Rory’s Tip

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March 28th, 2008
Rory’s Tip

Spring is here and fishing is busting loose. We are on the leading edge for some of the best fishing the state has seen in a couple of decades or so. Don’t miss out!

The hot spots right now are too numerous to list, but I’ll cover some of them. Keep in mind that wind and other conditions can slow down bites at various lakes, but not for long. Spring has sprung, and so has the fishing.

This is the leading edge of the largemouth bass spawn. Roosevelt, Bartlett, Pleasant and Alamo are all on fire for bass. Saguaro and Canyon are pretty good as well. Havasu is terrific, Mead is turning on, and Mohave is promising.

Here’s an interesting fishing story. Stan Culling, the assistant manager at the Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge, was fishing for smallmouth bass near the London Bridge at Lake Havasu using 6-pound-test and a Robo worm on the evening of March 21. He hooked into an 11-pound, 24-inch-long largemouth bass with a 20-inch girth. It was quite a tussle. Dee Pfleger, our veteran wildlife manager for the Parker Strip area, graciously came out that evening and took a picture Culling’s surprise lunker. As a side note, Dee says fishing along the Parker Strip is on fire for smallmouth and largemouth bass.

Roosevelt is now making history – it has reached historic water levels. It will fill and spill this year for the first time since the dam was raised in 1996. This fishery is going through the “new lake syndrome” and is already putting lots of big fish on the end of anglers’ lines thanks to almost filling in 2005. With the tremendous spawn this year for sport-fish and bait fish, the parade of lunkers should only get longer in the future.

But that’s not all. Bartlett and Horseshoe lakes are both 100-percent full. That means the inflows from the Verde River must become outflows over the spillways. This creates an interesting flow-through phenomenon at both reservoirs. This doesn’t happen too often in our central Arizona lakes. What a treat to fish!

Down south, Arivaca and Patagonia are worth a visit. Tournament anglers at Patagonia have been catching some nice hawgs. It’s back!

By the way, it’s also carp spawning time at many desert lakes. They are a hoot to catch (you don’t need a boat) and an absolute ball to harvest with a bow and arrow (a boat sure helps).

Crappies should spawn any time, but crappie action has definitely picked up at Roosevelt and Alamo, and to a lesser extent, Bartlett. There is a waning moon, so fishing at night under crappie lights should be viable this coming week during the quarter moon. The New Moon is Saturday, April 5.

If you want great action for spawning rainbow trout, head for Lees Ferry. Since the experimental flow event in early March, the trout fishing – especially for spin anglers – has really taken off. If you have never seen a Lees Ferry rainbow trout in spawning colors, then give yourself a world-class treat. The high flow event seems to have prompted renewed spawning at the Ferry.

Department biologists conducted a fish survey at the Ferry last week and although they don’t have all the numbers tabulated yet, they did observe that there were indeed lots of trout on redds (spawning beds).

For mountain trout, most higher elevation lakes still have ice and many are still not accessible due to snow. The situation can change almost daily. As we get new information, especially on access, we will update the online fishing report.

Kaibab Lake near Williams has open water and it was stocked with 3,400 trout last week. Lower Lake Mary, which was a huge elk meadow last fall, now holds water and was stocked with 6,075 trout last week and is slated to be stocked with thousands more trout by this weekend.

Lower Lake Mary is extremely fertile and those stocked trout will grow fast. I am sure this will be a routine high country trout fishing hot spot. Our wildlife manager for Unit 5B, Clint Adams, checked anglers at LLM on Monday and said they were catching fish on just about anything they threw. So grab your trout poles and go.

By the way, some anglers have been slamming the huge, toothy northern pike at Upper Lake Mary using anchovies with no weight.

A good lake to fish for huge ‘bows right now is Becker Lake – they are routinely catching 15- to 18-inch rainbows with some in the 20-inch range. Becker Lake is adjacent to Springerville. This lake might be a far drive for some, but it is providing some trophy-caliber trout fishing right now. Don’t miss out.

There are also mid-elevation waters to fish. In fact, these waters probably have water temperatures well suited for increased trout activity. Picturesque Oak Creek was stocked with 1,350 trout last week. The Verde River was stocked with 1,920 trout last week. Goldwater Lake near Prescott received 1,350 trout.

If you want trout but don’t want to go far, try the Lower Salt River – it was stocked with 1,575 trout last week at the Phon D. Sutton and Granite Reef recreation areas. It looks like Salt River Project is now taking flows from Stewart Mountain Dam so we can start stocking at the Water Users and Blue Point Bridge again. Stay tuned for updates on this development. If we make the change, I’ll send out a news release.

It sounds like this is the leading edge of the terrific fishing at Lake Powell, especially for those of us who love to tangle with smallmouth bass, striped bass and largemouth bass during the same outing. See the Powell report for the latest from Wayne Gustaveson – he gives so much great fishing information that it is like he is fishing right next to you. When I am real lucky, he is.

Be sure to come join us at the Arizona Game and Fish Expo 2008 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility on Carefree Highway just west of I-17. We’ll have the Kids Fishing Tank there for youngsters to catch fish, and Fisheries Chief Kirk Young and I will be giving periodic talks on the great fishing outlook for this year – and beyond. It’s shaping up to be a terrific year. I’m excited. Come chat with us.

Good luck. Maybe I’ll see you out there.

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