Tip of the week
Now’s the time to fish northern Arizona.
Forest Road 300 is open and Bear Canyon Lake on the Mogollon Rim was stocked Wednesday for the first time this season.
According to the Black Mesa Ranger District on Wednesday, a barricade that has been blocking Woods Canyon Road (the turn-off to Woods Canyon Lake) from FR 300 is expected to be removed on Friday, April 26. Due to a project in which the boat ramp and trailer parking area is being resurfaced, however, anglers and boaters will temporarily not be able to utilize the boat ramp or trailer parking area. The Forest Service expects to open the boat ramp to the public the second week of May.
At Willow Springs Lake, which is accessible, we had reports that some anglers were catching rainbow and tiger trout with PowerBait, and those fish were close enough to shore to reach with flies. Successful flies have included bead-headed flies under a strike indicator or woolly buggers (white).
This week, we still plan to stock catfish and sunfish into “Expansion” Community waters, with the exception of Tempe Town Lake and Greenfield Pond in Mesa.
At desert impoundments, this is typically the time of the year the top-water bite picks up. But with seasonably low water temperatures, and another front predicted to head into desert regions next week, an excellent surface bite may be delayed. There are reports of a decent top-water bite at Lake Pleasant and Bartlett Lake.
Still a good idea to be on the water by first light, have a surface rod rigged and ready with frogs, Rebel Pop-Rs, and Ricos, etc., and watch for top-water boils.
At 95-percent full, Bartlett Lake in the Tonto National Forest (above) is 41 feet higher than this time last year. There are many new, huge coves to explore. A significant increase in volume of water means covering a lot of water (fishing many areas and various depths) becomes even more crucial for success.
Crappie anglers: We had a report from Roosevelt Lake of crappie biting at the Tonto end in 25-30 feet of water over submerged vegetation (fish 12-15 feet deep with minnows). Most fish at Roosevelt are in post-spawn.
At striper honey holes such as Lake Pleasant, angler catch rates could finally start to be on the rise with steady water temperatures in the mid-to-high 60s and stripers likely spawning. Live shad is a go-to bait but anglers should start to have success with anchovies, silver Kastmasters, plastic swimbaits, and top-water lures. Check for shad in 4-8 feet of water and target 20-50 feet of water for stripers.
Scooter Griffith from The Arizona Fishing Guides said that at Saguaro and Canyon lakes, anglers need to first find the bait and then catch fish on small swimbaits on a 1/4-ounce jighead.
Other top picks this weekend are trout-stocked waters Fool Hollow Lake, Show Low Lake, Rainbow Lake, Ashurst Lake, Lynx Lake, Dogtown Reservoir or the Colorado River at any of the three points we stocked: Davis Camp, Community Park, and Rotary Park.
Don’t forget Rose Canyon Lake. Although the gate for vehicular access doesn’t open until the third week of April, anglers can still access the lake by walking in.
This week’s scheduled stockings
Channel catfish and sunfish: “Expansion” Community waters (expect for Greenfield Pond in Mesa and Tempe Town Lake).
Rainbow trout: Fool Hollow Lake, Show Low Lake, Rainbow Lake, Ashurst Lake, Lynx Lake, Dogtown Reservoir, Bear Canyon Lake, Colorado River (Davis Camp, Community Park, Rotary Park).
Upcoming Family Fishing Events
Woodland Lake Free Fishing Clinic
When: Saturday, May 4, 2019, 8 a.m. to noon
Where: Woodland Lake, Pinetop
The Arizona Game and Fish Department along with the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside will host a free fishing clinic at Woodland Lake Park from 8 a.m. to noon. The lake is scheduled to be stocked with trout prior to the clinic, so the fish should be biting.
No fishing licenses are required during the event for participants who check=in and participate. All other fishing laws apply. The Town of Pinetop-Lakeside will be purchasing youth combination licenses for the first 30 kids, age 10-17, who check-in and participate in the event. Children under 10 do not need a license to fish in Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department will have a limited number of fishing poles and tackle available for public use during the clinic. This is a great opportunity to come out to Woodland Lake and learn how to fish! No pre-registration is necessary.