Rory’s Tip

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May 8th, 2008
Rory’s Tip

Well, it’s about time! If the weather gurus are right, it looks like we’ll have a weekend without wind blasting most of the state – maybe just normal afternoon breezes.

So whether you want high county trout or bass in the desert lakes, this looks like the best window in weeks.

Top picks: Roosevelt, Bartlett, Alamo, Havasu and Pleasant for largemouth bass. Hit Pleasant, Havasu, Mead and Powell for striped bass.

Crappie anglers should fish at night under lights at Roosevelt, Bartlett or Alamo (Pleasant is a crappie dark horse).

The catfish parade is already underway. Try Saguaro, Canyon, Pleasant, Bartlett, Apache, Roosevelt, Alamo – you name it. Day or night will work right now at any desert lake.

For shore anglers, it’s tough to beat cat fishing. Going after catfish and carp at our desert lakes can net you some amazing action. As a matter of fact, if you don’t know how to fish for these lumbering underwater giants, come join us at CAMP CARP XVIII, a time-honored Game and Fish tradition.

Master carpologist himself, Jim Warnecke, who retired from the department last year, will once again be teaching folks how to catch all those “bottom feeders.” As Jim says, there is no limit on carp, plus no limit to the fun while catching these brutes.

Here are the particulars: May 30-31, noon to 7 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Lake Roosevelt (Frazier Group site). Look for the signs. For more information, call Jim’s able replacement in our Mesa Region, Natalie Robb, at (480) 324-3541. These aren’t those wimpy bass or trout – you’ll need stout poles and heavy test line to land these brutes — hurrah.

In the high country, I received pictures of some huge pike out of Upper Lake Mary near Flagstaff courtesy a Danny Iberra-Shea, who routinely provides some nice reports to us. These pictures will either give you nightmares, or send you rushing to the store to buy steel leaders and frozen anchovies — maybe both.

Ashurst is another big pike bastion – it might even be harboring a new state record in its murky depths.

Lower Lake Mary is still a good bet for lots of stocker rainbows – it was stocked with 28,000 of the beauties in late winter. They should be good looking fish now.

The streams in the White Mountains have now been stocked with our golden-colored natives, Apache trout. Try the Little Colorado River in Greer, the East Fork of the Black River, the West Fork of Black River or Silver Creek. Think gold for Apaches – they like gold or yellow lures, such as Mepps spinners, KastMaster and the like. Hook up your kids with cane poles and worms to fish the streams – it’s more fun than any computer game.

For bass in the desert lakes, this is a transition time from a predominant spawn bite to a post-spawn one.

There are still bass on beds (the spawn can spread out into the summer months), but the majority of bass have probably spawned out. A significant portion of the bass population could be in the post-spawn doldrums right now – they need baits put on their noses, or might just respond to reaction baits.

But there should also be a population segment of post-spawners that are feeding more aggressively at times. Look for these bad boys and girls voraciously chasing shad in the coves at first and last light, or along main male points, islands, reefs and submerged humps (ambush spots) during the day.

At night, look for prime fish movement corridors such as submerged creek and river channels, arroyos and the like. Where you can find fish highway intersections, such as a submerged creek channel connecting to a submerged river channel, you might just hit a nighttime fishing bonanza. Put that expensive fish finder to work for you – you’ve paid it enough.

By the way, the first quarter of the moon is May 11, so this is a great time for your submerged or floating lights to work best for attracting plankton, shad and accompanying predators. You might even see some cool shooting stars, courtesy the tail of Halley’s Comet; it’s the Aquarid meteor shower time.

Get out and wet a line. Maybe I’ll see you out there.

17 Responses to “Rory’s Tip”

  1. Geoffrey Gross on May 14th, 2008 at 12:27 am

    Im interested in trying out Pike fishing, and keep seeing refrences to anchovies how do you fish these?they said they were flylining them, but I cant for the life of me find out what that is? thanks

  2. Geoffrey;

    The guys catching pike on fly rods are using large hooks and pieces of anchovy with no weight at Upper Lake Mary and Ashurst Lake near Flagstaff (a great technique for striped bass as well at places like Pleasant, Powell, Mead and Havasu). Steel leaders help. For spin anglers, little or no weight is still the key. Cast out, and let the bait free-fall while stripping off line. When you see the line go sideways, reel in the slack, and set the hook.


  3. geoffrey,
    have you had any luck with pike? i live in flag over the summers and love pike fishing but have had very little luck @ lake mary….just wandering if you had any suggestions as to what part of the lake i might try and some techniques that are used in this area….any help would be most appreciated!!


  4. Tommy;

    I have been getting lots of positive reports from anglers at Upper Lake Mary catching huge pike up the 20 or so pounds using frozen anchovies. Some recommend the upper end in the shallows. I just read another from an angler who did terrifically in the narrows. Another angler likes fishing the aerators near the dam. Try frozen anchovies with little or no weight. If you have a two-pole stamp, maybe set up a second pole with in-line spinners such as Mepps and Rooster Tails.

    By the way, I did pretty well there two weeks ago using a Yellow Jacket spinner, then a huge toothy pike decided it wanted to cut the line and keep the lure as a decoration. Teach me to use a steel leader.


  5. I fished Upper Lake Mary for the first time on Monday for 3 hours using rapalas with no hits at all. Tried jigs for 1/2 hour with no luck. I used to guide for walleye and northerns in Canada and since moving to Prescott recently have really wanted to try this lake. I will try the anchovie trick. Anyone have any luck with casting 6″ daredevels at the eastern end?



  6. Welcome to Arizona fishing. Having been a guide, I am sure you’ll figure it out. By the way, some guys are using their fly rods with pieces of anchovy and doing well for Northern Pike at Upper Lake Mary. I am not aware of anyone routinely catching walleye there, but no doubt some have them dialed in. For big walleye, head to Show Low Lake, Fool Hollow Lake or Lake Powell. But be prepared if you go to Powell – fishing there is addicting.


  7. rory,
    is there anywhere you can find topo/bathymetric maps of any of the lakes near flagstaff (ashurst, lake mary, long etc..)? im looking for something that might show underwater contour and things of the such??


  8. Rory, thanks for the response. Must be fun to hook a northern on a fly rod. Never tried that. When I lived in Colorado I used to fish the northern end of Powell several times a month. Never did really good there except in the spring and fall on stripers.

  9. Troy;

    I haven’t tried the anchovy on a fly rod yet myself, but there are two anglers in the Flagstaff area that are having a ball with that technique.

    As to Powell, I love fishing the Hall’s Crossing area, especially since 98 percent of the anglers up there fish only for stripers. We have really cleaned up on smallmouth, largemouth and walleye up in that area, routinely catching-and-most-releasing (we keep walleye to eat) 100-plus fish a day.


  10. Tommy:

    I always go to Wide World of Maps for such lake maps, but I am not sure they have anything for smaller lakes such as Lake Mary or Ashurst. You might want to call them first.


  11. Rory, do you do any guiding? If your interested in doing some work at Hall’s crossing, I would love to make a trip with you. Troy

  12. I fished Upper Lake Mary for 3 days with only small bluegill biting on worms fished under a bobber near the Dam use a no.8 hook. I caught one nice 24″ pike using a 5″ rubber minnow (006 Banjo Minnow)In the shallow area by the Dam.

  13. Wow, not one posting since mid July!

    I just returned from a 5 day visit to Vermont. While I was there I fished with a guide for one day on lake Champlain. WOW, what a beautiful lake. Guide was excellent, fishing fantastic. Wish we had water like that here!!!

  14. Forgot to mention, the most popular fish this guide fishes for is northern pike. THOSE people understand a great fighting fish!

  15. I fished Upper Lake Mary over Labor day weekend. A lot of rain but was able to fish about 4-6 hours. I tried anchovies, power bait and worms, and got nothing. Right as we were packing up i caught a yellow bass on a worm, near the middle of the lake. People around us were using mud dogs and were catching catfish but really not much else. It was a beautiful sight though and I will be going back, despite not catching any fish.

  16. I fished Lake Mary today for the first time in over a year. I used a spinner bait and a yo-zuri for trolling lures and caught 4 northern, 3 of which came on the yo-zuri. Interesting, that since I was coming from Prescott, I did not get on the water until 11:00 in the morning but caught all four fish within 30 minutes. Fished another 3 hours with nothing at all. This was my fourth time on this lake and the first time even getting a hit, much less actually catching some fish. My wife and I did a two day fishing trip on Lake Champlain a month ago and over the two days caught over 100 northern and ~30 or so small mouth bass. Sure wish we had fishing like that here!!!


  17. I fished Lake Mary today for 2 hours with no hits at all. Used silver spoon and a Rapala. Temp was 48 and the water temp must have been a lot lower than that. I did not get an actual reading, but wow, the water sure felt cold. There was one other boat fishing when I arrived at ~12:30 and they said they had caught a couple of pike. I don’t know what a couple means, but being fishermen, it could be from 2 to 20 :) It has gotten to cold for me in Flag, I will spend the rest of my fishing for the winter at Lake Havasu.


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