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Arizona Spring Fishing Looks Good


High And Low
Spring Fishing Looks Good

By Rory Aikens
Arizona Game & Fish Department

The giant Saguaros are blooming Ė itís post-spawn topwater time in the desert lakes, plus most mountain lakes are open.

And, if the weather reports are right, weíll have some warmer days without the wind blowing. We'll see. There should be a large contingent of post-spawn largemouth bass aggressively feeding, even though there are some bass still on beds.

At many desert lakes threadfin shad are spawning. This is a good time to downsize your shad-like baits. Fly anglers may want to keep this in mind and use smaller minnow-like flies for sport-fish such as largemouth bass and stripers.

Small drop shots right now can be deadly at times. Small shad-colored jigs might work as well ó think morning dawn color for both.

The wind has made fishing challenging at times. Letís hope the blustery part of spring is over.


Nights Are Warming

There are warmer temperatures now at night. This makes it a superb time to fish at night under submersible lights for crappie, bass, and channel catfish. Try live shad, live minnows, jigs, spoons and crankbaits. Even spinner baits can work at times.

Itís also a good time to fish from shore at night for bottom feeders. Chum liberally with corn for catfish and carp.

Striper fishing at night can also work well, especially using frozen anchovies, sardines and squid as bait. Be sure to chum. Also try mixing in some corn with your chum ó anytime you create a feeding frenzy, stripers and other large aquatic predators can be attracted.

In The High Country

In the high country, all but three lakes ó Lee Valley, Bear Canyon and Knoll ó are now accessible. Thatís the good news. Riggs Flat in the Pinaleno Mountains is not open yet either. Thatís to be expected.


The stores and boat rentals at both Big Lake and Woods Canyon are open. Thatís also good news. The bad news is that it appears Carnero, Crescent and Lee Valley suffered fish kills; price to pay for such excellent snow pack. Weíll get them stocked soon.

All the creeks along the Mogollon Rim are receiving weekly stockings. Christopher, Haigler, Canyon, Tonto and East Verde creek are all worth a visit. West Clear Creek and Wet Beaver Creek should be stocked this week. Oak Creek is being stocked weekly.

White Mountain Creeks Still High

In the White Mountains, runoff is still making the creeks run a little high, but both the East and West Forks of Black River should be worth a visit for some larger holdover trout, especially browns.

Lower Lake Mary keeps getting stocked with more and more trout. This lake is so loaded with foodstuffs that it can be difficult to catch rainbows on live bait, such as night crawlers, or prepared bait such as Power Bait. Try reaction baits, such as in-line spinners. The upside is these trout are going to grow fast and there is enough water to last through next spring and possibly beyond.


Take Home The Pike

We have also received recent reports of huge northern pike being caught at Ashurst. During our spring survey of Ashurst, we only netted on rainbow trout, but did get a lot of pike ó with the dominant age class over 10 pounds. Some anglers have complained about this fishing report being misleading Ė because they got skunked. Iíll put it plainly Ė donít expect high catch rates. In fact, donít even expect to catch a single fish at Ashurst. You do stand a good chance of getting skunked. But, for those looking for a huge fish to possibly catch, you might get lucky here.

And yes, if you catch one, take it home with you. Weíd like anglers to catch and keep all the pike they can at Ashurst to help this struggling trout fishery. Try spoons, spinners and trout-like swim baits.

Helping Alamo

If you like (or love) Alamo Lake, go to to see how you can help keep this pure fishing lake from closing.

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