By Arizona Game And Fish Department

The winter solstice has passed which means the daylight hours are getting longer and spring bass fishing is not far off. The recent storm that moved through Northern Arizona brought much-needed moisture onto the Roosevelt Lake watershed. The snow on the Rim is a good start and hopefully, more will accumulate.

The snow at higher elevations is critical to ensuring a slow run-off that will continue to flow into the lake well into the spring. In another month we’ll be discussing spring bass fishing, but for now, anglers are willing to postpone some fishing days to get more snow and rain storms which will improve all of our fisheries.

The water temperature at Roosevelt Lake is in the mid to high 50’s on sunny days. The colder water impacts the habits of cold-blooded fish including bass. During colder periods, bass will move to deeper water and become less active. The metabolism of cold-blooded fish slows, resulting in shorter feeding activities and shorter chases for food. With bass activity slowing, anglers are reporting slow presentation techniques or a casting spoon which imitates a dying baitfish falling to the bottom.

A slow moving bait on the bottom allows the bass to consume it without expending much energy. That is the key to water level remains at 40-percent full. The amount of water coming into the lake from the Salt River and Tonto Creek have slowed slightly and are now flowing at 60 percent of the normal flow rates for this time of year. The lake water is clear throughout the lake.

Crappie fishing on Roosevelt and Apache Lakes was called sporadic recently by experienced anglers. Crappie are staging in deeper water where a trolling fishing technique has been reported as more effective than a vertical technique. Many crappie anglers continue to vertically fish close to the artificial habitat structures but only those in deeper water. Anglers are reporting catching crappie at 30-foot depths. A small grub-tail bait in a motor-oil and chartreuse color was reported successful. Tipping your bait with a live minnow will increase your success rate.

Rim Country lakes and streams

Rim Country lakes and streams are not stocked during the winter months. Anglers thinking of fishing lakes and streams on the Rim are advised to consult local marinas or businesses regarding lake access. In addition, roads leading to the lakes are often closed due to winter conditions. ADOT provides regular updates on area road closings. Even with the frozen lakes and limited road access, there are many previously stocked and native trout available in many Rim Country streams.

One option is the Community Fishing Program which provides trout stockings to Green Valley Lakes every-other week during the winter. These stocked trout provide great learning experiences for novice anglers and are great fun for experienced anglers. Anglers are reporting PowerBait, nymph flies, salmon eggs and small spinner baits as successful bait selections. 

See all the planned stocking dates.

To learn more about the fishing area up at the Rim, Arizona Game and Fish recommends contacting Jim Goughnour of Rim Country Custom Rods. He can be reached at 480-495-1351 

Or online:

Have a great week of fishing and I hope to see you on the water