Central Arizona Fishing Report

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June 11th, 2009

URBAN FISHING REPORT – All 20 of the Phoenix and Tucson area Urban Fishing Program lakes are scheduled for stockings of 1 to 3 pound catfish the week of June 8-13.  Water conditions and pH levels are good at all lakes and golden alga is currently under control.

Arizona’s annual free fishing days are celebrated on June 6 and 13 as part of National Fishing and Boating Week.  On these Saturdays, no fishing license is required for persons fishing any of the Urban Fishing Program lakes or other statewide waters.

Fishing is good to excellent for channel catfish at Urban waters.  Top baits for catfish continue to be worms, shrimp, and dough/stink baits fished off the bottom. Cats have been biting best mid morning and in the evenings.  Bluegill and sunfish are biting well along the shorelines for anglers using worms and mealworms.  Bass up to six pounds are biting during the pre-summer period, however shallow water fish are wary.  Try small plastics presented with split shot or drop shot rigs in the evenings and early morning.
Angler reports:

I took some of my lunchtime today and walked around Chaparral Lake and watched a dad fishing with his son. Within 20 min. I saw him pull in 2 nice catfish. This was between 12:00 and 12:30. Using hotdogs under a bobber.  That’s just the ones he hooked.  He was getting action as soon as the line hit the water. He had another pole out, fishing the bottom, with stink bait. Not a bite.

Just thought I’d share.

Thomas Podborny

Papago Park lake


2 Sunfish, and 2 Catfish

Earth Worms

Papago park lake is great and relaxing place to fish.

Daniel Garcia Jr

Chaparral lake


1- channel cat, 5-largemouth bass(none keepers) 1-Bluegill(not a keeper)

Mealworms and night crawlers and Power Bait on bottom. Between sun-up and 11am. Night crawlers attracted best. Bass bit on mealworms on the bottom. Power Bait didn’t attract today. Caught 3 lb catfish with Night Crawlers.

Watch-out for the hungry Blue Heron. He knows when you’ve caught a fish and is looking for hand outs.

Phill and Dylan Williams

Where: Chaparral Lake
When: 05/07/09
Caught: Channel Catfish
Technique: Crappie rig, worm on both hooks.
Name: Jenna Fjeld

Where: Veterans Oasis
Caught: nothing
Technique: hot dog
Comments: Slow -  nobody was catching anything
Name: john

Where: Kiwanis
Caught: 8 average sized catfish and one 8lb monster
Technique: Believe it or not, power bait. you know the stuff for trout, orange
Comments: On the all American way road at the very far end about 20ft. out. someone illegally put in about 50 hand sized goldfish on Saturday so if you see them, take them out before they destroy the lake
Name: Andy

TEMPE TOWN LAKE – People are catching largemouth bass, redear sunfish, and bluegill.  There are some nice catfish to be caught.  Use chicken liver or hotdogs to entice the cats.  Fish around the bridges and other structure you can get near.  Get there early. Carp are hungry for corn and dough bait.

A Tempe Town Lake survey earlier this year showeda substantial resurgence of largemouth bass, yellow bass and channel catfish, black crappie and a very large increase in our catch of threadfin shad compared to last year’s survey conducted after a golden algae outbreak and a couple days of high runoff which led to the lowering of couple of the downstream inflatable dams.

An early morning angler caught 8 largemouth bass with drop shot and he trolled white cranks which produced 3 largemouth and 2 yellow bass.  Most of the fish were caught near the lightrail pillars and then the rest was caught trolling back to the ramp.  You got to find that structure.
Another angler caught 4 bass using a Mepps lure and an artificial white minnow with a spinner.

A fisherman who fishes Tempe Town Lakes frequently has had good success catching largemouth on Senko’s and T-rigged Roboworms and Strike King worms.  Many of his fish were two and three pounders.  He didn’t give any details on where the fish were but you can pretty much bet there was some structure.  Cover is sparse except around the marina and bridge pillars but there are a couple areas on the West side with some overhanging trees that hold a few fish.

Individual reports:

Went to Tempe Town on Friday morning, and again on Monday morning.  Friday morning was a blast.  The bite wasn’t the best, but I was catching fish.  I was on the south side under the Rural Bridge.  I caught a bluegill the size of a dinner plate on a Berkley gulp minnow.  Two 11″ largemouth on worms about 7′ under a slip bobber, and about a 2 lb cat on the slip bobber rig also.  Monday I was using shad as bait and caught 6 LM’s under the bridge on nothing more than a hook with a split shot about 18″ up from the hook — Barry

Hello Rory,

I haven’t seen many reports about Tempe Town Lake lately, so I thought I would help with this. My parents and I have been going about three time a week lately in the evening and the cat-fishing has really picked up. We have progressively reeled in bigger fish with night crawlers fished on the bottom. This last time we went our worms had been overheated, dead, and smelly but the catfish my dad caught must have liked it. Attached is the picture of the 6 Pound cat, he was about 25 inches long, and was thick and strong.

Thanks for your tips Rory and hope this helps for the next report,

Christopher Heath

LAKE PLEASANT – Water elevation is 1,691 ft, which is 88-percent full.
Action is sporadic: when it’s good, it’s great and anglers load up on stripers and largemouth, but on other days it’s slow and anglers have a tough time catching fish. Or it could just be that some anglers catch fish and other don’t.

On Wednesday morning, they were lots of boils at first light with striped bass and largemouth bass chasing shad at the surface. Try topwater lures, or anything white — spinners, cranks, jerks…
Largemouth are hitting topwater lures and flukes in the northern coves.

Topwater poppers are working for some, and not others. The best surface action will typically be at first and last light, but surface feeding can occur at any time of day (or night).

Where: Lake Pleasant
When: 06/04/09
Caught: 3 catfish 1 white bass
Technique: anchovies
Name: Andrew Althaus

An angler fished from 5:30 am to 11:30 am in the northern coves, no indication of what he used but fishing was much better when he found a water temp of 80oF.
A striper fisherman is catching quite a few of them on soft jerk baits and white super flukes when they are chasing shad in the mornings.  When they are deep ½ or ¾ oz spoons work well.
Nighttime fishing for largemouth is decent using 10 inch worms near the dam.

Where: lake pleasent
When: 06/01/09
Caught: 1 large mouth 6 cat fish
Technique: largemouth are hitting little topwater lures in the afternoon and i caught some nice cats on annchovies
Name: andrew althaus

Caught:bass, bluegill
Technique:plastic worm Texas rig
Comments:bass was 14 inches but the bluegill was just as big and weighed in at a little over a pound
Name:Michael Culbertson

Where: pleasant
When: 05/02/09
Caught: bass, bluegill
Technique: plastic worm Texas rig
Comments: bass was 14 inches but the bluegill was just as big and weighed in at a little over a pound
Name: Michael Culbertson

ROOSEVELT LAKE — Lake Elevation is 2,150 ft (98-percent full).  Tonto Creek runoff is at 9 cfs while inflow from the Salt River is at 194 cfs.

An angler caught 10 largemouth on topwater lures real early in the morning.  As soon as the sun cleared the mountains the topwater bite vanished but fishing was just as good on dropshot worms after the topwater died.

Another angler got in on the drop-shot action and boated a two-pound bass before having fun on one of those big’ol inner tubes on a weekday when hardly anybody was on the lake.

Nighttime crappie fishing is still productive using crappie lights.  A couple fishermen caught a few nice crappie, some large bluegills and several 10 to 11 inch yellow bass.
During the early morning hours till about 11 a.m. a couple anglers trolled for crappie and caught 6 crappies, 2 yellow bass and 1 bluegill.  Then the next day the same duo fished till 10 a.m. and caught 3 crappies and 2 bluegills.

Other crappie fishermen are catching 15 to 20 crappies trolling cranks in the Salt end of the lake.

A couple anglers who weren’t afraid to impart a few details had good luck throwing topwater lures near shore and in the back of coves till about 8 a.m.  They then fished near an island in the mid-lake area in about 25 feet of water with a 10 inch worm tumbling down the side walls.  The fish were all about that technique.  Later on they moved to the Salt end and fished in 15-25 feet of water with buzzbaits over trees, and they were able to pull in a few.

Went to Rosy for the first time nice lake we got on the water about 230 and started catching fish right away 2nd cast! We fished till about 5 and caught 13 bass with 1 over on Rat-L-Traps and cranks the kids also caught some nice bluegills from shore; they were easily took on live worms — Josh
Don Stich: Thought i would give you a 2wk.report. Fishing partner Rick took 2 guys with
him Sun night of Memorial weekend. Salt River end. Fished all night. Caught well over 100 crappies using jigs & minnows. 32-35ft. of water.Fish were at 12-15ft.

The kicker was, they kept 51. All 2lbs. or over. Best trip in a couple of years. Also a number of bass-all returned & yellow bass. That got me excited so took my old buddy Roy Wed. June 3rd. Same area Salt end.

Senior moment. ALMOST FULL MOON. Final score was 32 nice bluegills, 24
crappie, 5 yellow bass: 12 of the crappies were right at 2lbs. Crappies on jigs & minnows & gills on mealworms. Same depth; 32-35ft. The moon really jinxed us. Still a good night, quit at 12:30 a.m.

Ryan Grubs: 1-18″ Smallmouth at daybreak, 1-24′” channel at 8 a.m., 6 huge blue gill, dozen or so 8 to 12 in largemouth. Couldn’t find Crappie or Lunker Largemouth; great time fishing though fish were active all around us. fished 3 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Another angler said drop-shotting and split-shotting plastic worms worked like a charm.  Once the storm moved on the bite stopped.  On Sunday morning fishing was good from about 4:30 until 7:30 a.m.  Spinnerbaits, skinny dippers and drop shot worms all worked well. Most of the largemouth bass were in the slot but between 3 boats and a group of anglers they caught 10 overs and 15 unders.  Bluegills were also biting.

Another angler reported the fish were very shallow, 1-3 feet, in the early morning and late evening.  They went deeper during the day around 15 to 20 feet deep using drop-shot and Texas-rigged worms.

It sounds like the flathead catfish anglers are out in force, with some hauling in big monsters, but most are keeping the action pretty quiet. Try where the Salt River enters the lake. But it is possible to catch flats in just about any area of the lake.

We are not hearing much about the smallmouth action, but try the rocky areas near the dam using crayfish-like baits when the wind picks up.
The action is also pretty good for bluegills and yellow bass. Try using meal worms under bobbers in the backs of coves, or along those rocky secondary points inside the coves.

Channel catfish and carp are abundant – you can probably load up with lots of bottom feeders along any piece of shoreline, and you don’t need a boat. Although daylight fishing is viable for these bottom feeders, this is the time of year when they can also be pretty active at night as well.

APACHE – Lake elevation is 1909 ft (94-percent full). Fishing is still very good. Chartreuse lures or worms are the color bass prefer on this lake. David, my beloved Apache Lake angler, has good bass catches using chartreuse crankbait and spinners. They are hanging in the shallows.

Catfish have been active around the marina one angler caught a 13-pound catfish using a night crawler and a 20-pound catfish was caught on a chicken liver at the marina.
Game and Fish biologists sampled Apache Lake this spring and caught some nice largemouth bass, a whole lot of bluegills and a fair amount of catfish.  We electro-fished and set nets and every time we e-fished near reeds, we would get some nice largemouth. The rocky sites were not as fruitful, although we did catch quite a few smallmouth bass in those areas.

The smallmouth we stocked in 2007 are now in the slot and doing real well.  We caught quite a few green sunfish and every one of them looked like they just had a seven-course dinner.  A couple hot spots for bass and sunfish are the Crabtree area, plus we caught a slew of catfish at Pine Cove.  Another hot spot was the area around Burnt Corral.  We picked up a few of the small 3-4 inch trout we recently stocked as a house cleaning effort for one of our hatcheries.
CANYON LAKE – Lake elevation is 1,659 ft, which is 97-percent full.
A few anglers who submitted fishing reports say the fishing at Canyon is a little slow right now for largemouth.  Bluegills are biting well. Bluegills sure like the live bait fished near emergent vegetation. Largemouth are hanging near the vegetation and are susceptible to 4 inch Senkos with flakes in them. Larger worms will work but the fish tend to be fickle on a daily basis so provide a nice buffet for them to choose from.
One angler reiterates graphing in search of the drop-offs and using c-rigged beavers and lizards inn green or yellowish colors.  Jerk baits are also good bets to try and use your graphs to locate them.
However, some anglers have reported huge shad boils at times in the main basin and up lake.

If you are looking for a place to take the kids to catch lots of bluegills, give Canyon a try. Meal worms under a bobber will do the trick.
Angler reports

Bob Dickinson: Memorial Day early fishing the shore line. Throwing panther martins and rattle traps, caught 10 largemouth, 5 strippies{yellow bass}, and 7 bluegill.All catch and release. Great morning of fishing, then the lake got real busy. Fished from 4:30am till 10:30.
SAGUARO LAKE – Lake elevation 1,525 feet at 93-percent full.  No specific reports on Saguaro but it’s always a good bet to fish near emergent vegetation and rocky points with t and c-rigged worms.  In the deeper spots go with drop shot worms and use your graph to give yourself an edge.

Butcher Jones is a good spot for bluegill and yellow bass with live bait and KastMasters.  If you catch a small bluegill don’t throw it back, use it for catfish bait.  Flatheads just may take you up on your offer.

Barry Johnston: Went to Saguaro on recently at 5 a.m., using minnows off the second pier down from the boat ramps. His first four attempts landed him LM, the smallest being 8″ and the largest being 18″ using a slip bobber about 15 feet above the hook.  After the LM’s quit biting the yellows started hitting, and he anded about 15.

Where: Saguaro
When: 05/15/09
Caught: Bluegill, largemouth, yellow bass
Technique: smallest jig I cold find with white 1″ grub cut down to 1/2″ cast into the shallows in the back of coves.
Comments: 2 of us fished for 5 hours from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and caught 81 fish most smaller than my hand but what a blast!
Name: Jim Lindquist

BARTLETT – This is a fishing hot spot.

Lake elevation is 1,798 ft, which is 99-percent full.  Reservoir release is 250 cfs.

Fishing is excellent; a couple anglers caught 53 largemouth on C-rigs in 10 to 25 feet in depth.  Topwater and Rat-L-Traps are productive as well in the no-wake area.

Bass are chasing shad at sunrise and sometimes at sunset, so get there early to take advantage of the topwater bite.

Bass are taking spinners and lipless cranks around the yellow cliffs and towards the riverine section.
With the moon in its last quarter Saturday night, this should be a picturesque and productive time to fish for crappie, bass and catfish at night.
Bartlett last wed after the storm 2 of my buddies boated 100 bass in 4 hrs topwater bite & jigging was the ticket

That’s all I’ve heard good.


De Wane Tabbot, AGFD Mesa Regional Office

Hey Rory – Went to Bartlet last night,Sunday, fished from 8 p.m. til 3 a.m. Caught 15 largemouth, mostly Texas rig, a couple on crankbaits, rattletrap type. Nothing big 1 to 2 pounds. They weren’t hitting hard real subtle, lost several at the boat. My friend had one to the boat that would have gone 5lbs. at least. Broke his line. Take care

Bob Dickinson

An angler caught largemouth on swim baits and had some bites on spinnerbaits and lipless crankbait.  Drop shots worked very well on some graphed fish; most of them were small but a few keepers were in the batch. White jigs were enticing the bite as well.  The fish were between 2 and 22 feet deep.

Another angler fished in the rain and all the fish were hanging around rocky areas 10 to 20 feet deep and crankbait and jerk bait were enticing the bite.
Crappie fishing has been sporadic, with some anglers doing well and others having trouble finding a bite.

Angler reports:

The Post Spawn Blues are over.  As some of you have mentioned…Training Wheels aka Spinnerbaits are now the bait of choice, Bartlett Bass love green and Chartreuse colors.  Also, Crankbaits and Carolina-rigged Zoom Lizards off points are landing good bass. Anything with a wiggle is working well.

My partner Rich and I caught our limit this weekend averaging about 2 lbs a piece: Catch-and-release. By the way, for the Newbies to fishing …no boat was required as we fish from the shorelines. And for those of you who can appreciate a lil exercise while fishing…Bartlett has some of the best hiking trails.

Harvey Nelson: 2 of us fishing at Bartlett on 5/6, caught 7 nice bass using spinnerbaits, shad-colored crankbaits, and the go-to bait– Carolina rig with a Senko worm. Most fish caught 15 feet deep in the sandy bottom coves with 2 caught shallow off points where there was a lot of shad visible. All fish 2-3 lbs., no small fish were caught.

I fish Bartlett a lot and will try to keep my reports coming in regularly. I read the reports all the time and they often help me find good patterns. One pattern that I used a lot last year was after it gets up to 100 F outside I like to Carolina rig fish the lower lake islands bouncing Carolina rigs down the slope of islands to the 16-20 foot depths. It usually works great but one part of the pattern is wind. It has to be windy or it just doesn’t work. The wind pushes shad schools up onto the island slopes and the fish follow. No wind– no shad schools- no bass.

We tried it this week but couldn’t get the wind and it just did not work–so we went into the points and rock piles in the coves and found nice quality fish there.
Maybe that info can help somebody else too.


HORSESHOE – Lake elevation is at 1951 feet, 0-percent full.  They are releasing water at 150 cfs.

Hey someone fished Horseshoe from safe light to about 11:30 a.m. and caught three healthy largemouth bass using the drop shot method.  They ranged between 1.5 and 3 pounds.  The launch ramp is out of the water by about 10 feet and with the water release so high the lake will be back to river status real quick.  Don’t forget there are still some real nice catfish behind the spillway according to one knowledgeable catfisherman.

VERDE RIVER – Verde River flow at Tangle is 126 cubic feet per second.  Release from Bartlett Lake is 250 cfs.

SALT RIVER – Salt River into Roosevelt is 194 cfs, and Salt River Canyon is 190 cfs.  They are releasing 1225 cfs out of Stewart Mountain dam from Saguaro.
The upper Salt has quite a few flatheads that readily take live or dead red shiners and sunfish caught via live bait or in the case of shiners cast nets while you are out there.  Chicken liver will work as well.
A 47.9-pound flathead catfish was caught in the Upper Salt River real close to Roosevelt Lake two weeks ago.  A live sunfish caught at that location was used as bait.

LOWER SALT RIVER – Stewart Dam release is 1,075 cfs. Trout were stocked last week at Water Users and Blue Point. Expect lots of other recreational users (tubers) along this stretch of river. Flies are working as well as live worms. The fishing is best at first and last light. Largemouth are holding around the overhanging vegetation.

Where: Lower Salt
Caught: big grass monster
Technique: fly rod
Comments: tough day. Plenty of strikes but just not hooking up. Water way down (about 500 cfs) Anglers advised me the river was VERY busy last week for fishing. Big grass monster (algae debris, etc.) is growing by the hour. Anglers beware… the recreators are out in force. See ya next time.

Where: Lower Salt River
When: 04/22/09
Caught: Rainbow Trout
Technique: Fly Rod and spinning rig
Comments: Time again? Fished midday. Started slow. Picked up nicely and tapered off around 4 p.m. Spin anglers having a tough time with the big grass monster (algae) a bit tough with the spinners. Small jigs produced some fish. See ya next week.

CREEKS – All the streams are still fishing well.  Early morning and late evening still have the best bite.  It’s time to try hoppers with a nymph dropper if you haven’t already.  Ant patterns are also worth a try.  Nymphs are working well, specifically caddis flies, pheasant tails and hairs ears.  Terrestrials like hoppers are also producing.

HORSETHIEF BASIN LAKE – No new reports. It’s a pretty little lake that is worth visiting as part of a Bradshaw Mountain experience, but it is pond sized water where the fish are small; great for kids on a camp out. Bring night crawlers or meal worms and fish them under bobbers.

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