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I am on vacation, so the ever-able Jim Harken will be performing this report’s editing duties while I am away refining the art of gallivanting (thanks Jim).
If you want a superb wildlife and fishing adventure you’ll be talking about for years, head for the Willow Beach area of the Colorado River to see desert bighorn sheep in the rut and to fish for rainbow trout, plus huge stripers (see our new interactive fishing map for the location and directions). http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/where_fish.shtml
You might just see or hear bighorn rams butting heads for the right to mate with a waiting harem of ewes. It’s a remarkable wildlife experience.
What’s more, the federal fish hatchery at Willow Beach stocks rainbow trout every Friday like clockwork. And just like clockwork, huge striped bass weighing from 10 to 50 pounds will come in to feed on stocker trout – lollygaggers get eaten.
Just take along some trout-imitating “swim baits” and get ready for action. Be sure to have new fishing line on your reel, preferably 20-pound strength or greater. Do the math: If you have a 40-pound striper traveling at 30 mph hitting a one-ounce lure on the end of 50 feet of line, the coefficient can be . . . a broken line. Not to mention a broken heart from losing a monster fish. At the price for some of those swim baits, losing one might even cost you a few crocodile tears.
My family also likes to fish frozen anchovies while drifting for stripers and searching for bighorns moving about the shoreline or along the rugged slopes of Black Canyon. It’s amazing when you see bighorns bounding up or down cliffs.
But keep a close watch on your fishing poles – when a fast-moving striper hits, an unattended pole can disappear faster than the last potato chip at a Saturday night poker game.
Be sure to get on the water early – like at first light. Not only is the fishing better at that hour, it is also cooler. By late morning, the temperatures in Black Canyon can stress out a cheap thermometer or an expensive tan.
If you plan on taking a swim to escape the heat, keep in mind that the water temperature can be around 50 degrees cooler than the air temperature: be sure to wear a life jacket. The shock of that cold water can do strange things to your bodily functions.
It’s a bit of a drive, so at these gas prices, maybe plan on visiting Willow Beach then visit Hoover Dam with a possible side trip to Lake Mead, Boulder, or even Las Vegas. Always look at ways of maximizing your recreational time in the field – it just makes sense, no matter how you spell it.
Good luck. Go catch some remarkable memories. I’ll be back the first week of August.