Tag Archives: arizona fishing

Arizona Fishing Report: The Reel Deal

Striped bass fishing seems to be picking up, as has been evidenced by an influx of striper success stories from Willow Beach on the Colorado River, Lake Pleasant, and especially Lake Mohave …

Les with his striped bass from Lake Mohave. The striper action is good on Lake Mohave, especially near the dam. Anchovies fished down deep are working the best. The largemouth bass bite is picking up in the coves.
Les with his striped bass from Lake Mohave. The striper action is good on Lake Mohave, especially near the dam. Anchovies fished down deep are working the best. The largemouth bass bite is picking up in the coves.

 

See our Catch of the Week below — a monster 21-pound striper was recently caught in about 13 feet of water at Lake Pleasant.

And we have a new moon this weekend. It’ll be cold — lows in the high 40s are predicted for desert regions — but grab some steamin’ hot coffee get out there and fish with submersible lights. Another option, if you’re fishing Lake Pleasant, is using live shad and fishing 11 a.m. to sunset in the northern coves.

Largemouth bass anglers can chase some potential pre-spawning fish at early-bird lakes such as Alamo, Martinez and Havasu out west, and even Saguaro Lake in central Arizona.

Some fish are moving in shallow from 50-60 feet of water depth. They’re not spawning yet, but anglers can target areas of bait fish with crankbaits early in the morning and switch to dropshot and Texas rigs as the sun comes up.

It’s not quite crappie time.  In a month or so, be ready to load up at crappie hot spots such as Alamo, Roosevelt, Bartlett and San Carlos. (Tempe Town Lake has been producing some nice slabs.)

Updates: Topock Marsh, Rio Vista Pond, Upper Mary

  • Topock Marsh on the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge is closed through March 6 due to U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service management.
  •  Rio Vista Pond in Peoria was not stocked this week, but repairs at the pond have been completed and the pond is scheduled to be stocked with trout for the final time of the winter season during the week of March 6. See the schedule.
  • Anglers can access Dogtown Lake near Williams, but we haven’t received any fishing reports. Upper Lake Mary on Thursday was about 3 inches from spilling.

Stocking report

Thursday, Feb. 16 — Community expansion waters. Wednesday, Feb. 15 — Red Mountain Lake. Tuesday, Feb. 14 — Goldwater Lake. Monday, Feb. 13 — Patagonia Lake, Pena Blanca Lake, Salt River (lower), Fain Lake. Saturday, Feb. 11 — Community waters: Chaparral Lake, Tempe Kiwanis, Desert Breeze, Copper Sky, Lakeside, Kennedy, Sahuarita, Alvord, Silverbell, Desert West, Pioneer, Surprise, Cortez, Encanto, Steele Indian School, Papago Ponds, Evelyn Hallman, Water Ranch, Red Mountain, Green Valley lakes.

Full  schedules

Catch of the Week

(Send your Angler Reports to BFishing@AZGFD.gov – one will be featured as Catch of the Week)

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David Campbell, of Peoria, brought to our Phoenix headquarters Friday morning a striper that officially weighed 20.92 pounds and was 35 inches long — about 9 pounds short of a state record. See the full story

Read all the Angler Reports

Public fishing events

At these free fishing clinics, loaner rods are provided, bait is free, and no license is required for those who register during event hours.

Saturday, Feb. 25 — Just For Kids Fishing Festival, 8 a.m. – noon, Kiwanis Park (5500 S. Mill Ave., Tempe).

See the full schedule

SEE THE FULL REPORT

Peoria man catches 21-pound striper Thursday at Lake Pleasant

The first head shake gave it away. This wasn’t a log or boulder David Campbell had hooked Thursday afternoon. Whatever gulped his 1-ounce Kastmaster spoon at Lake Pleasant was alive.

After about 5 minutes of line-peeling action in the Castle Hot Springs area, the fish flashed in the water — it was a big striped bass.

Campbell, of Peoria, brought to our Phoenix headquarters Friday morning a striper that officially weighed 20.92 pounds and was 35 inches long — about 9 pounds short of a state record.

“The fight was sweet,” Campbell said. “It was pulling all the line out because we were trolling. So I told my partner to kick the motor out of gear so we could coast. I said, ‘This is a bull.'”

The inland waters, hook-and-line state record striper weighed  29 pounds, 13.76 ounces (45 1/4 inches). Bob Liddington caught that monster in 2010.

The striper is also a Big Fish of the Year leader:

Lake Pleasant, located in Lake Pleasant Regional Park, is just northwest of Phoenix.
Lake Pleasant, located in Lake Pleasant Regional Park, is just northwest of Phoenix.

The technique

Water conditions: Stained (mossy green), light chop
Tackle: One-ounce Kastmaster spoon, 16-pound Stren MagnaThin line (green color to match the mossy green water)
Water depth: 12-14 feet
Moon phase: Waning  gibbous (third quarter)
Presentation: Trolling at 900 rpms (about 2.5 mph)
Boat: Spectrum 19 1/2-foot

See more about fishing in Arizona

Weekend Roundup: Angler Reports

Send your fishing reports and pictures to BFishing@AZGFD.gov — one that includes a photo will be featured as Catch of the Week

Here’s the latest from your fellow anglers (click on the water for directions):

Lake Pleasant

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Scott L.: Caught this last night (Tuesday, Feb. 14) out at Lake Pleasant in a cove using a cut of anchovie total length was 20 inches. I couldn’t weigh it.

We were fishing with frozen anchovies hoping for some catfish or stripers but hooked this instead. I love fishing in Arizona.

Desert Breeze Lake (Chandler)

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Todd B.:  Fished Desert Breeze Lake today (Sat., Feb. 11) for 2 hours in the afternoon. My first time to the lake and I am in love with both the beautiful park and  the lake itself. I was using an ultralight rod throwing small Blue Fox spinners.

Countless bites and landed a few decent sized trout around 12-13 inches. I saw other anglers plunking with little success. In these smaller bodies of water, my best luck is always with spinners or spoons.

Spinners and spoons are good because you can use them to search for the fish, while covering each inch of the lake in a couple of hours. I tried a few sizes of lures ranging from Nos. 2- 0s. My best action came on No. 1s.

Thanks AZGFD for the many community waters close to home.

Fain Lake (Prescott Valley)

Michael W.: Another great day of fishing at Fain Lake!  In 5 hours of fishing, I caught and released 95 beautiful rainbow trout, ranging from 9-12 inches.  Fish caught from right corner of dock at a depth of 18 inches to 4 feet, on 1.5 inch crappie tubes.  Weather Conditions: Cool and partly cloudy. Water conditions: stained.

Gilbert Riparian

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Anonymous: My husband slayed this guy on Feb. 8 at the Gilbert Riparian on soft bait.

Parker Canyon Lake

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Rod: Hope each of you are well and able to fully enjoy these 70-degree temperatures.  70 degrees in February, wow!  Anyhow I managed to get on the water just about noon today, right when the winds were building up.  I got in some good rowing exercise.  The winds were below my no-float threshold of 20 mph.  They built up later on to make me question my decision to goof about in the dinghy.

Anyhow it turned out I caught three fish in 3 hours of fishing.  Small, medium, and extra largemouth!  Sorry no measurements (I’m pretty sure the last two were well over 5 pounds), but I’ve got photos and memories.  I can tell you that they were all caught using a 2-inch grub on a 1/32-ounce jig on 4-pound mono.  All of them were really fun using the ultra-lite rig!  Talk about a full load on the pole.

What is more challenging is to get the dinghy positioned for a proper photo.  That wind was blowing me about while trying to get a proper photo using the self timer on the camera.

A great beginning to a new year of fishing!

 

Copper Sky Lake (Maricopa)

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Domingo S.:  This was caught at the fishing clinic at Maricopa Park last month (Saturday, Jan. 14).

 

See more about fishing in Arizona

Where will the next AZ state record come from?

This winter has already been a mixed bag: record snow levels in some places followed by some warmer weather. That’s Arizona!

While it’s next to impossible to predict what the rest of winter has in store for us and what water levels might turn out to be, it’s always kind of fun to think about where that next state record fish might come from.

Plus, winter is a great time to think about upcoming fishing trips and where to prioritize your efforts.

This is just one biologist’s opinion, but here are some thoughts of where a few of our most popular game fish might be caught:

Largemouth bass

Inland waters, hook-and-line record: 16 pounds, 7.68 ounces, Canyon Lake, 1997

Saguaro Lake is known for its potential record bass.
Saguaro Lake is known for its potential record bass.
  • Saguaro Lake: No surprise for those who have been fishing this scenic lake — there have been great numbers of bass of larger than 10 pounds being caught lately. And there are no signs of that slowing down.
  • Canyon Lake: Always a perennial favorite to foster the next state record largemouth.  After all, it’s where the current record (16 pounds, 7.68 ounces) was caught, and its population has the highest levels of Florida-strain genetic influence (bigger bass) of any water in Arizona.
  • Colorado River waters: If you like to fish the big river on the west end of the state, the Imperial Division and Cibola Division are great bets to catch a largemouth that weighs in the “teens.” Mittry Lake also has big largemouth that rivals Canyon Lake in Florida-strain influence.

Flathead catfish

Inland waters, hook-and-line record: 76 pounds, 8.64 ounces, Bartlett Lake, 2013

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The state record flathead catfish taken in April of 2013 by Eddie “Flathead Ed” Wilcoxson from Bartlett Lake.
  • Bartlett Lake: Hard to argue this one: it boasts the current record.
  • Lake Pleasant and Roosevelt Lake: Both are dark horses to take the record away from Bartlett.  Flatheads of more than 50 pounds are routinely being caught at both of these reservoirs, with reports of 60-plus pounders somewhat common.

Channel catfish

Inland waters, hook-and-line record: 32 pounds, 4 ounces, Parker Canyon Lake, 1987

Large channel catfish caught during surveys at Parker Canyon Lake.
Large channel catfish caught during surveys at Parker Canyon Lake.

This one is a little trickier as there is no clear-cut place to catch trophy-sized channel cats (if there is, please let me know).

That said:

  • Parker Canyon Lake:The current record (32 pounds, 4 ounces) came from this lake down on the border.  Parker Canyon could still have another record lurking.
  • Topock March, Lake Havasu, Alamo Lake, Apache Lake, Saguaro Lake: Your odds are probably equal at these lakes. The Colorado River record was from Topock Marsh: 35 pounds, 4 ounces.

Rainbow trout

Inland waters, hook-and-line record: 15 pounds, 9.12 ounces, Willow Springs Lake, 2006

Don't sleep on Dogtown -- potential record trout lurk here.
Don’t forget about Dogtown Lake near Williams — potential record trout lurk here.
  • Becker, Carnero or Luna lakes in the White Mountains: These lakes grow trout fast, but are susceptible to winter and summer kills (mostly because of low oxygen).  If all goes well this winter, there could be some really big trout that come out of those lakes.
  • Dogtown Lake: This is a sleeper lake near Williams. The addition of woody habitat during the past few years has really contributed to high growth rates for trout.

Tiger trout

Inland waters, hook-and-line record: 0 pounds, 9.23 ounces, Willow Springs Lake, 2016

Tiger Trout raised at the Tonto Creek Hatchery

A newcomer to the state last year, the tiger trout’s maximum potential size in Arizona waters is unknown. But one thing is for sure: the current record of less than a pound from Willow Springs Lake will fall.

  •  Willow Springs, Woods Canyon, Carnero and Becker lakes:  These lakes are stocked with tigers. Trout grow quickly at Special Regulations waters Carnero and Becker, so try these lakes for tigers weighing more than 5 pounds.

Arizona state fish records

For a complete list of Arizona State Fish Records, see pg. 40 of the 2017-18 Fishing Regulations. While you’re at it, check out all our fishing resources.

Got a license? Get ’em online, 24/7 — this helps us conserve wildlife for future generations.

Which record are you going to set this year?

Andy Clark is the AZGFD statewide sportfish management program supervisor

Weekend roundup: Angler Reports

Send your fishing reports and pictures to BFishing@AZGFD.gov — one that includes a photo will be featured as Catch of the Week

Here’s the latest from your fellow anglers (click on the water for directions):

Lake Pleasant

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Karrie R.: I thought I’d share this flathead catfish I caught from shore at Pleasant today: 22 pounds on a dropshot with a worm. It was definitely cold, but worth the catch! 🙂 Also caught an 8-pound carp and 3-pound channel catfish. Tight lines!

Silver Creek

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Max W.: The upper portion of Silver Creek fished great over the weekend. People were doing really well on egg patterns and small midges. One of my buddies even managed to pull out this big guy on a Tenkara Rod– not bad for his first fish on the fly!

Gila River

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Ramon: I caught a 14-inch largemouth bass with a worm at Gila River under the bridge side on Friday, Jan. 27 at 3  p.m.! Gave a good fight! Used 8-pound test line.

Desert Breeze Lake (Chandler)

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Nicholas J.: Decided to spend the day outside at Desert Breeze since it was such an amazing Arizona winter day. All three of the kids caught a fish of their own. (Zac, Nikyah, and Mason Jaurigue).

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Pretty sure all three were “incentive” trout. We got out there about 10 a.m., however we didn’t get our first fish until almost 2 p.m. Then all of a sudden the other two fish were caught. All three within 30 minutes of time.

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The yellow corn/garlic mixed PowerBait is what finally caught them their first fish — after trying all the others we had in our box. Hope everyone else had as good of a weekend.

See more about fishing in Arizona

New fishing map for special regulations available

Seeing the Special Regulations that are in place for certain waters just got easier.

We set these special regulations to maintain the long-term welfare of our fishing waters and provide you some great sport-fishing opportunities.

This map has species-specific tabs for maps of Special Regulation waters and seasons, daily bag and possession limits, and length limits that differ from General Statewide Regulations or Statewide Daily Bag and Possession Limits.

See the map.

Please refer to the official Arizona Fishing Regulations for complete fishing rules and regulations.

 

Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

With the steady rain or snow in many regions, predicted to continue through Saturday, the best bets might be catching a dry window at your local Community fishing water for some “incentive” trout, or plan something for next weekend. This time of year fishing can be fruitful if anglers remember one general key: slow your presentations. See more tips in the full report.

If we get a milder spat of sunny winter weather (maybe next weekend), we have two fairly shallow lakes that tend to heat up fast because they are like two big solar bowls in the desert. The first is Alamo Lake west of Wickenberg. The other is Lake Havasu. Havasu has a larger mass than Alamo, but also a larger variety of sport-fish species as well. Alamo has something that draws a lot of winter visitors — crappie.

This influx of rains could boost spring fishing action (and be advantageous for quail hunting next year). At high run-off lakes such as Roosevelt, boaters at both ends of the lake much go slowly and watch for debris.

See a winter trout stocking schedule, maybe grab a fishing license online — you can get them 24/7 and go “Fish AZ.”

Catch of the Week

Send your Angler Reports to BFishing@AZGFD.gov – one will be featured as Catch of the Week

rm-trout-featured

Richard J.’s son caught this 16-inch rainbow trout at Red Mountain Lake, a Community Fishing Program water in Mesa, on green PowerBait.  “My 4-year-old son literally asks me every day if we can go fishing,” Richard said. “Of course the answer is ‘yes.'”

See all the Angler Reports

 

Public fishing events

Free fishing clinics, loaner rods are provided, bait is free, and no license is required to those who register during event hours.

Saturday, Jan. 28 — Family Fishing Day, 8 a.m. – noon, Red Mountain Lake (7745 E. Brown Rd., Mesa).

The lake will be stocked prior to the event with 420 pounds of trout.

See the full schedule

Nets and waders: Working for you

This new section will periodically show what our fisheries biologists have been doing in the field to improve fishing in Arizona.

Despite low water level,
Alamo Lake fish populations thriving
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Largemouth bass from a fall survey.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has completed its annual fall electrofishing trend survey of Alamo Lake in December. Despite some of the lowest water levels since Alamo Lake was constructed in 1968, the fish population is doing well.  The physical condition of largemouth bass appears to have improved during the past several years.

A large number of young-of-year and age-1 largemouth bass were captured in the 2016 survey – we hope these fish will provide a bright future for the lake’s largemouth bass fishery.

All of the fish were collected, weighed, measured, and released unharmed.  A total of 2,891 were captured in 16 survey stations, of which 255 were largemouth bass.  The largest sampled was 19.9 inches and 4.6 pounds.  Forage fish (threadfin shad, blue tilapia, and bluegill) comprised 89 percent of the total catch and should provide abundant food for the lake’s sportfish.

Stocking report

Rainbow trout

Thursday, Jan. 12 — Colorado River (Willow Beach). Read more. Wednesday, Jan. 11 and Thursday, Jan. 12 — All Community waters scheduled to be stocked with trout this week (marked with a “T” on the schedule) were stocked with larger-than-average trout. Thursday, Jan. 5 — Dankworth Ponds, Roper Lake, Cluff Reservoir # 3. Wednesday, Jan. 4 — Parker Canyon Lake.

Next week: we’re scheduled to stock the Verde River (Clarkdale to Camp Verde), Somerton Ponds, Yuma West Wetlands Pond, Pena Blanca Lake, Lower Salt River, Canyon Lake and Saguaro Lake. (Stockings at Canyon and Saguaro scheduled for this week have been moved to next week.)

See the full schedule.

 

SEE THE FULL REPORT

Rainbow trout stocking restarts at Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery

Willow Beach, Ariz. – After a three-year hiatus, catchable-sized rainbow trout from Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery (NFH) will return to Colorado River waters downstream of Las Vegas.

The hatchery will release 2,500 rainbow trout into the cold waters below Davis Dam on Jan. 12. The trout measure up to 12 inches long.  Davis Camp and Bullhead City Park will be stocked once more in January, three times in February, four times in March, and once in April, for a total of 25,000 rainbow trout.

During the three-year hiatus of trout coming from the hatchery, the AZGFD continued stockings made possible by donations from local pest abatement districts.

Willow Beach trout stocking schedule

The Willow Beach area immediately downstream of the hatchery will be also stocked with 1,000 rainbow trout every Friday starting Feb. 3.

This weekly stocking schedule will continue year-round. See all the stocking schedules.

Rainbow trout production recently restarted at Willow Beach NFH after securing a reliable water source. A new pump and conveyance system delivers cold water to the federal fisheries facility that is needed by trout for proper growth.

Serving Arizona trout anglers

 

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Trout stockings on the Colorado River continue. On Monday, Dec. 19, there were 5,000 pounds of rainbow trout stocked into the Colorado River in three spots from Davis Camp to Rotary Park. The next trout stocking on Jan. 12 will come from the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery. It will be the hatchery’s first stocking in several years thanks to the completion of a new water intake system.

“It gives me no small delight to see rainbow trout come back into production at Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery,” said Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Region. “Many concerned folks put their shoulder to the wheel to see this through—to design and build a new water conveyance system, and jump-start trout production with fish from our state partners. The hatchery once again serves the angling public.”

The first batches of rainbow trout to be stocked were secured by a partnership with the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD). The hatchery has also started raising rainbow trout from the egg stage again.  In December of 2016, more than 110,000 rainbow trout eggs arrived from Ennis National Fish Hatchery in Montana. Those eggs have since hatched and quickly transformed into young trout to be stocked later.

About Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery

The hatchery, built in 1959, is located 12 miles downstream of Hoover Dam on the Arizona side of the Colorado River. It is one of 70 other such facilities in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Fish Hatchery System.

See more information about fishing in Arizona

Weekend Roundup: Angler Reports

Send your fishing reports and pictures to BFishing@AZGFD.gov — one that includes a photo will be featured as Catch of the Week

Here’s the latest from your fellow anglers:

Verde River

The Verde River is a lesser-known spot that has some of the best winter fishing in Arizona.
The Verde River is a lesser-known spot that has some of the best winter fishing in Arizona.

Steve G. of Flagstaff with a Sonoran sucker (23 inches, pictured) and a roundtail chub (18 inches).

 

Becker Lake

James B.: Went fishing last weekend at Becker. The latest (in the year) I have ever fished. There was skim ice Friday and Saturday and not fishable, but Sunday afternoon the wind and sun pushed the ice off . My buddy and I caught several in the 18-inch range and one of more than 22 inches. Using red San Juan worms and large simi seal leeches in several colors. Bald eagle was out fishing, too!

Big Lake

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Mike R.: Wednesday, Dec. 14, cutthroat trout using nightcrawlers from shore.

Editor’s note: As of Monday, Big Lake was completely iced-over. This time of year, certain lakes in the high country might have certain degrees of ice cover on any given day. 

 

Red Mountain Lake

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Jim E.: This is the first keeper largemouth I ever caught at Red Mt. after about 15 years.  I had hooked a shad and ended up using it as bait and caught it. It was a nice experience for me because it was my birthday  — Monday, Dec. 12.  Not sure of the weight but someone that is familiar with bass might give an estimate from the picture. Happy Holidays.

See more about fishing in Arizona