Tag Archives: arizona fishing

Weekly Fishing Report: The Reel Deal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Silver Creek seasonal trout fishery opens Oct. 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Colorado River (Picacho State Park to Imperial Dam)

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

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

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

Pena Blanca Lake

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

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

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

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

Patagonia Lake

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

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

Fortuna Pond, Yuma

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

Bartlett Lake

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

Lake Pleasant

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

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

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


Weekly Fishing Report: The Reel Deal

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

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

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

Read all about the catch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Angler reports

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

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

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






Silver Creek seasonal trout fishery opens Oct. 1

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

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

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

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

See the full report.

Angler Reports, June 24, 2014

Mogollon Rim/Roosevelt Lake

June 21 abbreviated report from Jim Goughnour of Rim Country Custom Rods:

IMG_3756Roosevelt Lake water level dropped another 1% this past week and currently stands at 45% full. The Tonto Creek has stopped flowing the Salt River is flowing at 40% of its normal rate for this time of year.

The water temperature is increasing with morning temperatures in the low 80s increasing to the mid-to-high 80s during the afternoon.

The water clarity increased this past week and is now being called clear or slightly stained depending on where you’re fishing on the lake. The Tonto end of the lake is reported to be more clear than the Salt River end.

Bass fishing was called good this past week. Post-spawn bass are still chasing shad on the surface, but that bite clearly slowed this past week. The best success was reported this past week on Texas-rig and Carolina rig 6-inch green lizards.

A dropshot technique using a morning dawn or camo-colored Roboworm and a weightless Senko were also reported successful.

Most anglers reported fishing main lake points in 15-25 feet water.

The best time to fish reported this past week was the late afternoon until dark when the fish begin moving to shallow water. One experienced angler reported a good jerk bait bite in shallow water that lasted from sunset until after dark.

Crappie reported “fair” at Roosevelt

Night time crappie fishing was reported to be fair this past week. The moon phase should make small jigs and small spinnerbaits effective this week, but most anglers prefer to use live minnows for night time crappie fishing.

Rim trout fishing

If you haven’t made a trip onto the Rim for some trout fishing, you need to make plans. The Rim lakes are well stocked and anglers are having great success.

Lots of baits were reported successful this past week. So just about any trout bait you like to fish will catch trout. Fly anglers are gradually switching to dry flies as many insects can now be seen on the surface.

If you’re a fly angler, the old adage of matching the hatch will apply to the rim trout lakes. Now if you are camping this weekend, please read the AZGFD website related to the level II fire restrictions. The forest is extremely dry in most areas so be extremely careful.
Have a great week of fishing and I hope see you on the water.

Saguaro Lake

Jim F. of Tempe had fun with a summer-pattern bass at Saguaro Lake: Looks like the good summer fishing patterns are finally here. My buddy and I hit Saguaro slightly before first light on Saturday (June 21) and caught well over a dozen nice bass within a couple of hours.

All were caught on top-water lures and all attacked the bait voraciously. We mainly used Zara Spooks, but also got a couple of hits using a medium-sized frog.

After the top-water action fell off we went into a cove and threw jerk baits for a while. My buddy hooked up on a good sized bluegill and as he brought it near the boat a really big bass inhaled the bluegill.
Apparently most of the treble hooks were in the bluegill, because as he brought it up to the top of the water the bass opened his mouth and slid away. Maybe we’ll get him next time!
Anyway, the bite is on, so get out there and have a blast like we did.

Canyon Lake

CanyonLakeBiggieI caught this monster bass on a shad about 7am last Thursday. Don’t know how much he weighed but, I’ll get a scale now. Cory Kunselman

Roper Lake

RoperLakefishHi, my name is Mike M. and I took the kids fishing on Roper Lake June 19-21. It was great. We caught 22 largemouth total. The first eight were caught Thursday afternoon ‘till dark. All eight were a pound or less.

On Friday, 12 more were caught, and four of them in the 2-3-pound range, and the other eight were less than that. Fished from 6 a.m. -12, than again after 4:30 p.m. ‘till 7 p.m.

On Saturday morning, we only caught two in the morning from 8 a.m.-9 a.m. from the shore. All the other fish were caught from a 12-foot jon boat. All fish were caught on a shallow crankbait, the same one but two different colors.

Lake Pleasant

PleasantStriperLook at these striper I caught at Lake Pleasant June 17. Do not know how much they weigh, but they were big…. got them on anchovies about 30 feet down.

Tempe Town Lake

Brothers J.C. and Scott always do relatively well on Tempe Town Lake. Key is to get there at first light. We fished the east end of the lake by the small dam Thursday, and caught at least one of every type fish in the lake, except for trout.

Large and smallmouth bass, bluegill, several nice catfish, and a 12-pound carp. All were hitting on Mepps minnow spinners and red/white striped spoons.

JC said. “I must have bounced the red and white spoon right in front of the carp, as it’s unusual for them to hit lures. Had a great 15-minute battle to wear him down and get him in the net. He barely fit! We caught 13 fish, all released, within the first two hours. Then it slowed steadily as the day warmed up. One of the nicer bass is pictured above, by Scott. You don’t need to get out of town to catch fish, just get up early and hit the local lakes.”


Take your family fishing on Arizona’s Free Fishing Day

PHOENIX — You can fish Arizona waters for free this Saturday, making this an ideal time to take the family out for some fun and relaxing outdoor recreation.

Arizona’s Free Fishing Day will be celebrated on June 7 this year as part of National Fishing and Boating Week. This Saturday, no fishing licenses are required for persons fishing any public waters in Arizona.

“Whether you’re an experienced angler who wants to introduce a newcomer to the sport, or someone who’s always been interested but never took that next step, this is an ideal time to gather up some friends and family members and head out to your nearest community lake, or head up to the cooler country to fish a lake or stream,” said Nick Walter, editor of the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Weekly Fishing Report.

Remember that bag limits and other fishing regulations are in full effect and must be observed on Free Fishing Days. Kids under the age of 10 can fish for free all year long in Arizona, so this special fishing license exemption day means that the older kids and parents get a free pass for the day. Try fishing — you’ll like it!

The Arizona Game and Fish Department will also sponsor some Free Fishing Day clinics/events to give people the opportunity to try out this fun, family-oriented pastime. Loaner fishing rods, bait and instruction are provided for free at most of these venues.

In addition, as part of National Get Outdoors Day on June 14, the Coronado National Forest will waive the day-use fees associated with many recreation sites or amenities on the forest in celebration of this day.

Times and locations of events are:

  • Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Saturday, June 7, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Phoenix):

    Lake Pleasant Regional Park will be providing loaner fishing gear and some bait. No registration is required, although there is a $6-per-vehicle park entry fee. Once inside the park, simply follow the program signs.

  • Dunton Fort Rock Ranch, Saturday, June 7, 7 a.m. to noon. (Near Kingman):

    This “Fishing for Smiles” event is open to kids 5-15 years. Kids must bring a parent. Lunch and refreshments are provided. Use loaner equipment, or bring your own rod and reel. Registration is available at the KRMC Kids Day at the Kingman Regional Medical Center (Saturday, May 31, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), or pre-registration is available at: Bob Kay State Farm Inc., 2425 Hualapai Mtn. Rd.; East Side Shell, 2901 E. Andy Devine; or Arizona Game and Fish Department Kingman regional office on 5325 Stockton Hill Rd. To get to Dunton Fort Rock Ranch, drive east on I-40 to Fort Rock Rd. (exit 91), turn left, and drive about 200 yards to Dunton Fort Rock Ranch. Go through the gate and follow the signs. For more information, contact Bob Kay at (928) 718-9500 or Bill Shilling at (928) 279-9201.

  • Goldwater Lake, Saturday, June 7, 9 a.m. to noon. (Near Prescott)

    During this fishing clinic, loaner rods and reels will be provided, bait will be available, and no fishing license is required for those who register. An Arizona Game and Fish Department expert will be on hand to tie knots and answer any fishing-related questions. Goldwater is scheduled to be stocked May 26-June 1.

  • Parker Canyon Lake, Saturday, June 14, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Near Sierra Vista)

    The Sierra Vista Ranger District will celebrate National Get Outdoors Day at Parker Canyon Lake from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. National Get Outdoors Day is intended to encourage children to recreate outdoors, and all activities will be free of charge. Day-use fees will be waived. Visitors are encouraged to contact the Sierra Vista Ranger District at (520) 378-0311 to determine which recreation sites have fees waived, and if concessionaires will charge fees.

Community Fishing Bulletin, June 2, 2014

Catfish stocking cancelled at Water Ranch Lake due to golden alga

As part of routine water testing, the town of Gilbert’s contracted lake consulting company detected golden alga in last week’s water sample. The lake was promptly treated with an approved algaecide to control the golden alga bloom.

Golden alga is a microscopic plankton that, generally at high levels, releases toxins that can be lethal to fish. Present in Phoenix area lakes since 2005, the lethal algae poses no risk to humans or pets. A follow-up test on May 28 showed low levels of golden alga were still present in the lake water. Another treatment is scheduled for the lake to try to knock out this pesky algae. Catfish stockings for Water Ranch Lake are suspended until follow-up tests are negative for golden alga.

Anglers are reminded to take precautions to not move any water, live fish or wet objects from lake to lake. Remember to clean, drain and dry all items that come in contact with the lake water before moving to another lake.

Spring trout stocking season winding down

Rising temperatures signals that the end of the spring catfish stocking season is coming soon. There are only two catfish stockings left: one was the week of May 26-31, and another the week of June 9-14. There are no fish stockings scheduled between June 15 through September 14 for any of the CFP lakes and ponds.

Catfish stockings for CFP waters will resume the week of September 15-20.

See the CFP stocking schedule.

The new expansion waters will also receive one final spring stocking of catfish and bluegill. These will be stocked the week of June 2-7. These waters include the new additions in Yuma, Maricopa, Gilbert, Scottsdale, Phoenix and Glendale. For more information about these waters and fishing regulations visit our website at www.azgfd.gov.

Do your part and turn in poachers!

Call Operation GAME THIEF (1-800-352-0700)

We need your help in catching poachers. Fishing without a license and taking too many fish are common violations. This interferes with our ability to manage fishing lakes and reduces YOUR opportunities to catch fish.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Operation Game Thief is an anti-poaching program that encourages the public to report any suspicious activity or knowledge about a poaching violation. A toll-free hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-352-0700, or the information can be reported on the Department’s website (www.azgfd.gov).

Your report can remain CONFIDENTIAL upon request, and REWARDS of up to $8,000 are available for information leading to an arrest. Do your part in helping the Department by reporting poachers.

Arizona Game and Fish rescues more than a half-million trout from Sterling Springs Fish Hatchery

With Slide Fire raging nearby, fingerling trout transported to safety

SEDONA, Ariz.—With the Slide Fire bearing down on Sterling Springs Fish Hatchery, the Arizona Game and Fish Department on Saturday, May 25, rescued some 600,000 trout fingerlings from the hatchery and transported them to safe sites.

The Sterling Springs Fish Hatchery typically produces 1.6 million eggs annually. In addition, the hatchery is responsible for 68 percent of the trout production for stocking in state waters. The emergency fish rescue operation that began at 6 a.m. helped ensure Arizonans will have trout to catch, and protected a portion of threatened, native Apache trout.

Four trucks made two trips each to transport more than 350,000 rainbow trout and 150,000 brown trout to Page Springs Hatchery, as well as more than 80,000 Apache trout to Canyon Creek Hatchery. Another 200,000-plus fry remain in Sterling Springs Hatchery tanks, too small to move, yet relatively protected.


Before the rescue, the Slide Fire incident management team ensured the hatchery was safe enough to allow Game and Fish personnel to enter and exit with minimal risk.

“Wednesday afternoon, things were getting pretty bad close to here,” said Bryce Sisson, manager at the Sterling Springs Fish Hatchery. “We could see flames less than a quarter mile from the hatchery that afternoon when we left. A helicopter was dropping water real close to the hatchery. It was looking pretty scary on Wednesday.”

Water for the hatchery is delivered through a pipeline more than 1 mile long. Any fire compromise to the pipeline, which is fragile and above ground, would have quickly killed fish. Also, when monsoons come, water delivery again is at risk from a potential overland flow of ash, silt and debris that could put all trout in the hatchery runways at risk.

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:


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.


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.


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.


(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!


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.

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.

Community Fishing Program waters to be unveiled beginning Jan. 1

PHOENIX — The motto of the program is, “If people can’t get to the fish, we’ll bring fish to the people.” Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, even more fish will be brought to the people — the Arizona Game and Fish Department will introduce 15 waters to the newly renamed Community Fishing Program (CFP).

These waters will come in addition to the current 21 waters. This means these new waters will begin receiving their first catchable stockings under the CFP name.

The new waters are:

Two newly built lakes, Pioneer Lake in Peoria, and Copper Sky Lake in Maricopa

On Jan. 4, from 9 a.m. to noon, there will be a kickoff event for Pioneer Lake in Peoria, which will be stocked with trout in advance. The event will include a free fishing clinic with loaner rods and bait. The grand opening for Copper Sky Lake in Maricopa will be March 15.

Eight existing park ponds of 2-6 acres in the greater Phoenix area

They are: Bonsall Pond in Glendale, Granada Ponds and Roadrunner Pond in Phoenix, Eldorado Pond and McKellips Pond in Scottsdale, Discovery Ponds and McQueen Pond in Gilbert, and Pacana Pond in Maricopa. These waters will all be stocked on a day to be named in mid-February.

Tempe Town Lake.

Monthly trout stockings from November through March will continue.

Four Yuma-area waters: They are: West Wetlands Pond, Council Avenue Pond (in Somerton), Fortuna Lake and Redondo Lake

These ponds will continue to receive winter trout stockings, but will now receive catfish stockings in April, June (including bluegill), and October.

Riverview Lake in Mesa.

The newly rebuilt and enlarged Riverview Lake will rejoin the CFP after taking two years off and will again be stocked every two weeks. On Jan. 25 from 2-6 p.m., there will be a grand opening for the park and Cubs Park spring training site called “Double Play at the Park – Cubs Park and Riverview Park.” The event will include kids and family activities, shuttle rides around the complex, entertainment, tours of the stadium and more. Arizona Game and Fish will provide loaner rods and bait to fish for stocked trout in the lake.

All of these locations will be marked by new signage in the next few months. Meanwhile, 20 of the original urban fishing waters will continue to be managed and stocked annually with fish in the same amounts, every two weeks from September to June.

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 will be available at more than 300 license dealer locations and Game and Fish offices by Friday, Dec. 20. The guidebooks are free.

In addition, thanks to a simplified license structure that will take effect Jan. 1, all of the following licenses will work for the CFP lakes and ponds – Community Fishing, General Fishing, Youth Combination Hunt and Fish (ages 10-17 and is only $5) and Combination Hunt and Fish (18 and over).

To fish any of the 36 Community Fishing waters, kids under age 10 fish for free. Youth ages 10-17 may fish with the $5 Youth Combo Hunt/Fish license. For adults 18 and over, choices include the Community Fishing license for $24 (good at the 36 CFP locations), the General Fishing license ($37 for residents, $55 for nonresidents, and good for state waters or CFP locations), or the Combo Hunt/Fish license ($57 for residents, $160 for nonresidents, and good for state waters or CFP locations).

The opening of the CFP is just part of some big changes beginning Jan. 1, including the new hunting and fishing license and fee structure.  See more information.

Rylee’s First Fish

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 bfishing@azgfd.gov, 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.

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

See more about Arizona Game & Fish Department videos.