May 2008

From Arizona Game & Fish Department

What’s Happening At The Urban Fishing Sites?

Golden Algae Hits Lakes; Other Lakes Lose Fish Too

These have been difficult times for fish and fishermen alike at five Urban Fishing Program Lakes in the Phoenix area over the past few weeks. 

Golden algae blooms came on suddenly at Cortez and Water Ranch lakes, resulting in the loss of over 80 fish at each lake. Both lakes have since been treated with algaecides to kill off the troublesome, microscopic golden algae and stop its toxins from affecting any more fish. 

Recent tests indicate golden algae is under control at Cortez, but is not fully under control at Water Ranch. Some fish losses have also been reported from Desert Breeze, Chaparral, and Surprise Lakes in recent weeks. 

Game and Fish biologists, parks staff and lake-management consultants have all collaborated to respond to these issues promptly and perform all necessary water-quality testing and lake-management treatments. 

Lake conditions have returned to normal at Desert Breeze and are improving at Chaparral and Surprise.  Read below to learn how all these environmental stresses will affect catfish stockings.

April 14-19 Catfish Stocking Status 

Due to golden algae, Cortez Lake was not stocked with catfish on April 2; however, it has been successfully treated and is cleared for stocking.  Water Ranch Lake has been treated, but has not been cleared for stocking. 
Conditions at Desert Breeze Lake are back to normal, and the lake is cleared for stocking. Conditions at Chaparral Lake and at Surprise Lake are both improving, but not fully recovered; consequently, they are cleared for partial (50-60 percent) stockings. 

 Water Ranch anglers are advised to fish nearby Red Mountain or Kiwanis lakes that received extra catfish last stocking.

Gilbert Parks Board Considers Closing Urban Program

At press time, the Gilbert Parks and Recreation Advisory Board was deciding on a citizen proposal to drop Water Ranch Lake from the Urban Fishing Program and convert it to a catch-and-release, artificial-fly-and-lure-only fishery, requiring a state fishing license. 

The Arizona Game and Fish Department does not support this proposal.  Eric Swanson, Urban Fishing Program manager, was scheduled to give the Advisory Board a presentation to highlight urban angler and Urban Fishing Program facts at Water Ranch Lake. 

This popular lake has been part of the Urban Program since 1999.  In 2007 there were over 2,100 anglers who fished this lake, accounting for nearly 25,000 recreational days of fun, wholesome fishing activity for families and anglers of all ages and abilities.

Urban Fishing Report

Fishing for catfish is good to excellent with new stockings of the 15- to 20-inch fish every two weeks.  Try shrimp, hotdogs or worms fished on the bottom for the channel cats. 

Fishing is poor at Water Ranch, Chaparral and Surprise lakes due to water quality problems and cancelled or reduced fish stockings.  Recently stocked sunfish continue to provide excellent fishing for anglers using mealworms, worms and small jigs. 

At Green Valley lakes (Payson) fishing is good to excellent for trout with trout stockings scheduled to continue at this higher elevation lake until mid-May.  Some nice 1- to 3-pound rainbows were recently stocked. 

Try PowerBait, worms or salmon eggs for the trout.  Largemouth bass and bluegill are actively biting through the spring spawning period. 

Please practice catch and release for all bass during this critical spawning period.  If kept, all bass must be at least 13-inches in length and limits are two bass in Urban Lakes or one bass in Urban Ponds. 

Get a copy of the Arizona or Urban fishing regulations or note fish limits posted on Urban Fishing Program signs at all urban waters.

Stocking Updates

  • Phoenix Area Lakes - Last stocked: April 14-19
  • Tucson Area Lakes - Last stocked:  April 14-19
  • Green Valley Lakes (Payson) - Last stocked: April 14-19