Even Better Lake Pleasant Fishing May Be Coming

Photo: researcher, Diana Rogers, listens for Bass

PHOENIX — Thousands of anglers who enjoy fishing at Lake Pleasant may be in for a treat, thanks to an ongoing Arizona Game and Fish Department study.

Researchers are tagging fish at the lake with sonic transmitters and monitoring their movements, diets and reproductive rates, to figure out how best to manage both the striped bass and largemouth bass populations.

"Over the past decade or so, some anglers have become concerned that largemouth bass fishing opportunities have declined at Lake Pleasant," says Arizona Game and Fish Department researcher Bill Stewart. "We want to make sure anglers have great fishing conditions for largemouth bass, striped bass, and other popular fish in the lake."

For a long time, striped bass fishing in Arizona was limited to the Colorado River system. However, when the Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal system was built in the 1970s through 1990s to provide more water to central Arizona, striped bass were introduced into Lake Pleasant.

Federal officials had feared the striped bass — or striper — eggs and larvae would not survive pumping from Lake Havasu through the CAP canal to the lake. However, it appears a striper population has become established in Lake Pleasant.

"The striped bass may now compete with largemouth bass for their primary food source, which is a small fish called the threadfin shad," says the head researcher on this project Marianne Meding. "We hope that by learning more about striper migration and behavior in Lake Pleasant, we can also learn how to better manage both of these popular bass species."

The researchers are using gill nets and fishing poles to bring in about 15 striped bass to be fitted with sonic transmitters. Then, they surgically implant the tags and go out in fishing boats once or twice a month, in order to track the fish.

The transmitter in the fish is set to a similar frequency on a receiver, and the researchers move around the lake, following the signals.

In addition to monitoring the migration and movements of the fish, researchers are taking stomach samples to see what the fish are eating. They’re looking at the ages of fish and collecting fish larvae in the spring to find out whether striped bass are successfully reproducing.

They’re also using hydroacoustics, a high-tech sonic technology, to help determine the density of fish in Lake Pleasant.

The three-year study won’t end until late next year. However, when it’s over, researchers may recommend modified daily bag limits for certain species, along with other measures to better protect bass fishing opportunities at the lake.

No limits on striped bass are in place right now, but the daily bag and possession limit for largemouth bass is six.

For the time being, Stewart, who is an angler himself, hopes to make fishing as enjoyable as possible for people at Lake Pleasant. "Right now, you can catch stripers at a couple of great locations at the lake," he says.

"Try Cole’s Bay at dusk and Max’s Point. Of course, if you catch a fish with a transmitter, please return it to the Arizona Game and Fish Department."

You may reach Arizona Boating and Watersports at:

480/947-6219 or 619/523-3091

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