Central Arizona

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March 25th, 2008
Central Arizona


URBAN LAKES — “Mr. Whiskers the catfish” returns to Phoenix and Tucson urban lakes.

The catfish season officially kicks off at all Urban Fishing Program lakes and ponds in the Phoenix and Tucson areas on Friday, March 21 when all lakes will receive deliveries of 15- to 20-inch channel catfish. Two large trucks will be used to bring over 7,500 catfish to 19 waters throughout the day. Warming spring temperatures signal the stocking changeover from trout to catfish. Nearly 14,000 pounds of Arkansas farm raised catfish will be delivered and stocked into Urban Fishing Program lakes every two weeks from now through the end of June. Traditionally, as we change fish suppliers from winter trout to spring catfish deliveries, anglers are given the specific day of stocking. For all other catfish stockings, only the stocking week (Mon.-Sat.) is announced.

The usual baits such as worms, stink baits, and shrimp should work well for catching “Mr. Whiskers.” Daily limits are four catfish per person at Urban Lakes or two catfish per person at Urban Ponds (note regulations and park signage for Lake and Pond designations). Urban anglers have a good reputation as sportsmen that respect the laws and limits and encourage others to do the same. Any observed fishing violations or over limits should be phoned in immediately to Operation Game Thief at 1-800-352-0700.

Trout stockings continue at Payson Green Valley Lakes:
If you are a die-hard trout angler and are sad to see the winter trout stockings end in the Phoenix and Tucson area Urban lakes, do not be dismayed. The beautiful 13-acre Green Valley Lakes in Payson are unique within the Urban Fishing Program because they continue to receive stockings of rainbow trout all the way through early May. Surrounded by oaks, junipers and pine trees at a nearly mile-high elevation, Green Valley Lakes remain cool enough to support cold water fish like trout. While only trout are stocked here, there are at least four other popular sport fish commonly caught: crappie, largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish.

Bluegill stockings planned March 24-29:
Twice each year, the Department stocks 5- to 8-inch bluegill into all Urban Fishing Program waters to replenish this popular sport fish and offer some great fishing for young anglers. A stocking of bluegill is scheduled the week of March 24-29.

Urban fishing report:
Fishing for trout is fair to good with the final trout stocking of the winter season was on March 6, but some wily trout still remain, particularly in the larger lakes. The spring channel catfish stocking season begins on March 21 when 7,500 fish are stocked throughout the day into Urban waters. Best baits for the big cats are worms, stink baits and shrimp – fished on the bottom. Bluegill will be stocked in all Phoenix and Tucson area waters the week of March 24-29. Best baits for the feisty, 5- to 8-inch bluegill are worms and mealworms fished under a small bobber. At Green Valley lakes (Payson) fishing is good to excellent for trout with trout stockings scheduled to continue at this higher elevation lake until mid May.

Green Valley Park in Payson will continue to receive trout until mid-May.

TEMPE TOWN LAKE – No new reports.

LAKE PLEASANT – No additional reports – but look for the spawn to kick off soon.

From last week’s report:
Water elevation is 1,694 ft, which is 91-percent full.

The debris has cleared up for the most part. Fishing reports are all over the place. It looks like night fishing has been producing some good bass, especially stripers and whites on anchovies.

Some anglers have been finding a few bass on spawning beds in the very shallow portions of the northern coves. This is probably the leading edge of the spawn, so don’t expect much. However, with every day of warming weather, more and more bass will either stage for the spawn, or go on the beds. Wind and cold weather can push them off the beds, but only temporarily. The urge to procreate is just too strong.

For staging bass, hit the primary points outside coves, the secondary points inside coves, any submerged creek channel in a cove, or along the steeper edges of the major flats, especially those inside coves such as in Bass Bay, Coles Bay, Humbug and Castle Creek.
Daytime fishing can real slow in the shallows. Try fishing deep and real slow; one fisherman said he had some good action at 59 feet in depth. The fish were close to structure and were tempted by 6-inch plastic lizards.

Another fisherman caught a largemouth in 20 feet of water, but no mention of a time frame. Other people were successful trolling for largemouth.

There are a lot of activities at Pleasant this weekend, and at least one closed area. Go to the Lake Pleasant Regional Park site www.maricopa.gov/parks/lake_pleasant for more information.

ROOSEVELT LAKE — From the Been Fishing wire, Jim Tanaka emailed that he caught 12 largemouth and 1 smallmouth bass on March 19. The technique and equipment he used were green pumpkin wooly hawg (yum), spinnerbait and 1/4 oz (yellow, orange, and green).
Jim reported, “The 10 largemouth (all were in the slot limit) and 1 smallmouth bass (appx. 14″) were caught at the main launch ramp at Windy Hill using 1/4 oz bullet weight size 1/0 hook and wolly hawg in green pumpkin (yum bait co.) All fish were released”

From last week’s report:
Lake Elevation is 2,145 ft (92-percent full).

Tonto Creek runoff is at 255 cfs while inflow from the Salt River was at 2,130 cfs. This is the spring runoff season. This would also be a good time for a rafting trip down the Salt.

One fisherman reported water temps were 55 at 8:30 a.m. and 63 at 4 p.m. – just know that temperature varies between coves and the main lake. It’s good to bring a thermometer if you don’t have a scanner.

I talked to a crappie fisherman; he caught 11 crappies last week in an afternoon of fishing at the Salt end of the reservoir in the shallows. One crappie was 3 pounds; it’s probably from the 2005 spawn. He trolled using pink-headed jigs.

Trolling is the ticket for crappie a variety of jigs are working; try blue black Chartreuse and pink-headed ones in water ranging from 25 to 56 feet deep; try trolling 5 to 15 feet deep. I’m getting more reports of successful crappie fishing at the Salt end of the reservoir than the Tonto end. They are not all in deep water though; they are starting to make their way into the shallows.

Salt end seems to be a pretty good place to catch largemouth bass as well; but they were biting near Cholla on crankbait, Rat-L-Traps (fire tiger color) and crayfish imitations. Use spinnerbaits in the evening in shallow water (2-7 feet).

Another fisherman was catching most of his bass using blades, Senkos, hulas and jigs in the Tonto arm. Some anglers are having good success flipping into the trees.

There is still debris clumped together in large moving conglomerations and large partially submerged logs that aren’t obvious until you get right up to them. The water clarity is about 12 inches. It’s still treacherous to navigate, so be careful.

The lake is going to fill-and-spill for the first time since the dam was raised 70 feet in 1996. The fishing is going to be phenomenal for the next several years at least. Spend some time getting to know this lake at its uppermost lake level.

APACHE LAKE — C. Parisi provided an email to the Been Fishing wire about his trip to Apache Lake on March 16. While Parisi didn’t catch anything that day, he did provide some helpful observations about the status of the lake. Parisi wrote, “I used all baits including minnows and live worms. Tried spinners and crankbaits – just about everything but the fish aren’t biting yet. I spent the entire week at Apache fishing from my boat. Water is 58 degrees and may be still too cold for the fish to become active. On the last day I got a hit from a trout as we drifted with the wind using a white spinner with a red O on it. He slipped off just before the net got to him. First 4 days there not even a bite but the weather was real nice. I would guess the fishing will pick up in a month as the water warms and clears from the runoff. I still had a great week at the Burnt Corral campground.”

From last week’s report:
Lake elevation is 1912 ft (98-percent full).

Trout are being caught by Burnt Coral by the fish habitat using power eggs. They are also being caught up and down the reservoir in various locations. This is not surprising since Apache received most of the Canyon Lake’s allotment of trout this fall as well as thousands of surplus trout the hatcheries had to get rid of. Yellow bass are biting by the marina and a 7 lb largemouth was caught there as well. Some anglers are having some luck catching small trout and smallmouth by the main ramp using worms. Channel catfish are being caught at Alder creek.

CANYON — A couple of angler reports came in about Canyon Lake. While they were mixed reports, each of them can offer other anglers assistance.

Kevin Hunter caught a 8-pound monster largemouth back in late February. “I caught the bass in about 3 feet of water at about 5:30 p.m. I will post the pics on your webpage for all to see that Canyon Lake is still alive and hiding monsters. Can’t wait until spawn cranks up,” Kevin wrote. He add, “I was jigging shoreline with 5-inch motor-oil colored Westy worm.” Kevin, we are still waiting for those pictures. You can submit them to www.azgfd.net/photos.

A more recent report, March 17, from an anonymous angler writes, “I didn’t catch a thing. I tried, Texas rigged worm, Texas rigged creature baits, split shot worms, drop shot, crank, and jerk – basically everything. However, I didn’t try the kitchen sink only because I forgot it at the dock.”

From last week’s report:
Lake elevation is 1659 ft, which is 97-percent full.

Fishermen are hitting Canyon, but few reports so far. It looks like swimbaits are not the way to go. Texas-rigged baits with a worm worked for one fisherman. The lake still has quite a bit of debris. This is good news for the fertility of this lake, but makes it a little more difficult to fish right now. With all of the artificial habitat installed, Canyon should provide some terrific fishing soon.

SAGUARO — This Been Fishing report is a dandy. On March 19, Ben reports a day like no other – reeling in over 50 largemouth bass. “I fished from the shore at Butcher Jones Recreation Site down the “fishermen’s trail” and threw almost everything I had, from drop-shotting worms and lizards to casting crankbaits, spinnerbaits, spoons and spinners. I almost gave up after an hour of no bites and noticed a dead crayfish in the water. So I tried drop-shotting a plastic crayfish. I felt a couple bumps but no hits so I put it on a jig head. On my first eleven casts I caught ten bass. Then for the next 2 hours I averaged about a bass every other cast. They were all small, from 6 to 12 inches but it was a great time. I’ve never experienced anything like it,” wrote Ben.

From last week’s report:
Lake elevation 1527 feet at 97-percent full.

A fisherman reported catching 10 largemouth bass (all under a pound) near the marina. They were caught on crawfish imitations, football-head jigs, KastMasters and small swimbaits. Don’t forget there was a real good spawn last year and Game and Fish stocked a little over 3,000 6- to 8-inch bass in the lake as well. If you decide to keep a bass this year, and a creel clerk from Game and Fish is at the ramp, stop by and let us scan your fish to see if it is one of the stocked fish – we would appreciate it.

Game and Fish ended up stocking 1,500 trout last week as part of the trout allotment from Tempe Town Lake that we were unable to stock in the past month. At the time of stocking, the water temperature was 60oF.

One fisherman report catching seven small largemouth bass using the drop-shot method in coves across from Bagley Flats. He said all the fish looked healthy and had good color. The recreation boaters are hitting the lakes in the afternoons.

A couple fishermen went out during the week and fished from 8:30 to 2:30 and caught 35 largemouth bass all in the 8-11 inch range, 12 yellow bass in the 9-12 inch range, 4 bluegill 5-7 inches in size, and 3 channel catfish from 3 to 6 pounds; all these fish were caught on KastMasters. The fish were biting mostly in the mornings and the bite stopped around 1:00 pm. The fish that they caught were coming up on the shelves from 25 feet to 13-15 feet and aggressively taking the spoon.

BARTLETT — Grantman took the time to email the Been Fishing wire about his outing on March 15. He trolled for bass with crankbaits but didn’t land anything. Grantman explained, “The weather was beautiful but very slow bite Saturday a.m. The fish looked deep on the fish finder, and there was a lot of floating debris including big logs and bushes. I came in early because I figured I was going to keep losing lures in the heavy debris with no fish. However the boat ran great on its first trip out for the season and I am glad I went.”

From last week’s report:
Lake elevation is 1,797 ft, which is 99-percent full.

Fish are hitting in the afternoons more so than the mornings. Temperatures are 57 to 62oF. The bass are fat and some are full of eggs. They are starting to go after shad and can be caught using blades, cranks and rip baits in shallow water, 1-10 feet, but one angler mentioned the bite is light. Another fisherman caught 15 using this technique and another group of fishermen caught over 30 just under a pound to 2 pounds.

Bass are also susceptible to the drop shot method and flipping lures with red on them seemed to be a good choice in 8 to 10 feet of water in the trees.

Another fisherman caught nearly 20 bass in and around cover all over the lake and reaction baits and jigs was working the best.

HORSESHOE – No new reports.

Lake elevation is at 2,025 feet, which is 99-percent full. They are releasing water at 1,485 cfs but the inflows are 1,626.

VERDE RIVER — No new reports.

Flows at Tangle Creek are 1,626 cubic feet per second (cfs) and cfs at Camp Verde is at 1,774. Releases from Bartlett Lake are currently at 1,700 cfs.

SALT RIVER – No new reports.

Salt River into Roosevelt is 2,130 cfs, and Salt River Canyon is 1,317 cfs. They are still releasing 8 cfs out of Stewart Mountain Dam from Saguaro.

LOWER SALT RIVER (below Saguaro Lake) – No new reports.

The lower Salt received 1,575 trout on March 3 at Granite Reef and Phon D Sutton.

CREEKS — No new reports.

Fly fishermen are starting to catch trout using leeches and nymphs on the rim streams where they can gain access. The water is still a little high and a little stained but it’s clearing up and when you can see the fish they are biting. Try Tonto Creek, Christopher Creek, Haigler, East Verde and Canyon Creek.

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