Central Arizona

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October 23rd, 2008

Note: The Arizona Game and Fish Commission on Oct. 11 voted to create slot limits at Saguaro, Canyon and Apache lakes starting in 2009 just like the one already in place on Roosevelt Lake in an effort to give these popular fisheries another nudge down the comeback trail after being blitzed by golden alga blooms in recent years.

In addition, possession of one fish out the protected slot limit will be allowed at Roosevelt and this provision is also part of the new slot regulations at Saguaro, Canyon and Apache.


URBAN LAKES – Fishing is good for channel catfish, which were stocked last week. Fishing for catfish at the Urban Lakes is good to excellent in the mornings and evenings.  It’s been reported pretty dismal during the daytime.  Use shrimp, stink bait and hot dogs for the best results.  Sunfish and bass are biting well in the early mornings as they seek to fatten up for the winter.

All 20 Urban Lakes in Phoenix and Tucson will receive 5-8 inch hybrid sunfish this week.  Each lake will get about 80-100 fish per surface acre.  Sunfish are fun to catch for all ages and will bite all day long.  Try using small pieces of worms or mealworms on small hooks fished under a bobber.  Daily bag limits for sunfish are 10 fish per person at Urban Lakes and 5 fish per day at Urban Ponds.

Trout stocking in Phoenix and Tucson Urban Lakes and Ponds will begin the week of November 10-15.

Largemouth bass (6-9 inches) will be stocked at the Urban Lakes and Ponds in the next five weeks.

A 6.5 pound largemouth bass was caught and released at Red Mountain.

If you don’t have a 2008 Urban fishing license, they will be 50-percent off from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31.

More than 700 rainbow trout were stocked last week at Green Valley Lakes in Payson (yes, these are Urban Program Lakes in the cool pines).  Limits on trout are 4 per day for licensed anglers and two for unlicensed youth under age 14.
Where: Veterans Oasis
When: 10/16/08
Caught: Catfish
Technique: Doughbait, Nightcrawlers
Comments: Fish were good..nice fight and lots of bites…Went with Wife who caught 3..I caught 2…and my Dad caught 2…Each just about a pound with my wife with the biggest of the day at 1 1/2 pounds. If you can hook’em you will have a good day. Watch the shoreline though as its very weedy!
Name: Ricky

Where: chandler/mesa/scotsdale/
When: 10/15/08
Caught: avage 2 lbs reless
Technique: worem 18″ leder slidding 3/8 whight on the bottom
Comments: cats about 25 yards out not far at all . thay tare it up earley mornning hours sunerise. cat bass sunfish.slowe after 9 am
Name: Ernie R Smith
Where: Green Valley Payson
When: 10/18/08
Caught: rainbows
Technique: Small spinners/they were not hitting any bait.
Comments: Heard the lakes were stocked. Had a great time and the weather was perfect. Caught a bunch and all were released. Very healthy and a lot bigger than the average stockers. Great job Game and Fish keep up the good work!

Where: Encanto
When: 10/20/08
Caught: 3 healthy bass
Technique: rooster tail
Comments: My buddy also caught a LARGE (about 10 lbs.) carp on a rooster tail. Neither of us had ever seen a carp take a rooster tail before.
LAKE PLEASANT – The Scorpion Bay Marina is expected to be open this week pending the passing of the last safety inspection.

Striper fishing is an on-and-off thing at Pleasant, or at least, the bite and boils are shifting from one spot to another. Anglers are seeing the boils off the main lake points and the mouths of coves.  The boils were small and short lived, but you know how it is one day you’re struggling to find good boils and the next day is a bonanza. Keep plugging away.

We have also received reports from anglers having striper encounters of the night kind in the Agua Fria arm of the lake at night under lights. Just like the daytime fishing, if you hit it right, you can clean up on these schooling fish.

Where: Lake Pleasant
When: 10/20/08
Caught: 2lb largemouth, 1 to 2lb white bass & 2 to 3 lb Stripers
Technique: Largemouth on drop – shot White bass and Stripers topwater clear zara spook and clear torpedos
Comments: Started fishing at 6:30 a.m. at Castle Creek area, largemouth caught near shore on Robo worm drop – shot. Went east / north of Castle Creek when water was like glass at 11 a.m. and found shad boils of which lasted for 1 1/2hrs. Plenty of action with clear topwater baits casting into the boils! You could not miss!
Name: Warren Risberg

Where:lk pleasant
When:10/06/08
Caught:11 stripers for 16 lbs
Technique:trolling at 50 ft art/bait speed 1.8 mph using 4 hp kicker
Name:ron and linda suncy west
ROOSEVELT LAKE – Lake Elevation is 2,142 ft (89-percent full).  Tonto Creek runoff is at 0 cfs while inflow from the Salt River is at 355 cfs.

Largemouth bass and crappie fishing still seems a little tough here. This lake is so loaded with threadfin shad and other groceries that it could be the sport-fish are gorging on available food and aren’t as aggressive the rest of the time.

A couple experienced anglers fished the Tonto end in the morning.  They caught two largemouth bass on crankbaits, 13 yellow bass and 1 bluegill on spoons in 15 feet of water

White worms are working for some anglers as well as some John Deer grubs in the Tonto Arm and coves on that end.  The Salt end seems to attracting some angler attention as well.

Topwater lures are working well for some anglers in the early morning and then try switching to Texas-rigs and flipping worms below overhanging vegetation or near structure.  Angers are reporting largemouth spitting up crawdads, so try bumping crawdad imitations along the bottom in shallow water.

Other anglers are reporting catching fish with plastic worms on Carolina rigs from 20 to 50 feet in depth.  The drop-shot method seems to always work.  Swim baits and other reaction baits are attracting some bass attention as well as shallow crankbaits and jerkbaits in blue and yellow colors.

Crappie fishing is a bit slow, but some are having luck trolling jigs in late morning, largemouth bass are also hitting the jigs.

APACHE – Lake elevation is 1904 ft (90-percent full). We are seeing a few more fishermen at Apache.  Anglers reported catching channel catfish around the marina, Hackberry Cove and Goat Ledge; large carp are in the coves (use corn); yellow bass are hanging out on the points where the substrate levels off, and someone caught a 12-inch walleye, no details on the location of the walleye.

KastMasters and silver spinners are attracting the yellow bass and sunfish.  Try using Robo worms around the overhanging vegetation for largemouth bass and try areas with boulders and big cobbles for the smallmouth bass.

This lake is also in prime Gambel’s quail country, so it is a great spot for a cast-and-blast camp out.

Department biologists surveyed Apache Lake and the best place to catch walleye is above Burn Corral on the points.  We caught a few nice ones.  We also caught quite a few catfish at both ends of the lake in coves.  Largemouth bass seemed to be dispersed pretty evenly although some anglers said Burnt Corral was a good place to nab them, using plastic worms and jigs.

CANYON LAKE – Lake elevation is 1,658 feet, which is 96-percent full.
Some people are getting frustrated with Canyon, although the Boulder Recreation fishing area is producing some sunfish and bass. Other anglers are doing well, but aren’t forthcoming with their secrets.

Although this is the land of the lunkers, it has typically been a tough lake to fish, although it attracts experienced anglers looking for that super hawg.

Don’t forget about the fishing habitat that was installed at Beaver Landing, Teddy Bear and Mormon Flat.  One knowledgeable angler suggests throwing jerkbaits or spinnerbaits along the banks around Tortilla Bay at the drop-offs.  Texas -rigs and drop-shotting plastic worms are producing results.

Where:canyon lake
When:10/12/08
Caught:7 Largemouth Bass
Technique:Silver and blue Rat-L-Trap and 4″ Senkos
Comments:Good to see Canyon coming back. Latched a 4 lb, 2 lb, and 1.5 lb. The rest were small but fun. All fish released.
Name:Bud Russman
SAGUARO LAKE – Anglers are continuing to catch bass at Saguaro using drop shot in the main lake area.  Other anglers are doing well using plastics on Texas riggs and jigs.  Yellow bass are taking crankbait near the river and kastmasters on the shelves and points.  Lots of smaller fish are being caught but there are a few big bass being caught at various locations.

Just a warning to all boaters there are some unmarked hazards in the river sections so be aware.

Lake elevation 1,525 feet at 93-percent full. This is a hot spot for small largemouth bass around 1 to 2 pounds, plentiful yellow bass, east-to-catch bluegills and fat channel catfish.

Bass fishing is good using crankbait and jerk baits. A few big ones are being caught.  They seem to be hanging out on the points and the bigger fish are deeper around 20 feet or so using plastic worms with the drop shot method.

Largemouth bass are partial to the plastic worms but KastMasters are working for the rest of the fish.  One small group of anglers caught a few small bluegills, a nice channel catfish, quite a few largemouth bass, and 92 yellow bass, most were caught in the upper lake.

Where: Saguaro
When: 10/21/08
Caught: Bass
Technique: Robo worms and Chas cranks
Comments: Water temp. is 71 midday, water clearity is getting better and better. Fewer pleasure boaters make the lake experience perfect. Plenty of little guys but the size is improving, two pounders are getting caught.
Name: Charles Greco

Where: Saguaro
When: 10/14/08
Caught: Large Mouth
Technique: Drop Shot with Robo worms
Comments: Caught about 14 fish with 3 of us in the boat. We only fished for a couple of hours. Some were good size (for Saguaro). Largest were 13-14″ Got out late and were fishing in the early afternoon.
Name: Michael Rathgeber

Where:Saguaro
When:10/09/08
Caught:Small bass
Technique:Robo worms and Chad Rap
Comments:We let the Robo go straight to the bottom. Drop shot was effective but little results. The morning bite is great but by eleven it’s time to pack it up and mow the lawn. The big bass are still very illusive.
Name:Charles Greco
BARTLETT LAKE – Lake elevation is 1,783 ft, which is 78-percent full.  Reservoir release is 1,075 cfs.

Good fishing at Bartlett, bass were hitting a variety of topwater lures and shad cranks.  The fish are hanging real close to cover and points.  Once the sun hits the water the reaction bite disappears and deeper fishing is the way to go, with crayfish imitations and other plastics.

This report from Bartlett was posted on our Been Fishing section of the website.  Joe fished from 5 to 10:30 p.m. and caught 20 bass using crankbait, Storm Wiggle Wart, and Warmouth color Robo Worms. The drop shot method worked well for him.

Bass anglers are pretty happy.  A group of anglers and caught quite a few bass on drop shot and topwater lures.  The boils are short lived but are all over the lake. The water is dropping fast, so use caution when boating – this lake has lots of reefs and rocks.

Plastic worms on drop shot are enticing quite a few fish and boils are plentiful.  The white or clear topwater lures that look like shad are producing pretty well.

Don’t forget Bartlett is a very good catfish lake; shore and boat fishermen both do very well.  Use chicken liver, worms or any kind of leftovers you might have that will stay on your hook. Channel catfish are taking jigs and spinnerbaits as well. For flatheads try some live bait in the upper end of the lake by ship rock at night. They like the full moon.

Try fishing under the no wake line by the Jojoba Boat Ramp in 5-8 feet of water.  Look for the submerged yellow pipe; the bass like to hang out there.  Last year at this time the fish were being caught in the west end of the lake in the mornings and on the east end of the lake in the evenings.

For crappie, fish near the orange fish habitat buoys, but don’t fish right over them.  You need to be 15 – 30 feet away from them and cast jigs towards the buoys. Crappie fishing at night might be productive this week during the waning quarter moon (new moon is Oct. 28).

Where: Bartlett
When: 10/18/08
Caught: One 5in largemouth
Technique: Minnow on crappie grub under bobber
Comments: 5 of us fished from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Lots of boats were there for the tournament. Saw at checkin they were putting back several bass a piece. Only one other bite on a spinner bait. We must be doning something wrong!
Name: Andy E

Where:Bartlett
When:10/08/08
Caught:bass
Technique:crankbaits
Comments:fast retrieve caught and released 9 bass, 2-pound average
Name:Bud Tutrone
Where: Bartlett Lake
When:10/06/08
Caught: largemouth and 1bluegill
Technique: white 1/4 oz. spinner, silver and blue Rat-L-Traps, and a 8 ft diver bomber green
Comments: great day we fish the Yellow Cliffs and the Bartlett Flats; our best fish came off the inside of main channel points
Name: josh

HORSESHOE LAKE – Lake elevation is at 1,950 feet, no pool. This is barely more than a wide spot in the river. They are releasing water at 150 cfs.

VERDE RIVER – Verde River flow at Tangle is 131 cubic feet per second.  Release from Bartlett Lake is 1,075 cfs.

SALT RIVER – Salt River into Roosevelt is 355 cfs, and Salt River Canyon is 312 cfs.  They are releasing 8 cfs out of Stewart Mountain dam from Saguaro.  .

LOWER SALT RIVER (below Saguaro Lake) – Trout stockings are not scheduled again until the week of Nov. 3, but you can still catch bass, catfish, carp and sunfish. Worms are a good all around bait and jigs will work for the sunfish and bass.  Corn will entice the carp.  You can catch roundtail chub (a delectable native fish) in the deep water around Coon Bluff, Phon D. Sutton and Granite Reef areas (they are all past the confluence with the Verde River). They will hang out in the pools. You can catch them with trout lures, KastMasters, Mepps or worms. Make sure you have your Tonto Pass which can be purchased from a variety of convenience stores and sporting goods stores.

CREEKS – The creeks below the Mogollon Rim are not currently being stocked, but it is still possible to find trout in the deeper pools for those willing to invest the time and fun to find them.
Anglers are still using some terrestrials like the hoppers but it’s slowed down with the colder weather.  Anglers are having better luck using copper johns, small flies, pheasant tailed flashbacks, Simi Seal leeches, and zug bugs.

Haigler Creek – Use small dry flies
Canyon Creek – Midge patterns
Tonto Creek – Midge patterns

Christopher Creek – No recent reports, but try live night crawlers on light line.

East Verde – One angler reported good fishing for larger trout in the deeper pools.

Workman Creek – Terrestrials are the ticket – especially hoppers.

HORSETHEIF BASIN LAKE – Probably not worth driving to just for fishing, but it might be worth a visit if you are prowling the Bradshaw Mountains and want to wet a line for some small sunfish or bass.

16 Responses to “Central Arizona”

  1. I would like to know if anyone has been to Horseshoe Dam lately?
    The last two times that I was there the spill out was open full blast making it impossible to fish under the dam.I was wondering if anyone has been there in the last week and if so how was it?

  2. Anyone out there interested in showing someone how to catch those monster flatheads at Roosevelt. I’ve got a boat and am willing to compensate you for your time. I am from oregon and I’m used to catching 8-15 foot sturgeon. I am craving to have something heavier than a crappie on my line.Thanks in advance for any help.

  3. Brian, I am interested in what responses you received, if any.I am from Oregon also and would like to contact you to get sturgeon info.

  4. Has anyone been creek fishing up by payson like at Christopher Creek or Tonto Creek. Going easter weakend but never been there.

  5. william gustafson on April 7th, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    yeah the flatheads are starting to heading up the salt to spawn just get alot of waterdogs and some heavy gear their big this time of year they spend the early spring gorging on anything they can get their mouths on in anticipation for the spawn go just above the bridge and hang on they,ll probly spawn the next full moon conditions are perfect for them right now usally typically it,s a little later before they spawn but we took 7 that were over 30# last weekend and broke off i don,t know how many so get your steel leaders and 5/0 circle hooks and hang on

  6. Horseshoe dam is not that bad right now we just went and caught 19 nice cat’s through back 5 small one’s.Good times

  7. I’ve not caught any flatheads (yet) but I did do a lot of studing last year. At Roosevelt the best place to catch the Flatheads is at the point the Salt River runs in to it. Alos starting now through June, they shoudl begining to spawn and traveling up the Salt River section. They tend to strike at live bait, so minnows work or if you want to go for the big big ones use bluegill. The Colorado River above Yuma seems to be the best place for Flatheads. When I was a kid my Grandpa caught a 65 pound flathead, and last yr the Fish and Game caught and released a 87 ponder. Hope this helps some.

  8. Barbara;

    Great going. That is the first good report I have had out of Horseshoe in more than a year. It can be the land of the huge flatheads. Now Horseshoe has become mostly a flood retention basin, and once again this year will be slowly drained to keep Bartlett full. While that isn’t good news for those of us who love to fish Horseshoe, it’s great news for all those who visit Bartlett.

    Rory Aikens

    Fishing Report Editor

  9. Thanks Brent. Well the full moon is this week (Easter weekend), so it should be a superb time to go after the big flatheads above Roosevelt, or even in the upper reaches of Bartlett Lake. There are also some giant flats to be found along the Imperial Division of the Colorado River near Yuma.

    Rory Aikens

    Fishing Report Editor

  10. Hi-

    My boyfriend and I LOVE Roosevelt Lake and have been fishing there off and on for about the last 15 years or so. There are stories of flatheads there being big enough to “eat you”, so on and so forth…. We go to Rosie to mainly catch bass and crappie, however, we have also discovered that Bartlett Lake is a good place to catch cats overall. Night fishing is the most fun as we put our bells on our poles and hang out and always we will hear the bells ring during the night and reel in nice size catfish. The last time we went (Oct. 2008) my boyfriend caught a 20 lb. flathead on a Yamamoto plastic bass bait! It was so cool because he could tell right away that it wasn’t a bass, but something way bigger. Lo and behold it was a big ole flathead. Cool as s___! Anyhoo- try for flatheads at Bartlett Lake, it’s smaller than Roosevelt but a lot of fun…..

    -Christine

  11. Yes went this week catfish bite all day long with worms.Water is running slow, Bass are bite in morning and late afternoon. Water is also very low !

  12. Brian. I am not a cat enthusiast, but I will pass along something. Floyd Prese was one of Ariaona’s premire cat fishermen before he died. He would catch Blue Gill and use them strictly as bait, and fish the Salt end of the lake. I remember a picture of him holding a 45 lb cat in each hand, and there was a third he couldnt hold up unless he grew another hand, one night at Roosevelt. one more thing, i understand there are some monster cats in the salt river itself in some of the pools above the bridge on the east end of the lake, where the road parts and goes up to Young. Watch out for ratlers though, there is no shortage of them.

  13. Was there yesterday…. the release valves are still open… fishing was next to impossible… horseshoe dam that is

  14. Brian, Try using live bluegills(sunfish) hooked thru the back, just in front of the dorsal fin. Use a heavy slip sinker about a foot above the hook and hang on. I caught a 25 pounder using this method. Good luck!

  15. Ken Soza I was fishing on the river below the Horseshoe Dam at Catfish point yesterday and about 1 wk ago. The fish were very active and we caught channel cat and larghemouth bass. The channel cat were a little small. I fished with liver and as soon as I got my line out I would get a bite. Caught a few carp on liver also. I’ve had better luck fishing there than Bartlett or Pleasant.

  16. Anyone know what is going on with the Bald Eagles on the Agua Fria branch of Lake Pleasant. I have not read any reports. Bald Eagles are no longer on the endagered species list. Maybe they can change the rules and make it NO NOISE, NO WAKE, NO MOORING during the nesting season. I have a boat that is too large to bring in from Table Mesa and I think many anglers are missing some great fishing action due to the 6 MONTH closure of the river.

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