AZ: Fishing Report March 7, 2012

Rory’s tips:

Come see me 7 p.m. Thursday at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore (just east of Loop 101 and Shea Blvd in the Scottsdale Fiesta Shopping Center, 10500 N. 90th Street) where I will be autographing the Official Arizona Fishing Guide book that Game and Fish put together in conjunction with Arizona Highways Magazine. We can chat about fishing, camping, hiking, and exploring Arizona.

Here’s something we can certainly gab about — this week we just stocked a bonus 3,000 rainbow trout into the Lower Salt River below Saguaro Lake near Phoenix at the Waters Users (where the tubers put in) and Blue Point Bridge.

Despite our late winter temperatures soaring up just as spring approaches, the water in the Lower Salt comes from the bottom of Saguaro Lake, so it is in the low 50s, making it a superb riverine trout fishery in the Upper Sonoran Desert. Basically, it’s a one-of-a-kind fishery. So give it a try. Be sure to get your Tonto Pass — the Forest Service sells them online and at various vendors, such as Circle K stores, but you can’t buy one on site.

Last week we also stocked Kaibab Lake near Williams about a six weeks or so early, and Kaibab will be stocked again this week. The campground isn’t open yet, but there are plenty of motels etc. in Williams just a few minutes away. Plus, the Grand Canyon is only about a 45-minute drive away. Or better yet, hop onto the Grand Canyon Railway.

Here’s another tip — every morning they have a shoot out at the old Western TV set adjacent to the Grand Canyon Railway Station. No kidding! So catch some fish at first light, then go catch a shootout between the local marshall and a bunch of train-robbing desperadoes, who cheat at cards.

Both Show Low Lake and Fool Hollow Lake near Show Low are ice-free. This is the time of year when you just might reel in a new state walleye record at one of these two lakes.

Here’s some other good news: this is leading edge of the largemouth bass spawn in our fabulous desert lakes. You can expect to find bass staging for the spawn or on beds at most warmwater lakes. With a full moon this week (March 8), expect to have lots of bass heading to beds or staging, especially with the Vernal Equinox just around the corner. Crappie are getting into the spawning mode as well (see crappie report below).

Keep in mind that only a small segment of the bass population will spawn at any one time, so besides the bedding or staging bass, you can also find bass still holding deep in their winter patterns, so plan your strategies accordingly.

A couple of our officers patrolling the Martinez Lake area (Colorado River backwater near Yuma) talked with anglers who were doing well catching nice sized crappie on jigs, largemouth bass, and striped bass. A popular method for catching stripers was trolling. Martinez is often one of our early-bird spawning lakes. It’s an adventuresome world of cattails and bullrushes with hidden pools and backwaters often interspersed with rugged desert mountains and other Mohave desert landscapes. Some call this whole area of the Colorado River “Arizona’s Everglades.”

It’s all heating up, literally. Go catch some great memories. Maybe I’ll see you out there.

Crappie Report

Pre-spawn Crappie are here and fishing has been pretty good lately at a several different lakes. This is the time of year that the waters warm and Crappie laden with eggs and milt start to gather and feed heavy. This is to prepare to move into the shallows and make spawning beds.

There has been a lot of talk over the years about what water temperature triggers the spawn. Most agree that 61 to 63 degrees is the proper temp range for Crappie. In most parts of the country this is common. But in my experience, Arizona Crappie will usually spawn with water temps from 64 and up, all the way to 70 degrees. Why do I say this? Because that’s when 90 percent of the bedding Crappie I’ve seen were there. It could be my style as I prefer open water fishing and I’m not much for bed fishing at all. But we all agree that all Crappie do not spawn at the same time. It may 3 or 4 moon phases for the majority to so.

That said this is the time that I enjoy the sport the most. I like short line trolling and covering lots of water. Chasing aggressive pre-spawn Crappie that move and feed just under the surface is a blast! And it doesn’t take expensive gear or complicated rigs to be successful. A 12-volt trolling motor on your boat with a couple of 10-foot rods and 4 or 5 colors of 2-inch grubs can be all you need for a great day.

Now folks, I’ve got to be honest. I have probably $400 to $500 worth of lures packed into my tackle bag. But 90 percent of it stays in the bag until times are tough and the bite is slow. But when they’re crackin, all you need are 2-inch Kalin or Bass Pro grubs on 1/16 un-painted jig heads. I would recommend that you carry at least six different colors of grubs, but don’t get too caught up in color. Try different ones but keep in mind that the depth of your bait is the #1 most important fact in Crappie fishing.

Alamo- Good catch rates of nice Crappie are being reported for the past couple of weeks. Although are have been days when the bite failed for no good reason, slow trolling grubs and drop shot rigs has been producing. Plus Alamo has great camp sites and is rarely very busy. It’s a great weekend get-a-way from the city.

Bartlett- Great catch rates but mostly small fish seems to be the story here. But that can make for a great day especially with youngsters and newbies. Try trolling at the Yellow Cliffs area but be careful, the lake is very low. Launch and recovery is strictly shoreline right now as the ramps are out of the water.

Roosevelt- Fishing is still slow but things look great for the future. Most Crappie being caught are chunks which shows that years of high water means good survival rates and a healthy population. As the lake slowly drops all those Crappie that have hiding in the flooded trees have to move. And they seem to be moving into open water and staging for spawn. There are baitfish everywhere which can make fishing tough but it’s great for the population. Look for Rosey to kick out some real jumbos this year.

San Carlos- SC is, well, on fire. But this comes after a fall of being at less than ½% of capacity. Last September/ October we fished a puddle of about 5,000 surface acres. The fish were so concentrated that catching them was child’s play. Over the winter the lake came up over 20 feet! That’s a lot of water but if damn releases increase (long story) that water will be gone soon. My first reaction is to say “leave that lake alone for a year to re-populate.” But “Crappie Fever” is hard to stop and SC always seems to bounce back. Let’s just hope the lake makes it through this summer.

Many of you may have heard but I am no longer a fulltime employee at Bass Pro Shops. I have stayed on part-time and hope to always be a part of the BPS family but my career has taken me in another direction. I would like to thank Terry and all the gang there for a wonderful 3½-year run. It sure was fun and I met a lot of great people.

I hope that this info helps you to be a better angler and more enjoy Crappie fishing in AZ. To further your knowledge I would high recommend going to see Art Chamberlin at one of his seminars. He does them at local Sportsmen’s Warehouse locations all the time. His next one is the evening of March 8th in Mesa but I’m not sure if this report will post by then.

To protect the future of our sport the Arizona Crappie Association practices and promotes the immediate release of all Crappie under 10” in length. For more information on the Arizona Crappie Association including tips, reports, and membership, go to

Bill (Piscolli) Eveland

Arizona Crappie Association



URBAN FISHING — The last trout stocking will happen this week then we switch to catfish on the week of March 19.

Anglers are reporting the bite it a bit slow right now but it will soon pick up as fishing success is correlated with stocking. At Veterans Oasis folks were getting some bites on live worms and mealworms. Don’t forget if the water is real clear and smooth the fish can see you and can be hesitant to strike.

TEMPE TOWN LAKE – Rainbow trout have been stocked all winter long and were stocked again last week.

You can try the usual methods for the rainbows; baits like Power Bait, night crawlers, mealworms or try spinners and spoons such as Panther Martins, KastMaster. Remember no gas motors are allowed (electric trolling motors are) and you must have a boating permit, which can be obtained at the Town Lake operations center.

Due to the warm weather and the shallow nature of this lake, action for warmwater fish such as largemouth bass and yellow bass should decent. You might even find some bass staging for the spawn. Try fishing the shade lines of the bridges. Best fishing will typically be at first and last light.

This is an excellent lake to learn how to bass fishing using simple rigs like plastic worms and lizards worked along the bottom. Cast out, let the plastic bait sink to the bottom, reel in any slack line to “make contact” with the bait, then lift up your rod tip (lifting the bait off the bottom), reel in a couple of times, then lower your rod tip and let the bait sink to the bottom again. The sport-fish will often hit when the bait is falling back to the bottom, so if your line moves sideways, set the hook.

LAKE PLEASANT – Lake elevation 1,691 feet (88 percent full). Some bass seemed to be staging for the spawn before the weather front moved through the state, but given a few days of warm weather, fish activity levels should start picking up again.

One angler fished from a kayak in the back of Humbug and caught a small bass using dropshot. He fished from about 8 to 11:30 a.m. with only the one fish to show for it. There were quite a few carp in the area. The water temperature was 53 back where he was fishing.

Another angler fished the back of Humbug where the temperature was warmer and caught two bass one with a spinner and the other on dropshot.

A fisherman worked the real shallow points and caught a few bass. Water temperature will continue to warm up and the fishing will improve.

ROOSEVELT LAKE – Lake Elevation is 2,122 ft (67 percent full). Tonto Creek runoff is 20 cfs while inflow from the Salt River is at 340 cfs. Salt River Project is now taking water from the Salt River side, but not sure how this will impact the lake level at Roosevelt this spring. Snow pack and runoff look marginal.

Many anglers have reported seeing bass on beds in the Salt River arm of the lake, with water temperatures in the low 60s. The recent storm front likely moved the bass off the beds temporarily, but with a few days of warming weather, bass should increase their activity levels again. Fishing might be pretty good by the weekend, if expected winds on Friday don’t change the equation.

An angler found a pretty warm cove at about 60 degrees. Small jigs were effective for 1 to 2 pound bass.

APACHE – Lake elevation is 1,906 ft (92 percent full).

An angler used a Texas-rigged yellowish greed brush hog in about a foot of water and caught a 2-pound smallie. Another angler with him caught a 3-pound largemouth a couple casts later. Then they caught two more 3-pound largemouth. As the day wore on they continued to catch fish along that same rocky bank. Brush hogs and robo’s on Texas rigs were the ticket. All fish were caught between 1 and 15 feet deep.

Water temp was between 54 and 56 degrees. One angler threw crankbaits and jigs in the 10- to 20-foot range. The points didn’t work all that well but the backs of coves were quite productive. He hauled in some two and three pounders including one smallmouth. In the wind the spinnerbaits and jerkbaits worked a little better than cranks.

CANYON – Lake elevation is 1,657 ft, which is 95 percent full. Some bass should be staging for the spawn, but haven’t had reports of anglers catching any on beds — yet. With the full moon this week, it is likely we’ll see some moving into beds in the more shallow coves. However, this deep lake often runs a little later for the spawn than its sister lakes along the Salt River chain.

An angler caught a nearly 3-pound largemouth bass using a green plastic worm on a shakey head jig in the back of a shallow cove. Temperature was about 60 degrees in the shallow water.

Two anglers caught largemouth in shallow water with cranks and dropshot near weeds. It was windy and they caught 5.

Another angler caught 5 largemouth bass with deep cranks in the main lake. Yet another angler fished up river and found them active in the 19 to 22 foot range. A Carolina rig worked well for him. Largest was over 2 pounds.

Anglers are starting to find the spawning beds. For those of you who worry about fishing among the beds you should realize the fish also spawn in deeper water where you cannot see them. The ones presently in the shallow beds are just not as patient.

SAGUARO – Lake elevation 1524 feet at 92 percent full. Been getting reports for a couple of weeks now of anglers catching bass on beds, or staging for the spawn. With the full moon this week, we will likely see more bass moving into the spawning mode.

An angler fished from about 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. up river and around islands. White swimbaits enticed the bite for him.

BARTLETT – Lake elevation is 1,744 ft, which is 37 percent full. Reservoir release is 100 cfs.

As many know the ramp are out of the water resulting in reduced fishing pressure on the lake but some anglers are launching their boats from shore. Shore anglers are still reeling a few in with white spinnerbaits and spoons. The crappie fishermen are doing pretty well trolling jigs tipped with minnows. A boat angler caught 8 largemouth bass that were in suspended schools in the 30- to 45-foot range. Most were kind of small.

HORSESHOE – Lake is empty. Water is being released at 200 cfs.

VERDE RIVER – Verde River flow at Tangle is 224 cubic feet per second. Release from Bartlett Lake is 120 cfs.

LOWER SALT RIVER (below Saguaro Lake) – They are releasing 650 cfs out of Stewart Mountain Dam from Saguaro, which means we currently having a 10-mile trout fishing bonus about two months early this year.

We stocked a bonus 3,000 rainbow trout this week at the Water Users and Blue Point Bridge. Trout fishing should be good on night cralwers, small spinners, casting spoons such as KastMasters and flies.

This is a unique desert river trout fishery in the Upper Sonoran Desert. It’s a great place to catch some excellent memories.

CREEKS – This is a great time of year to try some of the streams along the Mogollon Rim. The gate to the catch-and-release section of Canyon Creek is still closed for the winter so you will have to hike in to this section. Access may be difficult to due to snow. Warmer days can produce a good midge hatch. If there is no surface activity try dead drifting nymphs and wooly buggers.


Note: If you have a fishing report, send it to “Been Fishing?” at

LAKE POWELL – Lake Powell Fish Report – Lake Elevation: 3,635, Water Temperature 49-54 F

By: Wayne Gustaveson

Afternoon warming leads to fishing success.

Lake Powell water temperature still hovers between 49 and 54. Not much change will occur in fishing conditions until significant warming of air and water comes toward the end of March. The good news is that stripers, walleye, largemouth and crappie can be caught now with specific effort directed in the small areas of vulnerability these species exhibit.

Here is the pattern for success. Look for water that is murky green instead of blue and clear. Most fish are holding in the back of canyons near brush where water depth is 25 feet. Stripers are loosely associated with brush as they have become accustomed to chasing food in and around the tree branches. Roving schools suspend near the edge of brush usually along a drop off where water depth changes quickly from 20 to 40 feet. Stripers will now respond to lures trolled over and through the trees. For best results, troll in a circular or zig-zag pattern where bottom depth is 25 feet. Try to bring lures close to big trees without dragging them into unforgiving snags. Lures that dive to 8-12 feet may be the best while trolling the brush line.

Best fishing success is found at the warmest part of the day. If water temperature exceeds 54 degrees fishing will improve dramatically on warm afternoons.

Stripers are curious and respond to feeding actions of their school mates. A hooked fish is often trailed by interested onlookers. Take advantage of this behavior by jigging spoons or casting lures to the general area of the hooked fish. Let the lucky angler net his own fish while others in the boat try to duplicate that success and keep the flighty school under the boat for maximum hookups.

Bass and walleye are in the same general vicinity. Park the boat in 25 feet of water and cast to the brushy shoreline where water depth is 8 feet. Shallow flats do not hold as many fish as the trough between two points. Run a swimbait slowly along the bottom from 8 to 25 feet. Bump bottom occasionally and fish slowly. Sometimes bass will be hugging bottom while at other times they will be suspended in the trees. Best fishing is found during the warmest part of the afternoon.

Walleye will begin spawning next week with reduced fishing success. This will be the best week to catch a prespawn trophy walleye.

Crappie are best caught in the thickest trees where bottom depth is 12 feet. They often suspend in open water making them hard to locate. Fish small (1/16th ounce) plastic or marabou jigs straight up and down in brush to attract fish and prevent snags. Crappie like slow steady moving lures better than fast moving lures.

LEES FERRY — Report courtesy Lees Ferry Anglers.

Fly Fishing

Fishing upriver has been good. The river is running 8,000 cfs for the majority of the day and increasing to 13,000 cfs in the evening, but dropping back down by the morning. These new flows have really opened up the river creating an abundance of wading opportunities. The key to a successful fishing day is to follow the sun. Where ever the sun is hitting on the water should make for better fishing. Next month the projected flows will fluctuate from 7,000 cfs to 13,000 cfs. Very similar flows to the month of February.

Fishing the seams, riffles and drop offs from the gravel bars has been the most productive. We are primarily nymphing using Zebra midges, Glo-bugs Scuds, San and Juan Worms of various sizes and colors. The smaller fish tend to be higher up on the riffles and the bigger fish seem to be right on the edge of drop offs and in the deeper water just after the drop off. The best fishing has been just on the inside seam in the slower current.

Using a dry fly with a dropper such as a Zebra Midge or Glo-bug has also had some success depending on the water one is fishing. The dry dropper rig has been most productive in the shallower water. As the weather continues to warm up our midge hatches will only get better which should turn the fishing on in the back eddies. Another option as the fish move into the shallows is using a double tiny rig as described on our website.

There are some actively spawning trout in a few areas on the river. A person may consider fishing a Glo-Bug below a Scud or fishing a Glo-bug with a midge dropper especially on cloudier days. However, the spawn is much weaker compared to last spring.

Although the water has come down another good option is fishing a small streamer or wooly bugger. With these lower flows a person can wade and continue to fish streamers. The better streamer areas tend to be where the riffles drop off into slower deeper pools. Emphasizing the swing then stripping the fly up the seam has produced some good fish. The key to successful streamer fishing is varying the strip retrieve. When streamer fishing, we highly recommend a Teeny 130 or 200 grain sinking tip or a similar line. The reason for the Teeny is that the sinking tip is twenty feet which allows the streamer to cover more water effectively especially the deeper drop offs.

Walk-In Report:By Dean Windham

Fishing has been very good this week. The flows have dropped but are still fluctuating. This has made fishing in the morning the time to get the most consistent bite. During the late morning and afternoon periods the fish seem to bite then stop and then bite again. So don’t think just because the bite stops that it’s time to quit fishing. Just move around a bit or put a little more weight on to get down where the fish are at

The upper boulder field is producing good numbers of fish. Midges and San Juan worms are the first choice here. However, glo-bugs and even scuds have been working. With the lower flows the holding areas are much easier to locate and target. Also with the lower flows we can now get much farther out in the river.

The area below the big rock has been producing some really fat fish. Here glo-bugs, San Juan worms and midges are working well. The fish appear to be holding about 15 to 20 feet from the shore. If you can get a good drift you shoud be picking up some really nice fish. Remember the fish in this area are very strong and like to fight hard when hooked so be patient and don’t try forcing the issue or you will be rerigging your gear due to break offs.

Where the Paria River enters the Colorado has been a very consistent producer. There have been quite a few people fishing here and all seem to be getting plenty of fish. San Juan worms, midges, glo-bugs and even dry flies have all been working at different times. Keep in mind here if you are catching fish and then suddenly it stops, first add some weight and then if that does not work try something new. Keep in mind that the rising flows are slow and subtle so keeping on top of them means really being aware of the changes in the river. This is a fun area to experiment with large dry flies, especially in the afternoon.

Keep in mind that with the hard fighting fish you will need to bring fresh leaders and tippetts The weather this week has been cloudy but mild and appears to not be changing in the near future. So come on up and fish when others have to walk across frozen lakes and sit on a bucket for hours at a time, we have lots of sunshine and mild weather and willing fish. Any questions give us a call at 1-800-962-9755.

The rating this week for the walk-in was a steady 8.

Spin fishing the walk-in has been good this week.

Spin fisherman have been having some luck this week below the large boulder. With flow fluctuations it does keep one guessing about how deep to run the lure. But being aware of the changing conditions will make sure that you get some nice fish. The weather has been mild and cloudy this week.

Panther Martins have been consistent producers this week. But, the KastMaster, Rapalas and drifting glo-bugs have also been working. Drifting glo-bugs has followed the same pattern as the fly fisherman. Mornings have been best with the afternoon being on and off again bite. However, spin fishing is better with the higher flow as you can bounce your lure more efficiently. If you have any questions about how to drift glo-bugs or set up with a spion rig, call us at 1-800-962-9755 or stop by the shop we are always happy to help you get set up.

I would rate the river a steady 7 for this week.

Spin Fishing Up River:

Spin fishing is good! It’s all about bouncing Glo bugs, San Juan Worms and Scuds off the bottom.

You can also try fishing with gold Kastmasters, black and gold Panther Martins #5s or Rapalas in Perch or trout.

Also definitely don’t forget about the marabou jig, this one has been working great and has been very reliable.

Report from one of our customers:

I rented a boat from you all and fished the river on Sunday with 2 friends. First off the boat ran great. We had some issues the last time out and we appreciate that they are all resolved.

On to the fishing – 3 words — Best Day Ever. The weather cooperated wonderfully. Our party had 2 experienced Lees Ferry fisherman and one total noob. Our noob got a fish on the third cast and ended up with at least 20 to hand for the day. I got a fish on the first and second casts, missed the fish on the third and had one on the fourth. I had only two casts all day that did not have a strike or a fish and on those I had the flies stuck to the indicator. We each had over 100 fish to hand easily. It was truly and incredible day. I give the up river rating a 10 (maybe an 11).

Fish were hitting eggs, midges and worms with the eggs getting the most fish. We’ll be back soon.


If you have some news you would like to report about fishing lees ferry, the walk-in section or up river please e-mail your report to: Attn. Lees Ferry Fishing Report.

LAKE MEAD – The current water level is still approximately 1,133 feet above msl. Water elevation has risen about 43 feet from this time last year and two feet from December’s elevation. As the water rises more and more vegetation, mostly in the form of small salt cedars, gets flooded and makes habitat for fish.

There seems to be an abundance of shad currently which may be the reason for the lack of bite. Cut anchovies are still the bait of choice. There is a full moon this week, so it is likely we’ll see bass moving onto beds in some of the warmer, shalow coves.

Sport-fish in general should be moving slowly into more shallow water as we approach spring-like conditions. If you can locate the shad, the stripers are not far behind. Trolling usually works best in areas were shad are found and best done in the early mornings and evenings.

The bite for largemouth and smallmouth was reported good using plastic worms and crawdads with purple and browns in them. Several fishermen said that top water lures were working for them. All the fishermen contacted were hopeful for the coming years with rising water conditions and the abundance of baitfish they have seen this year.

Launching conditions at South Cove have improved as the water level has gone up. There are currently four lanes. As the water raises logs and other debris can become hazards, so be careful boating.

Important notice: With the discovery of invasive quagga mussels in Mead, Mohave and Havasu, proper cleaning of all watercraft is critical to help prevent the spread of these invaders. Please drain and dry your livewell and bilge on land. Drain all the water you can from your engine. Also, inspect your vessel and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see.

For more information, go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s web pages at or visit

LAKE MOHAVE – The lake level has maintained about 640 feet above msl. With a full moon this week, it is likely that some bass will move onto spawning beds in some of the more shallow, warmer coves. This is the leading edge of the better spring fishing, but wind and other conditions can quickly change the equation.

The black bass are hitting soft baits when worked slowly especially on grass beds in 20 to 30 feet deep. Trolling with anchovies in 30-50ft has been producing some stripers, while catfish are on the bottom. While the number of stripers in Mohave has been decreasing, the quality of the fish caught has increased. A couple recently caught several stripers in the 4 lb. to 10 lb. range using rainbow colored Storm Wildeye Swimbait in the Cottonwood Basin area. Best time to fish is at night for cats and he likes fishing for largemouth and smallmouth in the early morning with blue, black and purple and black grubs and worms.

Submersible lights fished during the new moon are an effective way to catch stripers. Next new moon is March 22nd. Cut anchovies usually work the best.

Biologists from both Arizona Game and Fish Department and Nevada Division of Wildlife with the help of volunteers, National Park Service and Bureau of Reclamation personnel have continued to install fish habitat in Carp Cove, Box Cove, Shoshone, and Arrowhead. Fish habitat consists of PVC structures, wood pallet structures, tamarisk bundles, and some Christmas trees. The largemouth, smallmouth, bluegill and catfish are really utilizing the new structures. Additional habitat will be added at several locations over the next two years. These structures are fish magnets.

There is a wheelchair accessible fishing pier just south of the main launch ramp at Katherine’s Landing. If you fish Mohave and are having luck, please e-mail me at so I can share your successes with others.

Important notice: With the discovery of invasive quagga mussels in Mead, Mohave and Havasu, proper cleaning of all watercraft is critical to help prevent the spread of these invaders. Please drain and dry your livewell and bilge on land. Drain all the water you can from your engine. Also, inspect your vessel and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see.

For more information, go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s web pages at or visit

WILLOW BEACH – Willow Beach is stocked every Friday with 3,000 13-inch rainbow trout. Rainbow, peach, garlic and yellow Power Baits and Power Worms were being used most for trout. Jakes original and Jakes Juniors, Panther Martin and Rooster Tails are also usually effective. Fishing is usually best near the fishing pier after the Friday stocking. Most of the nice stripers and trout are seem to be caught between river mile 49 and 53.

Important notice: With the discovery of invasive quagga mussels in Mead, Mohave and Havasu, proper cleaning of all watercraft is critical to help prevent the spread of these invaders. Please drain and dry your livewell and bilge on land. Drain all the water you can from your engine. Also, inspect your vessel and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see. If you fish Willow beach and are having luck, please e-mail me at so I can share your successes with others.

For more information, go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s web pages at or visit

COLORADO RIVER BELOW DAVIS DAM – Trout is still underway at Davis Camp, Rotary Park and Riverside on the second Tuesday of each month starting in October. Trout continue to bite in the casino area with some larger fish in the deep holes. Several folks have called and spoke of very large trout being caught in the Laughlin area. Rusty from Riviera Marina sent pictures of Richard’s 2.74 lb. rainbow, caught from shore near the Nature Center, and a picture of Mike G’s 3.88 lb., 20.5 inch rainbow with friends Gerry and Mark with their nice stringer of rainbow trout. They were using anything from night crawlers with and without marshmallows to power bait. Overall the fishing is great on the river with large rainbow trout still being caught.

Topock Gorge- The water is warming up and the bite is picking up. With a full moon this week, it is possible that some bass will move into beds in some of the backwaters or shallow pockets of water bordering the gorge.

TOPOCK MARSH – The action at Topock Marsh has been steadily improving. Night crawlers and live minnows have been tempting catfish from North Dyke. Bass can be hit and miss but live bait has been reported to work the best now. Stripers appear abundant from the February AZGFD survey. Small crappies are being taken throughout the marsh.

You can access the marsh by boat at the North Dike, Catfish Paradise, and Five-Mile Landing. All three also provide plenty of area for shoreline fishing too. For more information on the marsh, contact the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge at (760) 326-3853 or go to

Important notice: With the discovery of invasive quagga mussels in Mead, Mohave and Havasu, proper cleaning of all watercraft is critical to help prevent the spread of these invaders. Please drain and dry your livewell and bilge on land. Drain all the water you can from your engine. Also, inspect your vessel and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see.

For more information, go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s web pages at or visit


Note: If you have a fishing report, send it to “Been Fishing?” at

LAKE HAVASU — It’s the largemouth bass spawning time at Havasu, so fishing is really picking up.

PARKER STRIP — No recent reports.

ALAMO LAKE — No recent reports. Bass are on beds. Crappie are also in the spawning mode.

The Cholla Launch Ramp has been fixed, widened and is now open. But don’t expect a dock — yet. They still have some work to do in December, with another short closure, and will install the dock then. I know a lot of tournaments have been rescheduled to other lakes, so now you have the Alamo green light again.

COLORADO RIVER (PARKER STRIP AREA) — Fishing for smallmouth bass over two pounds in size is expected to be good to excellent. In addition, redear sunfish should also be good in the pound-plus sizes.

The Parker Strip is well known for its smallmouth bass fishing, especially in the area from the dam to several miles downstream. The Parker Strip is also home to some really impressive, dinner-plate sized redear sunfish of two pounds or larger.

Channel and flathead catfish fishing is always fair in this section of the Colorado River. Below the dam, striper fishing should also be fair, using live shad or anchovies. Largemouth bass are abundant, especially in the downstream portions of the Parker Strip. Channel and flathead catfish fishing will be fair to good in this section of the Colorado River as the weather warms up.

Take precautions to make sure your boat and equipment is clean before leaving the water to make sure you don’t spread quagga mussels to other water by accident.

COLORADO RIVER (BETWEEN PALO VERDE DIVERSION DAM AND WALTER’S CAMP) — This area should be fair for both smallmouth bass (in the channel) up river from the I-10 Bridge and largemouth bass (in the backwaters) throughout the entire area.

Channel and flathead catfish are always fair to good in this section of the Colorado River. Most of the flathead catfish will be in the 2- to 5-pound size range with an occasional fish over 40 pounds. Flathead catfish surveys last May yielded a handful of fish between 15 and 50 pounds in this section of the river, although the majority of fish were much smaller.

Generally, when fishing for catfish, the hotter the weather, the better the fishing. Lively bait is the key to successful flathead fishing. Using the largest bait fish you can come by will increase the odds of catching a larger flathead.

This section of the Colorado River, all the way down to Yuma, is where the invasive vegetative species known as Giant Salvinia is located. Quagga mussels are also found here. If using a boat, make sure that boats, live wells, engines, and trailers are clean before leaving the area.

COLORADO RIVER (BETWEEN WALTER’S CAMP AND PICACHO STATE PARK) — This section of the Colorado River is relatively remote and can only be accessed by boat from either end. Fishing is expected to be good to excellent for flathead catfish with sizes over 40 pounds. The best time will be late spring and on into the summer (the hotter the better). Backwaters are somewhat limited in this stretch of the river, but the few that are there will be good for largemouth bass and other sunfish (bluegill, redear and occasionally black crappie). Channel catfish are also very numerous in this section of the river. Smaller numbers of smallmouth bass and striped bass also occur.

The invasive vegetative species, giant Salvinia, as well as quagga mussels, are found in this stretch of the river. If using a boat, make sure that boats, live wells, engines, and trailers are clean before leaving the area.

COLORADO RIVER (BETWEEN PICACHO STATE PARK AND IMPERIAL DAM) — This area is expected to be good to excellent for largemouth bass, channel catfish, and flathead catfish. Bass and channel catfish in excess of 5 pounds are present along with flathead catfish as large as 40 pounds not uncommon, occasionally much larger. There is definitely a state record or two lurking in these waters. Only very heavy fishing tackle will suffice for the really large fish. Bluegills, redear sunfish and black crappie are also present in the various backwaters. Occasional striped bass will be caught in the channels connecting backwaters and the main river channel. Smallmouth bass seem to be on the increase in the lower river above Imperial Dam. They generally prefer swifter water and rockier substrate than largemouth bass, and certainly aren’t as numerous, but they are very aggressive and very scrappy fighters and well worth seeking out.

The invasive vegetative species, giant Salvinia, as well as quagga mussels, are found in this stretch of the river. If using a boat, make sure that boats, live wells, engines, and trailers are clean before leaving the area.

COLORADO RIVER (BETWEEN LAGUNA AND MORELOS DAMS) — This area will be good for largemouth bass and flathead catfish. Bass in excess of 5 pounds are common and flathead catfish over 20 pounds are a good bet. In this area, accessibility to the river is dependent on the amount of water being released. Usually shallow draft boats are a must. The lower end has had some dredging work done and a larger boat may be able to get on the river in that area. Be aware that some sections of the river are within Quechan tribal boundaries, and a tribal permit is required to fish there. Boundaries are not well marked, so doing some research prior to fishing this section may prevent hassles while you are out there.

The invasive vegetative species, giant Salvinia, as well as quagga mussels, are found in this stretch of the river. If using a boat, make sure that boats, live wells, engines, and trailers are clean before leaving the area.

With the increase in border issues and illegal activity on the lower end of this stretch, we recommend exercising extreme caution, avoiding nighttime use, or even staying away from the area altogether (Pilot Knob to Morelos Dam).

MITTRY LAKE — Mittry Lake is located just above Laguna Dam, and supports a good population of largemouth bass and channel catfish, and even some good-sized flathead catfish. There are shoreline fishing opportunities at this lake in the form of about a dozen rock jetties, but you’ll probably have the best success in a small boat. Mittry Lake can be frustrating, as the bite seems to be real variable, but the fish are there. It is just a question of getting them to respond to your presentation. The water tends to be very murky most of the year, except for the upper end of Teal Alley where the lake inflow comes in, so play to the fish’s sense of hearing and smell, rather than sight. There are also crappie and sunfish to be caught, although they tend to average relatively small in size. Mittry Lake is well-known locally for the quality largemouth bass it produces, and fishing during the spring spawn will increase your chances of success.

YUMA AREA PONDS — The Department has stepped up efforts to encourage the recruitment of new anglers, and retention of existing ones. To this end, the Department has increased stocking efforts in a few ponds in the Yuma area that are easily accessed without a boat, within a short distance of the urban center. Those ponds are the Yuma West Wetlands pond, located in the City Park, and Redondo and Fortuna ponds, located about 10 miles northeast of Yuma. Access to Redondo Pond was recently improved with the addition of an ADA compliant fishing pier, and thick cattail growth was removed at Fortuna Pond this summer, improving shoreline access by many orders of magnitude. All of these waters received multiple stockings of rainbow trout in the winter months; Redondo Pond will be stocked with channel catfish during the spring, and the Yuma West Wetlands pond will receive channel catfish and bluegills. We may be able to stock Fortuna Pond with channel catfish in the future, pending the outcome of the statewide sport-fish stocking consultation with the USFWS that is hopefully nearing completion. Depending on available funding, we hope to continue regular stockings into all three of these shoreline-accessible waters, and perhaps add additional waters to our stocking schedule. These ponds provide an ideal place to take the family. All three waters now are provided with restroom and trash facilities. Special regulations on fish limits are in effect for these waters, so be sure to consult the Regulations before you take fish.

REGIONAL HOT SPOTS — Alamo Lake will continue to be a hot spot for plentiful largemouth bass and channel catfish, although trophy-sized fish will be uncommon. Lake Havasu is probably currently the premier lake in our Region (and perhaps the State) for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and redear sunfish. Numbers caught will likely be lower, but the quality of the fish much higher. The Parker Strip should remain excellent for smallmouth bass and redear sunfish, and the Colorado River below Walter’s Camp down to Imperial Dam the best bet for large and plentiful flathead catfish. Our spring surveys indicate that there is a very impressive population of flathead catfish in the lower Imperial Division between Picacho State Park and Imperial Dam. Expect many in the 5-10 pounds size class, but we know of at least one state record lurking in those waters. Backwaters in the Imperial Division above Imperial Dam will continue to yield impressive largemouth bass, up to and exceeding 10 pounds.

If you need any additional information or assistance, don’t hesitate to contact the Yuma Regional office at (928) 342-0091, and we will be happy to give you whatever information we have. A very good resource for local fishing information in the Yuma area is the website and forum at



Note: We anticipate being able to stock the William’s area lakes early this year, perhaps in April, with some nice sized trout. It will all depend on lake accessibility and weather.

KAIBAB LAKE — The road is open, but the campground is closed. No reports on fishing. Had open water on Monday before the storm.

CATARACT LAKE — Not accessible. Had open water on Monday before the storm, but the gate was still closed.

CITY RESERVOIR — No reports.

DOGTOWN LAKE — No recent reports. Was accessible on Monday before the storm, but no reports on whether there is ice-out yet.

JD DAM — No report.

RUSSELL TANK – The lake is too shallow to stock.

SANTA FE — No Report.

WHITEHORSE LAKE — Not accessible.


LOWER LAKE MARY — No recent reports.

UPPER LAKE MARY — There was open water on Monday before the storm. Could be some rimming ice this week, but a warming trend could take care of that.

ASHURST LAKE — No recent reports. Check with the Forest Service on road conditions before going.


KINNIKINICK LAKE — Not accessible.

MARSHALL LAKE — Not accessible.

LONG LAKE — Not accessible.



Verde Valley

DEAD HORSE STATE PARK – Trout were last stocked the week of Feb. 20. Will be stocked again the week of March 12. Try Power Bait, small spinners or live night crawlers.

The catfish and largemouth bite has been fair. Catfish are still being caught on night crawlers, chicken liver, and stinkbait. The bass are being caught on small plastic worms and Gitzit-type plastic grubs, bounced slowly along the bottom. Sunfish have been doing well on worms, salmon eggs, or small piece of Power Bait under a bobber. They bite best in the early morning hours and the evening. Catfish were last stocked for the Verde River Days event.

OAK CREEK — Trout stockings at Oak Creek have resumed. The next scheduled stocked is the week of March 12. All typical trout baits should work. Don’t forget that there is a catch-and-release section along the upper section of Oak Creek above the Junpine Resort. There are plenty of signs telling about the special regulations in this section (especially near all parking areas).

VERDE RIVER (throughout Verde Valley) – Rainbow trout were stocked the week of Feb. 20. Will be stocked again this week, the week of March 5. Try Power Bait, live night crawlers or small spinners.

Carp fishing has been good using corn or dough baits. Always check your regulations before fishing this area with live bait. Game and Fish Commission Rule requires anglers to only use live bait that has been caught in the river. No transporting of live baitfish or crayfish is allowed.

WET BEAVER CREEK — Scheduled to be stocked again the this week. This is a great family fishing location where you can dunk a worm or some Power Bait into a stream. Or hike upstream into the Beaver Creek Wilderness and find some deeper pools with holdover trout.

WEST CLEAR CREEK — Scheduled to be stocked this week. Expect to catch stocked trout fairly readily in the Bull Pen area (can be accessed from the road leading to Wet Beaver Creek). However, you can also fish in the West Clear Creek Wilderness upstream and possibly catch some larger holdover trout. This is a rugged, wild canyon so dress accordingly, including sturdy footwear.

We have released Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep into this area, so it is always possible to see some bighorns in the steeper potions of the West Clear Creek Wilderness.

Prescott Area

FAIN LAKE — Stocked the week of Feb. 6. Scheduled to be stocked again the week of March 12. The reports from regulars at the lake say the trout are biting, but the morning bite is the best. Anglers are having luck throughout the day using Power Bait and Berkley Gulp. Rainbow and yellow seem to be the popular colors. Not many fish were caught at the Cops and Bobbers event so the lake should be holding lots of good size rainbow trout.

GOLDWATER LAKE — Stocked the week of Feb. 13. The next scheduled stocking is the week of March 12. Many anglers have reported doing well. Power Bait is probably your best bet, although spinners and flies can do well also. Jimmy C. caught his limit on light colored Power Bait and reported he gilled them the same day and they were delicious. Like most fishing areas, one day the bite is great and the next it’s slow.

Game and Fish has been trying to boost the some of the warm water species in Goldwater. Bass and catfish have been stocked three times over the last four years. The bass are being stocked to give a boost to a dwindling population in the lake and to reduce the excessive number of crayfish. Please practice catch and release with the bass, while the population gets re-established.

Game and Fish Biologists surveyed Goldwater on Sept. 15, 2009 and found bass and catfish populations to be much improved over last year. The number of green sunfish was greatly reduced. The bass had a successful spawn last year. If you fish Goldwater and are having luck, please e-mail me at so I can share your successes with others.

GRANITE BASIN LAKE –Fishing should be slow for the winter. If you fish Granite Basin and are having luck, please e-mail me at so I can share your successes with others.

LYNX LAKE – Stocked Feb. 6 with rainbow trout. Scheduled to be stocked again the week of March 12. The cold has slowed the bite down for all species except trout.

Cut anchovies, night crawlers or hot dog are your best bet for catfish. Lynx also can be an exciting place to fish for carp. Common carp are very strong fighters and will provide an excellent table fair. A quick search on the internet will produce tasty recipes for these robust fish. Corn and an assortment of other baits will attract these fish. Lynx can be difficult to fish, if you are not catching anything try moving to a new spot. There are some good spots on the north end of the lake that don’t get fished as heavily as the south end does.

MINGUS LAKE – The last stocking was scheduled for the week of Oct. 17. Yellow bullhead catfish are active and easy to catch with night crawlers on the bottom. For trout the best bait is usually orange, pink, or white Power Bait, fished on the bottom with a treble hook and an egg sinker. Fishing can be really good at times, because angler use is lower than other lakes in the area. This lake is more remote than the other Prescott area lakes and not very big. The lake is open as weather permits. Forest Road 104 is relatively impassable when wet. The lake is still open to foot traffic.

Someone illegally stocked yellow bullhead into Mingus several years ago. These fish compete directly with the trout and keep growth rates very low. If you witness anyone, anywhere, moving fish like bass, bluegill, catfish and stocking them, please report it to our Operation Game Thief Hotline at 1-800-352-0700. Illegal stockings cost YOU money!

WATSON – The next scheduled stocking will be the week of Feb. 13. The last trout stocking was the week of Jan. 16. If you have fished Watson Lake please send me a report of your trip to share with folks.

Game and Fish Biologists surveyed Watson and found the bass, sunfish, and bullhead to be plentiful. Crappies were also doing well. Look for the crappie fishing to pick up in a year or two. If you fish Watson and are having luck, please e-mail me at so I can share your successes with others.

WILLOW CREEK RESERVOIR – The fishing should be slow until the water warms up I the spring.

If you fish Willow and are having luck, please e-mail me at so I can share your successes with others.


Recommended Waters to Fish

Most lower elevation lakes have open water and can be fished. Fool Hollow Lake, Show Low Lake, and Nelson Reservoir are recommended for general fishing. Anglers have been catching trout, walleye, catfish and bass at Fool Hollow Lake.

Trout are being caught at Show Low Lake on peacock ladies. For catch-and-release anglers, Silver Creek and Becker Lake are fair to good (the picture on the left is from Becker).

Trout Stocking Schedule

The trout stocking schedule will resume in April 2012.


Note: All Forest Roads in the Rim Lakes area are closed for the winter, including Forest Roads 300 (Rim Road), 169, 105, 149, 86 and southern portion of 34. Snowmobile access is allowed. The higher elevation lakes are ice-covered, but the ice is likely to be thin and unsafe due to a long spell of unseasonably warm weather.

BEAR CANYON LAKE – Not accessible. Forest Road 300 is closed for the winter. Unsafe ice.

BLACK CANYON LAKE – Not accessible. Forest Roads 300 and 86 are closed for the winter. Unsafe ice.

BLUE RIDGE (CC Craigin) — Gate is closed.

CHEVELON LAKE – Not accessible. Forest Roads 300 and 169 are closed for the winter.

KNOLL LAKE — Not accessible.

WILLOW SPRINGS LAKE – Accessible by foot only from Hwy 260. Forest Road 149 is closed for the winter. Unsafe ice.

WOODS CANYON LAKE – Not accessible. Forest Road 300 is closed for the winter. Unsafe ice.

Streams below the Mogollon Rim

None of the streams have been stocked since fall. You might find some holdovers at Christopher Creek, Tonto Creek, East Verde River, and Canyon Creek.


Note: Highways 261 and 273 are closed to vehicle access for the winter. Snowmobiles are allowed. The higher elevation lakes are ice-covered. Check ice thickness before venturing out on the ice.

BECKER LAKE – Fishing is fair to good. The lake is ice-free. Some fly fishermen are catching a few trout on nymphs (red/white midge nymphs and black woolly buggers. One skilled angler recently reported catching 20 trout up to 22” on midges. Becker Lake is catch-and-release only, with artificial lures and flies only with single barbless hooks.

BIG LAKE – Not accessible. Highways 261 and 273 are closed for the winter. Snowmobiles are allowed. The lake is ice-covered.

CARNERO LAKE – Not accessible. Forest Roads 117 and 117A are snow-packed and accessible by snowmobile only. The lake is ice-covered.

CONCHO LAKE – Fishing is poor. Water levels are extremely low, and the lake is covered with weeds.

CRESCENT LAKE – Not accessible. Highways 261 and 273 are closed to vehicle access. Snowmobiles are allowed. The lake is ice-covered.

FOOL HOLLOW LAKE – Fishing is fair. The lake is ice-free. Anglers are catching bluegills on jigs off the fishing piers, and a few holdover trout (9-22 inches) on worms. A few walleye, channel catfish and small bass are also being caught on bait and lures.

GREER LAKES – River Reservoir, Bunch Reservoir, and Tunnel Reservoir are now ice-free as of this last weekend. Water temperatures are cold.

HULSEY LAKE – The lake was drained immediately following the Wallow Fire to help reduce expected flooding off Escudilla Mountain.

LEE VALLEY LAKE – Not accessible. Highways 261 and 273 are closed to vehicle access. Snowmobiles are allowed. The lake is ice-covered.

LUNA LAKE – The lake is ice-free. Fishing is poor. Water temperatures are cold.

LYMAN LAKE – Lyman Lake State Park is closed to public entry for the winter and will re-open during the summer of 2012.

NELSON RESERVOIR – Fishing is fair. The lake is ice-free. Try fishing nightcrawlers in deep water.

RAINBOW LAKE – Fishing is poor. The lake is ice-free.

SCOTT RESERVOIR – Fishing is poor. The lake is ice-free.

SHOW LOW LAKE – Fishing is fair. The lake is ice-free. The road over the dam to the far fishing pier is closed for the winter. Boat rentals are available, see the campground host. Flyfishermen are catching a few trout (12-14 inches) at the southeast end of the lake on peacock ladies.

WOODLAND LAKE – Fishing is poor. The lake is ice-free.


Note: Highways 261 and 273 are closed to vehicle access for the winter. Snowmobiles are allowed. Main Forest Roads are snow-packed with many of them closed or inaccessible for the winter.

EAST FORK of the BLACK RIVER – Not accessible. The river is snow-packed and ice-covered.

WEST FORK of the BLACK RIVER – Not accessible. The river is snow-packed and ice-covered.

LITTLE COLORADO RIVER IN GREER – Fishing is likely slow. The river is accessible and open, but will have snowpacked banks.

SHEEPS CROSSING – Not accessible. Highway 273 is closed to vehicles. Snowmobiles are allowed. The river is snow-packed and ice-covered.

SILVER CREEK – Fishing is fair. Silver Creek is a spring-fed creek and does not ice over during the winter. From October 1 through March 31, Silver Creek is open to artificial lures and flies only, barbless hooks, and catch-and-release fishing only. The upper section is open to angling, but the hatchery area is always closed to fishing (it is well signed). Try small nymphs, large white and black streamers, and lures with barbless hooks.


Note: Please send me your fishing reports from Southern Arizona! Fishing reports can be sent to Don Mitchell, Regional Fish Program Manager by email at These reports will then be complied and reported in our weekly fishing reports.

The trout stocking season is in full swing! You can see the latest stocking schedule for the entire state at the following link: 2011 Winter Stocking Schedule . This schedule is updated regularly as changes occur so check back often!

URBAN LAKES — Fishing for trout continues to be good to excellent at all Urban Fishing Program waters. Lakes are being stocked every two weeks. We will switch over the stocking channel catfish in mid March. Anglers using scented dough baits (such as Power Bait), worms fished near the bottom, or small trout lures have been successful.

Power Bait in white and rainbow colors have been appealing to the trout. For lure anglers, try spinners such as Rooster Tails and Panther Martins, or spoons such as Super Dupers. Mix up your lure retrieve to cover shallow and deep zones of the lakes.

Fly fishermen are doing well with copper johns, Simi seal leaches and zebra midges retrieved very slowly.

With cold lake temperatures, the bite for catfish, bass and bluegill is slow

RIGGS FLAT — Closed for the winter.

CLUFF RANCH —No recent reports of success. The pond is low and boat launching is difficult. For lake information call (928) 485-9430. For the entire stocking schedule please check here: 2011 Winter Stocking Schedule

ROPER LAKE — For lake information and status of the park call (928) 428-6760. Due to high pH levels the lake will not be stocked until water conditions improve.

DANKWORTH POND — Remains closed to fishing during renovation.

FRYE MESA RESERVIOR –Anglers are reporting success in catching Gila trout. Remember that the daily bag and possession limit for this species is 1 fish.

ARIVACA — Open to anglers, water levels are up but it will still be difficult to launch larger boats. Use caution when launching your boat and pay attention for submerged trees and rocks that are near the surface due to low water levels. Boaters using gas motors are asked to be courteous and not create wake problems for others boaters.

PENA BLANCA – Conditions have improved and trout stocking has resumed. Reports are that fishing has picked up with the latest stocking and anglers are reporting success trolling the main body of the lake. For information on future stockings please visit the stocking Schedule at 2011 Winter Stocking Schedule

PATAGONIA — Fishing has been slow. For the winter trout stocking schedule please check here: 2011 Winter Stocking Schedule

PARKER CANYON — Fly anglers are reporting success as are anglers that are trolling. For the stocking schedule please check here: 2011 Winter Stocking Schedule Contact the Parker Canyon Lake Store for up to date information on lake levels and fishing activity at or by phone at (520)455-5847.

ROSE CANYON LAKE — The lake is closed to vehicle access however anglers are still able to walk to the lake. Recent reports are that fly anglers are catching fish.

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