Arizona Fishing Report, April 9, 2012
If you have an itch for some early-spring mountain trout, this might be a good week to get out your gear and scratch away.
Trout stockings in the mountain lakes and streams are kicking into high gear this week, plus lots of lakes are now accessible. In fact, all lakes are ice free. Our new stocking schedule is even high tech — if you click on the water, it will give you a map of the lake and where applicable, also show the exact spots where we stock.
The road is now open into Willow Springs along the Mogollon Rim. The road into Woods Canyon will likely be open by this weekend (check before going).
The road from Alpine into Big Lake and Crescent Lake is open and the fishing last weekend for fesity holdover trout was excellent at BIG. The Arizona Department of Transportation plans to open the two primary roads into Big and Crescent around April 16 (see news release below). Remember, the road from Sunrise is paved all the way, making it an easy jaunt once the road opens.
Keep in mind that due to the Wallow Fire, last year Big Lake and most others didn't get the fishing pressure they normally do, which increases the likelihood of finding some larger holdover trout this season.
It also looks like we were wrong about the East Fork of the Black — it wasn't as impacted by the Wallow Fire as we originally thought. That makes me smile — some of my favorite fishing pics are of my youngest son with beautiful Apache trout caught from the East Fork during our many camping trips there over the years. At least one of those pics made it into our Arizona Fishing Guide we did with Arizona Highways magazine.
Blue Ridge and Long Lake are both accessible, as is Ashurst Lake. The lakes in the Williams area (Kaibab, Dogtown and Whitehorse) are all accessible via vehicle, and Cataract is accessible by foot (short walk). Or by the time you read this, Cataract might be open as well.
The fun streams that help make us feel young were stocked with trout last week, including Christopher, Tonto, Haigler, the East Verde River, West Clear Creek, Wet Beaver Creek and of course, scenic Oak Creek.
In the warmer elevations, the Palo Verde trees are blooming, which typically coincides with topwater time — you can expect to either find post-spawn bass chasing shad at or near the surface on occasion. There are also spawning bass. Plus, there are bass in the post-spawn mode and likely some still lingering in their winter activity patterns. It's like a four-ring aquatic fishing circus that should bring a smile to your face.
Alamo Lake is not only on fire for bass and crappie, at a tournament last weekend an 8- and a 10-pound bass were caught. Stewart Kohnke, our wildlife manager at Alamo, says those are the biggest bass he has seen weighed in at Alamo in 23 years.
Remember the Alamo — you won't find recreational boaters there very often because there is no marina, and no gas. I call Alamo "a pure fishing lake."
By the way, Alamo now has some cool solar lights in the main and Cholla launch ramps thanks to the Friends of Alamo Committee raising $24,000. That is the same group that raised $30,000 last year to keep Alamo Lake State Park open. Now that's dedication to a great fishin' hole. Great going folks!
This past weekend, I was privileged to be at the Arizona High School Bass Fishing State Finals at Lake Pleasant. These young anglers are absolutely remarkable. The new state champions for 2012 are Christian Borucki and Brandon Koon of the Bad Bass Fishing Club (see them in all three photos here). They weighed in 12.08 pounds of bass on what started out as a pretty windy day on Pleasant last Saturday.
Both Christian and Brandon are not only great anglers, they helped us out doing fishing demonstrations on Sunday, April 1 during the Arizona Game and Fish Department Expo. They are impressive young anglers who not only know their stuff, but are adept at explaining the finer points of fishing in an engaging manner. I learned a lot from each of them. It wouldn't surprise me if they have their own TV fishing show in the future.
Brandon is no stranger to winning — he and his former partner won the 2011 High School National Championship. This young angler is definitely making a name for himself.
Their boat captain and mentor was my old friend Mike McFarland. Mike is another one of those individuals who is terrific at explaining fishing in simple, easy-to-understand terms the rest of us can understand. Atta boy Mike!
Our Game and Fish TV crew has actually filmed some "how-to" bass fishing segments with Mike last year that will be appearing in this year's show package of "Arizona Wildlife Views" on PBS.
Right now each of the four prime desert lakes seem to be taking turns "being on fire," so just pick your favorite and go. I think the only bad fishing choice right now is missing out on the great spring bite. I've received some great reports from Saguaro, Bartlett, Roosevelt, Havasu and Martinez. No doubt Canyon and Apache are going great as well.
Don't forget we also have a new interactive fishing map on our web site at http://gis.azgfd.gov/fishandboat/. That's great for anglers like myself who are slightly high tech but very low budget. I've even accessed this great information off my smart phone.
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