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Almost all the mountain lakes are now open and accessible – it’s time to grab the poles, some worms, a jar of salmon eggs and just go, said Rory Aikens, the fishing report editor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Aikens added that this is the time of year to catch those larger hold-over trout with crisp, pink flesh. “It’s gourmet meal catching time in the cool pines. Don’t forget your lemons.”
The paved road into Big Lake and Crescent Lake is now open in the White Mountains, and the road into Woods Canyon Lake opened last week. Earlier this week, the Rim Road (FS 300) opened to Bear Canyon and Knoll Lake.
“It was almost a festival-type atmosphere at Woods Canyon Lake last Saturday, as lots of families had their first mountain fishing adventure of the season, with the lucky ones catching whole stringers of feisty trout,” Aikens said.
The reason to take along salmon eggs, Aikens advised, is because the rainbow trout are full of eggs and should be spawning soon. “Even when you fish with lures, you might want to tip the hooks with a salmon egg or two. Worms and salmon eggs can also work well.”
He added that this is also superb time to treat your kids to a fishing escapade along our mountain streams for early spring trout. Tonto, Christopher, Haigler, the East Verde, Beaver Creek, West Clear Creek, the Verde River and Oak Creek are all fun options.
The road into the East and West Fork of Black River is open from Alpine. “Both of these native Apache trout streams is running a little high right now, so the fishing might not be optimum, but the wildlife watching opportunities are phenomenal. You might even see some Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, elk, deer or wild turkey,” Aikens advised.
The road is open into Willow Springs Lake above the Mogollon Rim, which is another good option. Black Canyon Lake is accessible.
Goldwater Lake near Prescott is a warmer mid-elevation choice. So is Dead Horse Ranch State Park near Cottonwood. The Verde River between Cottonwood and Camp Verde is another option. If you are up that way, visit the Tuzigoot Indian Ruins (you can fish right below the bridge leading to the ruins, it’s one of our stocking spots). It creates a well-rounded experience for the kids – not bad for adults as well!
However, the Lower Salt River near Phoenix offers another fun adventure for the family, especially if you don’t want to go far.
Saguaro is ‘The Place’ to take the kids to catch lots of bluegill (kids use mealworms under a bobber while mom and dad cast small spinners for gills and yellows). Maybe even put some corn on the bottom for gills, cats and carp.
For the warmwater lakes, it is tough to beat Roosevelt Lake. It is tip-top full, with acres and acres of vegetative habitat being immersed for only the second time ever. The productivity of this lake is just beyond compare right now. Anglers in future decades will be referring to the fishing right now as “the good old days.” Don’t miss out.
But Alamo, Bartlett and Pleasant are all worth a visit. The fishing is picking up at Havasu, Mead and Mohave. Once the latest fronts blast through the state again, Lake Powell will be worthwhile.
Farther afield, the bass spawn is underway at Lake Powell. “This might be a dream fishing weekend at Powell. In fact, it might have the potential to provide some of the best striper fishing in the West or even the nation,” Aikens said.
For the crappie addicts, the spawn is mostly kaput. With the dark of the moon this weekend, and meteor showers expected, this is a superb time to put out the submersible lights and catch a passel of speckled beauties.
“Go catch some memories. Maybe I’ll see you out there,” Aikens said.