Central Arizona

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January 16th, 2008

URBAN LAKES – The weather is terrific and Incentive trout were stocked this week and included plenty of extra 1-3 pound trout with each lake delivery.  At least one trout 6 pounded was stocked somewhere in an Urban Fishing Program lake. 

Department biologists received reports of dying fish at Cortez Lake in north Phoenix on Friday Dec. 28.  Laboratory tests confirmed that golden alga was present in the water.  That same day the lake was treated with an algaecide.  Although several hundred shad were lost, there were no signs that the larger sport-fish were affected.  Keep your eye out for the signs; golden algae can be managed relatively easy in these urban lakes.  Water quality looks fine so the lake will be stocked with the full allotment of trout this week.

Urban fishing reports vary from good to excellent at most Urban Fishing Program waters.  Anglers using scented dough baits (such as Power Bait), worms fished under a bobber, or small trout lures have been successful.  Try fishing with minnows along the bottom for larger trout and the occasional bass or catfish.  Best times to fish for trout generally are early morning, but some anglers have reported excellent fishing later afternoon.  Small spinners such as Rooster Tails and Panther Martins, or spoons such as KastMasters are also working well for trout. 

Bret Garon caught four trout over 15 inches at Red Mountain Park using worms floated off the bottom about 10 inches using a marshmallow.

TEMPE TOWN LAKE — Four thousand trout were stocked two weeks ago. The fish tend to congregate in the shallow west end of the lake around the bridge pylons and other structures.  A little reminder – we already stocked 4,000 during the week of Dec. 3-7. Numerous anglers have reported having difficulty catching trout here the past several weeks. Let us know how you do.

LAKE PLEASANT – Water elevation is 1,667 ft which is 63-percent full.  This lake has received lots of runoff down the Agua Fria River, especially on Jan. 7-8. The lake has come up 4 percent in the past week. Plus, it had terrific inflows during early December. This water and nutrient influx should help the productivity of Pleasant this year. The watershed outlook is also more favorable.

Kevin W. Grove caught 17 striped bass and five black crappie trolling a white spook shad and U16 Shad-Rap for stripers; caught six all over 4 pounds. Caught the rest drifting minnows.  The crappies were caught while jigging submerged trees with a natural Gitzit jig and minnow. He fished the Castle Creek and Humbug areas.

Tracy Leake suggest finding shallows, east-to-west facing coves that are 15 to 20 feet deep because they receive more sunlight and are holding larger fish. Tracy caught a night 5-pound bass on a Carolina-rigged water dog.

Striper and white bass fishing can be pretty good when you locate the big schools. Troll nice and slow with anchovies in the Castle Creek, Humbug or Agua Fria areas. When one bites, chum small pieces of anchovies to keep the school near you and actively feeding.  Some brave anglers have also been catching stripers at night. If you don’t have a trolling motor, drifting works okay too.  One fisherman recommended using an octopus hook with a split shot about 18 inches up with the anchovy hooked through the head.  A good water depth is between 15 to 20 feet in the channel. 

Here is a first-hand angler report: “We decided to try Lake Pleasant. At about 1 p.m. it was kind of late and I wasn’t very hopeful. My husband and I went to through the Castle Creek area and trolled around…nothing. Then we got back in the middle of Kite Point and Castle Creek behind all of the brush and trees. We have a two-person trolling boat, so it was easy to get around (a normal motor boat wouldn’t be able to get back there). My second cast on a silver original floater I pulled up a nice striped bass. While my husband was helping me with the hook, his pole flew across the boat. He had a red and white Rattlin’ Rapala on his line. He pulled up a 5-pound largemouth bass. He also pulled up another bass that we threw back, a striper, and another largemouth bass. He went again today, went to the same spot, and pulled up two stripers in less than 15 minutes on the same lure. He said there were other anglers in the area that were not catching anything though… Tonight we’re are going again, trying out new lures. I’ve never had any luck with anchovies at that lake, day or night.”

Danny Iberri-Shea, who typically provides us great reports for northern trout and bass waters, said he stopped at this lake along with his wife and a neighbor stopped while visiting Phoenix for baby supplies.” I was impressed to catch a striper and a white in the middle of winter while pitching large night crawlers on ultra-light tackle. These fish pull line faster than any other fresh water fish I have tied into. Fish visible structure projecting out of shallow coves and (as always) go light. You will either snap off on a log or tie into a dream! Peace!”

By the way, Pleasant got lots of inflows from the Agua Fria during the late November, early December storms. That should set it up with more nutrients and an increased water level for this spring. A couple of more great storms could turn this into a banner year (and next year as well).

There is a report of a 30-inch striper taken out of Lake Pleasant using 3½-inch jerk bait.    
Don’t forget that a portion of the Agua Fria arm of the lake is closed for nesting bald eagles. The closure is marked with buoys. Someone caught a 37-pound catfish as well. Yes, catfish are active in winter and can be caught. Try stink baits for the channels and live bluegill or small carp for the flatheads.

ROOSEVELT LAKE – Lake Elevation is 2115 ft (60-percent full). The Salt River had bumped up to almost 20,000 cfs on Jan. 8 and Tonto Creek to around 10,000 cfs that same day, providing this lake a water and nutrient shot in the arm. Expect high turbidity with lots of floating debris.

Salt River Project says that based on current snowpack, Roosevelt could reach 80-percent full this runoff season. That’s great news. By the way, the snowpack is around 180 percent of normal right now even if we don’t get any more snow.

Expect Roosevelt to absolutely bust loose this year with some phenomenal fishing opportunities. With the strong age class of fish created in 2005 during that peak runoff year, we could see some amazing numbers and sizes in the creel this year (and probably next as well).

We are not hearing much from anglers right now. 

A 5-pound smallmouth bass was caught using a Rico topwater.

APACHE — Lake elevation is 1,909 ft which is 95-percent full. Just another reminder, thousands of rainbow trout have been stocked at the main launch and at Burnt Coral. The lake is now loaded with trout. This might be the place for a fishing excursion.

Also, try throwing out some “trout looking lures” to nab the big largemouth bass.  Also don’t forget the yellow bass in Apache. . . they like to hang near the drop offs at the points.  Try KastMasters and spoons.  This lake is full of trophy-sized yellow bass. Try gold KastMasters on small spinners.  Mealworms can also work well.

CANYON — Still closed to boaters – lake elevation is 1,623, which is 48-percent full.  Canyon came up eight feet this past week from runoff tumbling down Fish Creek. This is a welcome nutrient surcharge to go along with the plentiful Pisces pyramids built this year. This could be a superb year at Canyon once it fills. It will take about a few weeks to completely fill up.  We had a banner weekend attaching Christmas trees to the fishing structures.  We had a lot of help from fishermen and some people that just wanted to help. Thanks to everybody who helped out.  The structures look great; it will be some nice habitat for the small fish as well as some good ambush spots for the big boys.   
SAGUARO — Lake elevation1,525 feet at 94-percent full. Good fishing reports coming out of Saguaro.  Spoons are enticing largemouth and yellow bass on the drop offs near Ship rock and the no-wake buoys. Trout are biting too on night crawlers, Power Bait and small spinners.

Danny Doshier used Power Bait on Dec. 23 and the Sunday before to catch his limit of trout.

Ian Carr caught-and-released one trout. “I had read that gold KastMasters were the ticker for yellow bass at Saguaro, so I was a little surprised (but not disappointed) to catch a trout. Some other anglers had spent the day catching decent-sized bluegills with worms fished on the bottom. It was my first time at Saguaro, and I was really impressed by the beautiful scenery. I’ll definitely be back!”

Yellow bass fishing is still going great.  They are in a little bit deeper water now; about 40 feet and spoons are what they are hitting.  Someone even caught a 10 pound channel catfish, surprising since they don’t move a whole lot in the cold water

BARTLETT – Great news – the lake elevation is 1,793 feet, which is 93-percent full. All the recent runoff has filled this lake with nutrient-rich water. Expect lots of floating debris. This could make fishing a little challenging in the short term, but this lake is poised for some great fishing this year.

HORSESHOE — Lake elevation is at 1,990 feet which is 31-percent full. However, Bartlett is nearing capacity so this lake will be allowed to fill. During 2005, Horseshoe had held water well through the spawn, which meant it was a fish nursery for Bartlett. The same could happen again this year if there is sufficient runoff.

The Verde River at Tangle bumped up past 20,000 cfs on Jan. 7 then settled ack to around 10,000 cfs.

SALT RIVER – Salt River into Roosevelt was18,400 cfs on Jan. 8 but settled back to 1,250 cfs by Jan. 11,  and Tonto Creek bounced up to 10,000 cfs on Jan. 8.  They are releasing 8 cfs out of Stewart Mountain dam from Saguaro.

LOWER SALT RIVER (below Saguaro Lake) – The trout fishing success is sporadic, but some anglers are catching limits while others can’t seem to buy a bite.

One angler reports that the water was turbid, the flows were low, and he couldn’t hardly catch a fish.

David Welker caught his limit of six rainbow trout in about an hour using bait, adding, “The fishing was great! Fisher ranged from 912 inches.”

Try fishing night crawlers with little or no weight and casting slightly upstream into the riffles and letting the current carry the bait into deeper pools, back eddies etc.

CREEKS – Access can be iffy, but you can always hike in.

Note: The lake level at Horse Thief Basin Lake is way down and the latest report indicates the fishing is lousy.  It is, however, a fun place to visit.

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