With spring officially here, there’s hardly a better time to fish, and last weekend, even the hundreds of young boys and girls at Kiwanis Park had their first experience feeling the thump of a fish bite and pulling a piscatorial surprise from the water.
I had the honor of being out at the Anglers United Just for Kids Fishing Festival, and what timing… the fish were biting. Around 400 people registered. Recently-stocked trout were game for Power Bait, and catfish, on the heels of a week of slowly rising water temperatures, were hungry and opportunistic. A hearty nod to our future anglers for hooking them.
And thank you, Anglers United!
For more, check out Michaelangelo F.’s testimony below from the event. He’s just one of the many anglers who submitted their fish tales this week, so keep ‘em coming by emailing BFishing@azgfd.gov. Your reports sometimes are our best indications of what might work in the near future.
Did somebody say Expo? It’s here. And the price isn’t bad, either. The Saturday and Sunday event is free. Even more, there’s the Kids Fishing Demonstration, the Arizona Cowboy Mounted Shooters Association’s competition, informative presentations (including Urban fishing, bow-tuning tips, Raptors of Arizona, All about Reptiles, turkey hunting, etc.), food vendors, target shooting, rock crawler demonstrations… well, you’ll just have to see it for yourself.
So do I. At my first Expo, I’ll be at the fishing demonstration tank, introducing some of the experts who will be demonstrating some of the best techniques to catch fish. Sportsman’s Warehouse is making the demonstrations possible and is bringing some of its experts, along with local professionals Larry the Lizard and Gary Senft. Come say, “Hi,” and get some tips that are sure to fill your ice chest. Find more information about the Expo here: http://azgfd.net/artman/publish/NewsMedia/Check-out-the-demos-talks-and-competition-at-this-weekend-s-Outdoor-Expo.shtml
As far as fishing targets, take your pick. Although Flagstaff and Williams are popular fishing areas in the summer, now is the time to hit these scenic water bodies for trout. (The bass, pike and crappie fishing won’t peak until the summer.) Lakes such as Lower Lake Mary and Francis Short Pond are excellent bets for trout -- both were recently stocked.
Also, our Phoenix and Tucson Urban Fishing Program lakes and ponds were stocked on Thursday with tons of catfish to kick off the annual spring switchover from trout to catfish. Those thick-whiskered delights not only put up a great fight, they are, in this writer's opinion, excellent table fare.
The full moon is March 27. And just in time for spring break, smallmouth and largmouth bass are spawning at Lake Havasu. Water temperatures in some lower-elevation areas having risen into the 60s, pushing crappie into more shallow waters. Check out the anglers reports below and some of the lake updates, but remember, above all else, nothing beats time on the water.
Hopefully I’ll see you out there somewhere after the Expo.
Oh, and if you don’t have a fishing license, here’s the scoop: To fish state waters, resident anglers age 14 and over must purchase a Class A general fishing license for $23.50. If you want to fish for trout, a resident trout stamp is $15.75. To fish Urban Fishing Program waters, a Class U urban license is required ($18.50 for residents or nonresidents, no trout stamp required for urban waters). Or, you can buy the Class L super conservation license, which includes a general Class A license, an urban Class U license, and a trout stamp (cost is $53 for residents, $63 for nonresidents). Licenses can be purchased at any of the 320 license dealers, Game and Fish offices, or online at www.azgfd.gov/eservices/licenses.shtml.
- Michaelangelo F. had a great time at the Anglers United Just For Kids Fishing Festival: "Thanks Anglers United and AZGFD for putting on a great show at Kiwanis Park today. My son is 3 years old and I have taken him to several different lakes and haven't caught any fish. It's funny how that works. Today though, my son landed (catch and release) several trout in the kids trout pond. AZGFD was passing out Power Bait to the general public to use, but I decided to use some of my dry flies (bead head nymphs) on my son’s fishing rig. Within 10 minutes, my son landed several trout. He was so excited and so was I. Thank you again for putting on a great event. P.S. I was sorry to hear today that Rory retired. I will miss his humor and his stories on the fishing report."
- Lisa M. had success at Lake Mary: "Went up to Lake Mary on March 14. Lake was 80-percent ice free. We were fly fishing from the shore using No. 8 black crystal buggers. Fish were hitting from 6-10 feet out; they were cruising the banks. Caught eight, ranging from 18-29 inches. Thanks, and tight lines."
- Dave H. cleaned up on some suckers Saturday at the Lower Salt River: "I caught eight (suckers), with the largest going 19 inches. Half were caught on crawlers and the other half with KastMaster spoons. They all put up sporting fights and some even did multiple jumps. Had a great time catching these native fish."
- Yet another Tempe Town testimonial, this one from Mariano G.: "I fished Tempe Town lake this Tuesday and caught a 21-inch, 5.5-pound largemouth bass using a soft plastic minnow with a green tail. I also had a second pole out with a worm about 20 yards from shore and a fish hit so hard that it took my pole in the water! I was able to cast a lure over the line and retrieve it although that fish got away. I have pictures of the largemouth; it was my first ever and it put up a nice fight! Caught the fish around 9 a.m. on the north side of the lake."
- George J. tried his luck targeting stocked trout at Lake Chaparral with no success: "I was targeting trout the last week of stocking the lake. I thought I had the advantage using a small boat equipped with a fish finder. The fish were scattered and not interested in night crawlers or corn fished off the bottom, nor 18 inches from the bottom. Actually it was a bust and the shoreline anglers (about 20) did not do well. After 3-4 hours it was time to go. The ramp needs to be lengthened to prevent dropping the wheels off the concrete edge."
- Steve W. hooked into some trout at West Clear Creek: "I camped and fished West Clear Creek near Bull Pen Wed. through Sat. of last week. The water was murky and was moving very quickly upon arrival on Wednesday and noticeably cleared up and slowed throughout the weekend. I tossed a few lines Thursday and Friday with no luck, but myself and other fishermen were able to land several trout each on Saturday in the late afternoon. Orange Power Bait seemed to be working well; one fisherman even caught two small largemouth (bass) with it. Others were having success with salmon eggs. It was slow fishing but seems like it will pick up as the water slows. Just though I'd send in a report."
- Bob F. had his report from Red Mountain Lake in Mesa: "Fishing was real slow, saw one trout and one largemouth caught. The largemouth was mine. It weighed 7.96 pounds on the Liars Corner scale about two hours after I caught it and was 24 inches long. Used a live night crawler about 12 inches off the bottom. Trout have been real slow as the water warms and the algae is in full bloom, making the water very murky and dark. Everyone is looking forward to the catfish next week."
- Mac W. hooked into some pike at upper Lake Mary on Sunday, trolling perch-colored lures in shallow water. He added that conditions were very windy and fishing slowed after noon.
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.
TEMPE TOWN LAKE – Anglers at Satuday’s Kids Fishing Tournament were having good action on the stocked trout as well as catfish. Anglers still report slow-to-decent action on bass using slowly-retrieved drop-shot worms. Also see Ed. E's report above.
LAKE PLEASANT - Lake level is at 1,678 feet, 74 percent full, with approximately 8,160 surface acres. Action is picking up, but not at its peak. Largemouth bass are starting to spawn in the shallows. Throw primarily bright colors that bass can see o on their beds. Ty a Yamamoto chartreuse hula grub or Lucky Craft shallow running crank bait. Stripers should start to spawn any time in the next week. Anglers are reporting primarily 8 to 10-inch stripers. Crappie should be not quite as productive as at Roosevelt or Alamo.
ROOSEVELT LAKE - Lake elevation is 2,100 feet 47 percent full). Should be prime for crappie in more shallow waters. Look for a flotilla of boats at the Tonto or Salt River ends of the lake. Preferred baits can be a Kalin grubs no a 1/16-ounce jighead or jigs tipped with minnows. In general, drop shot works pretty well on the outside points, flats and backs of coves in 30 to 10 feet of water but altering the drop shot technique to a Texas nose hook and whacky style setup is productive especially when the typical setup does not hit the mark. The technique of how you reel the drop shot in is real important. Slow and steady or slow with little jerks or jerk and let it fall over and over again are some styles to play around with. Rock piles are typically productive using plastics bouncing along the substrate. Word was that crappie had been hitting.
APACHE LAKE – Lake elevation is 1,907 feet (92 percent full). A few reports indicate that bass are a good bet.
CANYON LAKE – Lake elevation is 1,658 feet (97 percent full). An angler on www.azbasszone.com reported catching three bass from 6:30-8:15 a.m. up to 4 pounds, 6 ounces on jerkbaits in less than five feet of water. One angler fished from shore on Monday and reported slow fishing due to high recreational activity. If you have been fishing here, send in your report to BFishing@azgfd.gov.
SAGUARO LAKE – Lake elevation is 1,526 feet (94 percent full). Bass are spawning. One angler reported catching bass on Alamaba and Texas rigs. Also try some shad drop shots. With upcoming full moon (March 27), look for more bass to move into spawning mode. Early birds traditionally can hook into some catfish here as well.
BARTLETT LAKE – Lake elevation is 1,780 feet (75 percent full). Is another prime crappie lake. Good areas to try remain toward the yellow cliffs where artificial habitats that hide small baitfish have been installed.
HORSESHOE LAKE - 49-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 - (below Saguaro Lake) – Still is ripe with suckers. (See Dave H.'s report above). Try night crawlers, small spinners, KastMasters and flies in this unique desert river trout fishery.
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 – Kyle Walker’s report from www.wayneswords.com:
Stripers have spilled into the main channel. It is time for March Madness, Lake Powell style.
In early spring food for all Lake Powell predators is at the annual low point. Predator fish survive by hunkering down in the cold water and waiting for warming. Warmwater fish don’t use much energy in cold water and can subsist for a month or two waiting for shad to spawn and forage to become more plentiful.
Stripers are moving toward the channel following canyon walls and penstock current hoping to find food. They find a few crayfish and shad along the way but not all fish in a large school get fed when a few morsels are found. The entire school is hungry and hoping for more. What a pleasant surprise it is for hungry fish to see chunks of food showering down from the surface as wise anglers cut up anchovies and broadcast them around the boat. The bait slowly settles and fish start scooping up every morsel. Stripers can be caught in very large numbers in these conditions. Conditions are now right and stripers are ready and willing to cooperate at the Glen Canyon Dam forebay.
Reports over the weekend found anglers catching 30-60 stripers per trip while enjoying the warming spring temperatures.
For first time striper anglers some helpful hints and rigging techniques are found at Wayneswords.com on this link:
The basics are to use invisible fluorocarbon leader which catches more fish than monofilament under similar conditions. Chum with cut up anchovies initially spread around the boat. Then trickle chum a few more pieces each time a fish is caught to keep the school under the boat. Put the fish in a cooler on ice instead of placing them on a stringer or in a live well to maintain top-notch eating quality.
We encourage anglers to harvest stripers that are forced into the channels in search of food. This is a sign of over population. Angler harvest is a management tool used in the springtime to bring the striper population back into balance with available forage. Keep all the fish that can be used or donated to fiends and neighbors. It is harvest time from now until June when stripers move back into the canyons.
Other species are providing action as well. Walleye are actively spawning now and will not be vulnerable to serious catching until mid April. Large and smallmouth bass are on rocky structure seeking crayfish. They can be caught on plastic crayfish imitating baits fish in 10-20 feet of water. Look for murky water for best fishing success.
Crappie fishing is getting better in the remote areas near Hite and the upper San Juan and Escalante River canyons.
Fishing is warming up even faster than weather. It is a good time to fill out the brackets for spring fishing. My prediction is that stripers on the southern end of Lake Powell will dominate the catch for the next week.
LEES FERRY – Dean Windham from Lees Ferry Anglers reported that he is seeing a lot of midge hatches, and so zebra midges in darker colors have been working well. He recommends fishing in slack water, not in the faster, rippling water that has had a tendency to flow during afternoons. “Glow bugs are working well,” Windham added. “Walking has been tough at times, though. Walk-in fishing has been better in the morning up until about 11 or 12, then it tends to drop a bit and tends to get better again from 3 until sunset.” Finally, Windham said road work has begun on the recreational road from US Highway 89A to the ferry, so prepare for possible delays. “They’re making improvements for surface and drainage,” Windham said.
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 dropped to 1120.6 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. Check the moon phases before you go –last new moon was March 11th. The next new moon will be April 10th.
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.
The bite for largemouth and smallmouth was reported good using plastic worms and crawdads with purple and browns in them. Several fishermen said that top water lures were working for them. All the fishermen contacted were hopeful for the coming years with rising water conditions and the abundance of baitfish they have seen this year.
LAKE MOHAVE – The lake level has maintained 641.5 feet above msl. The black bass are hitting soft baits when worked slowly especially on grass beds in 20 to 30 feet deep. Reports of using artificial crawfish jerked through the weed beds have worked well. Trolling with LONG A BOMBERS has been producing some nice stripers. While the number of stripers in Mohave has been decreasing, the quality of the fish caught has increased. I haven’t received many reports from the lake. The bass fishermen are reporting that most of the fish they are catching are smallmouth and that they are just as big as the largemouth.
Submersible lights fished during the new moon are an effective way to catch stripers. Next new moon is April 10th. 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.
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 a report of Gerry’s full stringer and 5 year old Francesca with her stringer fishing with her dad Shawn and grandpa Mel using a Berkley mouse tail. 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. 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.
LAKE HAVASU – AZGF Wildlife Manager Suzanna Ehret had the following report: I was on patrol yesterday. Smallmouth and largemouth bass have started spawning again. Some quality large and smallmouth bass were caught by a few anglers I talked to at Site 6. Shad are still around but are in deeper water and more difficult to catch. Friendly reminder that snagging ends on Lake Havasu March 31. Nice red-ear have also been caught. Striper bass seems to have slowed on the lake.
ALAMO LAKE - By Mark Knapp, Alamo State Park: Well folks, in a nutshell, fishing is hit and miss. I went out last night and caught one bass. I have talked with several anglers and they’re giving me same report. However, a few anglers have been catching bass throwing spinner baits and watermelon-colored plastics. Most of the bass being caught are in 1 to 10-feet of water.
Crappie fishing is picking up. Once again I'm getting reports of anglers catching 20 to 30 with others catching one to five. They all agree that you need minnows. Try using a No. 10 gold hook with a couple split shots and bring it up off the bottom about 10 feet. That seems to be the best approach right now. Cat-fishing is still decent. You can catch them with night crawlers, hot dogs, or stink bait. Just head to the upper end of the lake and go shallow.
As a lot of you have heard by now the CORE is considering lowering the lake to do an annual inspection of their inlet gate. I will put it like this: I have made arrangements with the CORE to let me know as soon as they make the decision to do this. At that point I will let you know. Otherwise, they just raised the releases to 25 cfs and the Cholla ramp is still in operation. We are able to launch off the old rental boat road, but the road is on borrowed time. I wish I had more time to write but I'm under the gun with other things. We have a big tournament going on this weekend so you might want to consider going someplace else if you don't want to deal with a lot of other boaters and parking. I will try try to have more for you next week. - Mark
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 weedbeds, emergent vegetation, tree stumps, brush, or boat docks. Fishing picks up as the water temperatures warm up in the spring and summer but largemouth can be taken any time of the year.
Flathead fishing is generally best in slack water areas, deep holes, or near overhanging vegetation along the main channel of the river. Flatheads prefer live bait such as bluegill or small carp and fishing is best at night during the summer months. Channel catfish are wide spread in the main river channel and backwaters and will bite on night crawlers, chicken liver, stinkbait, or about any other "smelly" bait. They can be caught year-round but probably bite best at night.
Bluegill are also widespread but are most likely to be found around structure in the backwaters or slackwater areas. Bluegill will bite on meal worms, night crawlers or small crappie jigs.
MITTRY LAKE – 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 weedbeds, 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.
I recently received an email from the Northern Arizona Flycasters regarding fly fishing in Northern Arizona. We do stock Oak Creek this time of the year and fishing can be hit or miss. The biggest problem with Oak Creek is locating a place to park during the spring and summer months. The upper part of Oak creek is our catch and release area that includes rainbows and some large brown trout ( I have had limited success here but it is a beautiful creek). The Lees Ferry reach of the Colorado River is an exceptional rainbow trout area. Most of this fishery is only accessed with a boat so guides or rental boats are recommended. If you do not mind lake fishing and stocked trout. We just stocked Lower lake Mary and I have fished it over the past two days and averaged over 20 trout an hour on a #12 bead head prince nymph with a slow retrieve. You may not be looking for this type of experience but catching many trout from the shore on a fly is always fun.
Lower Lake Mary and Frances Short Pond are local waters that received the huge load of fish from Page Springs and Canyon Creek Hatcheries, which are owned and operated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Frances Short Pond is located just northwest of downtown Flagstaff and also is a great place to walk or ride a bike. Lower Lake Mary is about 8 miles from Flagstaff on Forest Road 3. There is a gate located at the entrance of the lake that will open as soon as the snow melts and allows safe access. Keep in mind that if the area receives significant snow, the gate may be periodically closed.
Cold weather conditions, snow and ice present on all lakes and waterways. We have received runoff into the lakes with the last couple of storms, so things are looking up for at least the spring and early summer trout season, but nothing can be stocked until March.
Note: Ice fishing is not recommended due to the unstable conditions of ice present. Please be cautious. If you have a fishing report or good fishing pictures to share (JPEG), send them to our "Been Fishing" site at BFishing@azgfd.gov.
KAIBAB LAKE — Campground is closed. No report.
CATARACT LAKE — Campground is closed.
CITY RESERVOIR — No report.
DOGTOWN LAKE — Campground is closed.
JD DAM — No Report. Remember, the lake is managed as a catch and release fishery.
RUSSELL TANK - The lake is too shallow to stock.
SANTA FE — No report.
WHITEHORSE LAKE — Campground is closed.
Note: Ice fishing is not recommended due to the unstable conditions of ice present. Please be cautious. If you have a fishing report or good fishing pictures to share (JPEG), send them to our "Been Fishing" site at BFishing@azgfd.gov.
LOWER LAKE MARY — Could be the spot to fish this weekend. Was recently stocked with rainbow trout that average nine inches. An option if fly-fishing for the trout. One angler reported averaging more than 20 trout an hour over two days on a No. 12 bead head prince nymph with a slow retrieve.
UPPER LAKE MARY — Anglers reportedly were catching Northern pike and walleye on the upper end before last weekend’s storm, but fishing slowed thereafter. Lake had been frozen. Expect walleye fishing to pick up soon.
ASHURST LAKE — No report.
FRANCIS SHORT POND – Was just stocked with rainbow trout. Folks fishing with small spinners were catching trout prior to the stockings and Pistol Pete flies likely would work as well One angler last week reported catching 44 rainbows in a few hours using a renegade with a bead head prince nymph dropper (both size No. 12). The angler, who reported one of the trout was a 14 inch hold over, noticed one angler using corn on the bottom caught one and was getting several bites.
KINNIKINICK LAKE — Road is open.
OAK CREEK — Is stocked this time of year and fishing can be hit and miss. The biggest problem here is locating a place to park during the spring and summer. The upper portion of Oak Creek is a catch-and-release area that include rainbow and some large brown trout (some anglers report limited success here, but the creek is scenic).
LONG LAKE — No report.
BEAVER CREEK – No report.
WEST CLEAR CREEK - No report.
STONEMAN LAKE — NO FISH.
BLUE RIDGE — Winter conditions.
KNOLL LAKE — No report.
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 March 10th. 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. The latest trout stocking was the week of March 10th. The next tentatively scheduled stocking will be the week of March 24th.
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 March 17th.
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 of the winter was the week of October 14th.
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 3rd.
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
Becker Lake, Nelson Reservoir, Luna Lake, Fool Hollow Lake, Rainbow Lake, Scott Reservoir, Show Low Lake and Woodland Lake are ice-free. Of these lakes, Becker, Nelson, Fool Hollow and Show Low currently provide the best opportunity to catch fish. Silver Creek is also ice-free and fair for large trout.
Trout Stocking Schedule
The trout stocking season in the White Mountains and Rim Lakes areas will begin in April.
Mogollon Rim Lakes:
Note: The higher elevation lakes are still ice-covered, but will have unsafe ice with the warmer and longer days. Forest Roads (FR) in the Mogollon Rim area are currently closed due to snow-covered conditions. Snow-packed berms along Highway 260 have blocked FR 300 and 149 to Black Canyon, Woods Canyon and Willow Springs Lakes. FR 169 north into Chevelon Canyon Lake is snow-covered.
BEAR CANYON LAKE – The lake is ice-covered with unsafe ice. FR 300 and 34 are still closed to vehicles for the winter.
BLACK CANYON LAKE – The lake is ice-free but is still inaccessible due to a recent snowstorm.
CHEVELON LAKE – The lake is ice-free, but is still inaccessible. Forest roads are snow-covered.
WILLOW SPRINGS LAKE – The lake is ice-covered with unsafe ice. FR 149 is still closed to vehicles for the winter.
WOODS CANYON LAKE – The lake is ice-covered with unsafe ice. FR 300 is closed to vehicles for the winter.
White Mountains Lakes:
Note: The higher elevation lakes in the White Mountains are still ice-covered. Highways 261 and 273 are closed to vehicles for the winter. Most other Forest roads are snow-covered. Snowmobile access is allowed.
BECKER LAKE – Fishing is fair. Anglers were catching fat rainbow trout last week on zebra midges, egg patterns and leaches in the shallows around the boat ramp. Windy weather this week has slowed action. The lake has no ice, with water temperatures around 43 F. Becker Lake is open to catch-and-release fishing, with artificial fly and lure only, and single barbless hooks only.
BIG LAKE – Highways 261 and 173 are still closed to vehicles for the winter. Other Forest roads are snow-covered. Snowmobile access is allowed. The lake is ice-covered. The store is closed.
CARNERO LAKE – The lake is ice-covered. FR 117, 117A and 118 are snow-covered and inaccessible for vehicles. Snowmobile access is allowed. Recent surveys through the ice found very little dissolved oxygen, and the lake has likely experienced a winter-kill.
CLEAR CREEK RESERVOIR – The lake is ice-free, but has not yet been stocked and fishing is poor.
CONCHO LAKE – The lake is ice-free, but has not yet been stocked and fishing is poor.
CRESCENT LAKE – Highways 261 and 273 are still closed to vehicles for the winter. The lake is ice-covered. The store is closed. Snowmobile access is allowed. Recent surveys found moderate levels of dissolved oxygen in the upper layers of water just under the ice. The next survey scheduled for this week should reveal if there is enough oxygen for trout to survive until the ice comes off.
FOOL HOLLOW LAKE – Fishing is fair and the lake is ice-free. A fisherman caught two channel catfish last week. Water temperature was 44 F. The main campground is open.
GREER LAKES – All Greer lakes (River, Tunnel and Bunch Reservoirs) are starting to thaw, with some open water on each lake. Consider all ice to be unsafe. Roads to the lakes are open and clear.
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 – Highways 261 and 273 are still closed to vehicles for the winter. The lake is ice-covered. Snowmobile access is allowed. Recent surveys through the ice found very little dissolved oxygen, and the lake has likely experienced a winter-kill.
LUNA LAKE – The lake is ice-free, but fishing is poor. Water temperature was 44 F, and the water is discolored brown. The road to the lake is open and clear.
LYMAN LAKE – Lyman Lake State Park is closed for the season.
NELSON RESERVOIR – Fishing is fair. Anglers have been catching large, carry-over trout on PowerBait and worms. The lake is ice-free and nearly full. Water temperature was 43 F.
RAINBOW LAKE – Fishing is fair to good for illegally-introduced northern pike, but poor for other species. One angler reported catching pike on spoons, spinners and Rapalas. Try these lures near and in coves and near patches of weeds, as the pike are congregating in these areas to spawn. Water temperature was 48 F. AGFD crews and volunteers are currently conducting removal efforts on pike to improve fishing for more desirable species like bass, sunfish and stocked trout. The lake is ice-free, full and spilling. The weeds have not yet started to grow, so boating conditions are good.
SCOTT RESERVOIR – The lake is ice-free, full and spilling, but fishing is poor. Water temperature was 44 F.
SHOW LOW LAKE – The lake is ice-free and fishing is fair. Large, carry-over trout were caught on PowerBait last week. Water temperature was 46 F. The fishing piers were damaged over the winter by ice flows. The concession store is still closed for the season, but should open soon. The spillway campground is closed for the season and the road over the dam is closed, but the main campground on the west side of Show Low Lake Road is open.
WOODLAND LAKE – The lake is ice-free, but fishing is poor. The lake is full and spilling, but has not been stocked yet. Water temperature was 49 F.
White Mountains Streams:
Note: Highways 261 and 273 are closed to vehicles for the winter. Other Forest roads are snow-covered and generally inaccessible by vehicle.
EAST FORK of the BLACK RIVER – Highways 261 and 273 are closed. Other Forest roads are snow-covered and inaccessible by vehicle.
WEST FORK of the BLACK RIVER – Highways 261 and 273 are closed. Other Forest roads are snow-covered and inaccessible by vehicle.
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 discolored.
SHEEPS CROSSING – Highway 273 is closed for the winter.
SHOW LOW CREEK – The access road on the dam is still closed, and the large pool below the dam has not yet been stocked.
SILVER CREEK – Fishing is fair for large rainbow trout and Apache trout. The stream is running clear and has not been affected by snowmelt. Fly fishermen are catching trout on white or black streamers and assorted bead-head nymphs. Silver Creek is currently open to catch-and-release, artificial lure and fly with barbless hooks only fishing from October 1 through March 31. The upper section is open to angling.
Please send me your fishing reports from Southern Arizona! Fishing reports for southern waters can be sent to Don Mitchell, Regional Fish Program Manager by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. These reports will then be complied and reported in our weekly fishing reports.
Spring is nearing meaning that warm water fishing is getting ready to take off. Water temps are still cool however it won’t be much longer before the bass begin to stage for pre-spawn. Trout stockings are starting to wind down for the season and there are only a few stockings left. See the stocking schedule at http://www.azgfd.gov/pdfs/h_f/fishing/stocking/TroutStockingSchedule.pdf.
Need ideas on where to go fishing? Try the Departments new interactive Fish and Boat Map at http://gis.azgfd.gov/fishandboat/.
RIGGS FLAT — Closed for the winter.
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. 2012 Winter Stocking Schedule
ROPER LAKE — High pH prevented the stocking of Roper Lake. Stockings will remain suspended until conditions improve. Fish slated for Roper have been stocked at Cluff Ranch. No recent reports of success. For lake information (928) 428-6760.
2012 Winter Stocking Schedule
DANKWORTH POND — Still closed for renovations as State Parks puts the final touches on several construction projects. The Department plans to begin re-stocking this small pond with sunfish in mid March, 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 – No recent reports of success. Stockings are occurring as scheduled but fishing has been slow. 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 — No reports of trout angler success. Fishing continues to be fair with bass anglers having some success. 2012 Winter Stocking Schedule It is being reported that the lake level is down. Boater should use caution as obstructions can appear as water levels drop.
PARKER CANYON — Fishing remains fair for trout. 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 — 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. Anglers that are making the walk in are reporting good fishing.