by Arizona Game and Fish Department

Roosevelt Lake

Fishing Rating: Good

Lake temperatures are in the low 70s and expected to reach the low 80s by August. Bass anglers should find good-to-excellent fishing on Roosevelt Lake, including an excellent top-water bite as schools bass will chase shad during early mornings onto shallow flats and the backs of coves. Try walking frogs baits or other shad-pattern top-water lures. Be sure to not set the hook too quickly when getting a top-water bite: this can rip the hook away from the fish.

We recently installed the final artificial habitat structures into Roosevelt Lake. See the updated map of G.P.S. points of these structures.

Catfish action can be excellent this summer as well, especially during full moon nights. Most catfish anglers fish from the shorelines on the Salt River end of the lake or near the dam. The best baits include cut baits (meat, fish or chicken) or prepared dough baits.

Crappie fishing should be good. During the spring we stocked around 13,000, 6-inch crappie into the lake while there was ideal, submerged habitat. This could make for great late-summer and fall crappie action. Look for crappie to be gathered in large schools. Try fishing near cover using trolling or vertical techniques. Trolling typically proves to be the best method during the summer. Try fishing the early mornings until around 10 a.m.

Small baits such as a 2″ curly-tail grub tail or a small crank-bait are the most popular bait choices for summer crappie fishing.

Roosevelt Lake exhibits thermal stratification during summer months. Depth of the thermocline varies between years, but typically occurs around 25 to 30 feet. Winter precipitation and snow pack increased the lake level and it is currently 77% full. See the current lake elevation.

Fish tend to be most active during the 90-minute windows surrounding the sun and moon rise and fall. When the moon is at full or new moon stage, the effect is stronger. There are many apps that you can use that display this information for you. As fishermen know, severe weather changes have an impact on the way fish feed. If a cold front is approaching the fish tend to move deeper into the water and lay low. Barometric pressure is a good indicator. If it changes quickly the fish tend to be less likely to show interest in your bait. If the change is gradual the fish will respond favorably.

Largemouth bass are present in all sizes and fishing for them is expected to be good throughout the summer. As the weather warms, shift to working plastics in deeper water using Texas rigs, Carolina rigs and dropshot. When in doubt throw a live worm on the bottom and see what bites!

Lake Pleasant

Rating: Good

Lake temperatures are warming up from low 70s in May to low 80s in August. As water temperatures rise, the top-water action picks up. In early June, anglers were chasing boils as stripers were driving shad to the surface. Throw a shad-imitation lure into the frenzy.  Be sure to not set the hook too quickly when getting a top-water bite: this can rip the hook away from the fish.

Try your luck at these striped bass fishing deep using spoons and shad-imitation lures. Or beat the heat and try fishing at night when fish move shallower to feed. Anglers have good success fishing anchovies under lights at night. The lights draw in schools of shad and the striped bass are drawn to those schools. You can also try and fish the shad boils. Scan the surface until you find a boil then cast into and around the edges using top-water baits or swimbaits.

Water levels should be at their highest during May through June and then slowly decline as water is drawn through the Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal. See the latest water level.

Lake Pleasant exhibits thermal stratification during summer months. Depth of the thermocline varies between years, but typically occurs around 20 to 25 feet during the summer months.

From Dec. 15 to June 15, an eagle closure prohibits boaters from reaching the upper end of the Agua Fria River via the main lake. The area above the closure provides prime spawning grounds for striped bass. These stripers tend to congregate in the Aqua Fria River arm during the closure. The Department, in coordination with Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Land Management, have worked to get more angler access without causing a negative effect to bald eagles. The joint effort has resulted in reopening the access road off of Table Mesa Road and constructing a primitive boat launch area that is open for a brief time period each spring allowing access to Lake Pleasant above the eagle closure. To catch striped bass, try using live shad, anchovies, silver Kastmasters, plastic swimbaits and top-water lures.

Largemouth bass numbers are fewer here than other lakes in central Arizona, yet fishing is expected to be good throughout the summer. Try fishing deeper using dropshot and plastic worms. Bow fishing for carp in the back of coves is picking up this time of year as they move into shallower warmer water.

Flathead catfish are present throughout the lake but are more common in the Aqua Fria River arm or by the dam. Look for spots where the water is murkier with vegetation or rocky covering nearby. Fishing for catfish should be great this summer. Try using catfish baits like chicken livers for smaller catfish. To catch a trophy size, try using live gizzard shad, sunfish or carp.

Saguaro Lake:

Fishing Rating: Good

Lake temperatures are warming up from low 70s in March to low 80s in August. Water levels this summer should be stable with minimal fluctuation as water is released through the Salt River chain. See the current lake elevation. The thermocline becomes well established in May and is usually around 15 to 20 feet. Thermal stratification continues until lake mixing occurs in October. No golden-algae fish kills have occurred this year. SRP begins to draw water through the Salt River Chain in May which will flush water through the Salt River Chain reservoirs and decrease the chances of a golden algae fish kill.

Fish tend to most active during the 90-minute windows surrounding the sun and moon rise and fall. When the moon is at full or new moon stage the effect is stronger. There are many apps that you can use that display this information for you. As fishermen know, severe weather changes have an impact on the way fish feed. If a cold front is approaching the fish tend to move deeper into the water and lay low. Barometric pressure is a good indicator. If it changes quickly the fish tend to be less likely to show interest in your bait. If the change is gradual the fish will respond favorably.

Largemouth bass are present in all sizes and fishing for them is expected to be good throughout the summer. As the weather warms, shift to working plastics in deeper water using Texas rigs, Carolina rigs and dropshot. When in doubt throw a live worm on the bottom and see what bites! Try a dropshot rig with purple or morning dawn-colored Roboworms. When focusing on largemouth bass, fish near shady areas with overhangs or drop-offs. When water temperatures rise, look for jumping shad and toss your line in.

Yellow bass are abundant throughout the lake and fishing should be great. During the last fish survey in 2019, we caught multiple yellow bass over one pound and the current state record is 1 pound, 15.8 ounces. This lake definitely has the ability to beat the current record. Try using jigs, spoons, spinners, small crankbaits, minnows and worms. During warmer months, yellow bass swim in 10–14 feet of water off major outside points of the lake or prominent submerged shelves or ledges adjacent to shorelines. Schools look for groups of shad, so if the bite slows, don’t be too impatient to move off a good point you’ve located. Use sonar from a boat to locate shad groups more precisely — yellow bass are not far behind. They may be below or to the side of schools. Pitch your lure adjacent to or drop it through the school, allowing it to settle to the bottom. Many times bass take the lure on the way down and you won’t feel a bite until you reel in and tighten your line.

If you crave catfish, set your line near the bottom and use worms, minnows and chicken livers as bait. Try fishing for catfish where water flows into the lake from a side canyon, especially if the side canyon waters flow into a deep hole.

For shore anglers, try fishing along the docks and shore near the second ramp. You also can follow a trail beyond the docks that winds along a cliff from which you can fish. Butcher Jones Recreational Area is another shore-access fishing site that has a trail leading to a fishing dock as well as a side cove along the cliffs. Don’t forget to try fishing at the marina, where bass tend to congregate.

Canyon Lake

Fishing Rating: Fair

Lake temperatures are warming up from lows 70s in May to low 80s in August. Water levels this summer should be relatively stable with minimal fluctuation as water is released through the Salt River chain. See the current lake elevation.

Canyon had minor fish kills related to golden algae during this spring that consisted of mostly shad. Golden algae-related kills should taper off as SRP begins to draw water through the Salt River Chain in May, which will flush water through the Salt River Chain reservoirs and decrease the chances of a golden algae fish kill. The thermocline becomes well established in May and is usually around 25 to 35 feet.

Largemouth bass are present in all sizes and fishing is expected to be fair throughout the summer. Canyon is known for its large bass; however, it’s a little harder to catch fish here if you aren’t familiar with the lake. As the weather warms, shift to working plastics in deeper water using Texas rigs, Carolina rigs and dropshot. Try using spoons such as Kastmasters and Super Dupers along the ledges close to drop offs, drop them in then bounce it along the bottom.

Shore anglers can try fishing off of Acacia day-use recreational area where habitat is placed near the buoys or head over to Boulder recreational area and fish off the pier. Shore anglers should also try their luck at the newly renovated Boulder Recreational Area. This recreational area is restricted from motorized watercrafts and is a great place to kayak. During our recent fish survey we caught quite a few largemouth bass in the back of the cove.

Bartlett Lake

Fishing Rating: Hot

Lake temperatures are warming up from low 70s in May to low 80s in August. Due to the great winter we had, water levels are higher than normal – the lake reached 99% full. See the current lake elevation.
The thermocline becomes well established in May and is usually around 35 to 45 feet. Thermal stratification continues until lake mixing occurs in September/October.

Fish tend to be most active during the 90-minute windows surrounding the sun and moon rise and fall. When the moon is at full or new moon stage, the effect is stronger. There are many apps that you can use that display this information for you. As fishermen know, severe weather changes have an impact on the way fish feed. If a cold front is approaching, the fish tend to move deeper into the water and lay low. Barometric pressure is a good indicator. If it changes quickly, the fish tend to be less likely to show interest in your bait. If the change is gradual the fish will respond favorably.

Largemouth bass are present in all sizes and fishing is expected to be excellent-to-good throughout the summer. We recently surveyed Bartlett Lake and caught multiple largemouth bass throughout the lake ranging in size from fry to over 3 pounds. As the weather warms, shift to working plastics in deeper water using Texas rigs, Carolina rigs and dropshot. When in doubt throw a live worm on the bottom and see what bites! When focusing on largemouth bass, fish near shady areas with overhangs or drop-offs. When water temperatures rise, look for jumping shad and toss your line in.

It’s expected to be a good year for crappie and we anticipate fishing to be hot. Try fishing around submerged trees or on shelves. Try using live minnows or jigs tipped with minnows. Flathead catfish are present throughout the lake but are more common upriver or by the dam. Look for spots where the water is murkier with vegetation or rocky covering nearby. Fishing for catfish should be great this summer. Try using catfish baits like chicken livers for smaller catfish. To catch a trophy size try using live sunfish or carp.

Lower Salt River

Fishing Rating: Good

The Lower Salt River flow and water temperatures are largely controlled by the release of water from Saguaro Lake at Stewart Mountain Dam, and from Bartlett Lake via the Verde River. During the winter and much of spring, releases from Saguaro Lake are slowed to a trickle, creating more intermittent pools and shallow water along the stretch of river upstream of Phon D. Sutton recreation site where the Verde River comes in. See the current river flows.

Access to the river is mostly through Tonto National Forest Recreation Sites where a Tonto Pass is needed to park. In order from Saguaro Lake downstream to Power road, these sites are: Water Users, Blue Point Bridge, Coons Bluff, Phon D Sutton, and Granite Reef Dam recreation sites.

Trout stockings usually occur twice a month* through June, making trout fishing in the desert a worthwhile endeavor. Try drifting a weightless earthworm through moving water, or dropping in some PowerBait in the deeper pools. This is also a great opportunity to try your hand at fly fishing, and a size 8 wooly bugger will catch just about anything that swims.

Bass can be found throughout the river, but during the period of low flows are generally stacked in the deeper holes. The Granite Reef Dam recreation area is a popular spot for kayak bass fishermen, and because it is below where the Verde River comes in, water levels stay more consistent throughout the year. Try using square bill crankbaits and spinnerbaits when the fish are more active and slowing it down with a dropshot rig when nothing else seems to be working.

The Lower Salt River has a variety of other species to offer that can be caught on rod and reel including carp, catfish, yellow bass, and native desert and Sonoran suckers. These species are rarely targeted along the river but can be just as much fun to catch.

*As a guideline, trout are primarily stocked at Phon D Sutton and Granite Reef recreation sites during the winter, and Water Users and Blue Point Bridge during the summer.

Apache Lake

Fishing Rating: Good

Lake temperatures are warming up from low 70s in May to low 80s in August. Water levels this summer should be relatively stable with minimal fluctuation as water is released through the Salt River chain. See the current lake elevation.

No golden algae fish kills have occurred this year. SRP begins to draw water through the Salt River Chain in May, which will flush water through the Salt River Chain reservoirs and decrease the chances of a golden algae fish kill. The thermocline becomes well established in May and is usually around 25 to 30 feet.

Largemouth are present in all sizes and fishing is expected to be good throughout the summer. As the weather warms, shift to working plastics in deeper water using Texas rigs, Carolina rigs and dropshot. When in doubt, throw a live worm on the bottom and see what bites!

Shore fishing is best at the main launch area and at Burnt Corral. Dirt roads allow you to drive around the lake, take a short hike to the water and fish from the shore. The lake provides many coves to fish by boat. For walleye fishing, head toward the upper area of the lake past the no-ski buoys and fish Bronco Creek. A successful walleye technique involves a trolling shad pattern with crank baits in 10 to 30 feet of water.

* Tempe Town Lake:

Fishing Rating: Poor

Fishing at Tempe Town Lake is likely to be slow due to a fish kill caused in part by golden algae. Tempe Town Lake went through severe die off lasting several weeks to months from to a late winter to early spring. Fish stockings were suspended until follow-up testing determined golden algae was no longer detected. Tempe Town Lake did have fish kills related to golden algae during the spring that included species other than shad. Golden algae related kills have tapered off at Tempe Town Lake and fish stockings have resumed!

The Community Fishing Program stocked 1,500 pounds of channel catfish April 27 and will stock twice more before the summer break. The end of May and beginning of June will be the last two catfish stockings until the cooler weather (and water temps) return at the beginning of October. To catch these cats, try using baits on the bottom like hot dogs, bacon, nightcrawlers, shrimp, chicken livers, or stink baits. Largemouth bass, yellow bass, sunfish, tilapia, and carp populations have greatly decreased with the late winter fish kill and are likely to remain slow-fishing until populations increase.

Boating anglers beware: power boats are restricted to single electric motors and operators must have a City of Tempe annual boating permit. Proper floatation devices are required on board. The boat ramp is located on the north side of the lake near the marina.

Shore anglers may want to find some shade around the lake. A good spot is under the Mill Ave or Scottsdale Road bridges on both the north and south side of the lake.

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