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Fishing Report - Feb. 20, 2014

Posted in: Fishing Report
Feb 20, 2014
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Hello, anglers,


RecordCrappieoutdoor.jpg
A pending world record, Arizona style, was yanked out of Lake Havasu on Sunday. Hector Brito's redear sunfish weighed 5.80 pounds. A steroid shellcracker, it was.


If you’ve never seen a 6-pound panfish, it’s time to head to Havasu, where the redear sunfish are likely benefitting from the invasive quagga mussels as a food source.


Brito (right) caught the redear sunfish at 11:30 a.m. and brought it to Bass Tackle Master in beautiful Lake Havasu City, where John Galbraith weighed it at 5.80 pounds on an Arizona Game and Fish-certified scale. It was 17 inches long. Brito caught the plump panfish by the chalk cliffs with a dropshot rig that included a No. 8 Aberdeen gold hook and a nightcrawler.

The record awaits certification by the International Game Fish Association.

The previous record, held by Bob Lawler, was 5.55 pounds in 2011. Redear sunfish have grown to trophy size in Lake Havasu. Redear sunfish in the 2-pound range and larger are regularly caught at this 19,300-acre impoundment on the Colorado River, formed by Parker Dam. Bluegill and redear can be caught around structure such as docks, vegetation, or artificial structure using mealworms, nightcrawlers, or small crappie jigs.


Yeah, it’s a pending world record, but with the unprecedented sizes of redear that have been caught at Havasu, look for an even bigger one to be caught within the next couple of years, or even months -- redear bite better in May and June. Might as well make it your record.


“(Brito) said he thought it was a catfish,” Galbraith said. “I don’t know what the genetic potential is for redear. But this record fish was not even a spawning fish. There’s some out there that are in the mid-6 (pound range) easy.”

Galbraith said the redears have been getting exceptionally large during the past four years the lake has been infested with the invasive quagga mussels. (Be sure to clean, drain and dry your boat before leaving Havasu or any AIS-affected lake – it’s the law.) See more information on aquatic invasive species.


Crawdads eat quagga mussels, which could be another reason for the enlarged redear, as well as smallmouth bass. Redear, we assume, eat quaggas, although this hasn't been proven. These sunfish meander along the bottom of lakebeds seeking and cracking open snails and other shelled creatures with its thick, pharyngeal teeth and hard, movable plates in its throat that allow it to crunch exoskeletons.


Congrats to Mr. Brito on the record. Who’s next?


As expected, last weekend’s warm spat of weather, coupled with the full moon, convinced many largemouth bass to move into shallow waters and stage up to spawn. At some of the warmer desert lakes in western Arizona, the bass spawn schedule should be ahead of the rest of the state.


Already at Roosevelt Lake in Central Arizona, water temperatures have been between 50-55 degrees, and at 55, bass become more active and begin to spawn. With air temperatures forecast to be about 80 degrees steady for the next week, with overnight lows of 52-54 degrees, look for the bass action to get even better at some of these pristine lakes, including Apache, Canyon and Saguaro. All have been stocked with rainbow trout throughout the winter, and so throwing some big swim bait, trout imitations can produce some trophy bass. We just stocked Saguaro last week.


At Alamo Lake, Mark Knapp at Alamo Lake State Park said bass fishing is finally picking up, as is the crappie bite. These speckled beauties also have been biting better at Roosevelt. See more on both lakes in the full report.


Also, we received an Angler Report of a great striper bite at Lake Pleasant by dropping nightcrawlers 60-70 to the bottom of Humbug. Keep sending your fishing reports along with photos to BFishing@AZGFD.gov.


Finally, beginning March 24, we’ll be stocking the Verde River (Clarkdale to Camp Verde), Goldwater Lake, the Lower Salt River, Patagonia Lake, and Fortuna Pond.


Enjoy all these fishing options, and don’t forget about the 14th annual Arizona International Sportsmen’s Exposition (ISE) that has filled the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale since Thursday,  Feb. 20 and will end Sunday, Feb. 23 with an expanded presence of outdoor product and service exhibitors, attractions, seminars, and the incorporation of the Arizona Boat ShowTM. See full details.

Oh, here’s the full winter trout stocking schedule.

And if you need that fishing license, you can buy it online.


Additional public meetings scheduled on fisheries management in Haigler Creek
 
PHOENIX -- The Arizona Game and Fish Department will host public meetings to discuss the current and proposed management of sport fisheries on Haigler Creek and receive public comment. Meetings will be held in Payson, Young, and Phoenix. Details regarding meeting locations are below.

The Department manages portions of Haigler Creek as a wild rainbow trout and brown trout fishery, as well as a put-and-take rainbow trout fishery. The proposal calls for the Department to reintroduce native Gila trout into Upper Haigler Creek with the goal of developing a catch-and-release fishery for this unique trout species.

Here is the meeting schedule:

  • Payson: Feb. 24, 6 p.m.; Payson Public Library, 328 N. McLane Road, Payson, Ariz., 85541
  • Young: Feb: 25, 6 p.m.; Pleasant Valley Community Center, 72000 N. Highway 288, Young, Ariz., 85554
  • Phoenix: Feb. 26, 6 p.m.; Arizona Game and Fish Headquarters, Quail Room (main entrance), 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086


ANGLER REPORT

(Please send your reports to BFishing@AZGFD.gov)

Jeff L. of Tonopah reported about some great striper Sunday, Feb. 16 beginning at 1:30 p.m. action on Lake Pleasant: We went directly to Humbug and saw a lot of fish on the sonar in deep water (60-70 feet.).  We anchored immediately and began fishing with nightcrawlers on the bottom. Within about 10 minutes, we boated the first striper. Before we were able to release the first fish, one of our other poles was also hooked up. The action continued for three more hours, slowing at times. We probably caught and released 35-40 striped bass as well as two channel catfish. This hot spot was within 40 yards of a group of seven boats all tied together with loud music booming. Surface water temp was 56 degrees. It was also overcast all day. I would recommend this area right now, unless you don't enjoy catching a lot of fish in a short time. 

FISH STORIES

What's your fish story? In the fourth segment of “Fish Stories” Tyson Warren, a Lees Ferry Anglers fishing guide, remembers growing up in Flagstaff, fishing almost every weekend with his dad, campfires always crackling at night.
Have a fond memory? Enjoy this Fish Stories video from the "AZGFD" YouTube site!

An exciting experience? A funny situation? Or, just a special day on the water with family and friends enjoying Arizona’s amazing outdoors? Email your story to bfishing@azgfd.gov, and we may share it with others online, in print, or on television.

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


CENTRAL WATERS

Note: Arizona fishing opportunities wouldn't be possible without the Sport Fish Restoration Program. It was created through the Dingell-Johnson Act of 1950 (Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act) and the Wallop-Breaux amendments of 1984.


Through a federal excise tax paid by manufacturers on fishing gear and motorboat fuels, it provides grant funds for fishery conservation, boating access, and aquatic education.

New reports:

(If you have a fishing report or good fishing pictures to share (JPEG), send them to our "Been Fishing" site at BFishing@azgfd.gov.)


BARTLETT LAKE – Lake elevation is 1,765 feet, 57 % full. Gary Senft, a Bass Pro at the Mesa Bass Pro Shops, said Bartlett is still going strong for largemouth bass. Fish shallow during mornings with crankbaits and spinners. As the sun comes up, fish a bit deeper and throw dropshot Roboworms (morning dawn has been effective). Senft said he recently had success throwing Shad Raps in shallow water (2-6 feet) throughout the day. Look for bass to move up into shallow water to feed with rising water temperature and for some bigger bass to spawn.


Crappie had been biting at the north end of the lake by the no wake buoys using 1/8- and 1/16-ounce curly tail jigs (try small grubs in green and black, red and black, or white.)

"Flathead" Ed Wilcoxson said action at prime flathead catfish fisheries such as Lake Pleasant and Bartlett has slowed. Flathead weighing more than 20 pounds get lethargic as the night get colder. Still, anglers can catch 15-18 pound flatheads with better consistency by locating bluegill in 30-35 feet of water. Find the bluegill, and you'll often find feeding flatheads looking for dinner.

ROOSEVELT LAKE - Lake elevation is 2,101 feet, 48-percent full. Feb. 15 report from James Goughnour of Rim Country Custom Rods: Good morning, Rim Country Anglers.  Fishing on Roosevelt Lake improved this past week and was called fair to good by experienced anglers.


The stable weather this week played a big part along with the full moon. Several anglers reported bass beginning to move into a pre-spawn stage which means if the weather remains stable, the spawn could ramp up quickly this year.  The water level remains at 48 percent full.  The Salt River is flowing at 55 percent; however, the Tonto Creek has nearly stopped flowing again. The surface temperature is 50-55 degrees and most experienced bass anglers know that a magic 55-degree water temperature usually means bass will become more active and begin the spawn process.

Anglers reported using traditional spring time baits such as spinner baits, buzz baits, and soft plastic 5-inch swim baits. Large numbers were not reported, but just the fact that the metabolism of the bass is allowing them to chase baits is encouraging. Jerk baits were again successful along with Carolina rigs and jigs in deeper depths. The drop shot technique in 25 feet was a good choice in the afternoons. A couple of afternoon fishing hot spots included Methodist Cove and Cottonwood Cove. 

Some of the roads and Rim lakes are open and fishing them this time of year can be great fun. However be sure to check the AZGFD website or call a store or motel near the Rim lake you want to fish to get the latest travel and fishing updates.

The professional bass fishing circuit is about to get the 2014 season started. Four anglers from Arizona will be competing in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville located in Birmingham Ala., Feb. 21-23. All Arizona anglers wish the best to Clifford Pirch, John Murray, Josh Bertrand, and Dean Rojas.

Also coming up next month is the annual Bill Luke Bass Days March 14,15 and 16 at Pleasant Harbor Marina. Over $50,000 dollars in prize money will be given away this year. This is a great family event, so check out the details and activities on www.billlukebassdays.com.


Have a great week of fishing and I hope see you on the water. 


LAKE PLEASANT – Anglers have had decent success with stripers, and some white bass have moved into more shallow waters.


A previous report from The Arizona Fishing Guides: Lake Pleasant is PLEASANT this time of year -- we have had a handful of days out there the past few weeks with 20-30 fish days. One thing about this place is that it is a crap-shoot as far as morning or afternoon trips. You never know which one is going to be the best so pick the time and just go for it.


Previously, Kyle from Pleasant Harbor Marina said there has been a pretty good striper bite both shallow with just about any type of shad imitation, jerk bait or top-water plug, and deep with anchovies. Largemouth bass have been mixed in with them in shallow waters, he said.

The backs of Humbug and Cole bays have been reported to be consistent areas for stripers and largies.


Angler’s report: Jeff L. of Tonopah reported about some great striper Sunday, Feb. 16 beginning at 1:30 p.m. action on Lake Pleasant: We went directly to Humbug and saw a lot of fish on the sonar in deep water (60-70 feet.).  We anchored immediately and began fishing with nightcrawlers on the bottom. Within about 10 minutes, we boated the first striper. Before we were able to release the first fish, one of our other poles was also hooked up. The action continued for three more hours, slowing at times. We probably caught and released 35-40 striped bass as well as two channel catfish. This hot spot was within 40 yards of a group of seven boats all tied together with loud music booming. Surface water temp was 56 degrees. It was also overcast all day. I would recommend this area right now, unless you don't enjoy catching a lot of fish in a short time. 


COMMUNITY FISHING WATERSSee the latest Community Fishing Bulletin.

New report from James Goughnour of Rim Country Custom Rods: Trout fishing at Green Valley Lake in Payson continues to be called excellent and another stocking of rainbows is scheduled for this week. Trout love the colder temperatures and will feed actively even when it’s snowing. Power Baits and small spinners were reported successful this past week. And remember you no longer need a special license to fish the Community Fishing Program. Your Class A fishing license includes fishing at Green Valley Lake.

TEMPE TOWN LAKE – The lake was stocked with rainbow trout for a week beginning Feb. 17, and have been stocked all winter long. At this point, you may find some larger holdovers as well as the stockers. Due to the warm weather and the shallow nature of this lake, action for warmwater fish such as largemouth bass and yellow bass should decent. Try fishing the shade lines of the bridges. Best fishing will typically be at first and last light.


You can try the usual methods for the rainbows (baits like Power Bait, night crawlers, mealworms or try spinners and spoons such as Panther Martins, KastMasters…) Remember no gas motors are allowed (electric trolling motors are) and you must have a boating permit, which can be obtained at the Town Lake operations center.

This is an excellent lake to learn how to bass fishing using simple rigs like plastic worms and lizards worked along the bottom. Cast out, let the plastic bait sink to the bottom, reel in any slack line to "make contact" with the bait, then lift up your rod tip (lifting the bait off the bottom), reel in a couple of times, then lower your rod tip and let the bait sink to the bottom again. The sport-fish will often hit when the bait is falling back to the bottom, so if your line moves sideways, set the hook.

SAGUARO LAKE - Lake elevation is 1,524 feet (92-percent full). The lake was stocked with rainbow trout beginning the week of Feb. 17. Senft previously said that the dropshot technique has produced the best largemouth bass bite, although some anglers had a bit of success on spoons jigged in deep water . The best bet was a Roboworm dropshot in morning dawn and various brown colors. Overall, fishing in slow and anglers must use a slow, winter presentation.
He suggests fishing a dropshot 80 percent of the time from 20-60 feet of water depth.

With the recent warmer spat of weather, it would not be unusual to find some bass staging for the spawn, especially off the points adjacent to the more shallow, sheltered coves.


Yellow bass fishing can be good, try using a silver and blue KastMaster or similar. 


APACHE LAKE - Lake elevation is 1,909 feet (95-percent full). The lake was stocked with trout the week of Dec. 30 and will be stocked once again beginning Monday, Feb. 3. When the lake is being stocked with trout, swimbait imitations of the stocked trout can produce some trophy bass.

Fishing should be good for yellow bass down by the dam. Yellow bass should hit jigs and spoons. Fish for them around balls of shad in 20-60 feet of water. Cut bait also works well for them. All other fish such as crappie, catfish and bluegill harvested from the lake must have a piece of skin attached to the fillets so species can be determined.

This is a fairly deep lake that warms up slowly in the spring, so bass will likely be holding deep. But try the warmer water along sheltered ledges adjacent to deep water, especially in the warmer afternoons when there is no wind to stir up the water. Bass will come into the shallows at times for the warmer water even while still in their winter patterns.


If you go, let us know how you do.


CANYON LAKE - Lake elevation is 1,657 feet (95-percent full). The lake is being stocked beginning the week of Feb. 10. Canyon Lake is noted for its lunker bass, and with the stocked trout, anglers can target a doozy largie by throwing a swimbait imitation of the stocked rainbows. For trout, try fishing in Boulder Cove with Panther Martins, KastMasters, or bait. A rainbow trout colored swim bait can usually produce a few largemouth after a stocking. You should be able to catch yellow bass spooning this time of year. Try points and dropoffs in 30–60 feet of water.

HORSESHOE LAKE - Lake elevation is 1,993 feet, 35-percent full. Salt River Project tends to use Horseshoe as a flood retention reservoir, but steadily releases the water downstream into Bartlett Lake.


LOWER SALT RIVER – The Lower Salt was being stocked again from Feb. 10-17.


Check out the stocking schedule and click on the Lower Salt River to see the stocking spots – all spots are stocked except Water Users.

CREEKS BELOW THE MOGOLLON RIM – Weekly stockings into the trout streams have ended for most streams. No recent reports.


WHITE MOUNTAINS AND RIM LAKES

New report:

Recommended Waters to Fish
Fishing is fair to good at Luna Lake, Nelson Reservoir, Fool Hollow Lake, and Willow Springs Lake. Catch and release fishing with artificial lure and fly is also fair to good at Silver Creek and Becker Lake.

Trout Stocking Schedule
The trout stocking season will resume in the spring of 2014.

MOGOLLON RIM LAKES

BEAR CANYON LAKE – The lake is partially ice-covered with unsafe ice. Forest Road 300 is closed for the winter.

BLACK CANYON LAKE – The lake is ice-free. Forest Roads 300 and 86 to the lake are currently open, but may close with any heavy snowfall.

CHEVELON LAKE – The lake is ice-free. Access to the lake from the south (Forest Road 300) is closed for the winter. Access from the north is open, unless heavy snowfall closes those roads.

WILLOW SPRINGS LAKE – Fishing is fair to good. Anglers have been catching a few trout on worms, flies, and lures during the late afternoon hours. The lake is ice-free, but may have some skim ice along some shorelines and coves early in the morning. Forest Road 149 to the lake is currently open, but may close with any heavy snowfall.

WOODS CANYON LAKE – The lake is partially ice-covered with unsafe ice. Forest Road 300 is closed for the winter. The Woods Canyon Lake store and campgrounds are closed.

WHITE MOUNTAINS LAKES
Note: The higher elevation lakes have some open water with some unsafe ice-cover. State Highways 261 and 273 are closed for the winter.

BECKER LAKE – Fishing is fair to good. The lake is ice-free. Trout appear to be feeding on tiny midge larvae and scuds. Becker Lake is open to catch-and-release only, artificial fly and lure only; single barbless hooks only. No trout may be kept.

BIG LAKE – The lake is partially ice-covered with unsafe ice. State Highways 261 and 273 are closed for the winter.

CARNERO LAKE – The lake is partially ice-covered with unsafe ice. Forest Roads 117 and 117A are open to the lake but are snow packed and will require a 4X4 vehicle.

CLEAR CREEK RESERVOIR – Fishing is fair for sunfish and bullheads. The lake is ice-free.

CONCHO LAKE – Fishing is poor. The lake is ice-free.
 
CRESCENT LAKE – The lake is partially ice-covered with unsafe ice. State Highways 261 and 273 are closed for the winter.

FOOL HOLLOW LAKE – Fishing is fair. The lake is ice-free. Shore anglers have been catching a few trout, up to 16 inches, on night crawlers and PowerBait. Boat anglers have been catching smallmouth bass on lures.

GREER LAKES – Fishing is fair. All three of the Greer lakes (River, Tunnel, Bunch) are full and ice-free.
 
HULSEY LAKE – The lake was drained following the Wallow Fire to help reduce expected flooding on Escudilla Mountain and has not been stocked since the fire in 2011.

LEE VALLEY LAKE – The lake is partially ice-covered with unsafe ice. State Highways 261 and 273 are closed for the winter.

LUNA LAKE – Fishing is fair to good. The lake is ice-free, but may have some skim ice along some shorelines and coves in the morning. Anglers have been catching some trout in the 15-18” range.

LYMAN LAKE – Lyman Lake State Park is closed for the winter.

NELSON RESERVOIR – Fishing is fair to good. The lake is ice-free, but may have some skim ice along some shorelines and coves in the morning.

RAINBOW LAKE – Fishing is good for northern pike, but poor for trout. Anglers have been catching pike up to 30 inches on lures. The lake is ice-free, full, and spilling. The lake has been stocked with white Amur (grass carp) under a special permit to address the nuisance weed problems in the lake. The current bag limit for grass carp is one fish/day with a minimum size of 30 inches. Smaller fish (less than 30 inches) must be released alive per the regulations, but we are asking that anglers release ALL grass carp so they can do their job at eating nuisance aquatic weeds in the lake.

SCOTT RESERVOIR – Fishing is poor. The lake is full and ice-free.

SHOW LOW LAKE – Fishing is fair for trout. The lake is ice-free. Shore and boat anglers have been catching a few 14-15 inch rainbow trout on night crawlers and PowerBait. The concession and boat rental store is closed for the winter.

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

WHITE MOUNTAINS STREAMS
Note: State Highways 261 and 273 are closed for the winter.

EAST FORK of the BLACK RIVER – Fishing is poor to fair for wild brown trout. State Highways 261 and 273 are closed for the winter, but Forest Roads 26 and 24 are open.

WEST FORK of the BLACK RIVER – Fishing is poor for wild brown trout. State Highways 261 and 273 are closed for the winter, but Forest Roads 26, 24, and 25 are open.

LITTLE COLORADO RIVER in GREER – Fishing is poor to fair for wild brown trout. State Highway 373 to Greer is open.

SHEEPS CROSSING – State Highway 273 is closed for the winter. 

SHOW LOW CREEK – Fishing is poor.

SILVER CREEK – Fishing is fair to good. Anglers have been catching large rainbows and Apache trout on flies. Try white bead-headed wooly buggers, brown or olive simi seal leeches, bead-headed prince nymphs, or a shammy worm. Silver Creek is currently (October 1 through March 30) open to artificial lures and flies only, and single barbless hooks (the “single” part of the regulation is new as of Jan. 1, 2014; no treble hooks are allowed), and catch-and-release fishing only. No bait fishing is allowed during this catch-and-release season. Please remember to practice good catch-and-release techniques to help maintain the fishery during this season by playing the fish quickly, keeping the fish in the water as much as possible (don’t lay them on the bank), and revive the fish carefully when releasing them.
LAKE POWELL AND LEES FERRY

LAKE POWELL AND LEES FERRY

Previous reports:

LEES FERRY – Feb. 9 report from Lees Ferry Anglers:

Up River Fishing Report

The weather has been really great here at the Ferry. With the longer days and more sunlight on the water the fishing is improving every day.

The flows this month are a low of 8,000 cfs and a high of 14,000 cfs.
This lower flow rate has also helped the fishing improve from January.

The spawn is in full swing so Glo Bugs are working most places. Dry droppers have been working with some fish taking the dry in the scum lines in the back eddies. Deep nymph rigs have been working well drifting in the boat. Streamers have also been working in the faster water areas. When looking for good fishing areas look for places that are getting at least some sunlight during the day…these areas are holding lots of fish. The rating for the up- river fishing would be a ‘7’ this week.

Spin Fishing Up River

Spin fishing has been working well the last couple of weeks. Most fishermen are drifting Glo Bugs and getting good numbers of fish. KastMasters and Panther Martins have also been working well at times.

When looking for areas to spin fish look for a seam where fast water meets the slower water and jig the lure through the transition water.

The rating for spin fishing up river for this week would be a ‘7’.

Walk In Area

The walk-in area has not been fishing well at all due to a lack of sunshine. There has been very little food so the fishing has been not productive at all. We are expecting the fishing to improve as we get more sunshine and the lower flows should also help. Fishing above the boat launch area has been much more productive the last few weeks. If you are coming up please give the shop a call and we will give you a current update. The rating for the walk in for this week would be a ‘2.’

LAKE POWELL – See the Jan. 16 report from Wayne Gustaveson at www.wayneswords.com.

Wayne Gustaveson's Jan. 27 report from the site's Anglers Corner: Went to Warm Creek looking for stripers and some warm weather. Started fishing in the Cottonwood Arm but marked no fish and caught the same while trolling and graphing. Next went to main Warm Creek headed to the back of the canyon but right out in the middle of the bay a large school of grebes caught my eye. Grebes eat shad too, so why not look for fish in the same area?

Stopped at the edge of the grebe flock and graphed for maybe 25 yards before a promising target appeared on the bottom at 65 feet. Immediately dropped the spoon on the target. Spoon hit bottom and then swam off in a stripers mouth. The school followed that fish to the boat and my fishing partner and I caught stripers on almost every drop for the next 2 hours. We got 30 fish in the first hour and only 27 in the second hour. But we had a long way to go and lots of fish to clean so we left while the school was still biting.

Most fish were the 17-20 inch yearlings but I did get one fat six-pound fish and we lost another big one that came unbuttoned near the boat. The best news was every fish was fat. Good times are heat again in the southern lake.


COLORADO RIVER


New reports:


Charles S. with a recent Colorado River report, from Picacho State Park to Imperial Dam: Water surface temps are sitting around 58 degrees in the current and I noticed some backwaters that were over 60 degrees. Water levels on the Colorado are slightly higher than they were in December and January, but the ever shifting sandbars still pose a threat to boaters.


On Feb. 8 we fished the current all day; at 2 p.m. we had not yet had a single bite. But between 2 p.m. and 2:10 p.m. we boated four keeper smallmouth and one dink, then the bite just stopped. We set out fishing the current for largemouth using stick worms and fished that pattern into the evening. I stuck it out with that pattern mainly because we know the area can, and has, produced some very nice bass.


On Feb. 9 we did nothing but fish the underwater structure in the lakes. We rotated shallow diving crankbaits and worms. Our largest fish weighed 3.5 (pictured), though all of the bass we caught that day were keepers. The areas we fished had not been producing fish for a few months now, so it’s nice to see the bass on structure and pushing closer to the shallower waters. With temps on the rise like they are, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some fish on beds in as early as three weeks. With trips planed for every weekend this month I pan on keeping a close eye on their movement.


I would like to add that while you can fish the river year round, people can and do run aground on the sandbars. We were the only boat on the river and we found one couple had run aground late Saturday evening above Picacho State Park, and because of the size and weight of the boat, we were barely able to assist them. There is not a lot of boat traffic this time of year (or police patrols) and some areas may not have a boat pass through for days. It’s a good idea to let someone know when you plan on returning, that way they can keep an eye out for trouble.


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 maintained and actually risen .3 feet to around 1108.6 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 for stripers.  Check the moon phases before you go –last new moon was, Jan. 30.  The next new moon will be March 1s.  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 40-60 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 where shad are found and best done in the early mornings and evenings.
 
LAKE MOHAVE –The lake level has stayed around 641 feet above msl.  Reports are that smallmouth and largemouth are hitting on the lake but that stripers are much harder to find.  Last report had dark colored plastic worms working on the shelves in the coves for black bass.  Christian, a local angler, landed 4.27 lbs. channel catfish from the fishing dock at Katherine’s Landing using anchovies.


Submersible lights fished during the new moon are an effective way to catch stripers. Next new moon will be March 1.  Cut anchovies usually work the best for stripers.     

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.  Prospect Cove (1st cove south of Princess Launch Ramp) is the latest addition on the Arizona side of the lake to get habitat deployed. Fish habitat consists of PVC structures, tamarisk bundles and a new type of habitat we call poly shrubs.   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 gcummins@azgfd.gov so I can share your successes with others.

WILLOW BEACH – Due to the Federal Budget and infrastructure problems at the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery, rainbow trout will no longer be produced or stocked from this facility.  This will affect trout fishing at Willow Beach and locations below Davis Dam like Davis Camp and Rotary Park.

If you fish Willow beach and are having luck, please e-mail me at gcummins@azgfd.gov so I can share your successes with others.

COLORADO RIVER BELOW DAVIS DAM – Trout fishing will continue to dwindle without stocking although some holdovers will continue to be caught occasionally.  Tout are still being caught occasionally in the Big Bend area and are reported to be in the 2-4 pound range.  Most folks are seeing some trout but not hooking up with any. 


Another fish that is exciting to catch are carp, and they are a great fish to eat.  Carp out of the river and Lake Mohave are really good because of the clean water.  Ed caught a large carp in the Sunshine Peninsula area on bread dough balls.  You can search online for recipes for carp.  


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 gcummins@azgfd.gov so I can share your successes with others.

TOPOCK GORGE - Reports of catfish and some stripers are being taken in the Gorge but the bite is slow.

TOPOCK MARSH – AZGFD completed our annual survey last week and found channel catfish the most abundant sport fish with the largest we caught at just over 10 lbs. Several fisherman caught some healthy largemouth bass which means the marsh is warming up a bit.  The bluegill are not active yet but there should be some crappie action if you can find the right spot.


If you notice illegal activities please call the Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-352-0700 or online at www.azgfd.gov/thief.  Please refer to our regulations booklet on how to be a good witness.  

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.

VERDE VALLEY

DEAD HORSE STATE PARK – Trout stocking has resumed at Dead Horse.  The last stocking was the week of Feb. 3. The next tentatively scheduled stocking will be this week, the week of Feb. 17.

VERDE RIVER (throughout Verde Valley) – 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.


Stocking has resumed on the river.  The last stocking was the week of Feb. 10. The next tentatively scheduled stocking will be the week of Feb. 24.

PRESCOTT AREA

FAIN LAKE — Trout stocking has resumed at Fain Lake.  Fain was stocked the week Feb. 3. The next tentatively scheduled stocking will be the week of March 10.


The cooler temps have helped the trout bite.  Nick sent a report of catching 4 nice trout on rainbow colored PowerBait on the bottom.  The bite started around ten but no one else were landing fish or getting bites.  That goes to show you that bring a variety of baits and one isn’t working try another.

GOLDWATER LAKE — Report are that some trout are being caught but it can be hit and miss.  I haven’t received a recent report from Goldwater.  The last stocking was the week of Feb. 10.
      
If you fish Goldwater and are having luck, please e-mail me at gcummins@azgfd.gov so I can share your successes with others.

GRANITE BASIN LAKE – The Lake is now open.  Chad reported that he took his family on the 16th and they threw a drop shot for a while with no success and then switched to spinnerbaits and did entice 2 decent largemouths.  Bluegills are usually pretty easy to catch at this lake and are great for kids to have fun.  If you fish Granite Basin Lake and are having luck, please e-mail me at gcummins@azgfd.gov so I can share your successes with others.


LYNX LAKE –The last scheduled trout stocking was the week of Feb. 3. The next tentatively scheduled stocking will be the week of March 10. 


Reports are that the lake level is extremely low, so be careful if you venture to the lake.  The fishing dock was removed due to the low water levels but shore access is basically unlimited. 
   
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 last stocking was the week of Oct. 21.  

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 Feb. 3.  Trout are still being caught and they are nice size.  Brian S. saw some bass building nests by the dock and he threw a watermelon green jig and got a hard hit from a 2-3 lbs. largemouth bass but couldn’t land it.  He moved about 15 feet and caught a 1-2 lbs. largemouth.  He ended up with 1 bass and 2 trout which he released all the fish because his family doesn’t eat fish.  He loves the topwater action in the summer.       


If you fish Watson and are having luck, please e-mail me at gcummins@azgfd.gov so I can share your successes with others.

WILLOW CREEK RESERVOIR –   Largemouth bass are the predominant species in this lake. If you fish Willow and are having luck, please e-mail me at gcummins@azgfd.gov so I can share your successes with others.


SOUTHWESTERN WATERS

New report:

ALAMO LAKE – Feb. 18 report from Mark Knapp, Park Ranger at Alamo Lake State Park:


Well folks, finally some good news for you.  We had a pretty good crowd out here this weekend.  Anglers were catching 5-7 crappies per boat using the ol’ minnows and road runner trick.  Start at the first bouy line and go from there.


Bass fishing is also picking up.  A couple of anglers got six nice-sized bass throwing the ol’ Texas-rigged brush hog in approximately 5-10 feet of water.


I will put it to you this way:  My golf clubs are going in the closet and the batteries on the boat are being charged as I write this.  Now I'm not saying fishing is good.  I'm just saying things are starting to turn on.

Cholla ramp is working.  Like I mentioned, a good rule of thumb is for boats 17 feet and over to use the old rental boat area.   I will give weekly updates on the ramps.


I don't know what the lake level is this week but they’re releasing 25cfs.  You can see the lake go down daily.  It's kinda sad to watch.  I saw this in ‘02 when I moved out here.  It went down about 15 more feet before the flood of ‘05.  The buzzards are back, so I don't see any good rains coming our way. Anyway, if were me I would come out and give it a try.  That’s it --  Mark


LAKE HAVASU – A world record, 5.80-pound redear sunfish was caught Sunday, Feb. 16 by the chalk cliffs on a No. 8 Aberdeen hook and a nightcrawler using a dropshot rig. Bass already are beginning to spawn in water temperatures that are finally in the upper 50s.


Also, a report from www.fishound.com: The water level is very low and will be that way through February. The striper bite has been tougher as the level fell, but the fish are following the shad. The shad have been moving south with the biggest concentrations in the Black Meadow Landing to Standard Wash stretch of the lake. Live shad had been the best bet for stripers. The largemouth and smallmouth bass are also keying on the baitfish. Also a pretty decent bite on rocky structure with crawdad-like plastics, mostly for the smallmouth. The redear are mostly in 20 to 50 feet of water with little angling pressure. No catfish reports.


Previous reports:

PARKER STRIP - Falling overnight 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. Smallmouth 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.
No new reports. 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 times, 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 – Four Yuma-area waters in April will join the Community Fishing Program waters: West Wetlands Pond, Council Avenue Pond (in Somerton), Fortuna Lake and Redondo Lake. These ponds will continue to receive winter trout stockings, but will now receive catfish stockings in April, June (including bluegill), and October.

CENTRAL MOUNTAINS

Note: We always consider all ice-fishing in Flagstaff and Williams area unsafe. Because of the variants in temperatures the ice may get thick enough for ice-fish, but it may not be thick enough across the entire lake – there are always some soft pockets.


Previous reports:

WILLIAMS LAKES:

KAIBAB LAKE — Campground is closed. Trout fishing should be good with the cooler weather.

CATARACT LAKE — Campground is closed. Trout fishing should be good with the cooler weather.

CITY RESERVOIR — Open. Trout fishing should be good with the cooler weather.

DOGTOWN LAKE — Campground is closed. Trout fishing should be good with the cooler weather

JD DAM — No report. The lake is full. Remember the lake is managed as a catch and release fishery.

SANTA FE — Trout fishing should be good with the cooler weather.

WHITEHORSE LAKE — Campground is closed. Walk in access only.

FLAGSTAFF LAKES:

UPPER LAKE MARY — Campground is closed. There have been two independent reports of decent walleye fishing. Unseasonably warm weather and warmer water temperatures along with sunny days have likely allowed baitfish and predators to become active again. Both shoreline and boat fishing with worms have been effective. Trolling worm harnesses slowly along the bottom is usually the most effective means to collect these wonderful fish. Be mindful of the Mercury warning for these fish in this Lake.

LOWER LAKE MARY — The lake is pretty weedy and no one has been fishing it.

ASHURST LAKE — Campground is closed. No recent reports.

FRANCIS SHORT POND – Trout were stocked last week

KINNIKINICK LAKE — Roads were muddy over the weekend.

OAK CREEK — No report.

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 closed.

KNOLL LAKE — The road is open. No report.

SOUTHERN WATERS


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 akjones@azgfd.gov. These reports will then be complied and reported in our weekly fishing reports.
Need ideas on where to go fishing? Try the Departments new interactive Fish and Boat Map: Fish and Boat Arizona

New reports:

ARIVACA — Anglers have been catching a few largemouth bass lately using jigs.  The old ramp has been removed and construction on the new ramp is tentatively scheduled for March.  All boat launching is at the risk of the owner.  Anglers are reminded that all largemouth bass caught must be immediately released alive. 

ROSE CANYON LAKE —  Anglers have reported catching trout, rainbows (4-8 inches) and browns (6 inches).  Small flies are having the most luck lately with the most luck in the early morning and dusk.  The lake is now closed to vehicle access for the winter.  Anglers are still permitted to walk into the lake from the parking lot on the main road.

PATAGONIA — The lake is being stocked with rainbow trout for one week beginning Feb. 24. Winter trout stocking is in full swing and the stocking schedule can be seen at http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/stocking_schedule.shtml


Previous reports:

CLUFF RANCH — Winter trout stocking is in full swing and the stocking schedule can be seen at http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/stocking_schedule.shtml.  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.

FRYE MESA RESERVIOR – On June 4th 300 catchable Gila trout were stocked into the reservoir.  Anglers have reported success at catching Gila trout since the stocking.  Remember that the daily bag and possession limit for Gila trout is 1 fish. Frye Creek above the reservoir remains closed to fishing. 

PARKER CANYON — Anglers are reporting catching only a few trout at the lake, with the most success using power bait.  Winter stocking is in full swing and the stocking schedule can be viewed at http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/stocking_schedule.shtml .


PENA BLANCA –  Anglers have reported catching largemouth bass.  Winter trout stocking is in full swing and the trout stocking schedule can be seen at http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/stocking_schedule.shtml .  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.   

RIGGS FLAT —  Currently the lake is open.  No future stocking are scheduled at this time due to poor water quality. 

ROPER LAKE —  The lake is open to the public.  Winter trout stocking is in full swing and the stocking schedule can be seen at http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/stocking_schedule.shtml .  For lake information (928) 428-6760.  

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