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URBAN LAKES – WHAT ANGLERS ARE CATCHING A WEEK AFTER STOCKINGS: No doubt about it, the first 3-5 days after a fish stocking offer the best catch rates for catfish. But it is a serious mistake to think that “all the fish have been caught out.” Time after time, Game and Fish biologists witness, and get reports, of anglers catching limits of catfish from one week to three months since the last stocking. Instead of catching a couple fish an hour, it may take a couple hours to catch a fish. But persistence will pay off. After a few days of leaving the easy life as a hatchery raised and heavily fed fish, catfish begin to develop “wild” behaviors in their new urban lake homes. These wary fish have grown “street smart” and are not easily fooled by conventional methods, or overanxious anglers. After monitoring catfish stockings for over 20 years, biologists have determined that 80% of stocked catfish are caught within the first week of stocking. That leaves 20% of the fish to carry over into the weeks and months ahead. On September 23, the day of the first fall catfish stocking, biologists encountered an angler with a limit of four catfish taken BEFORE the stocking truck arrived. Those catfish had been in the lake at least 12 weeks since the final spring catfish stocking the end of June. These reports are quite regular.
There are also many other species of fish waiting to be caught in the urban waters. Bluegill and redear sunfish are abundant in most lakes and can provide rapid action for anglers that target them. Try meal worms on a size 10 hook, fished under a small pencil bobber using 2-6 pound test line. Largemouth bass are present in all the lakes, with the better populations found in the larger urban waters. Specialized bass techniques and approaches have been developed by urban bass anglers. This group of avid catch and release anglers tend to be rather tight lipped about their bass fishing tips. In the past week, an angler reported excellent fishing for crappie up to 12 inches. A couple of the urban lakes have yellow bass populations that peak and ebb from year to year. Even the common carp can provide great sport for anglers fishing corn or dough balls and the smallest of sinkers to hold the bait in place. Carp from 3-10 pounds provide quite a thrill. So take up the challenge to modify your fishing strategies to catch some of the other, abundant fish found in the urban waters.
OVERVIEW OF FALL CATFISH AND BLUEGILL STOCKINGS
The fall fish stocking season began September 23 with a delivery of 1.5-2 pound channel catfish at all 20 Urban Fishing Program waters in the greater Phoenix and Tucson areas. The fall season includes four deliveries of catfish, 14,000 pounds per load, delivered every two weeks through early November. Catchable size bluegills are delivered once in the fall. A truckload of 11,000 bluegill will be delivered from Arkansas on the week of October 26-31. Each urban lake will receive from 80-100 fish per surface acre. Bluegills are fun to catch for all ages and will bite all day long. Daily bag limits for sunfish (bluegill, redear sunfish and hybrid sunfish) are 10 fish per person at Urban Lakes and 5 fish per day at Urban Ponds.
Fishing for catfish is good to excellent now that the fall stockings have resumed. Catfish have been biting throughout the day. While the majority of stocked catfish are caught in the first five days of stocking, anglers are still catching cats 1-2 weeks later at a slower rate. Top baits for catfish have been stink baits, shrimp and worms fished on the bottom in the deeper lake sections. Use smaller sinkers and 6-8 pound test line to get more hookups. Fishing for bluegill is good along the shorelines in 4-8 feet of water. There have been some good reports of largemouth bass being caught and released in the early morning hours by anglers using spinnerbaits and Texas rigged plastic worms. At Green Valley Lakes (Payson) fishing for bass, bluegill and crappie is very good with some nice 2-4 pound bass showing up. Fish stockings (trout only) at Green Valley will resume the week of October 19-24.
TEMPE TOWN LAKE – This lake has just been named the “Best in Phoenix” by the New Times. Get out and experience what makes this lake so special.
Mealworms or earthworms usually will get you bass, catfish or redear if fished off the bottom with a weighted leader of about 18 inches. Bluegill will take mealworms or worm pieces fished under a bobber. Try crayfish imitations both the soft plastics and crankbait as an alternative.
Don’t forget the current bag limit for largemouth bass at Town Lake is four fish per day with a 13-inch minimum length restriction.
There are also no gas powered boats allowed on the lake and Tempe Town Lake permits are available at the City of Tempe Town Lake Operations Center, 620 N. Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281. Phone: (480) 350-8625..
LAKE PLEASANT - Lake elevation 1,651 ft (47-percent full) and slowly rising as it is filled with CAP water. Many anglers are saying the topwater bass bite in the early morning is not very good at all unless you find a boil. Buzzbaits near shore are working for many in the early morning. Drop shots are productive as well.
Caught:same as last time a few large mouth small though
Technique:drop shot Robo worm try everything else but that’s about all live caught anything on this year
An angler fished Lake Pleasant and brought home 32 stripers and four catfish. He used anchovies. Mid-lake near the eastern shore was a good area, but it wasn’t the only good spot. Fish were around 50 and 60 feet deep. Other fishermen are still doing well near the tires, but you do have to sink your bait fast to avoid the little guys from nabbing the bait.
ROOSEVELT LAKE – Lake Elevation is 2,133 ft (78-percent full). Tonto Creek runoff is 0 cfs while inflow from the Salt River is at 121 cfs.
A couple crappie fishermen caught 80 trolling minnows. Trolling minnows, JD and BBC jigs are enticing the crappie bite.
There are reports of busting shad but it seems the bass weren’t interested in getting hooked for one couple. Topwater, buzzbaits and medium cranks left them fishless. But drop shot worked resulting in 12 bass with one at 16 inches.
Another angler used a roboworm on a dropshot and caught 20 largemouth that were stacked around the shad schools 20 to 35 feet deep. Sort of explains why the top water wasn’t working for the other anglers.
Other fishermen had luck with mostly slot fish on the Salt end using buzz baits in real shallow water. Another angler had luck catching some nice overs in the Tonto end with a super spook at dusk.
One altruistic angler offered some pointers for fishing on the main lake points:
Use 10 inch Carolina rigged worms with 12 inch leader to the bait and use watermelon color with red flecks.
Fish slow through the trees with white and chart skirted blades.
Buzz baits fished slow in the early am. In the late morning and throughout the rest of the day use small cranks (floating and shallow running).
APACHE - Lake elevation is 1907 ft (92-percent full). We conducted our surveys at Apache Lake last week and wow! There sure are a lot of small walleye out there. They have dispersed throughout the lake and anglers are catching them on the points and in some coves while trying to catch yellow bass. They are growing fast and don’t have the girth as of yet so way too skinny for any filets, but it sure was nice to catch so many. The stocking from two years ago is paying off. Crabtree area especially the points going into the cove revealed quite a few yellow bass, largemouth and smallmouth bass. The green sunfish are all well fed and there were quite a few large bluegills, not to mention a plethora of small ones.
CANYON LAKE – Lake elevation is 1657 ft, which is 95% full.
Two fishermen fished from 6am to 11am. It was slow in the morning. They caught a total of 7 and all were small. Crankbait and jerkbait is what they fell for. They caught a big bluegill on drop shot. Topwater didn’t produce.
Another angler caught some on topwater in the afternoon. Most the fish went for drop shot and jigs. Most the fish were in 15 to 25 feet of water.
SAGUARO LAKE - Lake elevation 1,525 feet at 91-percent full.
A trio of experienced anglers fished from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. and caught 151 fish. The majority of the fish were caught before 9 a.m. They caught 80 yellow bass with a lot between 9 and 10 inches. Sixty three largemouth bass and most were between 11 and 13 inches, and 8 bluegills were about 3-4 inches. Water temp was 74 and the shad were busting the surface all over the lake until about 8:30 a.m. The fish were suspended 10 to 15 feet deep over 72 feet of water. Use KastMasters to their depth the jig a bit and they were after the lure. Fish were also hanging on the ledges near drop offs but not as thick there.
Shore fishing at Butcher Jones is pretty good. An angler caught a few bass using a Heddon baby bass spook and roboworms.
BARTLETT – Lake elevation is 1,780 ft, which is 75-percent full. Reservoir release is 925 cfs. An angler fished from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and caught a few largemouth bass on crankbait and a couple more on drop shot. The largest was 18 inches. The water temp was 75-76 degrees and the water was clear by the dam and more stained as you went up river.
Some crappie fishermen caught about 80 using minnows.
HORSESHOE – Lake elevation is at 1957 feet; no pool. They are releasing water at 25 cfs.
VERDE RIVER – Verde River flow at Tangle Creek is 141 cubic feet per second. Release from Bartlett Lake is 925 cfs.
Where:On the Verde river, between horseshoe lake and Bartlett lake
Caught:15 lb Flathead and 8lb Channel
Technique:Worms and chicken liver
Comments:We caught most of our 25+ fish between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. Released them all.
SALT RIVER – Salt River into Roosevelt is 110 cfs, and Salt River Canyon is 110 cfs. They are releasing 550 cfs out of Stewart Mountain dam from Saguaro. .
LOWER SALT RIVER — Stewart Mtn. Dam (below Saguaro Lake) release is 550 cfs. This stretch of river near Tempe and Mesa is scheduled to start getting its winter trout stockings on the first week of November, but it is still possible to catch bass and even some holdover trout in the deeper pools.
Terrestrials are fading fast, but wooly bugger and minnow streamers are doing pretty well for the wild browns. Nymphs, hares ears and pheasant tails are also enticing the bite..
* Haigler Creek – Has not been stocked since July.
* Canyon Creek – No recent reports. Stocked again last week with 180 rainbow trout.
* Tonto Creek – No recent reports. Has not been stocked since August.
* Christopher Creek – Has been stocked since July.
* East Verde – No recent reports. Has not been stocked since July.
* Workman Creek – No recent reports. Has not bee stocked since May.