but this is a great example of people working together to come up with a solution. That includes those working at the hatchery. They are ‘boots on the ground’ every day — no matter what’s thrown at them, they come back looking for a solution with professionalism and dedication.”

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission remains opposed to a reprioritization of National Fish Hatcheries by USFWS and will continue to work towards ensuring that the USFWS fulfills its commitment to support sportfishing in Arizona and across the nation.

Ed’s Record Flathead Catfish

What’s your fish story?

In the eighth segment of “Fish Stories,” we look back on April 12, 2013, the day the heaviest recorded fish in state history was caught.

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

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

Tip of the Week

Hot Spot: Catching trout at Lower Lake Mary

Lower Lake Mary could be a hot spot. Chuck Benedict, our Fisheries Specialist out of Flagstaff, was on the water on Thursday afternoon. He said 10 anglers were reeling in fish and three of the others caught fish while Benedict was talking to them. Up to six were catching fish at the same time. Folks were catching them on worms under a bobber, PowerBait (pink or green), corn, Flies, small silver lures, and Pistol Petes below a bobber.

There were folks catching their limits in an hour and other folks catching and releasing 30-40 fish in a couple of hours. Lower Mary was stocked last week and is scheduled to be stocked this week.

Hello, anglers,


Crappie anglers — it’s time. The tasty panfish are spawning and based on various reports such as those in the below Anglers Reports, they’re biting as well. Good spots to try are Alamo Lake (see the new report below — sounds like Alamo’s a good bet), Roosevelt Lake, and Lake Pleasant, where the above photo was shot.

Also see last week’s fishing report for a list of what’s hot (which is about everything) and some things to try. But here are some updates.
 

It’s an excellent time to fish in northern Arizona, so don’t miss out. Check the summer stocking schedule. 

Need ideas on where to go fishing? Try the Department’s Fish & Boat Arizona map. Every primary fishing hole in the state is on the there. Pretty nifty.

Finally, we had a Big Fish of the Year nominee. On April 5, Adam Jacquez caught this 40-pound, 11.2-ounce bigmouth buffalo from Roosevelt Lake, which is a state record in the noon-hook and line archery category. Good job, Adam!

Other than that, we received a ton of Angler Reports, so check ’em out! Anglers can send their own to BFishing@AZGFD.gov. If you’re on Twitter, you can find me “tweeting” fishing news. Follow me @NickFishAZ.

Apache Site Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests’ Stage 1 Fire Restrictions to Begin Tuesday, April 22

From the Apache-Sitegraves National Forest website

Springerville, Ariz. — Campfire and smoking restrictions will be implemented at 8 a.m. Tuesday, April 22, on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in order to protect public health and reduce preventable human-caused fires.

Under stage 1 fire restrictions, fires, campfires, charcoal, coal and wood stoves are allowed in developed campgrounds only. Devices solely fueled by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels that can be turned on and off are allowed within an area that is cleared of flammable materials within three feet of the device. The restrictions also limit smoking to within enclosed vehicles, buildings, developed campgrounds or while in an area that is cleared of all flammable material at least three feet in diameter. Fireworks and incendiary devices are always prohibited on all national forest lands.

Implementation of fire restrictions is especially important this year given the dry winter and impacts of long-term drought on the forests. Criteria used to determine when to implement fire restrictions include current and predicted weather, fuel moisture, fire activity levels and available firefighting resources. Fire restrictions will remain in effect until the forests receive significant precipitation.

“Drier than normal conditions on the forests warrant going into fire restrictions earlier than usual,” said Forest Supervisor Jim Zornes. “Our neighboring forests already have had some significant fires with behavior that is unusual for April, and we need members of the public to work with us to prevent human-caused starts.”

To report a fire, call 911.

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

Know Before You Go! Obtain additional fire information via the following:

ANGLER REPORTS

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

Editor’s note: Based on the following angler’s report from last week at Woods Canyon Lake that suggested lures were not followed by trout or bass, we felt it would be helpful to say that no bass have been documented from Woods Canyon Lake, and remind anglers that illegal introductions are not tolerated, and the Department is watching closely for any potential introductions.

Both largemouth and smallmouth bass were illegally introduced into Willow Springs Lake nearby. However, last year green sunfish showed up in Woods Canyon Lake surveys for the first time — possibly another illegal introduction.


We are following the situation in Woods Canyon Lake very closely with electrofishing and snorkeling surveys in an attempt to detect an illegal introduction of bass into the lake as early as possible, if it occurs. If you catch something besides trout or green sunfish, please take pictures and send them to BFishing@AZGFD.gov.

As always, thank you for helping us conserve wildlife for future generations – which we do on the basis of science — and for your passion for wildlife. We’re all in this conservation effort together.

Wayne B. of Tucson helped his granddaughter land a largemouth bass at Lakeside during her first outing: Now is the perfect time of the year to introduce the younger of us to the craft of fishing. Last week I was able to take my 5-year-old granddaughter Lily to Lakeside here in Tucson for her first real fishing trip.

Needless to say that with the help of her mom, my granddaughter was able to land a beautiful 9-inch bass on her first outing.

Lily is ready for the bigger ones at Patagonia and she’s been practicing her casting to show me she is ready for THE BIG ONE.

Have a great summer on the water and Lily wants everyone to remember that “Safety Travels.”





Barry W. took advantage of the Agua Fria River being opened earlier than normal this year at Lake Pleasant, and even has a nice fish tale from Peoria’s Pioneer Lake: I fished Saturday night from 5-11 p.m. with live shad and chummed with anchovies. It only took about 10 minutes for a school of striper to find us. We were marking fish on the fish-finder at 15-25 feet. That of course will change over time as the water temperature increases.


We caught nothing more than 2 pounds, and most were the really small stripers. It was a blast and it’s a great time of year because the nighttime temps are in the 70s. We caught a lot and kept only a few for some great fish tacos!


I took my 3 year old son to Pioneer Lake on Tuesday and I was very impressed with the lake and the quality of fishing. My son and I were using corn to catch bluegills. It seemed we could not keep the hooks baited quickly enough the action was so good. If you’re introducing children to fishing I highly recommend taking them to catch sunfish.

They are not too difficult to catch and the action is steady. It will keep the kids interested and will create memories for a lifetime.

Matt G. reported he had some amazing fishing Wednesday night and early Thursday morning at Veterans Oasis: Everyone, literally everyone, on the lake was catching them. Apparently (catfish) were stocked earlier in the day and between me and some friends we caught 10 catfish anywhere from 3-7 pounds and an 8-pound white amur.


An anonymous angler reported fishing Roosevelt Lake the morning of Friday, for bass with success: Caught and released four largemouth between 8-9 a.m. straight across from Bermuda Flat Beach in about 4-8 feet of water using 5-inch watermelon color senkos, wacky rigged (hooking the worm in the middle).

I caught one largemouth the night before from the Bermuda Flat camping area standing in about 2 feet of water on the shore using the same wacky-rigged 5-inch dark green senko. No luck on crappie, but didn’t stay out long, so I focused mainly on bucket mouths.


Adrian J. caught a nice nighttime bass at Saguaro Lake on Sunday, April 13: Hello, my name is Adrian J. and I caught this 24.74-inch bass on a ¾-ounce jig with a Strike King Rage craw trailer.

I threw on top of an island in the water and worked it down the boulders under water, using a slow drag and soft twitches and snapping it off a rock and letting it sit — and that’s when she hit.

She was awesome to reel in; I caught nine bass including a 4-pounder mostly bed fishing at Saguaro Lake last Sunday. Good luck fishing! Thank you.


Tom L. went to Woods Canyon Lake Sunday, April 13, and took a boat out for four hours and trolled for a nice catch of trout: The gentleman at the dock told us best fishing has been along the north shore between the dam and the dock. We got our first hit within minutes and had the first fish in the boat after 20 minutes caught on an orange Z-Ray. Within 15 minutes we had another hit and then landed a 12.5-inch hold-over on a gold Z-Ray. We headed over to the Western end of the lake and had no luck but did watch one boat bring in a stocker by the Bald Eagle closure while trolling. So we made our way back over to the “hot spot” and caught three more stockers, one on a green Z-Ray and two on a gold No. 4 Panther Martin with red bead above the hook.

Bites were hard and aggressive first thing but after we caught the first two fish they became less aggressive and you had to be really attentive and set the hook. Besides the five we landed, there were another five that were on but got off and many more hits where we didn’t set the hook in time. Really made for an exciting 4 hours. Others were having plenty of luck as well. One other boat was anchored and fishing green PowerBait and had three in the boat and a gentleman fishing green PowerWorms, bouncing them off the bottom, said he and his granddaughter had caught a total of 14 by 10 a.m.!

Jeremiah L. reported fishing Canyon Lake April 8: Overall fishing was slow. Drop-shotting with an Arizona dragonfly color produced the best bite. The bass are on beds.


Jesse B. reported catching a mess of crappie at Roosevelt Lake Thursday April 9 using jigs and minnows.

An anonymous angler sent this photo of a largemouth bass (right) caught 9:30 a.m. April 11 at Tempe Town Lake with a dropshot-rigged RoboWorm, green with a lime belly.

 

FISH STORIES

What’s your fish story? In the eighth segment of “Fish Stories,” we look back on April 12, 2013, the day the heaviest recorded fish in state history was caught. See this week’s “Fish Stories” video about Eddie “Flathead Ed” Wilcoxson’s 76.54-pound flathead catfish taken from Bartlett Lake.

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

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

The Reel Deal

Hello, anglers,

First, a quick fish story. On Tuesday, April 8, angler Jack Head of Phoenix was taking his wife and sister-in-law boating, fishing, and for a quick picnic. What he saw in the Agua Fria arm floating on the surface was a once-in-a-lifetime sight.

A monster striper, with a roughly 5-pound carp wedged in its mouth, was floating on the surface.

Head pulled the fish in and weighed it on his hand scale — the fish pinned his 30-pound maximum scale. Head said the fish was far more than 40 inches in length. The point is: these monster stripers are in Lake Pleasant, and they’re willing to eat a 5-pound carp.

I got him up with the gaff, then I handed the pole to my wife,” Head said. “I had fish smell on my arms after I reached out and hugged him.”

You never know what adventure awaits on Arizona waters. Go create yours.


Now to the report.

April and October can be the best months of the year to fish in Arizona. The water temperatures are ideal for waves of spawns. Access to high country lakes has opened the way for lunker holdovers. The flathead frenzy hardly left.

The buffet is laid out – bass are spawning, especially with an April 15 full moon; crappie should be spawning; flathead catfish are making camera lenses struggle to keep fish in frame; trout are being stocked all across the high country and anglers are catching hold-overs as well as tasty stockers; channel catfish are abundant in the Community Fishing Program lakes.

Here’s a rundown of some possible action:

Trout

Check the summer stocking schedule. Rainbow trout are being dumped, and when they do, tend to stay near the top of the water column for a few days — something to keep in mind when rigging.

On April 1, the catch-and-keep season began at Silver Creek. Carlos Arias (right) already scored a 6-pound, 8-ounce, 24.5-inch rainbow trout from Silver Creek on April 1 that has been submitted as a Big Fish of the Year nominee. Anglers now may use barbed hooks and live bait. If you want to catch your first Apache trout, come on out — they’re stocked weekly. The creek is located about 5 miles east of Show Low. See more detailed directions.


Ah, brookies. When planning your weekend excursion, consider that we just finished stocking Perkins Tank in the Flagstaff area with some brook trout.

Tonto Creek Hatchery also just stocked rainbow trout into Tonto Creek, Christopher Creek, Haigler Creek, and the East Verde River, where ourtrout-tagging project is underway.

Bass

They have several spawns that will occur until June. They’ve already spawned in the city lakes. If you’re bed-fishing, use brighter, chartreuse or orange-colored grubs so you can see your bait – and please release spawning fish quickly and move on.

Some fish have already spawned. And these post-spawners will be hungry. That means anglers can try a top-water bite. Try something such as a 1-3 inch Zara Spook in shad colors, or even a small swim bait (shad). The first and last lights of the day are the best lights, but top-water options are possible all day and night. Don’t discount an evening bite, especially during a full moon. Dark-colored grubs, for example, stand out to fish as a dark silhouette under a bright moon. Although chumming for stripers under light is less effective under new and full moons, it’s still worth a shot – especially with overcast skies.

Catfish

It has been one year since Eddie “Flathead Ed” Wilcoxson boated the heaviest recorded fish in state history. On Friday, April 12, 2013, Wilcoxson brought aboard a mammoth 76.52-pound, 53.5-inch flathead catfish out of Bartlett Lake. See video of Wilcoxson’s fish story.

Also, until around April 19, come into our main lobby at AZGFD headquarters on 5000 West Carefree Highway in Phoenix and see a life-size cast of Wilcoxson’s fish. It’s an impressive display.

Seems this is the time of the year the big flathead begin to roam the banks, looking for something like a live bluegill or carp (your bait) to munch. On March 24 at Patagonia Lake, Rich Stachel of Tucson caught a 56.2-pound flathead. See the first Anglers Report below about the Colorado River – another flathead phenomenon was caught.

Finally, get ready for the channel catfish stockings to begin the week of April 20 at the “non-core” Community Fishing Program lakes, which now include Yuma’s Fortuna Lake, Redondo Pond, Yuma West Wetlands Pond and Somerton’s Council Avenue Pond. Other non-core waters that will receive catfish stockings every two months (with catfish and bluegill coming in June).

Other non-core stockings that will receive loads are Discovery Ponds, McQueen Pond, Pacana Pond, Granada Ponds, Roadrunner Pond, Eldorado Lake, McKellips Lake.

CC Cragin opens

CC Cragin (Blue Ridge) Reservoir, a favorite for paddler, has reopened after construction. Read all about this long-awaited reopening.

Roosevelt Lake fishery could receive monster boost with Florida-strain largemouth bass stockings

 


PHOENIX – Anglers who love to fish Roosevelt Lake located in central Arizona’s Tonto National Forest have a future hope for the fishery — monster bass.

To help boost fishing opportunities at the 13,000-acre lake, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is partnering with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) through April to stock up to 500,000 fry of Florida-strain largemouth bass, which have been known to eventually attain sizes up to 20 pounds.

The FWC will be donating the bass fry in cooler-contained sacks via FedEx. The first shipment arrived Tuesday, April 8, at the Arizona Game and Fish Department regional office in Mesa. Department biologists then dumped about 275,000 fry into the lake. There will likely be one to two additional, weekly stockings.

See a department video (includes underwater footage) of Tuesday’s initial stocking.

“We hope that within the next 5-10 years anglers can enjoy higher numbers of trophy bass and memories that come out of Roosevelt Lake,” said AZGFD Fisheries Branch Chief Chris Cantrell. “This effort also should have a positive economic impact on local communities. The state of Texas has had huge success with stocking Florida-strain largemouth bass, and we expect the same.”

The department has not stocked Roosevelt Lake with Florida-strain largemouth bass since the 1980s. Since 2011 surveys, there has been an 80-percent reduction in largemouth bass catch rates. Still, in 2013, Roosevelt Lake was the most fished water in the state.

Florida-strain largemouth bass is the same species as the northern strain that dominates Arizona’s warm-water fisheries. But unlike northern strain, adult Florida strain in the 10- to 15-pound range is relatively common. An additional benefit of the Florida strain is its potential to feed on Roosevelt Lake’s nonnative gizzard shad.

The department expects at least a few thousand Florida strain to survive to adulthood. It will likely take at least two years before the bass grow to a catchable size of 10-12 inches.

A United States Forest Service Tonto Pass is required to fish Roosevelt Lake.

This is a one-time stocking effort. Future stockings of Florida-strain largemouth bass efforts are possible, but would rely on public donations. To contribute to a thriving Roosevelt Lake fishery, visithttp://www.azgfd.gov/bassDonations.

ANGLER REPORTS

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

Judy C., a host/attendants at the BLM Oxbow Campground located at the Oxbow Bridge on the Colorado River, with a report from anglers who she said fished between March 28-31: We have guests camping in here who do a lot of fishing. The first picture is of a day’s worth of catch for four anglers on two boats… caught along the river banks and backwaters from Farmer’s Bridge in Cibola to Walter’s Camp.

The second catch was from different a guests’ catch from a night’s fishing in a backwater at Mitchel’s Camp — two 15-pound flatheads and\ one 17-pound flathead.

The last pic (left) is of the next night’s catch at the same backwater at Mitchel’s Camp… their scale said 57 pounds.



Todd B. enjoyed some good catfish action Friday at Red Mountain Lake: Caught a few cat: one nice 8-pounder, which must have been a holdover. I let it swim away for another to enjoy, but kept a couple stocker-sized cats. They were maybe 2 pounds apiece. I saw many very, very nice sized bass hanging shallow near their beds. I did not realize the size of the bass in some of these community parks. Some of the bass I saw had to be 5-6 pounds. I enjoyed the sights, but let them rest to finish spawning.

I have run into a sight that is starting to really make me sad. I normally see a carp thrown up on the beach to rot, but I am starting to see more and more stringers with fish attached floating in the water. I do not know why fishermen would leave their catch behind, but it is starting to become an every time scene. I just wish the folks who do not want to keep, and eat, their fish would release them back into the water.

I am very proud to be able to fish these wonderful community parks that Arizona has to offer. They are a great way to stay local, and catch fish. Back home the parks are only stocked once or twice a year. We Arizonians have it made with all of the fish that are made available to us. Thank you, Arizona Game and Fish Dept.


Theresa P. with a report from Knoll Lake: Went to Knoll Lake this weekend, and had a great time. The roads were rough, but well worth it. Caught four rainbow trout and one Apache trout over the four days. There was cold weather and a very low lake. Not sure why the stocking report looks different for this lake though; this is my family’s favorite place to go almost every weekend, as soon as road 300 opens.

Paul J. and Co. had some tough fishing recently at Woods Canyon Lake, but took in plenty of wildlife, such as elk: Two of us fished the cove next to the parking lot on the left side as you face the store at Woods Canyon Lake from 6:15 a.m. ‘til 11:30 a.m. Used assorted colored PowerBait, nightcrawlers and assorted sizes and colors of spinners, silver flat fish, assorted sizes of KastMasters none of the lures were followed by trout or bass; caught one lowly trout about 15 inches after 9:00 a.m. on green PowerBait.

One couple caught five and we saw no one else with any luck. Had the pleasure of an audience of one cow elk in the parking lot next to our SUV who watched us not 25 feet down at the lake’s edge for some 20 minutes as she grazed the grass at the parking lot concrete tired guard. Best part of the whole fishing trip was the elk.

The local osprey and one bald eagle had better luck fishing, and their fishing is spectacular as they soar, hover, and dive into the lake, come up and fly away with a trout any fisherman would be proud of. Lake was not as clear as usual….not real murky but not crystal clear.

Cathie Z. send in a fish story of a woman’s first fish, caught at Roosevelt Lake: My wife, after many trips of not catching anything on the water, was excited to nap this fish! This was at Roosevelt in 4-6 feet of water. This is her first fish out of Roosevelt.

We stayed out after sunset and had an idea… let’s set out the submersible lights and see what happens. After about an hour the magic happened. Being so fascinated we put our poles away and watched as minnows appeared, then shad, then bigger shad appeared! We’d never seen this before so we continued to watch. Soon, larger fish darted through the swirl and broke water around us. We kept seeing a looming shadow under the light but couldn’t tell if it was a fish or wood. Like two kids, we were lying on the bow for two hours watching all this take place! Finally the shadow moved. It was a BIG catfish. I mean it was HUGE. It came up, opened its mouth and was sucking in water, and probably food!

We determined we probably could never fish with lights; we would watch more than fish!

That experience is a memory we won’t soon forget. Due to the restructure of the licenses, we have been able to get back to the things we love. We go so often, at least three other friends have joined in the fun. Thank you again for providing disabled veterans with free licenses; it has definitely improved my quality of life!


FISH STORIES

What’s your fish story? In the eighth segment of “Fish Stories,” we look back on April 12, 2013, the day the heaviest recorded fish in state history was caught. See this week’s “Fish Stories” video about Eddie “Flathead Ed” Wilcoxson’s 76.54-pound flathead catfish taken from Bartlett Lake.

Want to see a life-size cast of the fish? During the next week, come into the main lobby of our Phoenix headquarters on 5000 W. Carefree Hwy. and check out Wilcoxson’s incredible display.

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

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

All fishing, all the time

FishAZblog

All fishing, all the time

Wawang Lake Resort

FISH: Walleye, Northern Pike, Perch, White Fish

The Fisheries Blog

Five fish scientists discuss fun and interesting topics about fish.