AZ Lakes, AZ Pros – Casey Iwai At Apache Lake

This Doctor’s Advice Is As Good As Ever

AZ Lakes, AZ Pros - Casey Iwai At Apache Lake
Here’s Casey Iwai with a nice bass on a big red Rico.

You can still get to Apache Lake – you just have to go to Roosevelt Lake and drive south from there. Right now the Apache Trail is still washed out, but access to the lake from the north is still possible.

You may not remember the name Casey Iwai – he was a youngster who was quite a stick back in the day. He even fished the Bassmaster trail for a year and was featured on their television coverage. He had a great reputation in the tournament circles in Arizona as well. Casey is now a doctor, but the fish are the same as ever, so his advice for April at Apache is as good now as it was twenty years ago.

His Favorite Time Of Year

Pre-spawn is Casey Iwai’s favorite time of year to fish for smallmouth.  “Smallmouth are so predictable then,” he says. “ They’re going to spawn on gravel flats, so I just look for secondary points adjacent to those places.”

The fish stack up on those points Iwai says, so he just runs the lake hitting one point after another.  Iwai claims he can usually get a couple of good fish off each good point, and adds that this is the time of year to catch good ones.

Casey’s average smallmouth on Apache Lake during pre-spawn was around two pounds, and he was usually able to boat at least one four pounder each day.  His weapon of choice was a full-size suspending Rogue in a clown pattern.

“I don’t work it fast, so when I do move it, it makes a lot of flash,”he says. Another favorite is a chartreuse spinnerbait slow-rolled down the points, or a Panther Martin fished so that it just ticks the rocks on the bottom.

The Better Bite

“You don’t have to be on the water at the crack of dawn, either,” Iwai says. “The better bite is usually later in the morning.”  The good points will hold fish all day long, he adds.  If he’s fishing early in the morning he starts out with a topwater lure, since the jerk bait requires sunlight to be effective.

A big red Rico is an absolutely killer lure for Apache smallies, but since they are no longer made, you might have to paint one up yourself.  A Rico is a Lobina Lures topwater popper, and they come in a lot of colors, but not red any more.They do have a pink one, though. Whatever bait he’s throwing this time of year, Casey works it slowly.

Jig Is Ideal

If largemouth predominate where you’re fishing, a jig is an ideal way to start during pre-spawn.  Try to make the jig look as natural as possible.  If you can find a live crawdad on the lake you’re fishing, get as close to that color as you can.

Secondary points are a good place to start during pre-spawn .  Broken rock with wood is best, especially if it’s at least a third of the way into a cove.  Keep a sharp eye out for broken wood that has piled up on the bottom.  This sunken wood in the springtime is hard to beatbecause it is a magnet for crawdads.

During pre-spawn, bass feed voraciously on crawdads, fattening themselves up for the spawn.  If you watch crawdads this time of year you’ll notice that they move extremely slowly.  Crawl your jig on the bottom as slowly as possible to mimic them.  Every four or five feet give it a little hop so any bass in the vicinity will see it, but otherwise just barely crawl it.  As the water warms up a bit (say to about 60),switch to a bigger jig and give it a hop now and then to create a dust cloud like a crawfish digging in.

If the lake you’re fishing has trout in it, as Apache does, bring your swimbaits along.  You’ll have to move out a little deeper, and look for places where a big bass can hide from the trout and ambush them.  A point with a good drop-off or timber on it is ideal.  Bass will stay deeper and look up for trout to swim by, so if you fish a swim bait over that drop-off you’re in good shape.


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