What will it be? The good news or the great news?
The good news is highways 273 and 261 are open -- time to fish Big Lake. But more on that later, because the great news is state history was made last weekend. By a man nicknamed "Flathead Ed."
Photos of a long-whiskered fellow (not talking about Flathead Ed) were shared and commented on nationwide, perhaps globally. This piece of history found its way to our Phoenix headquarters last week. The story went something like this:
Eddie “Flathead Ed” Wilcoxson was asleep on the fold-out cot of his 24-foot pontoon boat on Friday, April 12, when what would become a state record flathead catfish began taking drag.
About 35 minutes later, at 2:37 a.m., Wilcoxson, 56, boated what Arizona Game and Fish Department officials verified is a 76.54-pound flathead catfish. It measured 53.5 inches in total length with a 34.75-inch girth.
It also became the heaviest recorded fish of any species in state history, topping the 74-pound flathead catfish caught in 1988 out of the Colorado River by Walter Wilson of Bard, Calif.
In addition, Wilcoxson’s flathead beat the previous inland waters state record held by Adrian Manzanedo of Florence, who in 2003 caught a 71-pound, 10.24-ounce flathead at San Carlos Lake.
“Everybody’s got the same chance I do,” Wilcoxson said. “You just have to get out and do it.”
Wilcoxson, of Surprise, said he planned on eating the monster. "Oh, we're not wasting this," he said.
“I sleep out on the water 3-4 days sometimes,” Wilcoxson said. “Sometimes during Thanksgiving I’ll spend three weeks straight out there. Also, I fished 39 weekends last year.”
Bill Stewart, also of Surprise, was on the boat as well.
Wilcoxson owns the “AZ Fishing 4 Flathead Cat” fishing guide service. He said he received his new guide license April 1. “But I’ve been fishing Arizona my whole life,” he said.
But he said he’d never caught one this big, although he did land one that weighed about 65 pounds.
When it came close to the boat, I saw there was only one treble hook in the corner of his mouth,” Wilcoxson said, “so I backed off on the drag. If not, it would have ripped right out of his mouth.”
Wilcoxson said he and Stewart brought the behemoth in the boat with the help of a heavy-duty lip grabber.
In addition to flathead catfish, the 2,015-acre Bartlett Lake, located in the Tonto National Forest northeast of Phoenix, holds largemouth bass, sunfish, crappie, channel catfish, carp and crayfish.
Bartlett Lake also produced the state record carp that weighed 37 pounds, measured 40 inches, and was caught in 1987 by Jonathan Gardner of Phoenix.
A USFS Tonto Pass is required to access Bartlett Lake.
Also, Crescent and Lee Valley lakes are open, although a recent survey indicated that a winter fish kill due to low oxygen levels under the winter ice has made fishing poor. It will take a couple of weeks for these fisheries to be be restocked (see details in full report). Also, the openings of the highways will make it easier for anglers in areas such as Phoenix and Tucson to access the east and west forks of the Black River.
If you’re not headed to Bartlett to try and beat the new record, consider some of the Mogollon Rim Lakes. Bunch Reservoir, Luna Lake, Rainbow Lake, Show Low Lake and Tunnel Reservoir are being stocked with thousands of trout this week.
It’s top-water time at Roosevelt Lake. The first reports of a strong top-water bite trickled into Rim Country Custom Rods. Bass are chasing surface shads at first light. Try Ricos, Pop-R, buzz baits and soft paddle tail baits by Reaction Innovation during the first hour of light.
For complete details and direction of our primary fisheries, check out our Boat&Fish map. Fishing can be hard, but finding the fishery shouldn't be.
That's also why we have our Urban Fishing Program. Catfish are being stocked at all our Phoenix and Tucson area Urban waters. A short drive to some action.
Overall, water temperatures in most areas of the state reportedly are below average for this time of the year. We can partially thank last week’s wind party. One example is at Lake Pleasant, where water temperatures have topped out at 65 degrees. Normally they hover around 70.
It's also crappie time, and these tasty panfish are reportedly hitting well at Rosy and Bartlett. (See Roosevelt report below and an angler's report).
Mark Thursday, April 25. It's the next full moon, and a massive spawn wave is ahead.
Also, bow fishing for carp in the backs of coves is gathering interest, especially at Lake Pleasant and the Salt River-chain lakes. In addition, anglers are doing well overall at Bartlett and Roosevelt lakes using Berkley Gulp Minnows, dropshots, Senkos and salt worms on jigs and in shallow water to about 20 feet of depth.
Be sure to catch hold of some memories and your 2013 fishing license.
If you’re an outdoors enthusiast and a Major League Baseball fan, Chase Field is the place to be on Saturday, April 27.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, along with many partners and sportsman’s/conservation groups, will host the second “Outdoor Rec Night” in connection with the Arizona Diamondbacks-Colorado Rockies game at 5:10 p.m.
Come early for the interactive street fair from 1-5 p.m. at 4th Street and Jackson, just west of the ballpark.
The fair will offer lots of hands-on activities, including a kids fishing tank (loaner poles and bait provided), self-contained archery and airsoft ranges, an ATV track, fly-casting and more. There also will be exhibits on outdoor recreation.
As part of the Outdoor Rec Night, the Diamondbacks are offering special discounted ticket pricing for the game. Discount prices range from $13 for infield reserve seating (a $6 savings) to $40 for infield box seats (a $13 savings). The first 20,000 to the gate will receive a Wade Miley garden gnome.
To see the full range of discounted ticket pricing and to order tickets, visit http://mlb.mlb.com/ari/ticketing/ticket_dugout.jsp?loc=outdoors and follow the instructions.
During the fourth annual Native Trout Conference on Thursday, April 18, the Arizona Game and Fish Department received an award from the National Fish Habitat Partnership for its involvement in last year’s evacuation and stocking of the endangered Gila trout during the New Mexico Whitewater-Baldy fire.
The award is for extraordinary action and support of fish habitat conservation.
Some of the fish were rescued by helicopter and taken to a hatchery in New Mexico; others were stocked in Arizona’s Ash Creek.
Other award recipients are: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Albuquerque, Pinetop, and Mora; U.S. Forest Service Gila National Forest and Coronado National Forest; and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. Robin Knox, a representative from the Western Native Trout Initiative, will be at the conference to present the award.
Julie Carter, Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Conservation and Mitigation Program Supervisor, said that before monsoons hit, and once it was deemed safe, ground crews in New Mexico horse-backed into the Gila National Forest to salvage the Gila trout, with a helicopter standing by to transport the trout to hatchery crews in Glenwood.
“We had more than 25 people in Arizona waiting to help backpack the fish into Ash Creek,” Carter said. “The project was successful due to the incredible coordination and dedicated biologists, especially ground crews in New Mexico that traveled on the forest immediately after the fire."
Doug S. fished Bartlett April 9 and 11 and caught his limit of bass: Was using a Rapala silver belly/black back crankbait at 5-9 feet depth. Generally the fish hit the bait within 10-15 feet of shore and most were caught before noon both days. Largest fish was 17 inches and about 2.5 pounds. Fished mostly on the East side of the lake.
Randall M. said crappie are hitting in strong numbers from 1-2 pounds at Bartlett. I won't specify location because it's been getting crowded at night, and they are hitting on minnows and jigs 4-8 feet down from 5 o'clock (p.m.) on. Bartlett is looking fantastic for the next couple of months for everything at 93% full. Keep up the great work! Thanks.
Q & A
I'm just curious about the trout stockings on the Lower Salt River. I was on the river all morning on Sunday with no luck. I started at Water Users and quickly left because the water flow was non-existent. I then went to Phon D. Sutton and had absolutely no luck. Where are the trout being stocked and when will the water flow from the dam pick up? Jared B.
- Jared: The trout are being stocked at Blue Point and Water Users. Tonto Hatchery typically stocks those two sites this time of year. The drive down to Phon D Sutton is pretty hazardous and Tonto doesn’t usually stock the Lower Salt all that much compared to Page Springs. Regarding the flow: The past couple years the flows increased toward the end of April and beginning of May. Salt River Project tells us this year's flows will increase in early-to-mid May, at which time we’ll be looking at a flow of 700-800 cfs. - Nick
- Todd: Without seeing them, we can't be certain. That said, invasive apple snails are spreading – the result of the aquarium trade - so that may be what you’re seeing (see picture to the right). If you bring some to our Region 6 office at 7200 East University Drive in Mesa, we’ll be able to identify them. The regional phone number is 480-981-9400. Thank you for your question. - Nick
Hello, Sir!! I'm loving the fishing reports....very helpful. Can you tell me if there will be catfish stocked in any of the Williams lakes this year? I think it was 3 or 4 years ago, you guys stocked catfish and we had such a blast! Thanks, Jason
- Jason: Such catfish stockings depend on how much money is left over from a portion of our budget that is also used for equipment. The priority goes to Francis Short Pond, which will receive a couple loads, probably in May and June. If funds remain available, another load might go to Cataract Lake. Stay tuned. - Nick
OK, on to the full report.
Note: If you have a fishing report or good fishing pictures to share (JPEG), send them to our "Been Fishing" site at BFishing@azgfd.gov.
URBAN WATERS – The third catfish stocking of the spring season will take place the week of April 15-20 at all Phoenix and Tucson area Urban waters.
Cats from the first two stockings have been biting very well on worms, stink baits, hot dogs or shrimp fished on the bottom. Catfish have been active throughout the day with afternoons and evenings best. Catfish stockings will resume at Alvord Lake now that golden alga has been successfully treated (see article below).
Bluegill fishing is good at all Phoenix and Tucson area waters that were just stocked the end of March. Best baits for the feisty, 5-8 inch bluegill are worms or mealworms fished under a small bobber in 3-6 foot depths. Action for largemouth bass has slowed as they move into the post-spawn period over the next few weeks. Please exercise catch and release for largemouth bass and remember the minimum keeper size for bass is 13 inches.
At Green Valley lakes (Payson) fishing is good to excellent for trout. Try Power Bait, worms or salmon eggs off the bottom. Trout stockings at this higher elevation Urban lake will continue until mid May. Also at Green Valley, the bite for crappie and bass is picking up for anglers using small jigs and plastic worms.
The last stocking at all Urban Fishing program waters in the Phoenix and Tucson areas was April 3 for catfish; the last stocking at the Green Valley lakes in Payson was April 5 for trout.
Also, channel cats were becoming more active and many people night fishing are having excellent success. Chicken livers, anchovies and cut bait had been getting the job done.
ROOSEVELT LAKE - Lake elevation is 2,109 feet, 54 percent full). Roosevelt crappie fishing is spotty at best but some anglers are bringing in some nice catches using live minnows coupled with roadrunners. The Salt end around the submerged trees continues to be a productive area.
Also, another report from James Goughnour of Rim Country Custom Rods:
For the third week in a row bass fishing on Roosevelt Lake was called excellent this past week by local and tournament anglers. This week I received reports of a top water bite for the first time this spring.
Bass are chasing shad on the surface at first light and it can last up to an hour depending on the day. Ricos, Pop-R, buzz baits and soft paddle tail baits by Reaction Innovation were reported successful early in the morning.
Areas like Chubb Bay and Erwin’s Cove are traditionally great areas this time of year. If you don’t see bass chasing shad, most anglers are using crankbaits or spinner baits from sunrise until around 8:30 a.m.. Square bill crankbaits in a SR5 to SR7 size were catching good numbers this past week.
After the sun gets above the mountains, jigs, Texas rig worms, senkos and a dropshot using a 6-inch Roboworm were the preferred baits. Many bass are still spawning but the stained water is preventing many sight fishermen from finding the larger females.
The has now risen over 8 feet since the beginning of March. Not only does this additional water provide more cover for the fish, the nutrients washed into the lake provide much needed help for the fishery overall. The Salt River is flowing at 50% of its normal flow for this time of year and the Tonto Creek continues to flow at well above 100% of its normal flows.
The cold front that moved through rim country prevented the lake water temperature from raising this past week, it is still reported in the mid 60’s and can reach 70 degrees in the afternoons. Most pre and post spawn bass will be in depths of 20 feet or less. After bass finish spawning and regain their strength, they will move back to their normal deeper depths. So some bass may be found on humps, cover or structure in 30 feet of water so that would definitely be worth checking out over the next couple of weeks. A popular technique here would be a Carolina Rig using a large 10-inch worm.
The crappie fishing was called good the past week. Depending on the day, crappie anglers reported good numbers being caught. Hot sports reported were around the tires at the marina, Salome Cove, and along the shoreline at Orange Peel extending all the way to where the Tonto Creek enters the lake.
A 1/32 or 1/16-ounce jig hook with a 1-inch John Deere or pumpkin/chartreuse color grub tail were reported successful. Another successful bait used for vertical crappie fishing a called a Lil Fishy. This is a 1-inch shad-looking bait that can be lowered right into a brush or submerged tree where crappie suspend. The silver color with a blue stripe on the top was reported successful.
BARTLETT LAKE – Jeremy Hoffman, fishing manager at the north Phoenix Sportsman’s Warehouse, said folks are saying topwater has been incredible in the morning, and the afternoon bite has also been fantastic.
Techniques such as dropshotting, wacky rigging senkos, and lipless crankbaits are proving effective. When fishing lipless crankbaits, Hoffman suggests, let the lure fall all the way to the bottom before starting your retrieve, and then once you start bringing your crankbait back in, reel for a few seconds, pause briefly, and then start reeling once again.
Also try reeling in steady and then speeding it up for a few seconds, then return to your previous retrieval speed. As a result of both of the techniques, the fish will usually strike hard due to the sporadic action of these retrievals.
HORSESHOE LAKE - Lake elevation is 2,005 feet, 55-percent full. Hoffman, the north Phoenix Sportsman’s Warehouse fishing manager, reported Horseshoe is a particularly fun place to fish because of the waters it has held for so long. Catfish and carp anglers will have a blast fishing here because it’s a place where you can not only catch high numbers of fish, but many of considerable size. Scent is the key when fishing this lake because the water is so muddy and the visibility extremely poor. A strong potent scent is necessary for these fish to be able to hone in on your bait.
For catfish try using chicken livers or stink bait, and for carp use corn, dough balls, or cheese baits. (If you choose to fish with dough balls, add in lots of garlic salt and/or vanilla extract. It gives off a scent that catfish and carp cannot resist.) Salt River Project tends to use Horseshoe as a flood retention reservoir, but steadily releases the water downstream into Bartlett Lake.
LOWER SALT RIVER (below Saguaro Lake) - Recently received a large, unplanned stocking of rainbow trout. Reports indicate the river is excellent for suckers, but not so much for trout. Try night crawlers, small spinners, KastMasters and flies in this unique desert river trout fishery.
SAGUARO LAKE - Lake elevation is 1,526 feet (95 percent full): Texas Rigs in shallow water, drop shot and Jerkbaits are resulting in some nice catches. Earlier this month, Phoenix-based professional bass angler Josh Bertrand reported that large bass are chasing whacky-wormed Gary Yamamoto Senkos. For more information on whacky-worming a Senko, visit: http://www.insideline.net/1999/xiques-0910-99.html. Swim baits also have been catching the big bass’s curiosity, whether the bass want to eat it or not.
CANYON LAKE - Lake elevation is 1,659 feet (97 percent full). Senkos on Texas and Carolina rigs, drop shot and jerkbaits in shallow water are bringing in some 2 to 3 pound bass. Bluegill fishing is very good at Canyon and Saguaro near emergent vegetation using meal worms and small night crawlers.
Please send your reports to BFishing@azgfd.gov
APACHE LAKE - Lake elevation is 1,906 feet (91 percent full). There continue to be reports of some great sized bass that have been sitting on ledges with access to deep water, such a one that goes immediately from 10 to 100 feet of depth. The reports indicate the fish are spread out from the marina to the dam. Try dropshots with ox blood Roboworms.
When bed fishing, use jigs or soft plastics in lighter colors so you can see your bait. But consider releasing the spawning bass to preserve their populations.
TEMPE TOWN LAKE - Anglers still report slow-to-decent action on bass using slowly-retrieved drop-shot worms.
CREEKS BELOW THE MOGOLLON RIM - Weekly stockings into the trout streams have ended for most species.
LAKE POWELL AND LEES FERRY
Note: If you have a fishing report or good fishing pictures to share (JPEG), send them to our "Been Fishing" site at BFishing@azgfd.gov.
LAKE POWELL - Wayne Gustavson’s April 17 report from www.wayneswords.com:
Lake Elevation: 3597; Water temperature: 53-63 F
As this report is written the wind is howling keeping water temperature down in the low 50s. Don’t be discouraged. The wind will stop before the weekend allowing the temperature to rise. Warming water will usher in the annual bass spawn. If sight fishing for bass is high on your list then the fun begins as the water calms and continues into the first part of May.
Largemouth bass will be searching for some structure, like an old tree stump or submerged tumbleweed before sweeping a nest site. Smallmouth will be fine nesting on a rocky point or ledge. Crappie will search for tumbleweeds or other dense cover. The males of these species guard the nest and offer parental care to protect their young.
However, brushy cover that has provided so much habitat the past few years is currently out of the water. Without dense cover it will be difficult for the hatchlings to survive. It is imperative to return MALE bass and crappie caught guarding nests to allow them to protect their young in the absence of cover. Female bass and crappie can be harvested without impacting young survival. Be advised that young crappie and largemouth bass produced this spring will have very low survival without brush shelter. It is possible that an early runoff could raise the lake high enough that old brush could be covered and protect some fish spawned in May but that is yet to be determined.
Striped bass are being caught in large numbers over the length of the lake. Deep water on the southern end, from the Dam to Navajo Canyon, offers anglers an unlimited opportunity to harvest stripers. The strategy is to chum near the main channel canyon wall. Attach a chunk of anchovy to a lead head jig or a hook weighted with a sliding sinker. Cast the bait 30-50 feet from the boat and let it settle in the water column at the same rate the chum descends. Striper schools move along the wall searching for food.
Chum excites the whole school and many can be caught in one location. The only hard part is to find the school. Be patient for 10 minutes while waiting for the first bite, but if it does not come then move along the wall and chum again until the school lights up.
Hot spots are at the Dam, Buoy 3, Antelope Canyon, Power Plant intake, and Navajo Canyon points. A new spot is found in the main channel upstream from Dominguez Rock Floating restroom and the mouth of Face Canyon in the largest slick rock cove near Buoy 25.
Midlake reports indicate bait fishing success is improving at Lake Canyon mouth and along Moki wall. It will be another week or so before these spots show the massive striper harvest now being achieved in the southern lake.
From Good Hope north shad forage is more available and anchovies are less successful. Trolling and casting for stripers and bass provides much more success. Trolling near the White Canyon channel marker has been very good for fat, healthy stripers.
On a personal note, my weekly fishing trip was on a breezy morning before the current windy storm front arrived. Trolling close to shore for stripers in murky water caused by recent wind events was steady but not fast. Mid morning the wind quit for an hour before changing direction. Calm water warmed rapidly causing all fish in the cove to respond. Trolling was no longer necessary. We cast jerk baits to the shallow shoreline and caught healthy stripers of all sizes and smallmouth bass to 3 pounds on every cast. Then the wind blew hard from the opposite direction and we went in.
These wide open catching opportunities will be repeated many times during the next two weeks as water warms, spawning begins and fishing gets
LEES FERRY - Angler's report: Fished the walk in section for two full days. My buddy was spin fishing and had some luck using Pistol Petes under a cast bobber. He had limited luck on Kastmasters or spinners. I was using the normal Lee's Ferry stuff (midges, scuds, glow bugs, San Juan worms) and had pretty good luck. The upper boulder field was slower. The best fishing was near the Paria bar and the lower boulder field. We both ended up with 25 fish a day. Slow for Lee's Ferry standards but still a good day. When you’re used to 50 fish days it is a letdown. LOL. The fish are spawning still. Several were spilling eggs. Regardless the fishing is good. The biggest one we caught was 17 inches. Most were in the 12 to 13 inch range, Let’s hope all this snowmelt runoff gets the lakes and streams loaded full of nutrients and fattens up all the trout and bass.
Also read the previous April 1 fishing report from www.leesferry.com.
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 azgfd.gov or visit http://100thmeridian.org/.
LAKE MEAD – The elevation has continued to drop to 1116 feet above msl. Be careful boating because of fluctuating water levels and watch for floating debris dislodged from rising water levels. 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 April 10th. The next new moon will be May 9th. Dark nights work best when fishing under light. Fishing for stripers in 50 plus feet of water will normally find the larger fish. If they are not taking the anchovies try swimming baits and see if you can get them to bite. Jigging in 50-60 feet deep has been doing well on Mead. 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. A recent report I received said the fishing was tough due to the cool water but they managed to catch a few largemouth, one smallmouth and several stripers. Bobby O. sent me a picture of a beautiful 5 lbs. largemouth bass he caught in the back of a cove in about 3 ft. of water on the Nevada side. All the fishermen contacted were hopeful for the coming years with rising water conditions and the abundance of baitfish they have seen this year.
LAKE MOHAVE – The lake level has risen a little to 643 feet above msl. The black bass are hitting soft baits when worked slowly especially on grass beds in 20 to 30 feet deep. Ed and his grandson Jacob caught 4 nice largemouths on brown colored spinner baits. The largest of their catch was 4.48 pounds at 21 ⅞ inches long. Reports of using artificial crawfish jerked through the weed beds have worked well. The reports from my black bass fishing contacts say that the numbers of smallmouth bass are overtaking the largemouth in tournaments recently and that the smallmouth and just as big as the largemouth. Trolling with LONG A BOMBERS has been producing some nice stripers. I received a report that the striper fishing has picked up a little. While the number of stripers in Mohave has been decreasing, the quality of the fish caught has increased.
Submersible lights fished during the new moon are an effective way to catch stripers. Next new moon will be May 9th. 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 email@example.com so I can share your successes with others.
WILLOW BEACH – Willow Beach is stocked every Friday with 3,000 13” rainbow trout. Rainbow, peach, garlic and yellow Power Baits and Powerworms were being used most for trout. Jakes original and Jakes Juniors, Panther Martin and Rooster Tails are also usually effective. Willow Beach can be hit or miss bait fishing. Try different baits including swim baits when nobody seems to be hooking anything.
If you fish Willow beach and are having luck, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can share your successes with others.
COLORADO RIVER BELOW DAVIS DAM – Trout bite in the casino area is doing well from the casino area to below the Rio Lomas Beach. The accessional large stripers are still being caught from the dam down to the Gorge. Many of these fish are in the 4-12 pound range. Justin and Bill weighed in a 9.38 pound striper at 29 ⅛ inches caught at the Rotary Park area.
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. Rusty at the Riviera Marina sent pictures of several successful trips to the river. Night crawlers, mouse tails, rooster tails and Panther Martin’s are the reported best bait for these beauties but power bait has also been successful. He also sent a picture of Willie’s 2.64 pound smallmouth bass and two largemouth bass that weighed 3.02 lbs. and 2.32 lbs. All three of these fish were caught from shore using night crawlers at Sunshine Cove. Also from the Sunshine Cove area Kyle landed a nice 2.92 lbs. 17 ⅞ inches smallmouth bass using his favorite blue colored lure. Rusty is sponsoring a fishing tournament to benefit the local senior nutrition program if you are interested stop by his shop. 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 http://www.usbr.gov/lc/riverops.html before you go. If you fish the river below Davis Dam and are having luck, please e-mail me at email@example.com so I can share your successes with others.
Topock Gorge- Most bass are being taken on minnows and night crawlers. Reports are that stripers are returning to the Gorge.
TOPOCK MARSH – The action at Topock Marsh has been slowing. Reports are that the crappie bite is on. Night crawlers and live minnows have been tempting catfish and largemouth bass from North Dyke. Folks were catching their limits of largemouth on spinner baits mostly. Remember the minimum of 13 inches for largemouth bass in 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 http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/arizona/havasu/index.html.
Note: If you would like more information on southwestern waters, visit http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/where_fish_southwest.shtml. Our Yuma Regional office has recently updated all the information to provide you more insight into these fisheries. If you have a fishing report or good fishing pictures to share (JPEG), send them to our "Been Fishing" site at BFishing@azgfd.gov. For more information, visit the "Where to Fish" pages at www.azgfd.gov/h_f/where_fish.shtml.
ALAMO LAKE - Report from Mark Knapp, Park Ranger at Alamo Lake State Park: Well folks, once again time slips by and I have not had a chance to write anything. Before the next crisis occurs, I want to get something out to you.
We have had several bass tournaments here over the last two weeks. A lot of anglers got skunked and left very discouraged. I think the winning weight in last week’s tournament was around 16 pounds. That's not bad considering bass fishing is pretty much hit and miss right now.
Junior and I have been going out and doing battle with the winds. We’re picking up a couple of bass a night, and he is enjoying his one fish lead for the year. We’re throwing plastics of all colors but keep going back to watermelon-colored green. We’re Texas rigging them with 1/4 ounce weights with a No. 1 hook.
For the next several weeks I will start throwing a ¼-ounce jig with a John Deer colored tail. I pick up a lot of crappie and bass this way. This is the only time of year that I crappie fish. The males are up close to the shore and the females are moving to about 10 feet of water. Other anglers are catching 5 to 15 a day using minnows and trolling up around the buoy lines. I'm hoping things really turn on soon. This last year was the worst fishing I have ever seen during my 10 years of living out here.
Catfishing is excellent right now. They’re eating anything put in front of them. I was messing around in the back of a cove up by the dam and decided to throw a model A bomber and hooked into a monster cat. I fought with him for about 15 minutes before getting the fish up to the side of the boat. I could not even get my hand around his head. I've caught a lot of fish in this lake over the years and am pretty good at guessing their weight. I figure this cat had to go at least 15 pounds, maybe more. This was a time where I wish I did have a net. I really would have liked to have weighed it.
Other than this, you’re not missing much except for a lot of wind. We are aware when the courtesy dock at Cholla gets blown out of position. We wait until the winds calm down or the first chance we get and move it back into position.
Lately the winds are coming straight out of the north, so it’s not worth moving it back until the wind direction changes. More than once I have taken a tractor over and moved the dock back, and before I got back to the main park the dock has moved again.
We have minnows. This week we have the Highway Patrol tournament during the week, followed by the couples All Stars tournament this weekend. I have no clue what the lake level is but I'm guessing 1097ish.
The CORE cranked up their releases to 25 cfs, so you will start to see the lake drop a little faster than in the last two months. I still have not heard anything else about the CORE dropping the lake level due to maintenance of the dam. I'm hoping to have an update on that in the next couple of weeks. We're encouraging everyone to use the Cholla ramp, but you still can launch off the old rental boat road.
Well that's it for this week. - Mark
LAKE HAVASU - Some larger-than-average redear sunfish have been caught, including one that unofficially weighed about 5 pounds and nearly challenged a world record. Biologists think the presence of quagga mussels, which the redear feed off of, has caused an upswing of redear sizes. Fishermen are still reporting catching very low numbers of striped bass, although a couple of anglers have commented that the ones they do catch have been much larger than is usual for Lake Havasu, in the 6 to 8-pound range.
COLORADO RIVER (PARKER STRIP AREA) - Falling over night temperatures should start slowing the catfish bite down. The strip is home to both flatheads, and more commonly, channel catfish. Channels cats can be found throughout the strip but are typically in the areas with shoreline vegetation. A variety of stink baits can be productive as are goldfish or small bluegills for both species of catfish Small mouth and largemouth bass are also found up and down the river. Many anglers have switched to sight fishing as water clarity has significantly increased since the introduction of the aquatic invasive quagga mussel. Boaters are reminded to clean drain and dry their watercraft before taking them to another body of water.
COLORADO RIVER - (Picacho State Park to Imperial Dam, including backwaters and Martinez Lake) – No new reports. From last week: A 7.75-pound bass was recently taken from a backwater spot (see photo). 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 weed beds, 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, stink bait, 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 slack water areas. Bluegill will bite on meal worms, night crawlers or small crappie jigs.
MITTRY LAKE - No new reports. From last week: Mittry Lake offers many fishing opportunities. There are ten man-made jetties on the eastern shore for shoreline anglers, but the lake is most effectively fished by boat. There is a good concrete boat launch near the southern end of the lake, with a courtesy mooring dock. There is also a more primitive gravel ramp toward the northern end of the lake. There are restrooms and trash facilities at the main boat ramp, which also sports a large ramada for public gatherings.
Mittry Lake can be a bit frustrating at time, especially for bass fishermen. There are plenty of bass in the lake, with a few in the eight to ten pound range, occasionally larger. However, the bass are sometimes finicky, and it can be challenging to bring any in on some days. Other days, the bite can be wide open. Windy, or changing weather often brings on the bite. Techniques for bass fishing vary widely. When fishing for bass in the cooler months, and bass are less active, fish deeper water with jigs, swimbaits, or plastics using a slow retrieve. As the water warms up in the spring and summer, bass become more active and move to shallower water.
During that time most people use plastics, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, or crankbaits with a faster retrieve. Plastic baits resembling worms, crawdads, frogs, or lizards can also work well. For best results fish around structure such as weed beds, emergent vegetation or where shoreline brush edges the water.
YUMA AREA PONDS - Final stockings of trout have been made in Yuma area ponds for the season. Fortuna and Redondo ponds were stocked on Feb. 16, and the Yuma West Wetlands and Council Park (Somerton) ponds were stocked on Feb. 23.
KAIBAB LAKE — Campground is closed. No report Has been stocked.
CATARACT LAKE — Campground is closed. No report Has been stocked.
CITY RESERVOIR — No report
DOGTOWN LAKE — Campground is closed. No report Has been stocked.
JD DAM — No report. Remember the lake is managed as a catch and release fishery.
SANTA FE — No report. Has been stocked
WHITEHORSE LAKE — Campground is closed.
LOWER LAKE MARY — Lower Lake Mary has been stocked with 20,000 Rainbow trout. Fishing has been excellent using small black roostertails and other spinners. Folks fishing with small spoons are also doing well. There have been fly anglers who have had 100 fish days on the lake. Bait fishermen have been catching trout on rainbow Power Bait but at a slower rate than folks fishing with lures or flies.
UPPER LAKE MARY — This is a good time to fish for pike on Upper Lake. Try the standard pike lures or anchovies under a bobber.
ASHURST LAKE — The road opened last week. The lake was stocked last week and fishing for holdover trout and fresh stockers was excellent over the weekend. Folks using small gold spoons and spinners were doing well. Fly fishermen were also catching fish. Power Bait was also working.
FRANCIS SHORT POND – Fishing has been good. The Lake is being stocked weekly.
KINNIKINICK LAKE — Road is open. This is the time of year to catch a nice brown trout on the lake.
OAK CREEK — No report. Scheduled to be stocked this week.
LONG LAKE — We have had a few reports that the pike fishing has been good on Long Lake,
BEAVER CREEK – No report
WEST CLEAR CREEK - No report
STONEMAN LAKE — NO FISH.
BLUE RIDGE — Road is open and the lake is full and spilling.
KNOLL LAKE — Road is still closed
DEAD HORSE STATE PARK – Catfish were last stocked for the Verde River Days event. The last trout stocking was scheduled the week of March 10th. Catfish and bass bite has slowed due to the cold temperatures. The trout bite should be excellent considering the recent stockings.
VERDE RIVER (throughout Verde Valley) – The last scheduled stocking was the week of March 17th. 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.
FAIN LAKE — The last scheduled trout stocking was the week of April 1st. The next tentative scheduled stocking will be this week, the week of April 15th. I have not heard any reports from Fain in a while.
GOLDWATER LAKE — Report are that some trout are being caught but it can be hit and miss. Damon sent a report that he has been doing very well fishing by the dam using yellow sparkling marshmallows several feet from his sinker. The last trout stocking was scheduled for last week, the week of April 7th.
If you fish Goldwater and are having luck, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can share your successes with others.
GRANITE BASIN LAKE – Bluegill and some catfish are still being caught. If you fish Granite Basin and are having luck, please e-mail me at email@example.com so I can share your successes with others.
LYNX LAKE – The last scheduled stocking was the week of April 7th.
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 – The next stocking is tentatively scheduled for this week, the week of April 15th.
For trout the best bait is usually orange, pink, or white Power Bait, fished on the bottom with a treble hook and an egg sinker. Fishing can be really good at times, because angler use is lower than other lakes in the area.
Yellow bullhead catfish are active and easy to catch with nightcrawlers on the bottom.
This lake is more remote than the other Prescott area lakes and not very big. The lake is open as weather permits. Forest Road 104 is relatively impassable when wet. The lake is still open to foot traffic.
Someone illegally stocked yellow bullhead into Mingus several years ago. These fish compete directly with the trout and keep growth rates very low. If you witness anyone, anywhere, moving fish like bass, bluegill, catfish and stocking them, please report it to our Operation Game Thief Hotline at 1-800-352-0700. Illegal stockings cost YOU money!
WATSON – Trout were last stocked the week of March 18th.,
If you fish Watson and are having luck, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can share your successes with others.
WILLOW CREEK RESERVOIR – The challenge with this lake is finding access to the shore and fighting the aquatic vegetation. If you fish Willow and are having luck, please e-mail me at email@example.com so I can share your successes with others.
WHITE MOUNTAINS AND RIM LAKES
Recommended Waters to Fish
A number of lakes have been recently stocked and fishing should be good at Willow Springs and Black Canyon Lakes in the Rim Lakes area and Scott Reservoir, Woodland, Show Low and Rainbow Lakes in the Pinetop/Show Low area.
Tunnel and Bunch Reservoirs in the Greer area and Luna Lake will be stocked this week. Larger, carry-over trout can be caught at Big Lake, Nelson, Scott and River Reservoirs. Catch-and-release fishing at Becker Lake is currently good.
Trout Stocking Schedule
(Week of April 8-12)
Black Canyon Lake – 2,673 rainbow trout
Rainbow Lake – 2,124 rainbow trout
Scott Reservoir – 1,237 rainbow trout
Show Low Lake – 1,940 rainbow trout
Willow Springs Lake – 4,680 rainbow trout
Woodland Lake – 3,036 rainbow trout
Woods Canyon Lake – 5,380 rainbow trout
(Week of April 15-19)
Bunch Reservoir – 1,980 rainbow trout
Luna Lake – 5,000 rainbow trout
Rainbow Lake – 1,836 rainbow trout
Show Low Lake – 4,000 rainbow trout
Tunnel Reservoir – 2,124 rainbow trout
MOGOLLON RIM LAKES:
Note: All lakes are now ice-free, but access is still blocked to Woods Canyon and Bear Canyon Lakes due to lingering snowdrifts. The storm last week dropped 18 inches of snow around Woods Canyon Lake, but it should melt quickly.
BEAR CANYON LAKE – The lake is ice-free, but access to the lake is still blocked. Forest Roads (FR) 300 and 34 are still closed to vehicles due to lingering snowdrifts.
BLACK CANYON LAKE – Fishing is good. The lake was stocked with 2,673 rainbow trout last week, as well as getting stocked the first week of April. Recent surveys showed a few larger, carry-over trout up to 19 inches persisting. Black Canyon Lake is ice-free, and all Forest Roads are open and clear to the lake.
CHEVELON LAKE – Fishing is good. The lake is ice-free, full and spilling. Chevelon Lake is accessible by Highway 99 and FR 169 from Winslow or by FR 504 and 169 from Heber. Access from FR 300 is still blocked. The stream in and out of the lake came up dramatically after last week’s storm, flowing approximately 145 cfs when last checked. Recent surveys found moderate numbers of 16 to 19-inch brown trout, with some up to 24 inches. Rainbow trout were fewer and smaller, but some up to 15 inches.
WILLOW SPRINGS LAKE – Fishing is good. The lake was heavily stocked with 4,680 rainbow trout last week. Willow Springs Lake is ice-free, full and spilling. FR 149 to the boat ramp is now open. The boat dock is not usable at this time, but will be re-installed soon. The boat ramp is okay.
WOODS CANYON LAKE – The lake is ice-free, but access is still gated shut due to moisture from last week’s storm, which dropped 18 inches of snow in the area. FR 300 and 105 are closed to vehicles. The snow will melt fast, and the road may be open by next week (April 22).
WHITE MOUNTAINS LAKES:
Note: All lakes are now ice-free. Highways 261 and 273 are now open.
BECKER LAKE – Fishing is good. Anglers have been catching fat rainbow trout on zebra midges, egg patterns and streamers in the shallows around the boat ramp. The lake is ice-free, but the water level is low. Becker Lake is open to catch-and-release fishing, with artificial fly and lure only, and single barbless hooks only.
BIG LAKE – Fishing is good. Highways 261 and 273 are now open. The lake is ice-free, but is down almost four feet. The store is open and boat rentals are available.
CARNERO LAKE – Fishing is poor. The lake is ice-free, but experienced a winterkill. Access to the lake is good on Forest Roads 118 and 117A. There is still one snowdrift blocking access from the 117 direction. The lake will be re-stocked soon to replace trout lost to the winterkill.
CLEAR CREEK RESERVOIR – The lake is ice-free, but has not yet been stocked and fishing is poor.
CONCHO LAKE – Fishing is fair to good. Concho was stocked with 2,000 rainbow trout in March.
CRESCENT LAKE – Fishing is poor. The lake is ice-free but experienced a likely winterkill due to low oxygen under the winter ice cover. Highways 261 and 273 are now open. The store is closed. Access to the north and middle boat ramps is good, but the south boat ramp is blocked by a boat dock that was pulled up last fall.
FOOL HOLLOW LAKE – Fishing is fair. The lake is ice-free, and the campground (run by Arizona State Parks) is open. The lake will get stocked next week (April 22-26).
GREER LAKES – All Greer lakes (River, Tunnel and Bunch Reservoirs) are ice-free and full. Roads to the lakes are open and clear. Fishing at Tunnel and Bunch will be good as they get stocked this week with 2,124 and 1,980 rainbow trout, respectively. There are also some larger, carry-over trout present in each lake. Recent surveys in River Reservoir found rainbow trout up to 21 inches and brown trout up to 22 inches.
HULSEY LAKE – The lake was drained immediately following the Wallow Fire to help reduce expected flooding on Escudilla Mountain and has not been stocked since the fire.
LEE VALLEY LAKE – Fishing is poor. The lake is ice-free, but experienced a likely winterkill due to low oxygen under the winter ice cover. Highway 273 is now open. The lake will be stocked with Apache trout on the week of April 29-May 3.
LUNA LAKE – The lake is ice-free. Trout fishing will be good by the end of this week after it has been stocked with 5,000 rainbow trout to replace fish lost to a winter-kill. The road to the lake is open and clear.
LYMAN LAKE – Lyman Lake State Park is still closed for the season.
NELSON RESERVOIR – Fishing is fair for large, carry-over trout. The lake is ice-free, full and spilling. Nelson will be stocked when the lake stops spilling.
RAINBOW LAKE – Fishing is good. The lake was stocked last week with 2,124 rainbow trout and will be stocked again this week with 1,836 rainbow trout. Angling for illegally stocked northern pike is fair; over 250 pike were removed in March in an effort to improve fishing for bass, sunfish and trout. The lake is ice-free, full and spilling. The weeds have not yet started to grow, so boating conditions are good.
SCOTT RESERVOIR – Fishing is good. The lake was stocked last week with 1,237 rainbow trout. Recent surveys also found good numbers of 12- to 16-inch carry-over trout. The survey also found channel catfish up to 10 pounds and largemouth bass up to four pounds. The lake is ice-free and full. The water was slightly turbid last week.
SHOW LOW LAKE – Fishing is very good. The lake was stocked last week with 1,940 rainbow trout and will be stocked again this week with 4,000 rainbow trout. Recent surveys also found many one- to three-pound walleye (with some up to nine pounds), several channel catfish over 10 pounds, and moderate numbers of one- to two-pound smallmouth bass. The lake is ice-free and almost full. The fishing piers were damaged over the winter by ice flows and are currently not usable. Plans to re-install the fishing pier near the boat ramp are being developed. The concession store is open, and boat rentals are available. The spillway campground and the road over the dam are still closed. The main campground is open.
WOODLAND LAKE – Fishing is excellent. The lake was stocked last week with 3,036 rainbow trout. Woodland Lake is ice-free and full.
WHITE MOUNTAINS STREAMS:
Note: Highways 261 and 273 are now open. Access from Alpine on interior Forest Roads is also open.
EAST FORK of the BLACK RIVER – Highways 261 and 273 are now open. Forest Road 276 is also open along the East Fork, but may close during monsoon season later in the summer. The river is flowing a little high. Trout stocking will begin in May, but fishing for wild brown trout is currently fair.
WEST FORK of the BLACK RIVER – Highways 261 and 273 are open. Access to the West Fork Campground will remain closed through this year. The river is flowing moderately high. Trout stocking will begin in May, but fishing for wild brown trout is currently fair.
LITTLE COLORADO RIVER IN GREER – The roads and stream are accessible in Greer, but fishing is slow. Water temperatures are cold, and the stream is running a little high. Trout stocking will begin in May, but wild brown trout are present.
SHEEPS CROSSING – Highway 273 is now open. Water temperatures are cold and the stream is running a little high. Trout stocking will begin in May, but fishing for wild Apache trout is fair.
SHOW LOW CREEK – The access road across the dam is still closed, and the large pool below the dam is not scheduled to be stocked until June.
SILVER CREEK – Fishing is fair for large rainbow trout and Apache trout. The stream is now open to general fishing regulations from April 1 through September 30. The upper section is now closed to angling during the general regulation season. Flies and lures will continue to work well until many of the carry-over trout have been harvested, and nightcrawlers will also be effective. The stream is running clear and has not been affected by snowmelt. Regular trout stocking will begin in May.
Please send me your fishing reports from Southern Arizona! Fishing reports for southern waters can be sent to Amberle Jones, Regional Sportfish Biologist by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. These reports will then be complied and reported in our weekly fishing reports.
Spring is here and with it comes increasing water temperatures meaning that fish are becoming more active. Anglers can expect to see increased activity in the largemouth bass as they prepare to spawn. Followed closely behind the largemouth bass will be the spawning of the sunfish species. Anglers should concentrate their efforts in areas of likely spawning habitat near shore.
Trout stockings are all but over for the southern half of the state but anglers can still expect to find trout fishing opportunities up until water temperatures reach the mid 70.s.
Need ideas on where to go fishing? Try the Departments new interactive Fish and Boat Map: Fish and Boat Arizona
RIGGS FLAT — No opening date has been scheduled. Trout stocking will again this year be dependent on water quality. To view the entire summer stocking schedule go here: 2013 Summer Stocking Schedule
CLUFF RANCH — No recent reports of success. The pond is full and there should be no problems with boat launching. Visitors are reminded that it is illegal to obstruct the use of the boat ramp by anglers trying to launch the boats. No parking, standing, sitting, swimming or fishing is allowed on the boat ramp. For lake information call (928) 485-9430.
ROPER LAKE — No recent reports of success. For lake information (928) 428-6760.
DANKWORTH POND — Still closed for renovations as State Parks puts the final touches on several construction projects. The Department already began the restocking process with the introduction of bluegill sunfish. The stocked fish were in good condition and should be ready to spawn as water temperatures rise. Largemouth bass will be stocked once the sunfish population has become established. Additionally there are several catchable channel catfish stockings planned through the summer so stay tuned for more information!
FRYE MESA RESERVIOR – Anglers continue to report success in catching Gila trout. Remember that the daily bag and possession limit for this species is 1 fish. Frye Creek above the reservoir remains closed to fishing.
ARIVACA — Open to anglers, water levels continue to be severely low and the lake continues to drop. All boat launching is at the risk of the owner. Anglers are reminded that all largemouth bass caught must be immediately released alive.
PENA BLANCA – Anglers are reminded that all largemouth bass caught must be immediately released alive. Additionally all mercury advisories against the eating of warmwater fish caught at Pena Blanca Lake remains in effect. Future testing will determine if and when these advisories will be lifted. Boaters using gas motors are asked to be courteous and not create wake problems for others boaters.
PATAGONIA — Fishing for warm water species such as sunfish, bass and catfish will slowly pick up as temperatures continue to rise . The lake level is down and boaters should use caution as obstructions can appear as water levels drop.
PARKER CANYON — Fishing has picked up for trout. Anglers have reported catching their nice 12 inch rainbow trout on power eggs and pink power bait. Anglers are reminded that the bag/possession limit for channel catfish is now 4 fish. Contact the Parker Canyon Lake Store for up to date information on lake levels and fishing activity at www.parkercanyonlake.com or by phone at (520)455-5847.
ROSE CANYON LAKE — Rose Canyon is expected to be re-opened April 14th. Summer trout stockings will begin the week of April 15th not April 8th as reported in the stocking schedule. To view the entire summer stocking schedule go here: 2013 Summer Stocking Schedule