February 2008

‘A Great Fishing Year’ Predicted

By Rory Aikens Arizona Game & Fish

Lots of runoff and above average snowpack – this is going to be a great fishing year.

However, the turbidity in many of the central Arizona lakes (and low water temperatures) may make fishing more challenging right now. Most of us aren’t well adapted to fishing turbid water.

My best advice for bass anglers is to fish the afternoons using spinnerbaits with trailers slow-rolled across the bottom or through brush. Wide-wobble crankbaits might work well in darker colors, especially bumped along structure.

Rattling jigs with port trailers pitched into brushy pockets in the late afternoon are also worth trying. The keys are slow, noisy (good water displacement), and scent, along with keeping contact with the bottom or structure.

If it is windy, try Roosevelt mid-lake for smallmouth bass along any rocky shoreline. Both the Tonto and Salt ends of Roosevelt received terrific inflows and will likely have lots of suspended nutrients and floating debris.

Mid-lake might offer the best (and clearest) area to fish, especially for smallies. Think crayfish. Even crayfish-colored cranks bounced along the rocky bottom might produce some good reaction bites.

Not sure about the crappie bite. It might or might not be noteworthy yet at Rosey, Bartlett and Alamo. But, with another bit of warm weather, things just might bust loose.

Pleasant is still the hot spot, especially for stripers, but some guys are hauling in white bass as well, along with an occasional largemouth bass and flathead catfish. Try fishing the stain line in the Agua Fria arm of the lake and liberally chumming with anchovies (small pieces) when you get a bite.

Castle Creek, Humbug, Bass Bay, Goose Bay and Coles are all worth a visit (it’s a four-lane special).

For trout anglers, there are lots of great opportunities right now. The urban lakes have all been stocked with super-sized incentive rainbows. Saguaro is looking decent for rainbows. A trip to Dead Horse Ranch State Park is always worthwhile this time of year.

But Lees Ferry is really the place to be. The trout are fat, healthy and in the spawn. This is the best spawn at the Ferry in three years. Don’t miss out.

One of the guides at the Ferry, Dave Foster, said there are good numbers of fish moving up to spawn and providing an excellent sight-fishing opportunity. The fish are also in very good shape. “I do the redd surveys for the GCMRC and counted well over 100 redds on four-mile the other day. The last four years the peak has been in early-mid March so they may be the best spawn in years.”

Many days there are fewer than five boats up river, so it is easy to have the place pretty much to yourself. It is cold, but with the right gear, a Thermos of hot drinks and a start time that allows the sun to get into the canyon, a trip this time of year can be a great experience.

Another great place to fish right now is Silver Creek near Show Low for native Apache trout. There are pockets of snow along the bank, but this spring-fed creek near our Silver Creek Hatchery is ice free and fun to fish. See the report in the second on the White Mountains.

Two other great spots to fish for trout right now are along the Colorado River at either Willow Beach or the Bullhead area (along Casino Row). Both offer some interesting fishing experiences.

By the way, every time you take your boat to any water, please clean the hull, dry the boat, and drain the water from the lower unit before leaving the lake. That will help protect both your boat and the environment. There are lots of potential aquatic hitchhikers from quagga mussels to golden algae.

Arizona's Native Apache Trout

credit: John Rinne