This great report is put together by Rory Aikens over at AZGFD. To subscribe to this report, visit their website.

Rory’s Tip
Spring is officially here this week – March 21. This is the leading edge for some of the best fishing in 25 years or so. Just pick a lake, river, or stream and go, that is, unless it is still not accessible due to snowpack or ice cover, or both.

But if I were to pick a single spot right now, it would be Lees Ferry. The big, wild rainbow trout can be in full spawning regalia with spectacular crimson sides, and thanks to the recent experimental flow event, they have been feeding voraciously. This is some world-class fishing folks, don’t miss out.

Bass are staging for the spawn, and if wind and water color aren’t an issue, you should be able to see bass on beds in the backs of the more sheltered coves where the water is warmer. If you can’t find spawners, target pre-spawn bass on the major points just outside the coves, the secondary points inside coves, along submerged creek channels or gullies inside coves, along the edges of huge flats, or the edges of huge swaths of recently-submerged vegetation (like at Roosevelt).

There will also be fish still in winter patterns. Use drop-shots, Carolina rigs, Texas rigs, jigs and spoons in 15 to 30 feet of water, especially on the major points, any humps (inside or outside coves), islands and reefs, or along any submerged creek or river channel (fish super highways).

Bartlett, Pleasant, Roosevelt and Alamo are all taking off. Saguaro has been very good for a mixed-bag of fish.

With a full moon on Friday, March 21, you might consider fishing at night or at least into the evening and before sunrise using darker-colored lures or live bait. Once the sun comes up, you might just find bass chasing shad, especially in the middle or backs of coves, but don’t be surprised if you see some action along extended main lake points outside larger coves.

At Lake Pleasant, you can also expect to find striped bass and white bass hitting at just before or just after first light. Use frozen anchovies, or anything white or even silver: white spinners, white crankbaits, white curly-tail grubs or white topwater lures.

Now if you run into turbid water, don’t despair. Think lots of vibration and smell. Slow-rolled spinnerbaits with trailers (scented ones) can work well. Rattling pigs-n-jigs might be the ticket. Flutter-down baits like Senkos can sometimes work. I also like buzzbaits for locating bass, but not necessarily catching them. When a bass slaps at the buzzbait, have a flutter-down bait ready to toss at the swirl.

But if you are a catfish angler, this is also a good time to get out at two early-bird lakes for cats – Saguaro and Alamo. Channel catfish at these two lakes are often full of shad and anglers using crankbaits can sometimes find channel surprises on the end of the line.

Good luck. Maybe I’ll see you out there.

Fishing News
The cool cats are coming to play
It’s time to jazz up your fishing – the 14,000 pounds of cool cats are coming to play starting March 21. Channel catfish that is; the urban lakes are where it’s at for these fun bottom fish.

By the way, there are still lots of trout to be caught, so you can go for both.

All lakes and ponds in the Phoenix and Tucson areas will be stocked with 15- to 20-inch channel catfish on Friday, March 21. Warming spring temperatures signal the upcoming stocking changeover from trout to catfish.

Beginning with the season kick-off stocking, catfish will be stocked on an every-other week basis through June. Nearly 14,000 pounds of Arkansas farm-raised catfish will be delivered and stocked into 19 Urban Fishing Program lakes each time.

Green Valley Park in Payson will continue to receive trout.

Just as a general reminder; daily bag limits at Urban lakes are four trout, four catfish, 10 sunfish, and two bass for each angler per day in possession; two trout for unlicensed juveniles.

The Urban Ponds have a slightly different bag limit, two trout, two catfish, five sunfish and one bass for each angler per day in possession; unlicensed juveniles are restricted to one trout per day at the ponds. The Urban Ponds are: Rio Vista, Papago, Steele Indian School, and Evelyn Hallman. Juveniles can have the full bag limit if their parents bought the Family fishing license Class I with a $2 fee for each child.

Arizona’s best Fishing in 25 Years?
Is Arizona really going to experience the best fishing in 25 years or more?

Come out to the Arizona Game and Fish Department Expo 2008 on March 29-30 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility and find out.

Fisheries Chief Kirk Young and Fishing Report Editor Rory Aikens will be answering that question during periodic presentations scheduled throughout the fun-filled outdoor exposition.

“Thanks to the historic filling of Roosevelt Lake this year and the fantastic runoff and nutrient loading into most Arizona fisheries, we are looking at some of the best fishing opportunities in a couple of decades or so,” said Young.

Aikens pointed out that the fishing this year will vie with the tremendous fishing opportunities of the 70s after Lake Powell filled and Lees Ferry was astounding anglers with stringers of giant rainbow trout that drew fishermen from around the world.

“While those fishing opportunities in the ‘70s were spectacular, they were fairly localized. This year, and perhaps in subsequent years as well, we are looking at tremendous fishing opportunities across most of Arizona for all types of sport fish,” Aikens said.

Young pointed out that one of the reasons for such good fishing this year is actually the runoff of 2005 that filled lots of reservoirs with nutrient-rich water.

“The sport-fish spawns of 2005 were remarkable,” Young said. “Those fish are now three years old and are the dominant age classes at places like Roosevelt, Alamo, Bartlett and Pleasant.”

Anglers can expect to catch lots of 3-plus-pound bass. In addition, the sport-fish and bait-fish spawns this year will also be phenomenal. “We may be heading into some of the best fishing this state has ever seen,” Young said.

So be sure to visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Outdoor Exposition 2008, which is the largest hands-on outdoor show in the state. Once again this year, the outdoor exposition is unfolding at the 1,650 acre Ben Avery Shooting Facility, just west of I-17 on Carefree Highway.

A long-list of top firearms manufacturers will have their latest firearms there to shoot. There will be shooting demonstrations by renowned sharp shooters and shot gunners. Kids can come catch a fish, shoot fun .22-caliber rifles, or practice with Olympic-caliber air guns. Cowboy action shooters, including mounted ones, will be on hand. You can even come learn how to become a cowboy action shooter.

Want to shoot a Gatling gun or try your hand at shooting an old West six-gun? Then come on out.

Central Arizona
URBAN LAKES — “Mr. Whiskers the catfish” returns to Phoenix and Tucson urban lakes.

The catfish season officially kicks off at all Urban Fishing Program lakes and ponds in the Phoenix and Tucson areas on Friday, March 21 when all lakes will receive deliveries of 15- to 20-inch channel catfish. Two large trucks will be used to bring over 7,500 catfish to 19 waters throughout the day. Warming spring temperatures signal the stocking changeover from trout to catfish. Nearly 14,000 pounds of Arkansas farm raised catfish will be delivered and stocked into Urban Fishing Program lakes every two weeks from now through the end of June. Traditionally, as we change fish suppliers from winter trout to spring catfish deliveries, anglers are given the specific day of stocking. For all other catfish stockings, only the stocking week (Mon.-Sat.) is announced.

The usual baits such as worms, stink baits, and shrimp should work well for catching “Mr. Whiskers.” Daily limits are four catfish per person at Urban Lakes or two catfish per person at Urban Ponds (note regulations and park signage for Lake and Pond designations). Urban anglers have a good reputation as sportsmen that respect the laws and limits and encourage others to do the same. Any observed fishing violations or over limits should be phoned in immediately to Operation Game Thief at 1-800-352-0700.

Trout stockings continue at Payson Green Valley Lakes:
If you are a die-hard trout angler and are sad to see the winter trout stockings end in the Phoenix and Tucson area Urban lakes, do not be dismayed. The beautiful 13-acre Green Valley Lakes in Payson are unique within the Urban Fishing Program because they continue to receive stockings of rainbow trout all the way through early May. Surrounded by oaks, junipers and pine trees at a nearly mile-high elevation, Green Valley Lakes remain cool enough to support cold water fish like trout. While only trout are stocked here, there are at least four other popular sport fish commonly caught: crappie, largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish.

Bluegill stockings planned March 24-29:
Twice each year, the Department stocks 5- to 8-inch bluegill into all Urban Fishing Program waters to replenish this popular sport fish and offer some great fishing for young anglers. A stocking of bluegill is scheduled the week of March 24-29.

Urban fishing report:
Fishing for trout is fair to good with the final trout stocking of the winter season was on March 6, but some wily trout still remain, particularly in the larger lakes. The spring channel catfish stocking season begins on March 21 when 7,500 fish are stocked throughout the day into Urban waters. Best baits for the big cats are worms, stink baits and shrimp – fished on the bottom. Bluegill will be stocked in all Phoenix and Tucson area waters the week of March 24-29. Best baits for the feisty, 5- to 8-inch bluegill are worms and mealworms fished under a small bobber. 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.

Green Valley Park in Payson will continue to receive trout until mid-May.

TEMPE TOWN LAKE – No new reports.

LAKE PLEASANT – No additional reports – but look for the spawn to kick off soon.

From last week’s report:
Water elevation is 1,694 ft, which is 91-percent full.

The debris has cleared up for the most part. Fishing reports are all over the place. It looks like night fishing has been producing some good bass, especially stripers and whites on anchovies.

Some anglers have been finding a few bass on spawning beds in the very shallow portions of the northern coves. This is probably the leading edge of the spawn, so don’t expect much. However, with every day of warming weather, more and more bass will either stage for the spawn, or go on the beds. Wind and cold weather can push them off the beds, but only temporarily. The urge to procreate is just too strong.

For staging bass, hit the primary points outside coves, the secondary points inside coves, any submerged creek channel in a cove, or along the steeper edges of the major flats, especially those inside coves such as in Bass Bay, Coles Bay, Humbug and Castle Creek.
Daytime fishing can real slow in the shallows. Try fishing deep and real slow; one fisherman said he had some good action at 59 feet in depth. The fish were close to structure and were tempted by 6-inch plastic lizards.

Another fisherman caught a largemouth in 20 feet of water, but no mention of a time frame. Other people were successful trolling for largemouth.

There are a lot of activities at Pleasant this weekend, and at least one closed area. Go to the Lake Pleasant Regional Park site www.maricopa.gov/parks/lake_pleasant for more information.

ROOSEVELT LAKE — From the Been Fishing wire, Jim Tanaka emailed that he caught 12 largemouth and 1 smallmouth bass on March 19. The technique and equipment he used were green pumpkin wooly hawg (yum), spinnerbait and 1/4 oz (yellow, orange, and green).
Jim reported, “The 10 largemouth (all were in the slot limit) and 1 smallmouth bass (appx. 14″) were caught at the main launch ramp at Windy Hill using 1/4 oz bullet weight size 1/0 hook and wolly hawg in green pumpkin (yum bait co.) All fish were released”

From last week’s report:
Lake Elevation is 2,145 ft (92-percent full).

Tonto Creek runoff is at 255 cfs while inflow from the Salt River was at 2,130 cfs. This is the spring runoff season. This would also be a good time for a rafting trip down the Salt.

One fisherman reported water temps were 55 at 8:30 a.m. and 63 at 4 p.m. – just know that temperature varies between coves and the main lake. It’s good to bring a thermometer if you don’t have a scanner.

I talked to a crappie fisherman; he caught 11 crappies last week in an afternoon of fishing at the Salt end of the reservoir in the shallows. One crappie was 3 pounds; it’s probably from the 2005 spawn. He trolled using pink-headed jigs.

Trolling is the ticket for crappie a variety of jigs are working; try blue black Chartreuse and pink-headed ones in water ranging from 25 to 56 feet deep; try trolling 5 to 15 feet deep. I’m getting more reports of successful crappie fishing at the Salt end of the reservoir than the Tonto end. They are not all in deep water though; they are starting to make their way into the shallows.

Salt end seems to be a pretty good place to catch largemouth bass as well; but they were biting near Cholla on crankbait, Rat-L-Traps (fire tiger color) and crayfish imitations. Use spinnerbaits in the evening in shallow water (2-7 feet).

Another fisherman was catching most of his bass using blades, Senkos, hulas and jigs in the Tonto arm. Some anglers are having good success flipping into the trees.

There is still debris clumped together in large moving conglomerations and large partially submerged logs that aren’t obvious until you get right up to them. The water clarity is about 12 inches. It’s still treacherous to navigate, so be careful.

The lake is going to fill-and-spill for the first time since the dam was raised 70 feet in 1996. The fishing is going to be phenomenal for the next several years at least. Spend some time getting to know this lake at its uppermost lake level.

APACHE LAKE — C. Parisi provided an email to the Been Fishing wire about his trip to Apache Lake on March 16. While Parisi didn’t catch anything that day, he did provide some helpful observations about the status of the lake. Parisi wrote, “I used all baits including minnows and live worms. Tried spinners and crankbaits – just about everything but the fish aren’t biting yet. I spent the entire week at Apache fishing from my boat. Water is 58 degrees and may be still too cold for the fish to become active. On the last day I got a hit from a trout as we drifted with the wind using a white spinner with a red O on it. He slipped off just before the net got to him. First 4 days there not even a bite but the weather was real nice. I would guess the fishing will pick up in a month as the water warms and clears from the runoff. I still had a great week at the Burnt Corral campground.”

From last week’s report:
Lake elevation is 1912 ft (98-percent full).

Trout are being caught by Burnt Coral by the fish habitat using power eggs. They are also being caught up and down the reservoir in various locations. This is not surprising since Apache received most of the Canyon Lake’s allotment of trout this fall as well as thousands of surplus trout the hatcheries had to get rid of. Yellow bass are biting by the marina and a 7 lb largemouth was caught there as well. Some anglers are having some luck catching small trout and smallmouth by the main ramp using worms. Channel catfish are being caught at Alder creek.

CANYON — A couple of angler reports came in about Canyon Lake. While they were mixed reports, each of them can offer other anglers assistance.

Kevin Hunter caught a 8-pound monster largemouth back in late February. “I caught the bass in about 3 feet of water at about 5:30 p.m. I will post the pics on your webpage for all to see that Canyon Lake is still alive and hiding monsters. Can’t wait until spawn cranks up,” Kevin wrote. He add, “I was jigging shoreline with 5-inch motor-oil colored Westy worm.” Kevin, we are still waiting for those pictures. You can submit them to www.azgfd.net/photos.

A more recent report, March 17, from an anonymous angler writes, “I didn’t catch a thing. I tried, Texas rigged worm, Texas rigged creature baits, split shot worms, drop shot, crank, and jerk – basically everything. However, I didn’t try the kitchen sink only because I forgot it at the dock.”

From last week’s report:
Lake elevation is 1659 ft, which is 97-percent full.

Fishermen are hitting Canyon, but few reports so far. It looks like swimbaits are not the way to go. Texas-rigged baits with a worm worked for one fisherman. The lake still has quite a bit of debris. This is good news for the fertility of this lake, but makes it a little more difficult to fish right now. With all of the artificial habitat installed, Canyon should provide some terrific fishing soon.

SAGUARO — This Been Fishing report is a dandy. On March 19, Ben reports a day like no other – reeling in over 50 largemouth bass. “I fished from the shore at Butcher Jones Recreation Site down the “fishermen’s trail” and threw almost everything I had, from drop-shotting worms and lizards to casting crankbaits, spinnerbaits, spoons and spinners. I almost gave up after an hour of no bites and noticed a dead crayfish in the water. So I tried drop-shotting a plastic crayfish. I felt a couple bumps but no hits so I put it on a jig head. On my first eleven casts I caught ten bass. Then for the next 2 hours I averaged about a bass every other cast. They were all small, from 6 to 12 inches but it was a great time. I’ve never experienced anything like it,” wrote Ben.

From last week’s report:
Lake elevation 1527 feet at 97-percent full.

A fisherman reported catching 10 largemouth bass (all under a pound) near the marina. They were caught on crawfish imitations, football-head jigs, KastMasters and small swimbaits. Don’t forget there was a real good spawn last year and Game and Fish stocked a little over 3,000 6- to 8-inch bass in the lake as well. If you decide to keep a bass this year, and a creel clerk from Game and Fish is at the ramp, stop by and let us scan your fish to see if it is one of the stocked fish – we would appreciate it.

Game and Fish ended up stocking 1,500 trout last week as part of the trout allotment from Tempe Town Lake that we were unable to stock in the past month. At the time of stocking, the water temperature was 60oF.

One fisherman report catching seven small largemouth bass using the drop-shot method in coves across from Bagley Flats. He said all the fish looked healthy and had good color. The recreation boaters are hitting the lakes in the afternoons.

A couple fishermen went out during the week and fished from 8:30 to 2:30 and caught 35 largemouth bass all in the 8-11 inch range, 12 yellow bass in the 9-12 inch range, 4 bluegill 5-7 inches in size, and 3 channel catfish from 3 to 6 pounds; all these fish were caught on KastMasters. The fish were biting mostly in the mornings and the bite stopped around 1:00 pm. The fish that they caught were coming up on the shelves from 25 feet to 13-15 feet and aggressively taking the spoon.

BARTLETT — Grantman took the time to email the Been Fishing wire about his outing on March 15. He trolled for bass with crankbaits but didn’t land anything. Grantman explained, “The weather was beautiful but very slow bite Saturday a.m. The fish looked deep on the fish finder, and there was a lot of floating debris including big logs and bushes. I came in early because I figured I was going to keep losing lures in the heavy debris with no fish. However the boat ran great on its first trip out for the season and I am glad I went.”

From last week’s report:
Lake elevation is 1,797 ft, which is 99-percent full.

Fish are hitting in the afternoons more so than the mornings. Temperatures are 57 to 62oF. The bass are fat and some are full of eggs. They are starting to go after shad and can be caught using blades, cranks and rip baits in shallow water, 1-10 feet, but one angler mentioned the bite is light. Another fisherman caught 15 using this technique and another group of fishermen caught over 30 just under a pound to 2 pounds.

Bass are also susceptible to the drop shot method and flipping lures with red on them seemed to be a good choice in 8 to 10 feet of water in the trees.

Another fisherman caught nearly 20 bass in and around cover all over the lake and reaction baits and jigs was working the best.

HORSESHOE – No new reports.

Lake elevation is at 2,025 feet, which is 99-percent full. They are releasing water at 1,485 cfs but the inflows are 1,626.

VERDE RIVER — No new reports.

Flows at Tangle Creek are 1,626 cubic feet per second (cfs) and cfs at Camp Verde is at 1,774. Releases from Bartlett Lake are currently at 1,700 cfs.

SALT RIVER – No new reports.

Salt River into Roosevelt is 2,130 cfs, and Salt River Canyon is 1,317 cfs. They are still releasing 8 cfs out of Stewart Mountain Dam from Saguaro.

LOWER SALT RIVER (below Saguaro Lake) – No new reports.

The lower Salt received 1,575 trout on March 3 at Granite Reef and Phon D Sutton.

CREEKS — No new reports.

Fly fishermen are starting to catch trout using leeches and nymphs on the rim streams where they can gain access. The water is still a little high and a little stained but it’s clearing up and when you can see the fish they are biting. Try Tonto Creek, Christopher Creek, Haigler, East Verde and Canyon Creek.

Colorado River Northwest
LAKE POWELL – By Wayne Gustaveson. Lake elevation has been stable for a month. Walleye are just beginning to spawn. The males are ripe and off feed but the females are still eating and gearing up for spawning. Target clean rock structure to find spawning walleye aggregations. There are more walleye in the northern lake. Try in the Hite area (dirt ramp only) or Hall’s Crossing.

The water is cold, making smallmouth fishing slow, with largemouth and striper fishing only fair. Fish don’t like a quick drop in lake level so the flood event further compounds fishing success. But after the lake drops this week and the temperature and day length increase, fishing will be ON at Lake Powell.

Muddy water from early snow melt has slowed fishing to a standstill from Hite to Trachyte. Muddy water reaches all the way down the San Juan to Neskahi Canyon.

Here is what to expect in the near future: Largemouth bass are the first fish to respond in the spring. They will seek warmer water which is often provided by vertical cliffs with southern sun exposure. The rock picks up solar heat and transmits that into water of calm coves. Check for temperature spikes and fish around brush in the warmest water found. Bass like spinner baits that can probe the brush without sticking. When the reaction bite stops, pull out the plastic grubs and drag them slowly along the bottom at 15-25 feet.

Smallmouth bass need a bit more warming before taking off. They increase activity about 10 days after largemouth start. Smallmouths are more numerous and will be found in a wider range of habitats. Again the 15-25 foot bottom contour will be the favored depth. Smallmouth will be on rock points and ledges without regard to the occurrence of brush. Brush only becomes important when it harbors the food source. If shad are present over the submerged creek channel then fishing location will be the rocky drop-off at the canyon edge. If bluegills hiding in brush are the forage target then bass will be around brush. It will be two more weeks minimum, before smallmouth fishing picks up.

Striped bass are scattered in the backs of the canyons. Fat two-pounders are present in good numbers but temperatures do not favor activity. A school may be located but the fish are flighty and hard to corner. Slow trolling may offer the best strategy to cover ground in search of stripers.

Other species are still huddled up looking for something warm. My advice is to wait one week and then come give it a try.

Powell Outlook: In trying to predict future fishing results, I have looked in the past for events that are similar to conditions that will be in place in 2008.

Striped bass populations are near the bottom of the population “boom-and-bust” cycle and will be rebuilding. Young stripers will dominate the catch.

Smallmouth bass lag a year or two behind stripers in population swings. Bass will be represented by a balanced population equally represented by young and old fish. Other species are less abundant than the big two so it is almost impossible to predict subtle changes in their abundance and catchability. Fish populations in 2008 most closely resemble conditions found in 1999.

The second major factor is spring runoff. Spring inflow has been modest the past few seasons. Snow pack is currently building with more storms on the way. An optimistic viewpoint suggests that a large spring flood is expected. With fingers crossed then, water level increases in 2008 will be compared to 2005 when the lake level increased more than 40 feet. Fishing results will be more similar to 1999 when shad abundance was small.

The largest variable cannot be estimated. That is the effect of storm fronts that cool the water and drastically impact fishing success for a 3-5 day period following the storm. Those events will happen but are not factored in because of their unpredictability. Typically, warming periods provide the best spring fishing, regardless of moon phase.

With that introduction this is my best guess on fishing prospects for 2008.

Fishing success for striped bass and walleye will improve in late February. The best early success will be found near the inflows of the Colorado and San Juan Rivers. Fishing will improve lake-wide in the backs of canyons rather than the main channel. Slow trolling (2 mph) will be the most effective technique.

March fishing success will be punctuated by spring storms making fishing success spotty. Some of the best largemouth bass fishing is found on warm March afternoons in shallow coves with brush. Shad scarcity will make crayfish the most sought after prey item. Crayfish are best imitated by bottom bouncing grubs fished in rocky structure. Stripers on a crayfish diet are extremely susceptible to anchovy bait. In the main lake bait fishing for stripers will catch more fish, but at the inflow area trolling and casting will be better.

Smallmouth bass and striped bass fishing will improve in April. Search for both species in the murky colored water in the backs of the canyons. Clear water is colder and not as productive until water warms above 60 degrees.

Best spring fishing will occur in late April when water is warming but runoff has not significantly increased lake elevation. Expect bass to spawn the third week of April. Bass will be visibly building nests on the shallow shoreline.

Striped bass will be in the same canyon locations with bass, just further out in deeper water off the edge of spawning flats. In those special years when bass spawning precedes lake elevation rise, fishing success is beyond belief. An early snow melt will negate this event.

Expect the lake to be rising rapidly by the fourth week of April. Runoff will muddy the water all the way to Bullfrog by mid to late May. When northern waters are stained, fishing for most species is better south from Bullfrog to Padre Bay.

May is the very best month to catch walleye when they are forced to feed during the day as warming water increases their metabolism. Walleye numbers are highest north of Bullfrog and walleye like murky water.

Striped bass will be caught half way between the back of the canyon and the main channel. Lack of abundant shad in the canyon moves stripers toward detectable current of the main channel in April and May. Striper fishing success by numbers will certainly be less, maybe much less, than seen in the record breaking harvest years of 2005 to 2007. Finding moving striper schools will be challenging but once located the school will be cooperative. Striper health and condition will be dramatically improved, making up for fewer fish caught.

LEES FERRY – Report courtesy of Terry Gunn, Lees Ferry Anglers Fly Shop
Observations in the Glen Canyon reach of Lees Ferry post experimental flow

I recently spent two days on the river, beginning two days after the experiment concluded. I was surprised at the lack of change in the topography of the river compared to the past two high flow experiments…this time there appeared to be much less erosion of silt banks, and the few sand bars that were created were small in comparison to the past two events. There was some sand moved around; most of the existing bars appeared to be smaller, while a couple were larger. There was a lot of sand that settled in sections of the river that were previously void of fine sand, and several sections that had previously had a great deal of sand covering the bottom of the river were scoured down to gravel. As far as visual changes along the river, there were few and of no significant impact. The water entering the river is not as clear as pre-experiment and has a deeper green tint; I expect that the increased withdrawal might have had a mixing effect in the lake and this should be good as the water appears to be more nutrient rich than pre-experiment.

Prior to the experiment the river contained much less algae than normal, which I attribute to the extended drought and two consecutive low runoff years into Lake Powell. This translates into fewer nutrients out flowing into the river and depressed aquatic vegetation. As a result, the scouring effect was less noticeable than prior high-flow events. There are long stretches of clean gravel, but hopefully the higher flows stirred up and redistributed nutrients, and the aquatic vegetation should return quickly.
Some of the trout have moved from their normal locations, but for the most part they appear to have weathered the high flow and are returning to normal behavior. There was quite a lot spawning going on before the high flow, and most all the spawning areas that were in use prior to the high flows appear to have been disturbed, so it is likely that the eggs were washed away. The good news is that the high flows apparently stimulated the majority of the trout in the river into a spawn. There are fish spawning throughout the river, mostly in deep water up to 30-feet deep. This bodes well for the future, as there should be good survival of fry as the redds are at depths that will not be subject to dewatering due to fluctuating flows.

The two days that I spent on the river were with a long-time customer who had not been on the river in 15 years. We were spin fishing and this gave me an opportunity to really cover the river, look around, and sample fish from a variety of depths and locations. The 100+ fish that we caught during the two days were all in good physical shape, and the vast majority were in spawning mode and colors. I was amazed that the average size of the fish that we caught were much larger than I have seen in many years. The largest that we caught was 21 inches, several were 19 inches, and lots of 18-inch fish. I would guess that we caught more fish 17 inches and larger than fish under 17 inches. My customer mentioned to me that he thought that the fish were larger than any time he could remember from his fishing here in the late 80’s or 90’s.

One very important thing that I cannot visually assess is what affects the high-flow experiment had on the aquatic food base. Other experimental flows stranded incredible amounts of scuds, worms, and snails on the banks and gravel bars. I looked around and could not find any evidence of mass standings, but I did see ducks feeding on something that was left on the sand beaches, and I assume they were eating worms and scuds. There are aquatic food base studies being conducted and I’m anxious to see the results. I did see a few midges and blackflys flying about. We will be able to determine soon enough if there was any loss of midges as the seasonal peak midge hatches are due to start in the next week.

So what does all this have to do with fishing?
If I were spin fishing, I would be up here right now to take advantage of the incredible trout fishing. Most all of our business is based upon fly fishing, and I fully expect everything to return to normal soon. It is going to be totally dependent on the midge hatches to prompt the trout to move into the shallow water and riffles to feed on the emerging midges. If we get the expected hatches, the trout will move within casting range of wading anglers. If the midge hatches do not occur or are not as prolific as normal, the trout will have no reason to move into the shallows and we will be drifting flies out of the boat.

More observations in the Glen Canyon reach of Lees Ferry
Standing in the water the other day I noticed that that my feet were much colder than normal. I took a water temperature reading at 4-mile and was surprised to see a reading of 44 degrees! This is the coldest reading that I have ever seen. This morning I took the temperature while at the boat dock and again got 44 degrees. This backs up my theory on the mixing of water in Lake Powell; I do not know any other way to explain the sudden drop in temperature.

There are scuds in the river! I kicked several rocks at 4-mile and there were scuds that emerged from underneath. This is good news, since the last experiment had a devastating impact on the scud population. I also saw a healthy population of NZ mud snails on and around 4-mile. They must have been scoured from the deeper water and deposited there, since none were visible prior to the experiment. I’ve also seen a few trout fry swimming about, so at least some survived the high flows.

A few midges are flying about, but no major hatches. This could be due to the cold water and/or the cooler than normal air temps that we have experienced the past few weeks. The trout are moving back into the riffles, not in big numbers, but they are there and eating.

The river is greening up quickly, not much filamentous algae, but I’m surprised that it is coming back as quickly as it is.

Good news all around except for the snails!

Great video clip of fishing at the Ferry recently:
Check out: www.kutv.com/content/outdoors/default.aspx

Whirling disease:
Don’t forget, the Arizona Game and Fish Department has detected whirling disease in a small percentage of Lees Ferry trout that were collected for a random sampling. For those of you who are not familiar with whirling disease; this disease only affects fingerling trout and limits their survival. Adult trout can harbor the disease but in all respects appear healthy and normal.

The arrival of whirling disease at Lees Ferry isn’t good news nor is it necessarily terrible news. Whirling disease has infected many of the Western states fabled trout streams with greater and lesser effects, depending on the watershed. The Madison comes to mind as one river that was severely impacted, while the San Juan suffered no noticeable impact from whirling disease. Lees Ferry has more in common with the San Juan than the Madison…both Lees Ferry and the San Juan are tail-water rivers with clear, cold water which is a consistent temperature year-around.

Consistent cold water temperatures are believed by most experts on the disease to keep the spread and severity of the disease in check. I’ll be sure to keep you informed as more data becomes available. In the meantime, when you do come to Lees Ferry, be sure to clean your wading gear thoroughly before you leave to prevent the spread of whirling disease. For more information visit: www.whirling-disease.org

LAKE MEAD — According to fishing guides out of Las Vegas, the striper and largemouth bass bites are both picking up, especially on non-windy days. Catfish are still biting at night. The ramp is open at South Cove, but it is a gravel ramp. Be careful when launching here. The lake elevation has come up a little at around 1,117 feet above msl. State and federal biologists sampled fish populations in Lake Mead during October and found gizzard shad for the first time. This is not a surprise since they have been found in Powell since 2000.

Important notice: With the recent discovery of invasive quagga mussels in Mead, Mohave and Havasu, proper cleaning of all watercraft is critical to help prevent the spread of these invaders. Please drain and dry your livewell and bilge on land. Drain all the water you can from your engine. Also, inspect your vessel and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see.

For more information, go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s web pages at azgfd.gov or visit http://100thmeridian.org/.

LAKE MOHAVE – The striper bite is picking up a little. The stripers seen in the fall were fat and full of shad, with schools of shad being chased by striped bass. If the shad are making a comeback, we may see more mid-size stripers in the basin. If you can find schools of shad, throw a small crankbait. I’ve also received reports of largemouth being caught in 25 to 35 feet of water on drop-shots.

Biologists from both Arizona Game and Fish Department and Nevada Division of Wildlife installed fish habitat in Carp cove on Dec. 12-13. A total of 84 wood pallets and 16 4X4-foot PVC structures were put into Lake Mohave in an attempt to increase angler success. On January 29-30 an additional 54 wood pallets and 16 4X4-foot PVC structures were put into Lake Mohave at Box cove. Additional habitat will be added at several locations over the next two years. These structures are fish magnets.

There is a wheelchair accessible fishing pier just south of the main launch ramp at Katherine’s Landing. If you fish Mohave and are having luck, please e-mail me at [email protected] so I can share your successes with others.

Important notice: With the recent discovery of invasive quagga mussels in Mead, Mohave and Havasu, proper cleaning of all watercraft is critical to help prevent the spread of these invaders. Please drain and dry your livewell and bilge on land. Drain all the water you can from your engine. Also, inspect your vessel and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see.

For more information, go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s web pages at azgfd.gov or visit http://100thmeridian.org/.

WILLOW BEACH – Trout are stocked every Friday. The fishing for trout has been good from shore immediately following the stocking. Try using a Jake, Panther Martin, or other spinner’s or spoons. If that doesn’t work you can always use Power Bait.

Important notice: With the recent discovery of invasive quagga mussels in Mead, Mohave and Havasu, proper cleaning of all watercraft is critical to help prevent the spread of these invaders. Please drain and dry your livewell and bilge on land. Drain all the water you can from your engine. Also, inspect your vessel and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see. If you fish Willow beach and are having luck, please e-mail me at [email protected] so I can share your successes with others.
For more information, go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s web pages at www.azgfd.gov or visit http://100thmeridian.org/.

TOPOCK MARSH –Water level is coming up, but still be careful while launching. The bass and catfish are in the channel. While the bite has been slow, there is no shortage of fish in the channel. Look for the bite to really pick up as the water warms.

Game and Fish biologists surveyed the Marsh starting on the week of Jan. 15. The largemouth bass population was observed to be very healthy, as well as channel catfish. Crappie were also present, but in smaller numbers.

You can access the marsh by boat at North Dike, Catfish Paradise, and Five-Mile Landing. All three also provide plenty of area for shoreline fishing too. For more information on the marsh, contact the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge at (760) 326-3853 or go to www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/arizona/havasu/index.html.

Important notice: With the recent discovery of invasive quagga mussels in Mead, Mohave and Havasu, proper cleaning of all watercraft is critical to help prevent the spread of these invaders. Please drain and dry your livewell and bilge on land. Drain all the water you can from your engine. Also, inspect your vessel and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see.

For more information, go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s web pages at azgfd.gov or visit http://100thmeridian.org/.

COLORADO RIVER BELOW DAVIS DAM – Trout stocking resumed in October. Fishing has been good below Davis Dam immediately following the trout stockings. Fish and Wildlife Service stocks once a month in this area. A few days following the stocking look for trout to be across the river from the Riverside.

The fish are stocked in two locations; Davis Camp and near The Riverside. I am getting some reports of the largemouth bite picking up.

Striper fishing has picked up in the needles area. Water levels on the river fluctuate, so be careful. You can check the Bureau of Reclamation Web site for flow predictions http://www.usbr.gov/lc/riverops.html before you go. If you fish the river below Davis Dam and are having luck, please e-mail me at [email protected] so I can share your successes with others.

Important notice: With the recent discovery of invasive quagga mussels in Mead, Mohave and Havasu, proper cleaning of all watercraft is critical to help prevent the spread of these invaders. Please drain and dry your livewell and bilge on land. Drain all the water you can from your engine. Also, inspect your vessel and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see.

For more information, go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s web pages at www.azgfd.gov or visit http://100thmeridian.org/.

Southwestern Arizona
LAKE HAVASU – Striper bite is improving as water temps warm up into the mid 60s. Bottom fishing and trolling with anchovies during the daytime hours is producing plenty of small to medium size striper limits. Target striper schools that are moving alone the old river channel drop-off in 40 to 55 ft of water. There is a decent evening bite around site 6 area using the good ol’ green tailed bass assassin and even a few fish are being taken on topwater sammys.

Smallmouth & Largemouth bass are spawning in shallows now. There are lots of fish cruising in the 2 to 10 ft. depth range. Target these fish in the early morning with spinnerbaits, Jackall squirrel or LC pointer jerkbaits. Dropshotting chartreuse tipped Roboworms is very effective for catching smallmouth in the shallows.

PARKER STRIP – Warm weather is helping the fishing to pick up in the Parker area. Water levels have been fairly steady with Thursdays as the typical low day. Bass were picking up recently. One angler reported success using super light jerkbaits and letting them slowly float to the bottom. Others report plastic worms and grubs are producing some action.

Redear sunfish are grouping up in the grass beds. Drifting mealworms can work well. These large sunfish should be moving onto their beds soon.

Catfish are still a bit slow but some channel cats can be found off Patria Flats. Try stink baits or night crawlers. Flatheads are also available on the river but prefer live bait. Small blue gill or shad can be a good choice, or try small goldfish or shiners. Most of the trout are gone but watch for a few leftovers in the upper pond at La Paz County Park.

Important notice: Quagga mussels have been found in Lake Havasu so proper cleaning of all watercraft is critical to help prevent the spread of these invaders. Please move to the parking lot, DRAIN your live-wells and bilge where the water does not return to the lake. Drain all the water you can from your engine. Also, INSPECT your watercraft and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see.

SPRING OUTLOOK:

ALAMO LAKE – The lake elevation continues to be good. Largemouth bass are present in all sizes and fishing is expected to be good to excellent throughout the spring. It looks like most of the bass are in the protected slot with a fair number over the slot. Exactly what is going on with the crappie is unknown. The bite has not developed as usual but we anticipate fishing to be fair to good throughout the spring. Channel catfish will be good to excellent this spring and throughout the summer. There are other fish present such as bluegill, redear sunfish and carp that are a lot of fun to catch. All types of bait should work. As the weather warms a shift from slowly working plastics in deeper water to crank baits, spinner baits, and top-water lures for bass. For channel catfish any of the prepared catfish baits as well as chicken livers, shrimp, and anything else you can think of should work.

Both of the boat ramps are useable at this time and the store at the lake is still closed so you need to bring everything with you. If you run short of anything you might be able to pick it up at the Wayside Inn or in Wenden. The certified scale that was located at the store is now located at the Alamo State Park Office and the park office also has live bait for the crappie fishermen.

LAKE HAVASU & TOPOCK GORGE — Largemouth bass, as well as smallmouth bass are expected to be good to excellent this spring. The size will range from 13 inches and up with an occasional fish greater than 5 pounds. Striped bass will continue to be excellent for small fish (12-18 inches) with occasional fish over 3 pounds. The lake is also full of smaller striper that will make it challenging to catch the larger fish. Channel catfish as well as bluegill and redear sunfish will be good to excellent. Flathead catfish fishing should be fair at the lower end of the lake (Bill Williams River Arm) through the spring. Sizes of flathead catfish can reach as high as 40 pounds. When fishing for them select the interior points in the coves and the areas where artificial structure has been placed.

The warmer weather causes the bite to increase making crankbaits and topwater lures a good choice. Also, spinner baits, jigs, cut fish, live shad, etc. should work depending on the species you are looking for.

Take precautions to make sure your boat and equipment is clean before leaving the water to make sure you don’t spread quagga mussels to other water by accident.

COLORADO RIVER (PARKER STRIP AREA) — It is expected to be good to excellent for smallmouth bass with fish over two pounds this spring. In addition, redear sunfish should also be good to excellent in the pound plus sizes. Channel and flathead catfish fishing will be fair to good in this section of the Colorado River as the weather warms up.

Take precautions to make sure your boat and equipment is clean before leaving the water to make sure you don’t spread quagga mussels to other water by accident.

COLORADO RIVER (BETWEEN PALO VERDE DIVERSION DAM AND WALTER’S CAMP) — This area should be fair for both smallmouth bass (in the channel) up river from the I-10 Bridge and largemouth bass (in the backwaters) throughout the entire area. Channel and flathead catfish are always fair to good in this section of the Colorado River. Most of the flathead catfish will be in the 2 to 5 pound size range with an occasional fish over 40 pounds. The time for fishing for both species of catfish will be late spring and throughout the summer. Generally speaking, when fishing for catfish the hotter the weather the better the fishing.

This section of the Colorado River all the way down to Yuma is where invasive species known as Giant Salvinia is located as well as quagga mussels. If using a boat make, sure the boat, live wells, engines, and trailer is clean before leaving the area. The last thing that we want to have happen is the movement of invasive species to other waters.

COLORADO RIVER (BETWEEN WALTER’S CAMP AND PICACHO STATE PARK) — This section of the Colorado River is relatively remote and can only be accessed by boat from either end. Fishing is expected to be good to excellent for flathead catfish with sizes over 40 pounds. The best time will be late spring and on into the summer (the hotter the better). The various backwaters will be good for largemouth bass and other sunfish (bluegill & redear). Other species available in the main river are smallmouth bass, channel catfish, and striped bass.

This section of the Colorado River all the way down to Yuma is where invasive species known as Giant Salvinia is located as well as quagga mussels. If using a boat make, sure the boat, live wells, engines, and trailer is clean before leaving the area. The last thing that we want to have happen is the movement of invasive species to other waters.

COLORADO RIVER (BETWEEN PICACHO STATE PARK AND IMPERIAL DAM) — This area is expected to be good to excellent for largemouth bass, channel catfish, and flathead catfish. Bass and channel catfish in excess of 5 pounds are present along with flathead catfish as large as 40 pounds. Other sunfish such as bluegill and redear are also present in the various backwaters as well as an occasional striped bass will be caught in the backwaters and main river channel.

This section of the Colorado River all the way down to Yuma is where invasive species known as Giant Salvinia is located as well as quagga mussels. If using a boat make, sure the boat, live wells, engines, and trailer is clean before leaving the area. The last thing that we want to have happen is the movement of invasive species to other waters.

COLORADO RIVER (BETWEEN LAGUNA AND MORELOS DAMS) — This area will be good for largemouth bass and flathead catfish. Bass in excess of 5 pounds is common and flathead catfish over 20 pounds is a good bet. In this area accessibility to the river is dependent on the amount of water being released. Usually shallow draft boats are a must. The lower end has had some dredging work done and the larger boat will be able to get on the river in that area.

This section of the Colorado River all the way down to Yuma is where invasive species known as Giant Salvinia is located as well as quagga mussels. If using a boat make, sure the boat, live wells, engines, and trailer is clean before leaving the area. The last thing that we want to have happen is the movement of invasive species to other waters.

With the increase in border issues and illegal activity on the lower end of this area I would away from that area (Pilot Knob to Morelos Dam).

REGIONAL HOT SPOTS:

Alamo Lake will be the hot spot for Largemouth bass and channel catfish. Since there appears to be more fish in the lake at the present time I recommend keeping as many of the smaller bass as you can legally possess in order to try and reduce the population a little. Next choice would be Lake Havasu for striped bass, Parker Strip for smallmouth bass and redear sunfish, and the Colorado River below Walter’s Camp for flathead catfish.

If you need any additional information or additional don’t hesitate to contact the Yuma Regional office at (928) 341-4051 and I will be happy to accommodate you.

North Central Region
Note: Most higher elevation lakes are ice covered. There is lots of snow pack. Most lakes should fill and spill.

WILLIAMS LAKES:
KAIBAB LAKE — Campground area is closed. Main parking lot and boat launch open for day use only.

CATARACT LAKE — Campground is closed.

CITY RESERVOIR — No reports.

DOGTOWN LAKE — No reports.

JD DAM — No reports.

RUSSEL TANK – No reports.

SANTA FE — No reports.

WHITEHORSE LAKE — No report from anglers. Campground is closed.

FLAGSTAFF LAKES:
LOWER LAKE MARY — This lake now has some water again. Plus, Upper Lake Mary is all the way up to the spillway, even before the runoff season. This lake should catch some decent water this year and will most likely be stocked.

UPPER LAKE MARY — Lake is full, but iced over. No reports.

ASHURST LAKE — No reports.

FRANCIS SHORT POND – No reports.

KINNIKINICK LAKE — No reports.

MARSHALL LAKE — No reports.

OAK CREEK — Has not been stocked recently, however, there could be some decent fishing if you find the right spot.

LONG LAKE — No reports.

SOLDIERS & SOLDIERS ANNEX — No reports.

BEAVER CREEK — No recent reports.

WEST CLEAR CREEK — No reports.

STONEMAN LAKE — NO FISH.

MINGUS LAKE – The gate is closed until the spring, but you can walk in and fish.

Someone illegally stocked yellow bullhead into Mingus several years ago. These fish compete directly with the trout and keep growth rates very low. If you witness anyone, anywhere, moving fish like bass, bluegill, catfish and stocking them, please report it to our Operation Game Thief Hotline. Illegal stockings cost YOU money!

DEAD HORSE STATE PARK – Fishing should be very good. Try using small spinners, worms, or Power Bait. Some anglers have reported catching limits, while others have not done as well.

VERDE RIVER (throughout Verde Valley) – Trout were stocked the week of March 3. The river flows had increased significantly recently but have diminished considerably. While the flows have diminished they are still considerably higher than normal, making fishing a little more difficult.

Stocking sites are at Tuzigoot Bridge outside of Clarkdale, the bridge that leads to the Dead Horse State Park, at Dead Horse State Parks access point called the Jacks, at the White Bridge in Camp Verde, and at Bignotti Beach. The department stocks trout in these waters from November through March, when the water temperature can support a trout fishery. Cold winter water temperatures keep the other game fish fairly inactive until about mid-March.

Tuzigoot Bridge (leading to Tuzigoot National Monument) has decent rainbow trout fishing early and late in the day. Most fishermen concentrate near the bridge, but the pools and currents downstream within 300 yards of the bridge hold lots of trout and do not see much fishing pressure. Small spoons such as Z-rays, Mepps and Panther Martin spinners, and Power Bait all work well.

Fly-fishermen seem to prefer fishing the Verde River between Riverfront Park and Dead Horse Ranch State Park in the town of Cottonwood. The trout aren’t too fussy about the type of fly/lure or presentation. The best success here has been first thing in the morning until about 10 a.m.

Bignotti Beach (between Cottonwood and Camp Verde, near Thousand Trails RV Park) has had decent fishing as well. Anglers tossing in-line spinners, small spoons, or fly-fishing with dark, gold-bead nymphs are doing best during mid-day, while fly-fishermen floating a variety of dry flies are having good success early and late in the day.

The White Bridge in Camp Verde (Highway 260 bridge over the Verde River) is an under-utilized trout fishery. A U.S. Forest Service picnic area above the river provides convenient parking and a short walk to the Verde River. Try fishing the riffles and pools upstream of the bridge. Mepps in-line spinners, small KastMaster spoons, and bright-colored Power Bait (fished on a treble hook above a sliding egg-sinker) have been the most productive offerings.

LYNX LAKE — Rainbow trout were last stocked the week of Feb. 11 and are scheduled to be stocked again this week, the week of March 10. Some 7-inch brook trout were stocked the week of Feb 25. Look for the fishing to be fair to good following the stocking and the ice melting.

FAIN LAKE —Fain lake was stocked with both rainbow trout on March 10. The fishing should be very good following the stocking. Use spinners or bright colored power bait. Shore fishing area may be limited as sediment deposits have resulted from the rains.

GOLDWATER LAKE — Trout were stocked the week of March 17. Look for the fishing to pick up almost immediately following the stocking. Try using spinners, jigs, worms or rainbow Power Bait.

If you fish Goldwater and are having luck, please e-mail me at [email protected] so I can share your successes with others.

Mogollon Rim
Note: The Mogollon Rim streams are flowing high and are ice-covered. Most lakes are ice-covered, except for Chevelon Canyon Lake. Most Forest roads are closed and snow packed, but are open to snowmobilers. Contact the US Forest Service’s Black Mesa office at (928) 535-4481 for information.

CHEVELON CANYON LAKE — Fishing is fair to good. Anglers have been catching trout below the spillway. All Forest roads south of Chevelon Lake are closed. Forest road169 north is open. Most Forest roads are snow packed and closed beyond locked gates. The lake is ice-free and spilling. The lake is open to artificial lure and fly only, trout between 10 and 14 inches may not be possessed, and the bag limit is 6 trout. Try lures such as spinners, Super Dupers, Z-Rays, and Rapala’s, and flies such as Peacock ladies, woolly worms, woolly buggers, Prince nymphs, Zug bugs, and other small nymphs. The lake is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10 hp. gas motors. Chevelon Canyon Creek downstream from Chevelon Crossing to the Little Colorado River is open to unlimited rainbow and brown trout harvest from Sept. 1 through March 31.

BEAR CANYON LAKE — All Forest roads are closed to the lake. The lake is ice-covered. Check ice thickness before venturing out on the ice.

BLACK CANYON LAKE — All Forest roads are closed to motor vehicles, including ATV’s, by USFS Order. Access is by snowmobiles only. The gate to the lake is locked. The lake is ice-covered. Check ice thickness before venturing out on the ice.

WILLOW SPRINGS LAKE — Forest road 149 is closed and the gate to the lake is locked. The lake is ice-covered. Check ice thickness before venturing out on the ice.

WOODS CANYON LAKE — Forest road’s 300 and 105 are closed. The gate to the lake is locked. The lake is ice-covered. Check ice thickness before venturing out on the ice.

White Mountains
NORTHEASTERN ARIZONA (White Mountains)

Note: Streams are flowing high. Many lakes are spilling, are very turbid, and are ice-covered to ice-free. Higher elevation lakes are still ice-covered. Lower elevation lake’s are ice-covered to ice-free and are slightly turbid to turbid. Forest roads are closed. State Highway 261 is closed to Big Lake and Crescent Lake, as well as most interior Forest roads. State Highway 273 on the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest is undergoing reconstruction and realignment and the following closures are in effect. State Highway 273 from the Forest and Fort Apache Indian Reservation boundary to Crescent Lake is closed to all traffic, including snowmobiles, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will remain closed until the road construction project is complete. Snowmobilers should use Forest Road 249 from Williams Valley to Big Lake and Crescent Lake.

BECKER LAKE —Fishing is fair to good. The lake is open to artificial lure and fly only, barbless hooks and a two trout limit. The lake is ice-free. The boat ramp is accessible. Try small lures such as spinners, Super dupers, and Z-Rays. Fly-Fishers are catching 15-18 inch rainbow trout. Try small nymphs such as scuds, Zebra midges, pheasant tails, Zug bugs, Prince nymphs, woolly worms, dragon fly nymphs, peacock ladies, egg patterns, and brown Montana stone nymphs. The lake is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10hp. gas motors.

BIG LAKE — The lake is ice-covered. Highway 261 is closed from Eager.

ACCESS: State Highway 273 from the Forest Service-Fort Apache Indian Reservation to Crescent Lake is closed for road construction and is also closed to snowmobiles. Snowmobilers should use Forest road 249 from Williams Valley to Big Lake and Crescent Lake.

CARNERO LAKE — The lake is ice-covered. Ice fishing is likely poor. Limnology surveys indicate there was very little dissolved oxygen under the ice during January and February, and some improvement in oxygen levels in March but the lake has probably winterkilled. Check ice thickness before venturing out on the ice. Forest Road’s 117 and 117A are snow packed and unaccessible to vehicles. Access to the lake is by snowmobiles only.

CLEAR CREEK RESERVOIR — Fishing is poor to fair. The lake is ice-free and full. The east side boat ramp is accessible and the best ramp to use. The north boat ramp (steep hill) may have soft sand and would be difficult to launch a boat. Try worms, Power Bait, salmon eggs, and lures such as spinners, Z-Rays, crank baits, and Rapala’s, flies such as woolly worms or woolly buggers, and peacock ladies. There is no motor restrictions on Clear Creek Reservoir.

CONCHO LAKE—Fishing is poor to fair. The lake is ice-free and full. The boat ramp is accessible. Recent netting reveiled rainbow trout ranging from 12-16 inches, with an average length of 13 inches. Try worms, Power Bait, salmon eggs, lures such as spinners, Z-Rays, and Super Dupers, and flies such as woolly worms or woolly buggers, peacock ladies, and small nymphs. The lake is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10hp gas motors.

CRESCENT LAKE — The lake is ice-covered. Ice fishing is likely poor. Recent limnological surveys indicate there is very little dissolved oxygen under the ice and the lake has probably winterkilled. Highway 261 is closed from Eager. Highway 273 from Forest Service-Fort Apache Indian Reservation to Crescent Lake is closed for road construction and is also closed to snowmobiles. Snowmobilers should use Forest road 249 from Williams Valley to Crescent Lake and Big Lake.

FOOL HOLLOW LAKE — Fishing is poor to fair. The lake is ice-free, full, and spilling. The water is turbid due to recent runoff into the lake. The boat ramps are accessible. Try worms, Power Bait, salmon eggs, lures such as spinners, Z-Rays, crank baits, and Rapala’s, and flies such as woolly worms or woolly buggers and peacock ladies. Fish around structure such as rocks, tree stumps, and fishing piers. The lake is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10hp. gas motors

GREER LAKES — All Greer lakes have some ice-cover. Unsafe ice conditions. Bunch Reservoir is 45% ice-covered, River Reservoir is 85% ice-covered, and Tunnel Reservoir is 60% ice-covered. Anglers have been catching rainbow trout on worms at River Reservoir. Try worms, salmon eggs, Power Bait, lures such as spinners, Super Dupers, Z-Rays, and Rapala’s, and flies such as Peacock ladies, woolly worms, woolly buggers, and small nymphs. All of the Greer lakes are not open yet for boat use because of ice cover.

HULSEY LAKE — Forest roads are snow packed and access is by snowmobile only. The lake is ice-covered. Check ice thickness before venturing out on the ice.

LEE VALLEY RESERVOIR — The lake is ice-covered. Access to the lake is closed.

Access: State Highway 273 from Sunrise Lake to Crescent Lake is closed for road construction and Highway 261 from Eager is closed. Both roads are closed to snowmobiles.

LUNA LAKE — Fishing is fair. The lake is ice-free, full and spilling. The boat ramp is accessible. Try worms, salmon eggs, Power Bait, lures such as spinners, Super Dupers, Z-Rays, and Rapala’s, and flies such as Peacock ladies, woolly worms, woolly buggers, and small nymphs. The lake is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10 hp. gas motors.

LYMAN LAKE — Fishing is fair. The lake is ice-free, turbid, and almost full. The lake level has been coming up with recent runoff into the lake. Anglers are catching largemouth bass on lures. Try worms, Power Bait, catfish stink baits, and lures such as spinners, crankbaits, and Rapalas.

The Lyman Lake recreation area is managed by Lyman Lake State Park and camping is available. There are also some new cabins for rent.

There is a fish consumption advisory here, so check with the State Parks Office at the lake for details. Also contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Region 1 Office in Pinetop at 928-367-4281. There are no motor restrictions on Lyman Lake.

NELSON RESERVOIR — Fishing is poor to fair. The two boat ramps are accessible except for the east boat ramp and road. The lake is ice-free, full, and spilling. The water is turbid due to recent runoff into the lake. Try worms, Power Bait, salmon eggs, lures such as spinners, Z-Rays, super Dupers, and Rapala’s, and flies such as woolly worms or woolly buggers, and peacock ladies. The lake is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10hp. gas motors.

RAINBOW LAKE — Fishing is poor to fair. The boat ramp is accessible. The lake is full and ice-free. The water is slightly turbid. Recent netting has reveiled lots of northern pike, bullheads, a few large largemouth bass, and some bluegills. Try worms, Power Bait, salmon eggs, lures such as Z-Rays, spinners, crank baits, and Rapala’s, and flies such as woolly worms or woolly buggers, and peacock ladies. The lake is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10hp. gas motors.

SCOTT’S RESERVOIR — Fishing is poor to fair. The lake is ice-free, full, and spilling. The boat ramp is accessible. The lake is slightly turbid. Try worms, Power Bait, salmon eggs, lures such as spinners, crank baits, Super Dupers, Z-Rays, and Rapala’s, and flies such as woolly worms or woolly buggers, Peacock ladies, and Prince nymphs. The lake is open to electric trolling motors only.

SHOW LOW LAKE — Fishing is poor to fair. The lake is ice-free and slightly turbid due to runoff from Show Low Creek. The boat ramp is accessible. Try worms, Power Bait, and salmon eggs, lures such as spinners, crank baits, rubber leadhead jigs, and Rapala’s, and flies such as woolly worms or woolly buggers, and Peacock ladies. The lake is open to electric trolling motors and/or up to 10hp. gas motors.

SILVER CREEK — Fishing is fair. The stream’s water clarity is slightly turbid. Silver Creek on the Arizona Game and Fish Department property is open to catch and release fishing, artificial lure and fly only and single barbless hooks only from October 1 through March 31. The upper section is open to fishing. Try small lures such as Mepps, Panther Martin, and Rooster tail, and flies such as woolly worms, woolly buggers, peacock ladies, Prince nymphs, Zug bugs, Shrimp patterns, and small beadhead nymphs. Try dry flies such as Adams, Parachute Adams, midge and caddis fly patterns. Silver Creek is a spring creek that does not get ice covered during the winter months.

WOODLAND LAKE — The lake is ice-free, full, and spilling. The boat ramp is accessible. The lake is slightly turbid. Try worms, Power Bait, salmon eggs, lures such as spinners, Super Dupers, and small spoons, and flies such as woolly worms or woolly buggers, Peacock ladies, and Prince nymphs. The lake is open to electric trolling motors only.

WHITE MOUNTAIN STREAMS:

WEST FORK OF BLACK RIVER – The stream is flowing high. Forest roads are snow packed and Highway 261 and 273 are closed.

EAST FORK OF BLACK RIVER – The stream is flowing high. Forest roads are snow packed and Highway 261and 273 are closed.

SHEEPS CROSSING – Not accessible. Highway 273 is closed for the year due to road construction and an area closure is still in effect around Sheeps Crossing, including snowmobiles.

LITTLE COLORADO RIVER – GREER – The stream is flowing high and turbid.

Southeastern Arizona

Southern Arizona Fishing Outlook
The ample winter rains and snow fall have kept all the regional lakes full. This combined with a large spawn last year should lead to great year of fishing. Water temperatures will warm up soon putting fish into pre-spawn mode causing them to feed voraciously; many personal bests could be beaten this year.

If the summer rains come again like last year, look for easy access at all you favorite Southern Arizona lakes, keeping the experience enjoyable. As always, we recommend that lake conditions be checked before heading out to find your lunker

TUCSON URBAN — Channel catfish are being stocked Friday, March 21 at all 4 urban lakes.

RIGGS FLAT —Lake is closed for the season.

CLUFF RANCH — No recent reports of success. For lake information call (928) 485-9430.

ROPER LAKE — No recent reports of success. For lake information call (928) 428-6760.

DANKWORTH POND — No recent reports of success. For lake information call (928) 428-6760.

FRYE MESA RESERVIOR – No recent reports.

KEARNY LAKES — The golden algae is blooming and the test fish we placed in the lake died almost immediately. The Department has no further plans at this time to try and restock the lake. Later this year once temperatures begin to warm and the threat form golden algae diminishes the Department will re-evaluate the situation.

ARIVACA — Bass fishing is slowly picking up. Anglers are reporting some fish being caught on plastics. Fish are reportedly in 4 to 10 feet of water. Jan. 1 marks a change in the motor restrictions at this lake. Motors 10 horsepower or less will now be legal for use at Arivaca. Remember that all bass must be immediately released back to the water.

PENA BLANCA – No recent reports of success. The fishing pier has been repaired and anglers can once again access it. The mercury advisory for all warm water fish is in effect. Bass less than 13 inches long must be immediately released. The daily bag limit for bass is four. Also, be advised that Pena Blanca is not an urban lake; therefore an urban fishing license is invalid to fish at this lake. Jan. 1 marks a change in the motor restrictions at this lake. Motors 10 horsepower or less will now be legal for use at Pena Blanca.

PATAGONIA — Tournament anglers had another great weekend. The 3 fish limit in the latest weekend tournament tipped the scale at over 18 pounds and the big fish award for the tournament was a 9-1/2 pound largemouth.

PARKER CANYON — Fishing at Parker Canyon Lake appears to be good, with a number of limits being checked. Anglers are catching trout at various depths using baits ranging from lures to power bait and worms. This month, the lake will receive the last trout stocking for the year.

Low water temperature is still limiting the bite of warm water species, but a few largemouth bass were being caught. Pre-spawn for bass and bluegill should begin later this month and into early April as temperatures begin to rise. The algae bloom that has affected the lake over the past year appears to be clearing up, with water levels still near capacity.

PICACHO RESERVOIR — No report.

ROSE CANYON LAKE — The access road is now closed for the season. Anglers can still access the lake by walking in.