Rory’s Tip

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February 28th, 2008
Rory’s Tip

Those long-awaited sunny days are here this week (according to the weather folks), so you can expect fishing and wild flowers to both start their spring blooms and boons.

It looks like March coming our way like a flashy green parade you’d expect to see on St. Paddy’s Day. From here on out, it’s just going to keep getting better. Don’t miss out. Fishing fever is the fun infection to catch this time of year (I’ve been struggling with the other).

Roosevelt has gotten so massive, it may take more than a few days of bright Arizona sunshine to warm it up to the great bass and crappie fishing temperatures, but anglers at Alamo, Bartlett, Havasu, Martinez, Patagonia and many of the other lakes should see fishing improve as our temperatures soar into the 70s and possibly the low 80s.

Plus, the length of day is gaining right now: the spring equinox is March 19, and the full moon is March 21. Unless a weather front (or massive runoff) changes things, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the height of the crappie spawn that week in March.

I have faith that Alamo should bust loose this weekend during the annual clean up. Come out and help pick up trash, and then hopefully catch a passel of fish. My buddy Mark Knapp, one of the park rangers there, likes using 4-inch lizards. I like using 4-inch Texas-rigged curly tails or weed-less rigged Bass Assassins tossed into the recently flooded brush. Spinnerbaits can be a ball. Or heck, hook up your poles with all four ways and see which one works best. If you don’t have four poles, there could hardly be a better year to buy one or two more.

Bartlett could also heat up by this weekend. With all the turbid water, spinnerbaits with trailers tossed onto shore and pulled back into the water just might be the ticket (just like during past springs with good runoff). Also try crayfish-like crankbaits or soft plastics, especially along the rock stringers, rocky islands, and rocky points. The bass at Bartlett often feast on crayfish this time of year. If slow-rolling spinnerbaits along the bottom doesn’t work, try burning them in to get a reaction bite.

Also, I’ve got my fingers crossed for good crappie action at Bartlett, if not now, very soon. There should have been a fantastic crappie spawn in 2005, and three-year olds should be pie-plate size this year (at Rosey and Alamo as well). The crappie dark horse is Pleasant, but without access to the upper Agua Fria Arm via Table Mesa Road, the prime crappie area might not be very accessible this year.

The action has continued to be decent to great at Lake Pleasant. This warming trend may cook up the action even more. Think white: white spinners, white curly tails and white crankbaits for stripers and whites. It looks like largemouth bass may be getting with the program as well.

You might also consider a trip to Havasu – they are catching some larger stripers at night and the smallmouth bass bite is starting to pick up. By the time you read this, Havasu might be the hot fishing spot in the state.

A tournament angler at Patagonia Lake recent caught three lunkers over six pounds each to win the tournament. It looks like Patagonia may once again be hawg heaven for those who know how to flip and pitch the tulles.

It’s nice to be writing about late winter/early spring bass rather than focusing on winter trout fishing, but this ought to be a superb weekend for a mid-elevation trout expedition to Dead Horse Ranch, the Verde River, Goldwater Lake or Lynx Lake. Plus, Beaver Creek, West Clear Creek and Oak Creek are all scheduled to be stocked with trout in early March. Both of those are terrific places to fish – you can walk upstream, get away from other anglers, and have a wilderness-like fishing experience in some rugged landscapes. Most people won’t walk more than 100 feet for good fishing, so those willing to talk a quarter mile or so can harvest a lot of fun. Give it a try.

Keep in mind that trout and other fish are the original great diet foods – you have to exercise to catch them, then they are fat-free and great tasting. This Aikens recommended high protein and exercise diet just might beat the Atkins diet hands down (or poles down). It also keeps my wallet thin, but I can’t think of a better way to spend the $$ or my time.

Saguaro did get a trout bonus this week – trout originally destined for Tempe Town Lake got stocked here. Anglers have also been catching lots of largemouth and yellow bass here, along with the trout. The water temperatures were getting into the 60-degree mark – before all this great sunshine came out way. This lake could bust loose.

Well, an article on the proposed experimental high flow event at Lees Ferry, that could occur this coming week, hit the AZ Republic this week. Unfortunately, the newspaper failed to report what our biologists had said – the high flows should have little if any negative impact on the trout fishery. I guess a lot of anglers are cancelling their proposed trips to the Ferry, for no good reason. Smart anglers might see this as an opportunity to try for a bargain guided fishing trip to one of the world’s most dramatic stretches of trout fishing.

Be sure to come join us at the International Sportsmen’s Exposition on March 7, 8 and 9 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. We will once again be operating the Kids Fishing Pond, have live wildlife, plus an air-gun trailer and archery clinics. ISE will also have pro anglers giving tips along with fishing resorts, lodges, guides and outfitters plying their adventures, plus lots of vendors with all the latest gizmos, gadgets and whiz bangs to see, trout out and/or buy. Come on out and play — ISE vies as the event with the most outdoor toys assembled under any single rooftop in Arizona.

But also mark you calendars for March 30-31, which is when the Arizona Game and Fish’s Outdoor Expo 2008 that is the largest outside, hands-on outdoor event in the state. It even has more fun outdoor recreation things to do and see than last year. And what’s more, you get to try out lots of them, including all-terrain vehicles and firearms from major manufacturers. We’ve even added the mounted cowboy action shooters this year. It’s a crowd pleaser.

Good luck. Go catch a memory. Maybe I’ll see you out there.

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