Rory Aikens at AZGFD does an awesome job with the fishing report. Here is a snippet.
can finally say it – it’s raining quail. In fact, it’s also been raining bass, dove, trout, rabbits and crappie as well – yahoo.
By the way, I talked with my friend Charlie Ester at Salt River Project. As you know, the Salt River lakes (Roosevelt, Apache, Canyon and Saguaro) are basically full already. But thanks to the recent storms, SRP now fully expects Bartlett and Horseshoe to fill as well during our runoff season.
Get your spinnerbaits tuned up and your flippin’ sticks ready.
As Yogi would say (Berra, not Bear), it’s déjà vu all over again. We watched a similar positive drama unfold last winter-spring.
Here’s another piece of great news — they don’t expect flows to get so high down the Lower Salt River that Tempe Town Lake will have to lower its inflatable dams like they did in 2005. With the flows into Tempe Town Lake right now, it could indeed be a fishing hot spot during the All-Star Weekend.
Right now, the soils are saturated throughout much of the state. The green-up is underway in the lower elevations. The snowpack is tremendous (good skiing right now). We have already had good runoff even before the runoff season in central Arizona. Most interior lakes Arizona will fill and spill.
Looking at the USGS precipitation gauges, it looks like the Tonto Basin (a prime quail area this year) received around 13 to 16 inches of rain in the last 60 days. And Roosevelt will fill and spill. I will go out on a limb and make a future prediction – the Tonto Basin will be the hot spot this fall for quail and bass expeditions; it will possibly be the best in the West.
If there was ever a wonderful year to get new fishing poles and firearms (I have a shotgun, flipping stick and new .22 on my wish list), this is it. But even if you can’t swing any new gear, invest in as much time outdoors as your schedule and pocket books allows. My most sincere tips are to go early, go often, and not miss out. Years like this are prime fodder for future campfire tales.
With that being said, runoff from storms right nowcould make fishing at some of the lakes, rivers and streams a little challenging if there is associated turbidity. By the way, on Tuesday the Verde River just above Horseshoe Lake was running at around 4,000 cfs. Tonto Creek near Roosevelt was also running at around 4,000 cfs.
But I suspect that a fishing (and kayaking) hot spot might be the Lower Salt River near Phoenix. The flows popped up to 1,770 cfs on Tuesday but the turbidity will likely be within trout tolerance levels. The lower Salt should be a hoot to kayak or canoe. SRP says the Lower Salt flows should stay at around this level the next couple of months. What a fishing bonus this season!
Some other good places to try for trout right now include Casino Row along the Colorado River just below Davis Dam (Bullhead area) and Willow Beach along the Colorado River below Hoover Dam.
The Agua Fria River at Rock Springs (near Lake Pleasant) was flowing at 750 cfs on Tuesday, which might just get the striped bass and white bass into the spawning mode, although it is a couple of weeks early. There was a full moon Tuesday, which should also add impetus to the spawning urge for stripers and whites.
In 2005, we caught spawning stripers in mid February when the Agua was busting its seams. However, the gate to eastern side of Pleasant off Table Mesa Road is closed, and until the soils dry out, it might be a muddy hike to access the spawning stripers where the Agua Fria River enters the lake.
For other warmwater lakes, I suspect that the farther down the chain you go the better to escape impacts from runoff.
I always like Saguaro Lake following a major front, especially for yearling bass and yellow bass. We also stock trout there in winter. Don’t ignore the channel catfish – believe it or not, they could be actively feeding this time of year and are imminently catchable there. I have even caught them on deep-running, bottom-bouncing wide wobble crankbaits while targeting bass, even in February. Live minnows might just get you the whole smorgasbord.
I also love Canyon Lake to fish after storms pass. If the fish don’t bite, the potential for waterfall watching is a lure in itself. Last year at this time, I even saw a lone bobcat prowling the shoreline. This picturesque lake also gets stocked with rainbow trout during winter (bring your swim baits).
Another good place to try for bass and trout right now is Tempe Town Lake. This time of year, we always get mixed reports from this remarkable fishery, but those with a little angling know how and persistence often catch a nice mixed-bag of fish there from trout to yellow bass.
Another lake to try once all the storms pass is Havasu – which is a big shallow bowl in the desert and can warm up quickly. Plus it has plenty of feisty smallmouth bass and striped bass. It always holds the promise of being a late winter or early spring hot spot.
Alamo is almost always my early-bird choice. It usually takes a few days of decent weather for the crappie bite to return once we are re-visited by one of those nice winter high pressure domes to heat things up.
So go wet a line. Maybe I’ll see you out there.
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