Rorys Tips

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July 16th, 2009

The summer fishing doldrums are here, although there are some anglers who are doing very well at times. Fishing can be sporadic. But might be great at times. You need to be versatile.
This is the time of year when it’s best to get up before the sun and fish at dawn, or even before (it’s called nautical twilight).
I had at least two anglers say they were out plenty early at 6 a.m. but couldn’t catch a fish. Sorry, seems very early to some, but that’s probably too late for the best fishing.

While fishing the high country trout waters, I was often back in camp having breakfast at around 6 a.m. after the bite was over. If you can see your shadow on the ground while ambling to the fishing hole, you might have risen a little too late for the more aggressive bite. My suggestion is to take a nap after it gets too hot to fish.
However, if I am interpreting the weather report correctly, it is possible on any given day to have some sporadic thunderstorms pelting the pine-clad mountains. It’s a toss of the proverbial dice, but if you are in the high country and a storm brews up, wake up from your nap, grab your fishing pole and go. But please, don’t fish during a lightning storm. Even fishing isn’t worth risking your life for (at least that is what my wife tells me each time).

But this is also prime time for high country warmwater fish like bass, or cool water fish such as walleye. My top four favorites are Show Low Lake, Fool Hollow Lake, Willow Springs Lake and Upper Lake Mary. At the first three, fish for trout at first light. Go back to camp and have a leisurely breakfast, maybe a nap in the cool pines, then hit the water again in the afternoon for some bass action. Try topwater first, then switch to worms either Texas-rigged or drop-shot style. Another bet is Ashurst for trout in the morning and pike on inline spinners such as Rooster Tails the rest of the day.

Last light can also be a good time to fish, especially in the warmwater lakes. On a lot of summer days, you’ll find shad busting the surface while being chased by bass as the sunk sinks into the western horizon. Be prepared with topwater lures, shallow-running crankbaits, soft plastic jerkbaits or even casting spoons. Use sporadic retrieves to mimic wounded or dying shad.

But until the monsoon-generated storms routinely drop the barometer and also help cool things down, the best fishing might just be at night for most anglers, especially in the desert lakes. It’s time to turn nocturnal, which isn’t all bad considering how hot it is getting. This is the last quarter of the waning moon, so your submersible fishing lights should work okay. The new moon is July 21. However, I have always like the silver of moon nights to fish. For practical reasons. A little bit of light helps seeing your way around the boat. Besides, it’s doggone pretty in the sky.

By the way, mark your calendar now for Aug. 12. That is expected to be the peak of the Perseids meteor shower. It will be one of the most spectacular nights to be fishing. Seeing streaking meteors reflected in the water, especially at the high country reservoirs such as Big Lake, is a thrilling experience.

Since I am a little off-topic anyway, a friend went to the White Mountains recently and got terrific photographs of wildlife, including lots of elk. Try back country roads at first and last light or during monsoons (sound familiar).
Back to fishing. This time of year, fish will often hold deep. So fish the bottom. In the trout lakes, Power Bait, night crawlers, corn or possibly salmon eggs might work okay. Use slip sinkers so your bait can float up off the bottom a little. Also try crayfish-like lures (small ones), such as crickhoppers and the like. Rebel makes some small crayfish cranks that can be devastating for mountain smallmouth bass in places like Willow Springs, Black River or the Upper Verde River.

Also, if you hear the cicadas buzzing, go catch some (or get the kids to catch them). I have seen trout fighting over cicadas where minutes before they were ignoring worms and the like. Live grasshoppers can also produce interesting results. Or for you fly anglers, mimic the cicadas or hoppers.

By the way, the cicadas are singing at Lees Ferry. The lastest words is that the bite is not “on fire” but they are have having lots of fun with it. Even spin anglers can use cicada flies worked on casting or sink floats, whether at the Ferry, the lakes or local streams. Just ask your local tackle shop. They should have some. Kids can even use them on cane poles or with a regular bobber, just use a two-foot or so leader. You can even read about fishing with cicadas in the recent edition of “Arizona Wildlife Views.” Our new art director did a terrific job turning flies into musical notes to accompany cicada singing.

Don’t miss it.

So go catch some summer memories. Maybe I’ll see you out there.

One Response to “Rorys Tips”

  1. great post Rory. this reminds me of when i was a kid in Arizona and we would head up to the mountains for some “mountain lake” fishing. when i was in high school we would also head to the lake after work at 10PM and have a blast. then swim and cliff dive the next day. when did we sleep?

    i live in texas now and i have to tell you that my jaw dropped when i saw your website and blogs. we don’t have anything like this in texas that i know of. you people in AZ are lucky.

    keep up the good work

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