Community Fishing Bulletin: Feb. 17 – March 2

New Expansion Waters Stocked With Trout

Eight of the new waters added to the Community Fishing Program on Jan. 1 received their first trout stocking this month. Fish averaged one-half pound each with some whoppers up to 5 pounds.

The ponds are located in the cities of Gilbert, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Glendale and the City of Maricopa just south of the valley. For details and locations of these new waters pick up a copy of the 2014 Community Fishing Program Guidebook or download the pdf version.

International Sportsmen’s Expo February 20-23

The annual International Sportsmen’s Expo is coming to the University of Phoenix football stadium! The event runs from Thursday, Feb. 20 through Sunday, Feb. 23. Bring the kids to the youth fair with a catch-and-release fishing pond, archery and shooting range, and check out the sport and fishing boats available from local dealers. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $12 for adults and free for kids under 16, plus parking is free. For more information check out their website

SPOTLIGHT ON: Chaparral Park

Chaparral Park was the first park to join the CFP back in 1983, when the program was still in the pilot phase. This beautiful park in Scottsdale has a 10-acre lake with plenty of great spots for anglers to relax and get in some fishing time. Lots of huge shade trees and picnic tables, barbeque grills, a playground, swimming pool and even a dog park (north of the lake) are some of the great amenities at this park. You can even fish from your boat on this lake. Remember that feeding wildlife within this city park is a class two misdemeanor, so enjoy the wildlife but please keep them wild.

The Reel Deal

Ahh, sunlight. Unseasonably warm temperatures, coupled with the full moon that began Thursday, Feb. 13, should trigger more largemouth bass to move into shallow waters to spawn (or stage up to spawn.) In doing so, they should feed better. That’s not all.

The weather has also helped walleye to cooperate at Upper Lake Mary in Flagstaff, based on a couple reports that Scott Rogers, our Fisheries Program Manager out of Flagstaff, was able to gather. He said the warmer water temperatures and sunny days likely have allowed baitfish and predators to become active again. Both shoreline and boat fishing with worms have been effective. Trolling worm harnesses slowly along the bottom is usually the most effective means to collect these wonderful fish. Be mindful of the mercury warning for these fish in this lake.

Over in the White Mountains, keep in mind that Highway 149 to Willow Springs Lake and Forest Roads 300 and 86 to Black Canyon Lake are still open.

Now to the desert impoundments. Anglers are still having success at Bartlett Lake, especially using crankbaits and dropshot techniques. Some anglers reported recently fishing crankbaits all day in 2-6 feet of water for biting bass.

Because it’s being stocked this week, Saguaro Lake should be a decent place to try for some combo fishing.

The lake has lots of fishing  piers, and so it’s pretty shore-fishing friendly.

Bring  along some nightcrawlers and meal worms – not only are they good baits for  trout, the yellow bass also like to chew them up.

Winter bass had generally been lethargic feeders, but this warm spat could get some of them biting more aggressively. Bass in the desert impoundments were mostly biting in deep water (up to 60 feet deep!). Bass usually feed better in shallow water than in deep water. Some of the big females might move into the shallows to build nests. But if you catch a spawning bass, please release it quickly to help future bass populations be robust. Big bass spawn in February –heavier spawning periods traditionally come in March and April.

The warm weather unfortunately doesn’t help Community Fishing Program trout fishing too much. In many of the Phoenix area lakes and ponds, for example, water temperatures had been 58-60 degrees. By Wednesday, they were in the mid-60s, and they’ll warm up again just as easily this weekend. As a rule of thumb, many of those lakes/ponds will be about the same temperature as your backyard swimming pool (if in the same region, of course.)

That said, some anglers, such as the one who caught his limit in 30 minutes at Discovery Ponds this week (and who submitted the below Angler Report to are having plenty of success. Take your shots and be sure to keep up with the community fishing stocking schedule. We just stocked trout into eight new ponds!

Beginning Feb. 17, and for a week, we’ll be stocking rainbow trout into Dead Horse Lakes, Tempe Town Lake, Saguaro Lake, Cluff Pond, Dankworth Pond, Graham County Pond and Roper Lake.

See the winter trout stocking schedule.

Need a fishing license? Just click here and you’re on your way.


Please send your reports to

Matt managed to get to Discovery Ponds on the morning they were first stocked last week and caught his limit in 30 minutes in the lower pond!

Charles S. with a recent Colorado River report, from Picacho State Park to Imperial Dam: Water surface temps are sitting around 58 degrees in the current and I noticed some backwaters that were over 60 degrees. Water levels on the Colorado are slightly higher than they were in December and January, but the ever shifting sandbars still pose a threat to boaters.

On Feb. 8 we fished the current all day; at 2 p.m. we had not yet had a single bite. But between 2 p.m. and 2:10 p.m. we boated four keeper smallmouth and one dink, then the bite just stopped. We set out fishing the current for largemouth using stick worms and fished that pattern into the evening. I stuck it out with that pattern mainly because we know the area can, and has, produced some very nice bass.

On Feb. 9 we did nothing but fish the underwater structure in the lakes. We rotated shallow diving crankbaits and worms. Our largest fish weighed 3.5 (pictured), though all of the bass we caught that day were keepers. The areas we fished had not been producing fish for a few months now, so it’s nice to see the bass on structure and pushing closer to the shallower waters. With temps on the rise like they are, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some fish on beds in as early as three weeks. With trips planed for every weekend this month I pan on keeping a close eye on their movement.

I would like to add that while you can fish the river year round, people can and do run aground on the sandbars. We were the only boat on the river and we found one couple had run aground late Saturday evening above Picacho State Park, and because of the size and weight of the boat, we were barely able to assist them. There is not a lot of boat traffic this time of year (or police patrols) and some areas may not have a boat pass through for days. It’s a good idea to let someone know when you plan on returning, that way they can keep an eye out for trouble.

Sherry W. of Phoenix with a carp tale from Roadrunner Park: We’ve been doing some fishing at Roadrunner Park lately because it’s cold out and hadn’t had much luck with trout at any other local lakes/ponds.

I use a Shakespeare rod and a Zebco Hawg reel with 30-pound test because Roadrunner is KNOWN to have some very large carp in it. AND I SNAGGED ONE! This big guy (Jan. 19) was 34 inches, but alas, our scale wouldn’t work so we’re only guessing his weight at about 15 pounds. I brought him in by myself, with some coaching from my hubby on how to adjust my drag. By the time we got him out, we had a crowd of about 15-20 people cheering me on. Since taking up local fishing a little over three years ago, this IS the largest fish I’ve caught and he’s quite a catch, no?

Thanks for all you do for us anglers!


What’s your fish story? In the fourth segment of “Fish Stories” Tyson Warren, a Lees Ferry Anglers fishing guide, remembers growing up in Flagstaff, fishing almost every weekend with his dad, campfires always crackling at night. Check out the latest Fish Stories segment from Lees Ferry.

Enjoy this Fish Stories video from the “AZGFD” YouTube site!

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

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

OK, onto the full report.

The Reel Deal

Hello, anglers,

Think lazy. As a general rule, wintertime fishing means going to a slower-than-normal presentation — jig with longer pauses, retrieve spinners with ease, strip flies with patience. Wintertime fish tend to be lethargic, and aren’t always as willing to chase down a bait, lure or fly. Yeah, they can be lazy.

Present in front of their jaws if possible. Fish deep, where water is typically warmest, before trying other areas of the water column. At the desert impoundments, many of the heftier largemouth bass are particularly deep. With this weekend’s chillier weather, expect that to be the case the entire week. Go for a crankbait bite for a hour before light, then throw that trusty dropshot.

Sounds like the striper action can still be pretty good at Lake Powell. Wayne Gustaveson went to Warm Creek on Jan. 27 and dropped spoons in 65 feet of water for 2 hours of non-stop action (most were fat 17-20 inch yearlings, he said.) See more in the full report.

Trout time. Beginning Monday, Feb. 3, we’re scheduled to stock rainbow trout in the following areas – the Verde Valley (Dead Horse Lakes); Prescott (Fain Lake, Lynx Lake and Watson Lake); Phoenix/Mesa (Apache Lake); Tucson/Safford (Cluff Pond, Dankworth Pond, Graham County Pond, and Pena Blanca Lake); and finally, Parker Canyon Lake (La Paz.)

Our Fish&Boat Arizona map will lead you to all these fisheries. Also, see the full details on the winter trout stockings.

Finally received a good crappie report from Bartlett Lake. Anglers been slaying the crappie on the upper end of Bartlett past the no wake buoys. Try a 1/16 or 1/8-ounce jig with a 2-inch curly tail grub. John Deere green, green and black, and white have been good colors. Remember that as of Jan. 1, some regulations changed and crappie daily bag limits are no longer unlimited. An angler can keep 15 crappie daily.

Anglers also need to be aware that the Arizona Game and Fish Department asks outdoor recreationists to help protect important eagle breeding areas by honoring the closure of 23 areas across the state. See full details of these closures.

Resident anglers can get the Community Fishing Program license included with the $37 General Fishing license, or by itself for $24. Licenses are now good for 365 days from the date of purchase. Go online to review the full details of this new and simplified license structure and purchase any license. Truth is, the purchase of a license does far more than allow you to fish or hunt. It supports the ability of all of us to conserve this invaluable natural resource — our one escape into freedom in these ultra-busy times — for future generations.


Q & A

Q: (From the Arizona Game & Fish Facebook page) Rick B., a first-time angler, asked what he needed to get started fishing at Community Fishing Program water.

  • A: Rick: You can try fishing your nearest CFP lake/water for the stocked rainbow trout. Make sure to fish during the week the trout are stocked — it’s much harder after the first three days the fish are stocked. I’d suggest simply fishing with a bobber and hook, with PowerBait, salmon eggs (two Pautzke eggs on a small hook work great) or a worm a couple feet under the bobber (trout tend to stay near the top of the water right after they’re stocked.) Also try just using sinkers to put the bait on the bottom. It’s always a good idea to target different areas of the water column to see where the fish are biting. Check out this “Fishing Basics” page from our new EasyAZ Fishing For Kids blog for some diagrams and tips to get started. Hope that helps! — Nick

Eight ponds to receive first Community Fishing Program stockings

PHOENIX — From Phoenix to Maricopa, eight ponds will receive their first Community Fishing Program fish stockings during one day between Feb. 10 and 15.

Already since Jan. 1, the expansion of the program formerly known as the Urban Fishing Program has included the first catchable stockings at Pioneer Lake in Peoria and Riverview Lake in Mesa.

The expansion continues with the first of scheduled stockings that will take place every two months. A total of 815 pounds of trout will be delivered to the eight ponds in these following cities:

  • Gilbert

Discovery Ponds (Discovery Park, 2214 East Pecos Rd.) and McQueen Pond (McQueen Park, 510 N. Home St.).

  • Glendale

Bonsall Pond (Bonsall Park, 5840 W. Bethany Home Rd.)

  • Phoenix

Granada Ponds (Granada Park, 6505 N. 20th St.) and Roadrunner Pond (Roadrunner Park, 3502 E. Cactus Rd.)

  • Scottsdale

Eldorado Pond (Eldorado Park, 2311 N. Miller Rd.), McKellips Pond (Vista Del Camino Park, 7700 E. Roosevelt St.)

  • Maricopa

Pacana Pond (Pacana Park, 19000 N. Porter Rd.).

These waters had been stocked by their respective city. Be sure to keep up with the Community Fishing Program by signing up for the Community Fishing Bulletin.

“The more opportunities for friends and families to get outdoors and enjoy the heritage-rich tradition of fishing, the better,” said interim Community Fishing Program Manager Joann Hill. “It’s just an exciting time to be an angler in Arizona.

Fish stockings are yet to come in March at Maricopa’s Copper Sky Lake. Also, in April, lakes and ponds in Yuma (West Wetlands Pond, Fortuna Lake and Redondo Lake) and Somerton (Council Avenue Pond.) will receive catfish from the CFP. Trout stockings for Yuma area lakes will continue as scheduled in past years.

For more information on the CFP, including maps, fish stocking schedules, regulations and fishing tips, pick up a new and expanded 2014 Community Fishing Guidebook that is available at more than 300 license dealer locations and Game and Fish offices. The guidebooks are free.

Also see full information on the entire 15-water expansion.

The Reel Deal

Hello, anglers,

The hot spot for winter trout right now is Lees Ferry. Trout spawn from November through mid-March at this tail-water fishery below Lake Powell, but there are plenty of feeding fish as well.

If you haven’t fished the Ferry before, consider getting a guide. Also, see our video on fly-fishing this scenic river.

Wendy Gunn, owner of Lees Ferry Anglers, said flows are too high to fish the walk-in section (that’s expected to change in February when flows are lower), but some healthy trout averaging 14-16 inches are plentiful upriver. Fishing has been somewhat slow in the mornings and improving as the day goes on. The weather has been perfect – temperatures of 25-30 degrees in the morning and 50-60 during the day.

“For Lees Ferry in the winter time, this is crazy,” Gunn said.

Here’s more trout news: all of our Community Fishing Program lakes this year received 1-3-pound trout with a few 5-6 pound lunkers.

And get ready for the opening of Riverview Park in Mesa on Saturday, Jan. 25. After two years of renovations, the City of Mesa will celebrate the park’s grand opening from 2-6 p.m., and we’ll have stocked trout in the lake. Stop by our pop-up tents to borrow a fishing pole and bait, or just chat with us if you have questions about the lake or program. See all the information on the event.

Beginning Jan. 27, trout will be stocked for one week into the Verde River from Clarkdale to Camp Verde, the Lower Salt River, Somerton (Council Park) Pond and Yuma West Wetlands.

Fishing also has been good at Silver Creek for large rainbow trout and Apache trout on flies. Try white bead-headed wooly buggers, brown or olive simi seal leeches, bead-headed prince nymphs, or a shammy worm. The catch-and-release fishing only season runs until March 30. See more information on the unique regulations.

Also, see the full details on the winter trout stockings.

Read the full report for more ideas, and don’t forget to send your fish stories and reports to

Need a license? Just click here and you’re on your way.

Double Play at the Park to celebrate baseball, fishing, and the rebirth of Riverview Park

MESA, Ariz. – Come celebrate the grand opening of Cubs Park and Riverview Park by enjoying the free event “Double Play at the Park” from 2-6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25.

In addition to self-guided and trolley tours of Mesa’s new signature park and the Cubs training complex located at 2100 W. Rio Salado Pkwy., there will be free fishing – the Arizona Game and Fish Department will offer 100 loaner rods, and bait, to those wanting to fish Riverview Lake. No license is required for those who register. The Department will have stocked the lake with rainbow trout from Jan. 20-25.

Kids will also enjoy the exciting new playground equipment, including a giant climbing tower and bouldering wall. Take advantage throughout of the food, live music, inflatables, zip line, tethered hot air balloon rides, baseball-themed activities and baseball card show.

The celebration will end with a special grand opening program at 5:45 p.m. at the lake. Fireworks are scheduled to go off around 6 p.m.

Riverview Park has been closed to construction for about two years. On Nov. 2, 2010, City of Mesa voters approved and authorized to expend funding to design and construct a city-owned baseball stadium, training and practice facility for the Chicago Cubs. The project also reconfigured Riverview Park. Double Play at the Park celebrates the achievement of community coming together and “Building a Better Mesa.”

Check out more information on the event,
including maps and parking, or get more details on Riverview Park and Cubs Park.

As of Jan. 1, the Urban Fishing Program was renamed the Community Fishing Program. Fifteen new waters are being rolled out! See more information.

DJ’s Patient Dad

Have a fond memory? An exciting experience? A funny situation? Or, just a special day on the water with family and friends enjoying Arizona’s amazing outdoors?

Email your story to, and we may share it with others online, in print, or on television.

In the second video segment of “Fish Stories,” longtime angler D.J. Rothans says he learned to fish with his very patient Dad. See this story from the Game and Fish Youtube site!

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


I absolutely love fishing.  I fish often, but have only caught a handful of fish in my lifetime.  We went today and I caught my FIRST EVER rainbow trout at Pioneer Park!  I wish I had been able to get a picture of it.  My wife dropped the fish when she was helping me get the hook out.  It was a good sized fish too!

Anyway, just wanted to drop a line of thanks for restructuring the fishing licenses.  Not only is it more affordable to the average person, it seems to really encourage folks to get out and spend some quality time with their kids.  As a disabled veteran going through the process to be designated “total and permanent” I appreciate the addition of the three year complimentary license while that is resolved.  Fishing has greatly improved my quality of life here in Arizona; thank you for being a part of that.

Best Wishes,

Cathie Z.

The Reel Deal

Hello, anglers,

Get ready for more winter trout stockings for a week beginning Monday, Jan. 13 in the Verde River (Clarkdale to Camp Verde), Fain Lake, the Lower Salt River, Saguaro Lake, Patagonia Lake, Pena Blanca Lake, Fortuna Pond and Redondo Pond.

See our nifty Fish&Boat Arizona map for finding the state’s best fishing and boating spots.

In addition to an incredible turnout for the kickoff fishing clinic and trout stocking at Pioneer Lake in Peoria, we received some great anglers reports and questions this week from those who emailed their stories to Keep ’em coming!

Oh, in case you missed it, see the full details of the new license structure. The new General Fishing licenses include bundled privileges: trout, two-pole fishing, Community Fishing privileges, and privileges for fishing Arizona’s shared Colorado River waters with California and Nevada are now included in the price of the license (no need to buy separate stamps for those privileges). Plus, licenses are now good for 365 days from the date of purchase instead of for just the calendar year. Buy a license online.

So let’s get right to the good stuff.

Q & A

  • I have a question. I want to take my grandson fishing with me at Lake Pleasant but we don’t have a boat. Where are the best chances of catching something from the shore? Thanks. David S.

David – A good bet is the shoreline by the 10-lane boat ramp. Anglers have been known to have success catching stripers there. Kyle from Pleasant Harbor Marina said that just two weeks ago, a man caught a 20-pound striper from one of the banks near the ramp on anchovies. Try chumming with anchovies and following the chum by baiting with a cut anchovy (free-line it). Thanks for the question, and good luck! — Nick

  • Hello I am looking a visit to your state and am interested in the Prescott area. Can you recommend a river or two that one might trout fish on in this area? Can you suggest an area in your state that has your best river fishing of trout as well? It’s darn cold up here in Wisconsin. I need a break. Mike T.

Hi, Mike. Great question. And glad you’re coming to Arizona to get warm — and fish! There isn’t a wild trout fishery in the Prescott area (if that’s what you’re looking for), but if you’re coming during the spring, the weather is perfect to target the roundtail chub (above-right), which are better fighters than rainbow trout and often give an even better tug than smallmouth bass. Plus, it is native to Arizona. Try the Upper Verde River Wildlife Area for some roundtail chubs. It’s near Paulden, about 30-40 minutes north of Prescott. See information on this area, including a map. Although it’s now catch-and-release-only, this can be some great fishing using spinners, crappie jigs or flies.

If you just want to catch trout, we stock rainbows during the winter. See the stocking schedule.

Finally, if you’re feeling ambitious and are willing to drive a few hours, Lees Ferry in northern Arizona is one of the best clear-running tailwater fisheries in the country for catching wild rainbow trout. It’s a can’t-miss fishing destination that has some of the best red-rock canyon wall formations you’ll ever see. See what I mean. Don’t miss out.

And thanks for the question! — Nick


Alex M. pulled out two trout in Green Valley Park in Payson. The weather was a little cold in the morning. The bait was Power Bait and he used 10-pound line.

Alex just got his $5 license (he’s 11). He definitely earned that license fee! We were really excited that he could have taken home more than two trout, but we called it quits early since we had a really good day! Thanks!

This fish was caught at the new Pioneer Park in Peoria AZ on Jan 7. It was accidentally caught on my fly rod. Accidentally meaning she was trying to untangle some line when the fish hit. About a pound, maybe a little more. Her biggest fish to date. Fish were on the fly about every cast. Fish was released unharmed. Have fun out there….

Charles S. with a Colorado River report from Picacho State Park to Imperial Dam: Water surface temps have been averaging around 52.4 degrees and fishing has been slow. But that doesn’t mean that you cannot catch a decent largemouth here and there. Peggy and I went out one day and threw chrome/blue/orange Rat-L-Traps all day, and while we only bagged only three fish that particular day, one weighed at 3.9 pounds and made it all worth it. The fish in the picture wasn’t anymore photogenic than I look in the picture, but after cranking miles of shoreline that was all I could muster. But I assure you that I was happy inside. Water levels had been low to OK for the last 10 days, with a noticeable rise in water levels after the first of the year.

Community Fishing Program kickoff event

at Pioneer Lake draws hundreds

PEORIA, Ariz. — The scout den leader of Cub Scout pack 618, rod in hand on Saturday, Jan. 4 during the first rainbow trout stocking and fishing clinic at Peoria’s Pioneer Lake, turned to a cluster of eager young anglers, then swayed into a back-cast.

“The main rule,” Cal Carlson said, “is look and see who’s behind you.”

Of the estimated three hundred anglers who encircled the shoreline at the recently opened Pioneer Community Park, this group of scouts had perhaps the most success catching the rainbow trout that the Arizona Game and Fish Department had stocked the night prior. From Jan. 6-11, the lake that is marked by its spewing fountain is being stocked with incentive trout. The lake will be stocked every other week.

The Department-hosted event included a fishing clinic, loaner rods and bait, and kicked off the first of 15 new waters that are being added to the Community Fishing Program.

See an video from the event.

Carlson cast a chunk of Power Bait and handed the rod to six-year-old Caden Chantel. For minutes, the boy was fixed on the red-and-white bobber some 15 feet away, hardly flinching in his tiny fold-out seat. Then he caught a trout of about 12 inches, one of eight the group of scouts had caught by 10 a.m. – just one hour into the event.

The 81-acre park on 8755 No. 83rd Ave. opened in September with a particularly posh playground area that includes swing sets and a splash ground. The park also boasts four multipurpose ball fields, a dog park, picnic ramadas with grills, and a Heritage Garden for small events.

“This area needed a lake like this, big time,” said Al Schmidt of Surprise. “Because the closest one was in Surprise and Rio Vista is a pond, which means the limit is two trout (and catfish).”

Daily bag limits at Pioneer Lake are four catfish, four trout, two bass (13-inch minimum), 10 sunfish and one white amur (30-inch minimum). Statewide limits apply to other species.

For more information on the park, call (623) 773-7137 or visit the park’s page on the city of Peoria’s website.

For more information on the CFP, including maps, fish stocking schedules, regulations and fishing tips, pick up a new and expanded 2014 Community Fishing Guidebook that is available at more than 300 license dealer locations and Game and Fish offices. The guidebooks are free.


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

In the first video segment of “Fish Stories,” we bring you “Rylee’s First Fish.” Shot at Show Low Lake, she described her first fish – see this heart-warming, and hilarious, video.

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

Tip of the Week

This is winter crappie fishing time. The weather is right, the time of year is right, so the conditions should come together for the speckled beauties to fill your live well, and hopefully your frying pan.

Sounds like Apache Lake has been one of the hot spots for crappie. Bartlett Lake is a decent bet, and anglers are saying fishing for the specks at Roosevelt has been poor to fair.

All fishing, all the time


All fishing, all the time

Wawang Lake Resort

FISH: Walleye, Northern Pike, Perch, White Fish

The Fisheries Blog

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