Rory’s Tip

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September 29th, 2008
We are now officially into autumn – the fall equinox was Monday, Sept. 22. Plus, the moon is in the last quarter. We should be seeing terrific action in both the high country trout lakes and the desert bass lakes.

With the daytime temperatures in the lowlands pumping the thermometers into the triple digits, it is tough to resist a trip to the high cool country.

In fact, my family sampled some of the great fall trout action at Williams’ area lakes this past weekend. Boy, was it great to see Whitehorse Lake full again after more than a decade of being low. We used to fish it routinely when we lived in Prescott.

The fishing this past weekend was superb, even if we only caught small stockers. Every time the clouds passed in front of the sun, the trout hit our spinners and casting spoons. What a ball. We even assisted one young angler, 14-year-old Tiger Martinez from the South Mountain area, in catching his first trout ever. Congratulations Tiger!

There are those who like to sit and fish (or fish and read), like my wife. Worms, Power Bait, and corn are the trout tickets for the relaxing, patient (parent) types. For overly active dads and youngsters, casting and retrieving keeps us engaged. Try small inline spinners such as Mepps, Rooster Tails and Blue Fox; think small.

Also try small quarter-ounce KastMasters (casting-type spoons) in gold or silver. Super Dupers can work well, but they can be tough to cast, especially for kids. But for trolling, they are superb. Watch out for line twist, or use an in-line swivel (run a foot-long leader to your Duper rather than connecting straight to the swivel).

By the way, our Flagstaff fisheries crew surveyed Kaibab Lake on Tuesday night and found hordes of 8- to 10-inch largemouth bass, and plenty of 7-inch crappie, along with enough remaining trout to keep anglers in smiles for some time to come. Make a note to yourself for next summer: fish Kaibab for bass and crappie.

Okay, back to trout fishing. If you are fishing a lake with larger holdover rainbows, browns or cutthroat, also try small crankbaits such as Rapalas. I really like the floating jointed Rapalas in rainbow trout color this time of year. Lakes to try include Willow Springs, Big Lake, Long Lake, Ashurst, Bear Canyon, Black Canyon, Scotts Reservoir, Knoll Lake and Becker.

Hey guess what, those same spinner-spoon techniques can also catch you sunfish and even bass in the warmwater lakes.

Right now, you visit just about any of our desert impoundments, go to the backs of a cove, and catch sunfish galore at times. Saguaro has been superb for this type of action (with lots of yellow bass being caught also). Hook the kids up with meal worms under bobbers, and then try the small spinners and casting spoons. Be sure to use lightweight or ultra-light gear. When you hit it right, there will be almost non-stop action. I don’t care who you are, that’s fun.

It sounds like Lake Pleasant is still THE place to fish in the desert impoundments. Anglers have been routinely catching striped bass and white bass in boils for the past several weeks. That action is continuing. But now we are hearing from anglers catching lunker largemouth bass on topwater lures at times.

Bartlett and Alamo are both doing pretty good for bass. But the few reports we have gotten from Roosevelt aren’t great. Still not sure what is happening there, but maybe with the runoff events being over and the full moon having passed, the action will take off. It should.

This is also a great time of year to experience Lees Ferry. The back eddies are loaded with trout sipping midges. Just about any riffle with a drop off is producing fish.

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

15 Responses to “Rory’s Tip”

  1. Hi,

    I live in the Phx area and do not have a boat. What central AZ lakes offer the best fishing from shore? What are the best urban lakes?


  2. Howdy. Ever thought about “float tube” fishing? Great fun and it’s legal on all Arizona Lakes. I have a set of neoprene chest waders for the winter months and neoprene booties to wear (at all times) with my fins. Great fun and you are one with the fish. My lakes of choice are Bartlett and some of the coves at Pleasant as well as Alamo Lake. You are pretty limited but I’ve never been skunked tube fishing yet. Of course when the wind comes up you need to get out of the water and never stray too far from your launching area. SAFETY FIRST!! I usually cruise the shoreline and have done very well bass and crappie fishing over the years. I think throwing towards shore is so much better than, from shore, with trout fishing the exception. I usually carry two poles and an assortment of baits in the tube’s (2) good size pockets. Limited storage area on board, but enough for your wallet, keys, cellphone, snacks and a water bottle. A good quality (highly visible orange) life vest with “clips” that can be snapped on to the “D” rings on the tube is a good investment also. Never fished “urban” lakes though, but the possibilities are endless, I’d have to say (and cell phone use would be a great safety asset in urban areas). Just a thought for your consideration. Have a great one and get out and drown a plastic worm when you can. Good fishing 2 U. Jim

  3. Hey Jack I have a boat for sale. It has no gas tank but its a runner. Email me if you like.

  4. Jim;

    Float tubes are certainly a versatile and fun way to fish. Pontoons are another super option. It’s great to see more and more folks out using these self-propelled floating devices to fish. Sure saves gas compared to my bass boat.


  5. Or better yet, try kayak fishing. My Sit-On-Top is very stable and has several rod holders for trolling, etc., as well as secure hatchs and a rudder system (you will want this when the wind comes up and you’re trying to make it back to camp, etc.). Mine even has a live bait well with electric pump and space for ice chests, etc.. You can even rig for sonar, GPS, etc., plus you can poke around in places where the big boats can’t go.

  6. Darrell;

    You are absolutely right – kayaks make great fishing platforms (be sure to wear a floatation device). The wealth of floating fishing platforms from kayaks to float tubes and pontoons is changing the whole fishing equation – you don’t necessarily need an expensive boat with a gas (and money-eating) motor to experience Arizona’s diverse year-round fishing opportunities.

    However, please boat defensively out there, especially when it is choppy. A low-profile kayak, pontoon, canoe or float tube can be tough to see in choppy water for those of us bouncing around in the more traditional boats. Wearing bright clothing helps.


  7. When fishing from a float tube do you need to wear a life jacket?

  8. Chris;

    Wearing a personal flotation device while using a float tube is not required by law in Arizona, however, doing might be dictated by common sense and self survival, especially on cold mountain lakes that can take your breath away or on our large impoundments that can be congested with boat traffic. There are some suspender-type inflatable PFDs available that are unobtrusive.


  9. I don’t know if any of you guys are fly fishermen, but a boat, float tube, kyak, and canoe make excellent platforms for fly casting. Why? because there’s nothing to foul you backcast! Try it out! The only difference I make is I put a small, upward flick with my wrist befoe my loop gets behind me. This is especially useful when in a boat that sits low in the water as it keep the back cast high, and prevents the line from “slapping” the water behind me, scaring the fish.

  10. well first of all it depends on what type of fish species you are targeting.and if you are after big fish or numerous small fish (1-2 # range with a rare reception of a larger one. OK for trout is as simple as going to surprise park and put on a worm blown up with air from a syringe and needle to keep it off the bottom. i did this yesterday and landed an 18 incher.or just try several power bait colors. try 6# test vanish fluorocarbon with a size 10 or 12 for catfish go to surprise or even Rio vista and cast out some chicken liver on a treble hook. try 12 or 14 pound line.

  11. Striper from the bank at Pleasant is easy and fun come spring to early summer. They offer some incredible hits. Starting March or so, once the water level is up and the cold water brings the fish into the coves you can have a blast on a real lake. Just throw on a big slider weight with about 2-3 feet of leader. I Use 10-15lb test and a 3/0 worm hook with an anchovie that is frozen (WalMart or the bar on the way there has them). After running the hook through, just warp the line around your fingers like you are tying a knot and loop it over the anchovie so it doesn’t fly off when casting.

    You will also catch carp and channel cat like this.

    For great winter fishing and not to cold of weather the urban parks are fun and fairly easy with light line (2-4lb) and light action pole to catch the trout. Also can’t go wrong on Oak Creek, Fain lake or Dead Horse for trout, but it does get chilly this time of year.

  12. I have fished all over Arizona for 40+ years and have owned several boats with every electronic aid for fishing. I have had some of my best bass fishing days at Tempe town Lake. I mostly fish Tempe Town Lake from shore these days with short casts around any man made structure, such as bridges, walls and ramps. I have had some of the most memorable days of my fishing hobby catching Large Mouth Bass at TTL with either a drop shot or split shot rig and a small plastic worm. For larger bass up to 5 LB, I will use 4-5 inch plastic swim baits. I only fish in the mornings and the bite usually ends by 8:30 or 9:00 A.M.

    Tempe Town Lake requires a normal state fishing licence plus a Trout tag if you wish to keep trout that are stocked in the colder months of November to March. An urban fishing licence is Not required at TTL.

    I hope this helps the shore bound fisherman.

    Tight lines!

  13. I have fished and hunted in Mich. and Fla., for years, but now that I am in Az. I do not have a clue as to where to go to fish for Stripers and I would like to hunt for elk, deer and bear. I am trying to find a guide service and would appreciate any input you may have.
    Thanks, Russ.

  14. Robert Ramirez on March 9th, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    Made it out to Pleasant Sunday (3/8/09). Most of the lake has green moss out to about 50 feet and except for inlets where where water has reently flowed. Very clear though. So, my wife and I fished Castle Creek (NW end) from the bank and no moss was present. Was a little slow but caught 5 schoolies in at least that many hours, with the biggest about 20in and 5lb. I did miss another ten or so due to rust, haha. Did not see boils in this area about 1/4 mile south of bridge.

    Also walked the bank and came across a largemouth that appeared to be on a bed about 20 feet below a steep drop. A threw a few rocks at him and he kept coming back to same spot.

    Carp are topwater everywhere up there as usual.

    As for guides, The Hookup has a base at pleasant in the main marina area, never spoke or fished with them but have seen them around and am sure they are good as they are professional.

    Won’t be long and plesant striper will be on fire.

  15. Russ;
    To hunt deer you need to get outside often with a spotting scope, early and late in the day to see patterns and make plans accordingly. No guide is necessary although you may want a ATV.

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