Top picks this week are striped bass at night at Lake Pleasant, trout fishing on the creeks below the Mogollon Rim and at Silver Creek (regulations are catch-and-keep with bait and a six-trout daily limit — the upper section is closed to fishing) and throwing top-water lures early at Lake Mohave.
But don’t count out going for walleye (along with a mixed bag of species) at Show Low Lake or Fool Hollow Lake.
Catch of the Week
Send your fishing reports and photos to BFishing@AZGFD.gov — one will be selected as Catch of the Week.
Rose Canyon Lake
Mike C. and a group of anglers caught this mess of rainbow trout at Rose Canyon Lake near Tucson last Saturday (Aug. 5). Mike said the action came during the morning with PowerBait (green, rainbow, orange) and 18-inch leaders. The group reported landing about 20 in a few hours worth of work.
By Saturday, we’re scheduled to have stocked the following this week (sign up for I Support Wildlife for real-time and confirmed stocking reports): Rainbow trout Fool Hollow Lake, Show Low Lake, Silver Creek, East Fork Black River, Bear Canyon Lake, Canyon Creek, East Verde River, Haigler Creek, Tonto Creek, Willow Springs Lake, Woods Canyon Lake, Dogtown Lake, Kaibab Lake.
Previous stockings Rainbow trout
Friday, Aug. 4 — East Verde River, East Fork Black River, Silver Creek, Woods Canyon Lake, Canyon Creek. Thursday, Aug. 3 — Tonto Creek, Haigler Creek, Show Low Creek. Wednesday, Aug. 2 — Show Low Creek, Canyon Creek. Tuesday, Aug. 1 — Rose Canyon Lake. See all the stocking schedules
Save time, buy online
Grab a license online (that helps conserve all species of wildlife, not to mention provides funding that goes back into fishing opportunities) and go.
The transition to spring fishing conditions is finally setting in — time to get out and fish!
Let’s get to some highlights:
It’s crappie time! The spawn at San Carlos has been underway for the past few weeks and there have been excellent reports. The crappie spawn is just getting underway at Roosevelt Lake. Male crappie are in shallow areas of the lake; some females are moving onto spawning flats.
Striped bass catch rates are picking up at Lake Pleasant. Check out a report from guest contributor Barry Worman of the Arizona Striper Fishing Facebook page.
The 300 road is open to the Woods Canyon Lake turnoff. Store and boat rentals are open. Campgrounds won’t open until May. A recent survey found lots of rainbow and tiger trout winter carry-overs averaging around 11-12 inches , and rainbow trout are being stocked this week. We saw full stringers this week before it was even stocked — fish are hungry and biting hooks.
We stocked bass (yes — bass!) and crappie this week into “core” Community waters. See the schedule.
Recently-stocked brown trout have been hitting at Lynx Lake. One angler hooked a bunch of ’em on 1.5 inch-crappie tubes on the southern shore of the lake.
Wednesday, April 5 — Chaparral Lake, Riverview Lake, Red Mountain Lake, Veterans Oasis Lake, Copper Sky Lake, Silverbell Lake, Kennedy Lake, Sahuarita Lake, Lakeside Lake, Surprise Lake, Rio Vista Pond, Pioneer Lake, Steele Indian School Pond, Encanto Lake, Desert West Lake, Alvord Lake, Papago Ponds, Evelyn Hallman Pond, Desert Breeze Lake, Tempe Kiwanis Lake, Bonsall Park.
Friday, April 7 — Tonto Creek, East Verde River, Canyon Creek.
Thursday, April 6 — Tonto Creek, Christopher Creek, Haigler Creek, Russell Tank, Lower Lake Mary, Dogtown Reservoir.
Tuesday, April 4 — Becker Lake, Scott Reservoir, Rainbow Lake, Fool Hollow Lake, Goldwater Lake, Rose Canyon Lake, Dogtown Reservoir.
Send your fishing reports and photos to BFishing@azgfd.gov — one will be selected as Catch of the Week
Dave P. caught this Big Fish of the Year, catch-and-release smallmouth bass from Roosevelt Lake on March 21 that measured 23 1/2 inches and weighed 5.96 pounds. Caught on a Kalin’s triple threat grub (John Deere color).
Time to strip the old line off the reels, get your lucky hat on, and get spring fishing!
The last month the striper bite as not been ideal and very inconsistent. The water temps really did not climb or maintain a warmer temperature for the month of March. The water temp at Lake Pleasant is finally staying in the 64-67-degree range.
The females are full of fully developed eggs and the males are leaking.
Lake Pleasant striper catch rate on the rise
The last week the bite has really improved. Whereas last month most anglers reported only catching and average of 3-7 fish daily, that has now increased to 11-30 (or more) fish during a trip.
Last month live shad seemed to be the only consistent method producing fish on a slow bite. Lately anglers are reporting frozen anchovies, silver Kastmasters, plastic swimbaits, and top-water lures as producing good results.
I think the next 2-3 weeks will produce moderate-to-good fishing conditions for striper. Northern coves are still recommended for best results.
Anglers are catching fish in 20-48 feet of total water depth and still having success cast-netting shad in 4-8 feet of water.
Recommended swimbait colors would be sexy shad, white, smoking grey, money shot and baits with some chartreuse color in them. The night bite is slowly picking up and night fishing will become more popular moving into future months. If using anchovies, don’t forget to chum.
The new fish stocking season has begun in the Flagstaff and Williams region. That will include Lower Lake Mary, which has the highest water levels since 2010. Having been partially replenished, this 450-acre lake in Flagstaff is basically a new fishery.
We’ll be stocking some large rainbow trout into Lower Mary on Thursday, March 9 to kick things off.
And Lower Mary will grow ’em quickly.
This is Lower Mary on Monday after our fisheries biologists checked water quality:
The lake’s no more than half full, and with possible snow in this region through May, the lake levels likely will continue rising.
Your bait of choice? Make sure you have some worms in your arsenal. Earthworms tend to flee from their underground dwellings during heavy rains.
“There’s a lot of nutrients when Lower Mary fills, but this time of year they’re feeding on earthworms,” said AZGFD Wildlife Specialist Chuck Benedict. “You’re going from 30 acres of ground cover (before the winter) to a full 950 acres of cover if it fills. That’s a lot of earthworms that are coming out.”
Upper Lake Mary is still spilling.
Regular trout stockings for the White Mountains and Rim Lakes typically resume in April/May.
Some other updates:
Goldwater Lake, Fain Lake, Deadhorse lagoons
All are scheduled to be stocked this week.
Frances Short Pond, Oak Creek, Kaibab Lake
Our Page Springs Hatchery stocked Frances Short and Oak Creek this week. When Kaibab Lake stops spilling over, it will be stocked as well.
The road is not open and it has not yet been stocked.
Rob T. said, “Bite is non-existent! Not for a lack of fish nor a lack of anglers. Not even a bite. Nobody I saw or talked to fishing from shore had a bite either. I saw plenty of nice sized fish on the sonar deep but lock-jaw has set in. Water temp running 40-41 degrees and the lake is full and going down the spillway nicely. Here are a few shots from the launch ramp and then next email will have some sonar shots.”
The lake has been closed due to upstream Salt River debris.
In western Arizona, Alamo Lake resembles a chocolate milkshake as the lake has risen 13 feet in two days.
Shore anglers might have a chance to avoid debris — but not stained/muddy water. Boaters might have a difficult time avoiding floating debris — boat with extreme caution. The Salt River at Roosevelt was running at 3,934 cfs on Wednesday afternoon (2,978 at Tonto Creek at Rosy).
Update from Tonto National Forest: Forest Road 19, leading to Bartlett Lake, reopened Wednesday.
The following recreation sites have reopened to the public:
Bartlett Flat Campground
Yellow Cliffs Boat Launch
Rattlesnake Cove Picnic Area
SB Cove Shoreline Site
Jojoba Boat Launch
Phon D. Sutton, Coon Bluff, and Granite Reef Picnic Sites along the Lower Salt River have also been reopened for day use.
The Horseshoe Dam Road, Forest Road 205, leading to Horseshoe Reservoir and the following recreation sites remain closed:
Both Forest Road 20, leading to Needle Rock and Box Bar, and Lower Sycamore Road, Forest Road 1847/403 remain closed until the water recedes and road conditions improve.
This was the Verde River Wednesday afternoon at the Beeline Highway Bridge (by Fort McDowell):
OK, back to hooking fish. Water temperatures at many desert impoundments are hovering at or above 58 degrees, the mark that typically triggers pre-spawn bass activity.
Community fishing. The final scheduled trout stockings of the winter-spring season will take place the week of March 6. Catfish will return to Community waters the week of March 20.
Repairs at Rio Vista Pond have been completed. We were not able to stock the pond last week as scheduled due to the repairs — those fish went to Pioneer Lake i Peoria — but do plan on stocking it next week.
At Apache Lake this week, we determined a threadfin shad die-off was due to high numbers of golden algae. We continue monitoring the situation.
Alamo Lake rose 13 feet in two days and on March 1 was at 1,118 feet in elevation. Mark Knapp from Alamo Lake State Park said when the lake is done rising the main ramp should open. Cholla ramp is open, but there are log jams all over and fishing is poor. But in one month, fishing should be incredible. Get ready.
White Mountains regional updates. Accessible lakes as of Feb. 28 include Willow Springs Lake, but it is walk-in only (road is snow packed) and ice is thin and unsafe. The gate is closed. Sardine Point is open, but the road is snow packed. Fishing at Fool Hollow Lake is fair. There’s no ice and rainbow trout are being caught. Fishing pier and platforms are accessible. Northern pike should be congregating to spawn this time of year; try throwing Rapala lures or streamers in shallow coves. Northern pike spawn and congregate in weedy shallow coves. Also, there’s no ice at Show Low Lake, Woodland Lake, and Becker Lake. Big Lake is still inaccessible and has extremely thin, unsafe ice. Best bet in this region remains Silver Creek. See the full report.
(Send your Angler Reports to BFishing@AZGFD.gov – one will be featured as Catch of the Week)
Well this one was easy. Sue Nowak caught this 21-inch, 6.28-pound smallmouth bass that is a Colorado River waters hook-and-line state record. She caught it around noon on Thursday, Feb. 23 with a dropshot-rigged True Image mini shaker lemonade worm. She was fishing with Shaun Bailey’s Guide Service in Lake Havasu City.
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, March 11 — Family and Community Fishing Event, 8 a.m. – noon, Roper Lake State Park (101 E. Roper Lake Rd., Safford). For more information please contact Kelly Wright at Roper Lake State Park at (928) 428-6760 or the Sport Fishing Education Program at (623) 236-7240.
Heavy rains and run-off has Horseshoe Dam flowing, Kaibab Lake spilling and anglers dreaming of spring.
Fishing likely will be unpredictable with changing conditions. Another heavy storm is predicted statewide for Saturday and Sunday. Fish react to conditions and anglers must react to the fish. Anchor up to this rule: find the bait, find the fish.
Water is being let out of Horseshoe Lake, and Bartlett Lake is now at 95 percent full — up three feet since Tuesday. This featured image is from 2005 at Horseshoe Dam — the last time we had similar high rains and run-off:
A new moon is coming Feb. 26, so maybe plan to fish at night with submersible lights that weekend. With some stable weather, that weekend could be prime for great striper fishing at lakes such as Pleasant, Mead and Mohave.
Finally, at Pena Blanca Lake, the lake is full and water quality problems have improved — trout stockings are finally underway. It’s scheduled to be stocked the week of Feb. 27.
Thursday, Feb. 9 — Saguaro Lake, Canyon Lake; Wednesday, Feb. 8 — Fortuna Pond; Tuesday, Feb. 7 — La Paz County Park Lagoon, and Pond, Cluff Res. #3, Roper Lake, Dankworth Ponds; Monday, Feb. 6 — Goldwater (upper), Dead Horse Lake, Verde River (middle).
Next week: We’re scheduled to stock the Dead Horse Lakes, Goldwater Lake, Saguaro Lake, Red Mountain Lake, Cluff Pond, Dankworth Pond, Parker Canyon Lake, and Roper Lake.
Justin M. fly-fished the Lower Salt River on Friday. The river is scheduled to be stocked with trout next week and was flowing at 13 cfs below Saguaro Mountain Dam on Tuesday.
Try the Phon D. Sutton, Water Users or Granite Reef Recreation Areas.
Justin M. said, “I have been fishing the Salt River the past six weeks or so on every Friday. Most of the time I’m fishing at Water Users and have had success every outing. All I do is fly fish anymore and have caught quite a few bass and lots of bluegill
For the bass, my most productive flies have been AZ simi seal leeches in canadian black, halloween, blood red and olive. Another productive fly pattern has been cheechs low fat minnow. Its a bluegill imitation.
For the bluegill, on warmer days I’ve done fairly well getting them on the surface with a beetle imitation. Other productive flies i’ve had great success with is a hares ear soft hackle pattern I tied up. The only time I tried for trout was a couple of weeks ago when it was raining and cooler.
Fished below the bridge using the hares ear soft hackle and caught and released 14 trout in a matter of a couple of hours. I have talked to other anglers on my outings and have been told that they were having luck with nightcrawlers, small spinners, and one fella was doing well for bass on dropshot with a green Roboworm.”
Brian S.: Temps are warming up and in a few areas the bass are moving up, however most are still caught deep. This beauty was caught in 35 feet with a hinged spinnerbait with a zoom fluke trailer.
Utilizing sonar electronics is critical for deep water fishing. Find them, mark a way point and slowly work your baits into the strike zone. Pay attention to your sonar through the entire process because once you entice one to bite, have your angling buddy be ready with a flutter spoon or Kastmaster as you may find you just ignited a school of them. Hopefully your angling buddy is ready with the net as well.
Now’s the time make a strategic plan to set that state record. See where we think the next AZ state record might come from.
Snow melt is still finding its way into lakes such as Bartlett Lake, where on Wednesday surface water temperatures ranged from 49-51 degrees — too cold even for crappie to move in shallow.
But we are on the cusp of some great fishing. Lakes such as Alamo and Bartlett remain stained and muddied, but with a week or two of sunny, calm weather, rods will be bending.
Crappie anglers might have to wait a couple more weeks until action picks up for these panfish delights – they remain deep at most lakes and mostly inactive. Similar deal with bass.
Meanwhile, it’s still trout time in Community waters. Some big trout have been hooked (and hopefully cooked) the past few weeks. Hot spots seem to be Desert Breeze Lake in Chandler, Tempe Kiwanis and Surprise Lake.
Silver Creek in the White Mountains is fishing great for big trout if you can stand the beard-frosting cold and can find the right holes:
(Send your Angler Reports to BFishing@AZGFD.gov – one will be featured as Catch of the Week)
Karrie R. caught this 22-pound flathead catfish from shore at Lake Pleasant on Thursday, Jan. 26 using a dropshot rig with a worm. “It was definitely cold,” she said, “but worth the catch! Also caught an 8-pound carp and 3-pound channel catfish.”
At free fishing clinics, loaner rods are provided, bait is free, and no license is required to those who register during event hours.
Saturday, Feb. 4 — Youth Family Fishing Day, 9 a.m. – noon, Anthem Community Park (41703, N. Gavilan Peak Pkwy.) 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.
Our fish biologists conserve wildlife, provide sport-fish opportunities — and sometimes snowmobile! This video shows Jan. 25 surveys to Big, Crescent and Lee Valley lakes in the White Mountains.
Biologists checked dissolved oxygen levels under the ice at Lee Valley and Crescent to predict a fish die-off due to low oxygen. Ice conditions were checked on all lakes, and ice was unsafe, especially at Big Lake.
Rainbow trout Thursday, Jan. 26 and Friday, Jan. 27 — Canyon Lake, Saguaro Lake, all “core” waters except Rio Vista, as well as Patterson Ponds, and Green Valley lakes. Tuesday, Jan. 24 — Pena Blanca Lake, Council Ave. Pond, Yuma West Wetlands Pond. Monday, Jan. 23 — Lower Salt River, Verde River (middle).
Next week: We’re scheduled to stock Deadhorse Lakes, Goldwater Lake, Canyon Lake, Cluff Pond, Dankworth Pond, Pena Blanca Lake, Fortuna Pond and Redondo Pond.