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28 March Fishing Report

Posted in: Fishing Report
Mar 28, 2012
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Rory's tips:

Spring is definitely here and everything is kicking into high gear.

We just posted our spring-summer trout stocking schedule, with a little something extra. Or really, a lot extra. Click on the stream or lake on the schedule, and up will pop a Google map showing the fishery. Where appropriate, such as streams and rivers, the map also shows our stocking locations. No kidding! It's way cool. It is the brain child of Scott Gurtin who manages our hatchery system.

The full address is:

Way to go Scott!!!

Okay, if you are done playing with the stocking schedule, here's some more whiz-bang angler-friendly technology for you.

Remember our old interactive fishing map on our web site (that eventually died an ugly death)? Well, we've got a new online interactive fishing map and it's a dandy. Thanks to my buddy Eric Swanson, it's much, much better than the old one. This one is Google based and full of great information on 150 of Arizona's best lakes, streams and rivers. The address is:

Now when I mention some hot fishing spot or someplace to take the family or friends for a fishing expedition, you can go to the interactive fishing map and find out all about it. Or maybe Scott Gurtin's stocking report and find out where we stock trout, and when.

All this high-tech stuff just blows me away. It all makes it a lot easier to find the right place to go, or maybe, the new place to go to collect even more adventures.

Don't forget you can also get our official Arizona Fishing Guide published recently in a joint project with Arizona Highways magazine. In a way, I tried to provide not just how-to and where-to information, but also tried to capture the personality of the fishery as well.

Just visit any of our seven department offices, buy the fishing guide online from Arizona Highways or at, or purchase it at Barnes & Noble bookstores or Costco. Or you can come to our Game and Fish Outdoor Expo this weekend (March 31 and April 1) at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility on Carefree Highway (just west of I-17) and we'll have it for sale there, as will Arizona Highways (they have a booth). Plus, I will be hosting the fishing demonstration tank, so drop by, we can chat, and if you like, I will autograph your book.

Be sure to bring a passel of youngsters to this remarkable hands-on outdoor expo. Once again this year, we have doubled up and will have two kids fishing tanks set up.

Want to learn how to fillet fish? One of our retired fisheries biologists, Jim Warnecke, will be on hand to demonstrate how to fillet and cook fresh caught fish. JW makes the best fish tacos I have ever experienced.

A bunch of major firearms manufacturers will be at this activity-rich expo so you can try their latest and greatest for the nominal price of paying for the ammunition you expend. You don't need to bring your own eye and ear protection (we provide some), but it's not a bad idea to do so.

The cowboy action shooters (SAS) will be there, and you can cowboy-up and try their vintage firearms, or maybe step back even farther in time and try muzzleloaders (while humming Davey, Davey Crockett king of the wild frontier). If you don't know the tune from the old Disney TV series, try You Tube. Your kids (and grandkids) will love it -- mine do.

Don't miss the amazing mounted cowboy shooters. They have their own arena at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility. You might get to see some of the top contenders in the nation riding horses at a gallop while weaving through pylons and shooting balloons. It's exciting stuff. Be sure to ask them what they fire from those pistols to pop the balloons; you'll be surprised.

And right next door you can watch the remarkable rock crawling vehicles do astounding feats of, well, articulation of the non-verbal kind. We've set out a magnificent boulder field just for them to astound you.

And guess what? It can't get much easier on the pocket book -- there is no entry fee. There are, however, vendors with lots of good food to purchase if you get hungry. But don't expect to rush in and rush out -- it can take a full day to experience everything there. Maybe even both days. Lots of folks return for more.

Come and join us. With any luck, I'll see you there.

If you don't come to the Expo, it sounds like both Roosevelt and Alamo are great for crappie right now. Bass are spawning. Trout are rising. It's a fantastic time to catch some memories. Also, it looks like this might be the year for 3- to 5-pound largemouth bass at Lake Powell. Yep, you read that right. Check out Wayne's Words below.

Also for your radar screen, for the first time this season on the first week of April we are stocking trout in Tonto Creek, Christopher Creek, Haigler Creek and the East Verde River. So it's time to rig up those old cane poles and get into a Huck Finn state of mind.

Here's another tidbit. Dogtown Lake near Williams is open, has been stocked, and the campground is open.


URBAN FISHING -- All Urban Program lakes and ponds in the Phoenix and Tucson areas will be stocked with 1.5-pound average channel catfish on Friday, March 23.

Catfish sizes this spring are expected to be smaller than usual, according to our Arkansas-based contractor. Catfish will run from 14 to 18 inches in length, about 1 to 2 inches shorter than usual. Beginning with the spring season kick-off stocking, catfish will be stocked seven times through mid-June at rates averaging from 40 to 60 fish per acre. Over 13,000 pounds of Arkansas farm-raised catfish will be delivered and stocked into 20 Urban Fishing Program lakes every two weeks.

Daily limits are four catfish per person at Urban Lakes or two catfish per person at Urban Ponds (note    regulations and park signage for Lake and Pond designations).

All Urban Program waters will be stocked with feisty, 5- to 8-inch bluegill the week of March 26-31.

TEMPE TOWN LAKE – Anglers are catching bass close to structure such as the bridges. The south side was specifically mentioned, but the north side should do well for you too. Anglers are catching fish 10 to 20 yards beyond the shoreline. 

Overall, trout fishing has been slow, but it's still possible to catch one or two. Try night crawlers. 

LAKE PLEASANT -  Largemouth bass have been on beds in the shallow northern coves, and could be staging for the spawn throughout the lake.

Drop shot is pulling in a few fish in the northern coves. Water temps range from 53 in the open water to 57 in the coves. Archery anglers are waiting patiently for the carp to kick into high gear.

Not sure what is happening with the striped bass. They had been holding deep -- 60-feet-plus, at least in the main portion of the lake. Heard from a few anglers who fished the Agua Fria arm via Table Mesa Road (only open on Saturdays during March), and they did well on striped bass, largemouth bass and even a few crappie.

Maricopa County Parks, working collaboratively with Arizona Game and Fish, is allowing motorized vehicles towing small trailers/watercraft access to the shoreline for a limited time. The area is also open daily for walk-in access. The final day for motorized access follows:

  • Saturday, March 31 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

ROOSEVELT LAKE - Lake elevation is 2,122 feet and the lake level is 67 percent. Received mixed reports of success. Bass anglers said fishing was a little tough following the storm last week, but seemed to be picking up. Some crappie anglers couldn't hardly catch a fish, and others did well. 

Angler report:

Hi Rory,

Its' been a while since I sent you a fishing report. I took my best friend & his grandson to Rosy last week. We fished under the lights on the Salt end. We got 43 crappie & 34 bass on minnows & jigs in 2 nights. We don't care much for bass but the crappie are in the freezer.

The picture is a couple of 2 plus pounders We had 11 over 2 lbs. biggest was 2.5 Nothing ready to spawn yet but getting close.

I will be spending a lot of time up there now thru July so I'll get back to you from time to time.

I couldn't figure where to send the picture. I found a place for Urban waters pictures maybe that was it.

That’s all for today. We'll keep you in our prayers to the fish God also.

Don Stich   



APACHE - Lake elevation is 1,907 feet (93 percent full). No recent angler reports.  This is a good time of year for spawning largemouth bass. Please practice catch-and-release on spawners, especially smallmouth bass, to help this lake on the comeback trail.

CANYON - Lake elevation is 1,657 feet, which is 95 percent full. This is a tough lake to fish, especially for novice anglers, and even veteran anglers can expect low catch rates, but it is the land of the lunkers, especially during the bass spawn.

This is, however, a great place to catch channel catfish from shore. Catfishing will still be a little slow right now. Try using stink bait.

SAGUARO - Lake elevation is 1,524 feet at 94 percent full. Bass fishing has been on-again, off-again, but largemouth bass are in the spawn.

Saguaro is an early-bird lake for channel catfish. In fact, bass anglers sometimes catch them while working shad-like lures. Water releases are around 850 cfs.

BARTLETT – Lake elevation is 1,748 feet and it is 41-percent full. Launching is still difficult. The Jojoba Ramp has 5 feet of water, the marina 3 feet and the Yellow Cliffs minus one foot. Not hearing much from anglers, but Bartlett did get a nice jolt of runoff from the storm last week, which probably slowed down the bite and possibly the spawn -- temporarily. However, it should also increase the lake's productivity.

Angler report:

Hi Rory;

A buddy and I got to Bartlett around 11 a.m. and fished until 9 p.m.  The fishing was great.   We immediately hit a 2-3 lb largemouth trolling with shad swim bait.   We hooked another with a Roboworm around the sunken trees by the flats.   Around 3:30 p.m. the shad boils were EVERYWHERE and bass jumping after them.  We caught another 10 bass and crappie using lipless crankbait (shad) and casting in and around the boils. I couldn't believe the crappie were hitting these lures. One of the crappies was a giant. This was my second time fishing specifically for bass and crappie and had a great time.  Next time I'm going to have a scale and tape measure.

Take care and thank you for the great work :)



- Lake is empty. Water is being released at 200 cfs.

VERDE RIVER – Verde River flow at Tangle is 877 cubic feet per second, which is double the flows prior to the storm. Release from Bartlett Lake is 100 cfs. 
LOWER SALT RIVER (below Saguaro Lake) – They are releasing 850 cfs out of Stewart Mountain Dam from Saguaro. Stocked last week with trout and scheduled to be stocked the second week of April. Trout fishing should be decent on night crawlers, small spinners, casting spoons such as KastMasters and flies. This is a unique desert river trout fishery in the Upper Sonoran Desert. It's a great place to catch some excellent memories.

CREEKS – Tonto Creek, Christopher Creek, Haigler Creek and the East Verde River are all scheduled to be stocked for the first time this year during the first week of April. Plus, there may be some larger hold-over trout lingering in the deeper pools. Try night crawlers, Power Bait, or small spinners, such as Mepps and Rooster Tails. Cane poles can be a lot of fun, especially for youngsters. Have them dig worms in the garden to get their own bait.

Angler report:

Howdy Rory;

I wanted to tell ya that I was at Tonto Creek about 2 maybe 3 weekends ago, and to my disappointment there wasnt a fish one, we even hiked lengths of the creek were we know of some pools and.. Nothing.

So since we still had more thanhalf the day, we decided to take a gander on down to Bear Flat, mainly because you've mentioned it on the reports a few times. A key thing, you want to have a 4wd vehicle with moderate ply tires, not an 04 corolla xD we made it down and back up without going off the hill.

Hate to say it but we didnt get a bite or even see any fish there either, tried Power Bait worms, real crawlers, Rooster Tails, and even though i didnt want to, Power Bait. And yet ... Not a thing. Beautiful canyon though. Just wanted to let ya know.



Note: If you have a fishing report, send it to "Been Fishing?” at

LAKE POWELL – By: Wayne Gustaveson,  Wednesday, 21 March 2012 by Wayne Gustaveson. Lake elevation: 3,635. Water temperature 50-57 F

Imagine my surprise when checking the water level to find out that Lake Powell has risen since the last report.  Normally lake level does not climb until April.  The recent wet storm front has already had an impact on the lake.  Now lake level will likely continue the normal slow decline expected in March but that was really fun to see the little bump in elevation.

The big storm also slowed down lake warming.  Base temperature did not change remaining at 50 F. There were no shallow coves warming into the 60s this week. But the front has passed and now warm weather is here again.  Fish will respond and resume feeding as they have the past few weeks.

Fish haven’t yet moved.  Here is a reminder of the general pattern for success. First look for murky green water in the backs of canyons and coves. Cloudy water will be slightly warmer and more productive than clear. Second, most fish are associated with brush thickets with submerged brush hidden 5-10 feet under the surface being the most productive.
Bass anglers fishing in early season tournaments have found bass to be willing and larger than normal.  In two tournaments held at Wahweap this past weekend winning weights for 5 bass have exceeded 21 pounds. Largest tournament bass have consistently been heavier than 5 pounds.  It looks like a very good year for largemouth bass fishing with many more trophy bass yet to be caught. Largemouth are now found in 15-25 feet of water near brush.  As the water warms again they will go much shallower.

Warming water will energize smallmouth bass that prefer water warmer than 57 degrees before they really get active.  All bass will move shallower as water warms. They can feel that warmer water in the shallows at the back of a cove and want to swim in warmer water.  I can’t blame them a bit. I would seek out warmer water as well.

Stripers are in the brush but usually toward the middle of the cove instead of along the edge.  We found last week as water warmed that stripers moved shallower.  The shift was subtle with fish moving from 25-foot bottom depth to 18 feet. That causes a few problems as the tree tops are closer to the surface making it necessary to use a shallower running plug.  The best striper lures, trolled or cast, last week were those that ran near 4 feet.

The tip for this week is to use small rattletraps that will swim in that narrow zone above tree top levels but depth enough to interest bass and stripers residing in the trees.

It seems much easier to head to the main channel and put on an anchovy instead of using a micrometer to determine how deep the lure will run.  The problem with that strategy is stripers have not left the canyons and are not in the main channel.  Fishing success will only come to those that fish where the fish are. I wish you success.



LEES FERRY -- Report courtesy Lees Ferry Anglers, By Terry Gunn, at  (You can sign up to have their report sent to your e-mail address).

By: Terry Gunn, March 30, 2012. Today’s Weather: Sunny, Low 56  High 84. The weather this past week has been near perfect. Spring has arrived at Lees. The migrating birds are passing through and the midges are really starting to hatch.

Fly Fishing Up-River

The river is running 7,000cfs to 13,000 cfs and the same exact flows are forecast for April and May. The key will be the ramp rate and when the water rises and falls. The recent ramp rates have been inconsistent and we will just have to wait and see what they give us the next two months. The water flows will be lower on the weekends and holidays. To help put the current flow levels into perspective; our current high flow is approximately four vertical feet lower than the flows that we saw last year…the river is finally back to normal. It is really good to be back in the river, wading and sight casting.

The midge hatches are just now beginning which means that they are really late this year. I’m not sure why they are so late but I would imagine it has something to do with the high water flows of last year and likely our warmer than normal water temperatures that occurred from June-December 2011, when the river water temps were 10-degrees above normal due to the huge water inflow into Lake Powell last spring. The good news is that the midge hatches nave really picked up the last few days and should continue to grow in intensity and duration the next few months.

To help understand why midges are so important to our fishing success it’s good to know more about the lifecycle of midges and their importance to the trout diet. The adult midges contribute very little to the trout diet. It is rare that you will see an adult trout rise to feed on an adult midge; the reason is that the amount of energy expended is not worth the food intake.

The adult midges breed then release their eggs into the water. The eggs sink and hatch into a tiny caterpillar (larvae) that lives on the bottom of the river for an extended period of time. At some point the larvae pupates and forms a chrysalis. The midge pupae will release in mass, and countless pupae will begin slowly drifting to the surface. This in turn flips the feeding switch for the trout and the fish will move into the shallow riffles where the pupae are concentrated by the shallow water. This is when the trout are feeding so heavily that they get careless and will eat our fly if it has a close resemblance to the midge pupae that they are feeding on.

The bigger the hatch the better the fishing; this is why the best fishing always occurs during big hatches and why the midge hatches are so important to the trout diet. The biggest midge hatches always occur in the lower water flows.

During the lower flows trout are not eating worms or scuds because these food items are not available; the only time that worms and scuds are available is during the high water flows when the higher velocity water moves the suds and worms around. If there are no midge hatches in the lower flows the fish will not be feeding and the fishing will be slow. I go into a lot more detail on fish feeding behavior here:

Be sure to stop by the shop to see the flies that are currently working. The flies change on a daily basis and the LFA guides let everyone at the shop know every day the top producing flies and how to use them.

The spawn is very weak this year. I figure that this is a “compensatory response” due to the fact that the spawn and recruitment has been so successful the past couple of years. This is a natural response by the fish and I have seen it many times over the years and next year will likely be different.

The streamer fishing has just been so-so and will likely not pick up until the water flows increase this summer. The reason for this is that the higher flows move larger food items around (scuds, worms, etc.).

Walk-In Fly Fishing Report: by Andy Vincent

The Walk-in continues to fish well with the lower flows allowing anglers much more access to the river. Zebra midges are still the best choice with San Juan worms and scuds working as well. Fish are hitting the dry fly sporadically now so the dry dropper is a viable set-up for fishing different columns in the water.

When all else fails fishing a black or olive wooly bugger in the deeper, slower water will work. We are starting to see fish in the shallower water of the upper boulder field so this could be a good place for the dry dropper rig. The area above and below the “big rock” is always a good area to find fish as they have quick access to deep water when spooked. The lower flows are making for much more fishable water around the confluence of the Paria with the Colorado.

Be careful when wading this area as the shifting sands and fast water make this a treacherous place to fish. Remember that the water flows will be lower on weekends and holidays and higher on weekdays. As the midge hatches increase expect the fishing in this section of river to get better every day.

Spin fishing the walk-in:

Spin fishing has not been as good as fly fishing the past few weeks. The river flows are fluctuating and these flow changes appear to make the fish take the spinner only at certain times of the days. The feeding habits have been changing on a daily basis so I can’t give a specific time but mid-day has been when I have had the best luck. Gold is the color and it works with KastMasters or Panther Martin size 1/4 oz. or size 6. Jigs and bouncing Glo-Bugs works has been working well at times if you can get the lure down to where the fish are. There is a lot of moss in the water due to the fluctuating flows so you will have to clean off the moss every other cast or so..

Spin Fishing Up River:

Spin fishing is good! It’s all about bouncing Glo bugs, San Juan Worms and Scuds off the bottom. You can also try fishing with gold KastMasters, black and gold Panther Martins #5s or Rapalas in perch or trout.

Also definitely don’t forget about the marabou jig; this one has been working great and has been very reliable. When spin fishing up river look for the seams that are out where the fast and slow water meet. This is where you will find some nice fish holding. Don’t be afraid to make long cast but accuracy is important.

If you have some news you would like to report about fishing lees ferry, the walk-in section or up river please e-mail your report to:  Attn. Lees Ferry Fishing Report
We would be happy to have your input, and pass it along.

Here is a report form one of our customers.

Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Son Scott and I decided to fish Lee’s Ferry as a “last minute” hey lets go fishing trip. The walk in on Saturday was crowded and a bit slow, but worth the effort. On Sunday we fished with Guide Jeff English from your shop. Again a last minute booking so we were fortunate to get him. Jeff put us on fish all day and needless to say we caught a boat load. Dry-dropper was the ticket. I have been fortunate to fish some A+ and blue ribbon fisheries with great success. Sunday was as good if not the best day as any I ever had on the Big Horn, Madison or Yellowstone!!! Thanks Jeff!!! AND your teaching moment was a success—I now understand that if you don’t land the fish, it is never the fishes fault…;} Thanks to the shop staff and kitchen for great treatment! We’ll see you in July/!!!

For details on Lake Powell conditions and snow-pack, go here:

For a real time graphic view of water releases and ramp rates go here:

LAKE MEAD – The current water level has dropped 2 feet to approximately 1,130 feet above msl.  As the water rises more and more vegetation, mostly in the form of small salt cedars, gets flooded and makes habitat for fish.  There seems to be an abundance of shad currently which may be the reason for the lack of bite.  Cut anchovies are still the bait of choice. 

Check the moon phases before you go –last new moon was March 22nd.   The next new moon will be April 21st.  Dark nights work best when fishing under light.  Fishing for stripers in 50 plus feet of water will normally find the larger fish. If you can locate the shad, the stripers are not far behind. Trolling usually works best in areas were shad are found and best done in the early mornings and evenings.

The bite for largemouth and smallmouth was reported good using plastic worms and crawdads with purple and browns in them. Several fishermen said that topwater lures were working for them. 

All the fishermen contacted were hopeful for the coming years with rising water conditions and the abundance of baitfish they have seen this year.   

Launching conditions at South Cove have improved as the water level has gone up. There are currently four lanes.  As the water raises logs and other debris can become hazards, so be careful boating.

Important notice: With the discovery of invasive quagga mussels in Mead, Mohave and Havasu, proper cleaning of all watercraft is critical to help prevent the spread of these invaders.  Please drain and dry your livewell and bilge on land. Drain all the water you can from your engine. Also, inspect your vessel and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see.

For more information, go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department's web pages at or visit

LAKE MOHAVE – The lake level has maintained about 641 feet above msl. The black bass are hitting soft baits when worked slowly especially on grass beds in 20 to 30 feet deep.  Trolling with anchovies in 30-50ft has been producing some stripers, while catfish are on the bottom. While the number of stripers in Mohave has been decreasing, the quality of the fish caught has increased. Best time to fish is at night for cats and he likes fishing for largemouth and smallmouth in the early morning with blue, black and purple and black grubs and worms. 

Submersible lights fished during the new moon are an effective way to catch stripers. Next new moon is April 21st.  Cut anchovies usually work the best. 

Biologists from both Arizona Game and Fish Department and Nevada Division of Wildlife with the help of volunteers, National Park Service and Bureau of Reclamation personnel have continued to install fish habitat in Carp Cove, Box Cove, Shoshone, and Arrowhead.  Fish habitat consists of PVC structures, wood pallet structures, tamarisk bundles, and some Christmas trees. The largemouth, smallmouth, bluegill and catfish are really utilizing the new structures. Additional habitat will be added at several locations over the next two years. These structures are fish magnets.

There is a wheelchair accessible fishing pier just south of the main launch ramp at Katherine's Landing. If you fish Mohave and are having luck, please e-mail me at so I can share your successes with others.

Important notice: With the discovery of invasive quagga mussels in Mead, Mohave and Havasu, proper cleaning of all watercraft is critical to help prevent the spread of these invaders. Please drain and dry your livewell and bilge on land. Drain all the water you can from your engine. Also, inspect your vessel and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see.

For more information, go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department's web pages at  or visit

WILLOW BEACH – Willow Beach is stocked every Friday with 3,000 13-inch rainbow trout.  Rainbow, peach, garlic and yellow Power Baits and Power Worms were being used most for trout. Jakes original and Jakes Juniors, Panther Martin and Rooster Tails are also usually effective.

Fishing is usually best near the fishing pier after the Friday stocking.  Most of the nice stripers and trout are seem to be caught between river mile 49 and 53.  A picture of a large striper was sent in and was caught around mile 52.  Willow Beach can be hit-or-miss bait fishing.  Try different baits including swim baits when nobody seems to be hooking anything. 

Important notice: With the discovery of invasive quagga mussels in Mead, Mohave and Havasu, proper cleaning of all watercraft is critical to help prevent the spread of these invaders. Please drain and dry your livewell and bilge on land. Drain all the water you can from your engine. Also, inspect your vessel and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see. If you fish Willow beach and are having luck, please e-mail me at so I can share your successes with others.
For more information, go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department's web pages at  or visit

COLORADO RIVER BELOW DAVIS DAM – Trout continue to bite in the casino area with some larger fish in the deep holes.  Several folks have called and spoke of very large trout being caught in the Laughlin area.  Rusty from Riviera Marina sent pictures of Amanda and her huge 3.92 lb. and 3.42 lb. rainbow and a nice stringer of smaller trout caught in the Rotary Park area on night crawlers.  She told Rusty that another large fish almost taking all of her line before breaking off leading us to believe some big stripers have made their way back.

Reports of 2- to 4-pound trout are being taken as far down the river as Topock Gorge.  Anglers are using anything from night crawlers with and without marshmallows to Power Bait.   Overall the fishing is great on the river with large rainbow trout still being caught.  Rusty sent a picture in of a beautiful rainbow trout and a nice fillet size striper.

Topock Gorge -

Balmy weather is back and the spawn is on!  Bass action in the Topock Gorge started out slow, but escalated with the change in weather conditions. Arizona residents, Andrew Nooris from Chandler and Mike Widerski from Glendale boated a limit of smallies and a limit of largemouth bass–one plump smallmouth weighed 3-pounds. Nooris gleaned another limit of smallmouth the next day with one tipping the scales at 3.5-pounds.

Seven and ten year old Abigail and Colby Gustafson from Topock, AZ also scored some respectable smallies in the 3-poind range. Bernie Hirman from Elk River, Minisota and his buddies Jim Hamm and Joe Havlik cleaned up on the sunfish.

The Gorge is producing plenty of robust sunfish activity and although none have been as weighty as the 2.25-pounder taken in January, they are still stout for pan fish. Night crawlers remain the food favorite for sunfish while live bait has been the better choice for bass. Striper action remains sluggish and no catfish have been reported. Fishers of both striped bass and whisker fish are hopeful 2012 will be more plentiful than 2011.  

News from the Topock Marsh has been slow to surface. I know the fish are there, but I don’t know where the fishermen are!

See you on the river. Until the next time, Keep your sinker in the water and the plug in your boat, and remember no matter what time of day or year it's always FunFishing on the Colorado!

Capt. Doyle


The report from the Gorge is that the cold last week slowed the bite down but the good news is the smallmouth spawn is on. The reported bright spot is that the bluegill bite is hot and heavy with fish up to 2.25 lbs being taken.  Andrew and Mike, from the Phoenix area, boated their limit of smallmouth on consecutive days.  Topock Arizona residents seven year old Abigail and 10-year-old Colby caught some respectable 3-pound range smallmouth.

Sunfish are also hitting according to Bernie, Jim, and Joe on night crawlers.  Smallmouth and largemouth are being a little harder to catch but that should change with a few warm days.  A 3.5 lb largemouth was recently caught on night crawlers although live bait has been the most effective.  Stripers have been few and far between.  

Rainbow trout are stocked upstream by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service monthly during the winter. The fish are normally stocked in two locations; Davis Camp and near The Riverside. Stocking at Rotary Park has made another access point to the river for fishing and has made many people happy.  Trout fishing at the stocking sites is great immediately following the stockings, then the fish move out and you need to find them. Anglers in the Gorge have been known to catch trout.

Rainbow trout are located throughout the river below Davis dam, but anglers typically report catching trout on the Arizona side across from the Riverside, off the shore of Davis Camp and in the big bend area. This year we have received multiple reports of larger holdover trout being caught.  Remember to fish for trout, you need a trout stamp on Class A and Lifetime fishing licenses.
Water levels on the river fluctuate, so be careful. You can check the Bureau of Reclamation Web site for flow predictions before you go. If you fish the river below Davis Dam and are having luck, please e-mail me at so I can share your successes with others.

TOPOCK MARSH – The action at Topock Marsh has been steadily improving. Night crawlers and live minnows have been tempting catfish from North Dyke.   Bass can be hit and miss but live bait has been reported to work the best now.  Stripers appear abundant from the February AZGFD survey. Small crappies are being taken throughout the marsh. 

You can access the marsh by boat at the North Dike, Catfish Paradise, and Five-Mile Landing. All three also provide plenty of area for shoreline fishing too. For more information on the marsh, contact the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge at (760) 326-3853 or go to

Important notice: With the discovery of invasive quagga mussels in Mead, Mohave and Havasu, proper cleaning of all watercraft is critical to help prevent the spread of these invaders. Please drain and dry your livewell and bilge on land. Drain all the water you can from your engine. Also, inspect your vessel and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see.

For more information, go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department's web pages at or visit


Note: If you would like more information on southwestern waters, visit Our Yuma Regional office has recently updated all the information to provide you more insight into these fisheries.

LAKE HAVASU -- Report courtesy John Galbraith of, Lake Havasu City, Az.

Lake level 447.38. Striper bite is good using cut anchovies still fishing from CrazyHorse north to the entrance to the river/sandbar. Be sure to throw out extra chum to attract these schools of prespawn stripers. Trolling Pointer 100s or 128s during the first hour of light are producing some quality stripers from 4 to 6 pounds.

Topwater action will start soon as overnight water temps hit 65 degrees when stripers start feeding overnight on shallow rocky or gravel flats where they feed on crawdads.

Smallmouth bass are in full spawn now. Any small dropshotted worm like the Roboworms, Gitzits or small plastic craws like the Huddlebug will also work well on these aggressive bass which are defending their bedding areas. The key is the bait must contact the bottom to trigger the bass to strike.

Please practice catch-and-release during this time to give our bass a chance to reproduce and make our fishery even better.
Wildlife Manager Suzanne Ehret said anglers have been catching redear and bluegill using meal worms at Site Six. The bass anglers she talked to were mostly catching smallmouth bass, and it looks like the largemouth bass aren't as active yet. She also saw a pair of anglers who had caught one striper from the fishing docks where the Bill Williams River enters the lake.

For more information, visit the updated "Where to Fish" pages at

PARKER STRIP -- No recent reports.

ALAMO LAKE -- Bass are on beds and the fishing is pretty good. The winning weight for a tournament last weekend was 20 pounds.

The catfishing is absolutely on fire -- this is probably the best lake for springtime channel catfish in Arizona.

Crappie fishing has yet to really take off. Not sure what is going on there, but maybe during the next full moon...

The Cholla Launch Ramp has been fixed, widened and is now open.

COLORADO RIVER (PARKER STRIP AREA) -- Fishing for smallmouth bass over two pounds in size is expected to be good to excellent. In addition, redear sunfish should also be good in the pound-plus sizes.  

The Parker Strip is well known for its smallmouth bass fishing, especially in the area from the dam to several miles downstream. The Parker Strip is also home to some really impressive, dinner-plate sized redear sunfish of two pounds or larger.

Channel and flathead catfish fishing is always fair in this section of the Colorado River. Below the dam, striper fishing should also be fair, using live shad or anchovies. Largemouth bass are abundant, especially in the downstream portions of the Parker Strip. Channel and flathead catfish fishing will be fair to good in this section of the Colorado River as the weather warms up.

Take precautions to make sure your boat and equipment are clean before leaving the water to make sure you don’t spread quagga mussels to other water by accident.  

COLORADO RIVER (Picacho State Park to Imperial Dam, including backwaters and Martinez Lake) 

This stretch of the river is best known for its trophy-sized flathead catfish, with some over 70 pounds and largemouth bass, with some over 10 pounds. However, it can also be good for channel catfish, sunfish and carp and to a lesser extent striped bass, crappie and tilapia.

Largemouth bass fishing is generally best in the backwaters or near the mouth of the backwaters. There are many different techniques used for largemouth bass. As a general rule, most people will use topwater lures such as buzzbaits or spinnerbaits in the early morning and then switch to jigs, crankbaits, or swimbaits as the day progresses.

Using plastic baits that resemble worms, crawdads, frogs, or lizards often work well. It is generally best to fish around structure such as weedbeds, emergent vegetation, tree stumps, brush, or boat docks. Fishing picks up as the water temperatures warm up in the spring and summer but largemouth can be taken any time of the year.

Flathead fishing is generally best in slack water areas, deep holes, or near overhanging vegetation along the main channel of the river. Flatheads prefer live bait such as bluegill or small carp and fishing is best at night during the summer months. Channel catfish are wide spread in the main river channel and backwaters and will bite on night crawlers, chicken liver, stinkbait, or about any other “smelly” bait. They can be caught year-round but probably bite best at night.

Bluegill are also widespread but are most likely to be found around structure in the backwaters or slackwater areas. Bluegill will bite on meal worms, night crawlers or small crappie jigs.

MITTRY LAKE -- Mittry Lake is located just above Laguna Dam, and supports a good population of largemouth bass and channel catfish, and even some good-sized flathead catfish. There are shoreline fishing opportunities at this lake in the form of about a dozen rock jetties, but you’ll probably have the best success in a small boat. Mittry Lake can be frustrating, as the bite seems to be real variable, but the fish are there. It is just a question of getting them to respond to your presentation. The water tends to be very murky most of the year, except for the upper end of Teal Alley where the lake inflow comes in, so play to the fish’s sense of hearing and smell, rather than sight. There are also crappie and sunfish to be caught, although they tend to average relatively small in size. Mittry Lake is well-known locally for the quality largemouth bass it produces, and fishing during the spring spawn will increase your chances of success.

YUMA AREA PONDS -- The Department has stepped up efforts to encourage the recruitment of new anglers, and retention of existing ones. To this end, the Department has increased stocking efforts in a few ponds in the Yuma area that are easily accessed without a boat, within a short distance of the urban center. Those ponds are the Yuma West Wetlands pond, located in the City Park, and Redondo and Fortuna ponds, located about 10 miles northeast of Yuma. Access to Redondo Pond was recently improved with the addition of an ADA-compliant fishing pier, and thick cattail growth was removed at Fortuna Pond this summer, improving shoreline access by many orders of magnitude. All of these waters received multiple stockings of rainbow trout in the winter months; Redondo Pond will be stocked with channel catfish during the spring, and the Yuma West Wetlands pond will receive channel catfish and bluegills. We may be able to stock Fortuna Pond with channel catfish in the future, pending the outcome of the statewide sport-fish stocking consultation with the USFWS that is hopefully nearing completion. Depending on available funding, we hope to continue regular stockings into all three of these shoreline-accessible waters, and perhaps add additional waters to our stocking schedule. These ponds provide an ideal place to take the family. All three waters now are provided with restroom and trash facilities. Special regulations on fish limits are in effect for these waters, so be sure to consult the Regulations before you take fish.

REGIONAL HOT SPOTS -- Alamo Lake will continue to be a hot spot for plentiful largemouth bass and channel catfish, although trophy-sized fish will be uncommon. Lake Havasu is probably currently the premier lake in our Region (and perhaps the State) for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and redear sunfish. Numbers caught will likely be lower, but the quality of the fish much higher. The Parker Strip should remain excellent for smallmouth bass and redear sunfish, and the Colorado River below Walter’s Camp down to Imperial Dam the best bet for large and plentiful flathead catfish. Our spring surveys indicate that there is a very impressive population of flathead catfish in the lower Imperial Division between Picacho State Park and Imperial Dam. Expect many in the 5- to 10-pound size class, but we know of at least one state record lurking in those waters. Backwaters in the Imperial Division above Imperial Dam will continue to yield impressive largemouth bass, up to and exceeding 10 pounds.

If you need any additional information or assistance, don't hesitate to contact the Yuma Regional office at (928) 342-0091, and we will be happy to give you whatever information we have. A very good resource for local fishing information in the Yuma area is the website and forum at



KAIBAB LAKE —  Some nice crappie and bluegill were being caught on flies. I also heard the Largemouth Bass fishing was good last week.  Scheduled to be stocked this week

CATARACT LAKE —  Campground is open

CITY RESERVOIR —   No report.  Stocked last week

DOGTOWN LAKE —  Campground is open. Scheduled to be stocked this week

JD DAM — No report

RUSSELL TANK -   The lake is to shallow to stock.

SANTA FE — No Report.  Stocked last week.

WHITEHORSE LAKE — Campground is open. Not stocked temperature too high.

LOWER LAKE MARY —  No report

UPPER LAKE MARY —    No report.

ASHURST LAKE —  Trout were being caught over the weekend.  Stocked last week.

FRANCIS SHORT POND –  Fishing was fair on corn dropped straight down by the dam. Stocked last week

KINNIKINICK LAKE — No report. Stocked last week

MARSHALL LAKE —  No report.

OAK CREEK — Stocked last week. Scheduled to be stocked this week. No reports from anglers, but fishing should be good for rainbows. Fishing for browns is typically much tougher.

LONG LAKE — No report.




DEAD HORSE STATE PARK – Catfish were last stocked for the Verde River Days event.  Trout were last stocked the week of March 19. The catfish and largemouth bite has been fair.  Catfish are still being caught on night crawlers, chicken liver, and stink bait.   The bass are being caught on small plastic worms and Gitzit-type plastic grubs, bounced slowly along the bottom.  Sunfish have been doing well on worms, salmon eggs, or small piece of Power Bait under a bobber. They bite best in the early morning hours and the evening.

VERDE RIVER (throughout Verde Valley) – Trout were last stocked the week of March 19.  The next scheduled stocking is this week, the week of March 26.  Carp fishing has been good using corn or dough baits.  Always check your regulations before fishing this area with live bait.  Game and Fish Commission Rule requires anglers to only use live bait that has been caught in the river.  No transporting of live baitfish or crayfish is allowed. 

WET BEAVER CREEK -- Has been recently stocked with rainbow trout. Scheduled to be stocked again the first week of April. Fishing should be decent. Try night crawlers, Power Bait or small spinners such as Mepps or Rooster Tails.

WEST CLEAR CREEK -- Has been recently stocked with rainbow trout. Scheduled to be stocked again the first week of April. Fishing should be decent. Try night crawlers, Power Bait or small spinners such as Mepps or Rooster Tails.

Prescott Area

FAIN LAKE — The last stocking was the week of March 12.  The reports from regulars at the lake say the trout are biting, but the morning bite is the best.  Anglers are having luck throughout the day using power bait and Berkley Gulp.  Rainbow and yellow seem to be the popular colors.

Fishermen using their fly rod gear are having the best luck. Brown trout and rainbows are hitting the flies very well with one fisherman catching 47 fish (all browns) off the same fly.  Flies are less likely to get swallowed so releasing the fish is much easier.  

GOLDWATER LAKE — Many anglers have reported doing well. Power Bait is probably your best bet, although spinners and flies can do well also. Jimmy C. caught his limit on light colored Power Bait and reported he gilled them the same day and they were delicious.  Like most fishing areas, one day the bite is great and the next it’s slow.   The last scheduled stocking was the week of March 12.    

Game and Fish has been trying to boost the some of the warm water species in Goldwater.  Bass and catfish have been stocked three times over the last four years.   The bass are being stocked to give a boost to a dwindling population in the lake and to reduce the excessive number of crayfish.  Please practice catch and release with the bass, while the population gets re-established.

Game and Fish Biologists surveyed Goldwater on Sept. 15, 2009 and found bass and catfish populations to be much improved over last year. The number of green sunfish was greatly reduced.  The bass had a successful spawn last year.   If you fish Goldwater and are having luck, please e-mail me at so I can share your successes with others.

GRANITE BASIN LAKE –Fishing should be slow for the winter.  If you fish Granite Basin and are having luck, please e-mail me at so I can share your successes with others.

LYNX LAKE –Rainbow trout were last stocked the week of March 12.  The cold last week slowed the bite down for all species except trout.   

Cut anchovies, night crawlers or hot dog are your best bet for catfish. Lynx also can be an exciting place to fish for carp.  Common carp are very strong fighters and will provide an excellent table fair. A quick search on the internet will produce tasty recipes for these robust fish. Corn and an assortment of other baits will attract these fish. Lynx can be difficult to fish, if you are not catching anything try moving to a new spot. There are some good spots on the north end of the lake that don’t get fished as heavily as the south end does.

MINGUS LAKE – Scheduled to be stocked for the first time this season on the first week of April. The last stocking was during October!

WATSON – The last trout stocking was the week of Feb. 13.   Folks have caught 16-17 inch holdover trout from the shore near the new boat launch.  If you have fished Watson Lake please send me a report of your trip to share with folks. 

Game and Fish Biologists surveyed Watson last week and found the bass, sunfish, and bullhead to be plentiful.  Crappies were also doing well.  Look for the crappie fishing to pick up in a year or two. If you fish Watson and are having luck, please e-mail me at so I can share your successes with others.

WILLOW CREEK RESERVOIR – The fishing should be slow until the water warms up I the spring. 
If you fish Willow and are having luck, please e-mail me at so I can share your successes with others.


Recommended Waters to Fish

Up to 2 feet of snow has fallen in The White Mountains and Mogollon Rim area due to a recent snowstorm on Sunday and Monday. Most lower elevation lakes have open water but the banks are covered in snow. Fool Hollow Lake, Show Low Lake, Scotts Reservoir, and Nelson Reservoir are open and recommended for general fishing. The Greer lakes also have open water, but have not been stocked yet. Anglers have been catching trout, walleye, catfish and bass at Fool Hollow Lake. Trout are being caught at Show Low Lake on peacock ladies. For catch-and-release anglers, Silver Creek and Becker Lake are fair to good.

Trout Stocking Schedule:
The trout stocking schedule will resume in April 2012.

Note:  Up to 2 feet of new snow has fallen on the Mogollon Rim area due to a recent snow storm on Sunday and Monday. All Forest Roads in the Rim Lakes area are closed for the winter, including Forest Roads 300 (Rim Road), 169, 105, 149, 86 and southern portion of 34. Snowmobile access is allowed.  The higher elevation lakes are ice-covered, but the ice is likely to be thin and unsafe due to a long spell of unseasonably warm weather.

BEAR CANYON LAKE – Not accessible. Forest Road 300 is closed for the winter. Unsafe ice.

BLACK CANYON LAKE – Not accessible. Forest Roads 300 and 86 are closed for the winter. Unsafe ice.

CHEVELON LAKE – Not accessible. Forest Roads 300 and 169 are closed for the winter.

WILLOW SPRINGS LAKE – Not accessible by vehicle. Forest Road 149 is closed for the winter.  Accessible by foot only from Hwy 260.  Unsafe ice.

WOODS CANYON LAKE – Not accessible. Forest Road 300 is closed for the winter. Unsafe ice

CREEKS – Tonto Creek, Christopher Creek, Haigler Creek and the East Verde River are all scheduled to be stocked for the first time this year during the first week of April. Plus, there may be some larger hold-over trout lingering in the deeper pools. Try night crawlers, Power Bait, or small spinners, such as Mepps and Rooster Tails. Cane poles can be a lot of fun, especially for youngsters. Have the young ones dig worms in the garden to get their own bait. It's something they can pass along to their own children.

Note:  Up to 2 feet of snow has fallen in the White Mountains due to a recent snow storm on Sunday and Monday. Highways 261 and 273 are closed to vehicle access for the winter. Snowmobiles are allowed. The higher elevation lakes are ice-covered. Check ice thickness before venturing out on the ice.

BECKER LAKE – Fishing is fair to good. The lake is ice-free and full. The water temperature was 49 degrees on March 16. Some fly fishermen are catching a few trout on nymphs (red/white midge nymphs and black woolly buggers). One flyfisher released a 25-inch rainbow last weekend. Becker Lake is catch-and-release only, with artificial lures and flies only with single barbless hook.

BIG LAKE – Not accessible. Highways 261 and 273 are closed for the winter. Snowmobiles are allowed.  The lake is ice-covered.  
CARNERO LAKE – Not accessible. Forest Roads 117 and 117A are snow-packed and accessible by snowmobile only. The lake is ice-covered, with about 15 inches of ice on March 16.

CONCHO LAKE – Fishing is poor. The lake is ice-free. Water levels are good but the lake has not been stocked yet. 

CRESCENT LAKE – Not accessible. Highways 261 and 273 are closed to vehicle access. Snowmobiles are allowed. The lake is ice-covered.

FOOL HOLLOW LAKE – Fishing is fair. The lake is ice-free. Anglers are catching bluegills on jigs off the fishing piers, and a few holdover trout (up to 22 inches) on worms. A few walleye, channel catfish and small bass are also being caught on bait and lures. Recent surveys have caught good numbers of 1.5-pound carryover trout, numerous small (16-inch) walleye, good numbers of large walleye (7 pounds, up to 11 pounds), very few northern pike (up to 26 pounds), good numbers of 7-8 pound channel catfish, big largemouth and smallmouth bass, and numerous small black crappies.

GREER LAKES – No reports. River Reservoir, Bunch Reservoir, and Tunnel Reservoir are ice-free as of last weekend. Water temperatures are cold. 

HULSEY LAKE – The lake was drained immediately following the Wallow Fire to help reduce expected flooding off Escudilla Mountain.

LEE VALLEY LAKE – Not accessible. Highways 261 and 273 are closed to vehicle access. Snowmobiles are allowed. The lake is ice-covered.

LUNA LAKE – No reports. The lake is ice-free.  Water temperatures are cold. 

LYMAN LAKE – Lyman Lake State Park is closed to public entry for the winter and will re-open during the summer of 2012.

NELSON RESERVOIR – Fishing is fair. The lake is ice-free. Try fishing nightcrawlers or Power Bait in deep water.

RAINBOW LAKE – Fishing is poor. The lake is ice-free.

SCOTT RESERVOIR – Fishing is poor to fair. The lake is ice-free. 

SHOW LOW LAKE – Fishing is fair. The lake is ice-free.  The road over the dam to the far fishing pier is closed for the winter. Boat rentals may be available soon, see the campground host. Some of the campgrounds are open. Fly fishermen are catching a few trout (12-14 inches) at the southeast end of the lake on peacock ladies. Walleye anglers should try fishing lures such as Rapala’s early in the morning or late evening.

WOODLAND LAKE – Fishing is poor. The lake is ice-free.

Note: Highways 261 and 273 are closed to vehicle access for the winter. Snowmobiles are allowed.  Main Forest Roads are snow-packed with many of them closed or inaccessible for the winter.  

EAST FORK of the BLACK RIVER – Not accessible. The river is snow-packed and ice-covered.

WEST FORK of the BLACK RIVER – Not accessible. The river is snow-packed and ice-covered. 

LITTLE COLORADO RIVER IN GREER – Fishing is likely slow. The river is accessible and open, but will have snowpacked banks.

SHEEPS CROSSING – Not accessible. Highway 273 is closed to vehicles. Snowmobiles are allowed.  The river is snow-packed and ice-covered. 

SILVER CREEK – Fishing is fair to good. Silver Creek is a spring-fed creek and does not ice over during the winter. From October 1 through March 31, Silver Creek is open to artificial lures and flies only, barbless hooks, and catch-and-release fishing only. The upper section is open to angling, but the hatchery area is always closed to fishing (it is well signed). Try small nymphs, large white and black streamers, and lures with barbless hooks.



Please send me your fishing reports from Southern Arizona!  Fishing reports can be sent to Don Mitchell, Regional Fish Program Manager by email at  These reports will then be complied and reported in our weekly fishing reports.

The winter trout stocking season is pretty much over here in southern Arizona. Warm temperatures have begun to raise water temperatures and anglers can expect to start catching bass and sunfish as these become more active with the increasing temperatures.

Summer trout stocking will begin soon at Rose Canyon Lake and Riggs Flat provided water quality parameters are favorable. The summer stocking schedule for the entire state can be found here:  This schedule is updated as changes occur so check back often! The stocking schedule is now interactive, so check it out.

Need ideas on where to go fishing?  Try the Department's new interactive Fish and Boat Map: Fish and Boat Arizona

RIGGS FLAT — Closed for the winter. Could be stocked by the end of April depending on snow melt and the roads opening.

CLUFF RANCH —No recent reports of success however, the pond received its last trout stocking of the winter last week.  The pond is close to being full and there should be no problems with boat launching.  For lake information call (928) 485-9430.

ROPER LAKE — The lake received its final trout stocking of the season last week.  For lake information (928) 428-6760.
DANKWORTH POND — Remains closed to access during renovation. 

FRYE MESA RESERVIOR –Anglers are reporting success in catching Gila trout.  Remember that the daily bag and possession limit for this species is 1 fish.

ARIVACA — Open to anglers, water levels are up but it will still be difficult to launch larger boats.  Use caution when launching your boat and pay attention for submerged trees and rocks that are near the surface due to low water levels. Boaters using gas motors are asked to be courteous and not create wake problems for others boaters.

PENA BLANCA – Pena Blanca will receive its last trout stocking of the season this week. Warm water fish stockings are scheduled to begin the end of April. 

PATAGONIA — Fishing has been slow. Water temps are in the mid to high 50s currently. Patagonia will receive its last trout stocking of the season this week.

PARKER CANYON — Fly anglers are reporting success as are anglers that are trolling.  Parker Canyon will receive its last trout stocking for the season the week of April 2.  Contact the Parker Canyon Lake Store for up to date information on lake levels and fishing activity at or by phone at (520)455-5847.

ROSE CANYON LAKE — The lake is closed to vehicle access however anglers are still able to walk to the lake. Recent reports are that fly anglers are catching fish. Scheduled to be stocked for the first time this season during the second week of April. The summer trout stocking schedule can be found here:


Angler report:

I took my kids up to Rose Canyon Lake on Mt. Lemmon this past Sunday for a nice hike, picnic, and some fishing. While the hike down to the lake was a little rough for them due to the road being closed, there were some patches of snow they got to stop and play in and the temperature was beautiful. It took about an hour to hike down to the lake. We got there around 3:30 p.m. We fished with frozen corn. They were fascinated just watching the fish, but the party really started when we actually started fishing. They didn't have to wait more than ten minutes between each fish. They were biting like crazy. All in all, they caught 8 trout in a little under an hour and a half. It was just as exciting for them to throw the fish back in and watch where they were going to swim off to.








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