Arizona News - 31/03

Arizona Fishing Report - March 31

First I want to thank the pros from Bass Pro and Cabelas, along with the great anglers from the Bass Federation Nation, for providing the public so many valuable fishing tips while doing talks on the fish demonstration tank during the Game and Fish Outdoor Expo. Everyone learned a lot of great fishing tips, including me.

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(Photo: Fishing Lee's Ferry. Courtesy AZGFD)

Rory's Tip

Here's something I think is way cool. During the Game and Fish Expo (and our youth day Friday), we had 4,270 youngsters visit the two fishing ponds full of hybrid sunfish and we estimate that 95 percent of them caught those fish. You have to love anything that creates thousands of smiles on kids faces.

Okay, onto fishing. With the warmer weather, things are changing fairly quickly, especially in the high country. Always check before you go. Blue Ridge and Long Lake are now accessible. I just talked to the Black Canyon Ranger District (Heber/Overgaard), and as of Wednesday, they were hoping to open the gate into Willow Springs on Friday. Check with them first -- plans can change. Might still be mid month before Woods Canyon etc. becomes accessible.

Even though we may show other lakes as not accessible, that is a point-in-time report -- most of that was as of Monday when our regions collected the information. I try to update as I hear something new and can verify it. If you find something open that we say is closed, let me know at and I'll do my best to pass it along.

Also, the Agua Fria Arm of Lake Pleasant (the eagle closure area) is now open. See the news release below.

In the lower elevations, the weather this week is shooting into the 90s, so the bass spawning action will continue heating up in our desert impoundments, and the crappie fishing (see the report below) will bust loose as well.

All in all, it gives you lots of tough choices to make, or simply go to your favorite water (unless it is still inaccessible behind melting snow drifts).

Since this is the spawning time, I won't get into the arguments about whether or not to fish bedding fish, that is a personal and ethical choice for each angler, but would ask that if you elect to catch bedding fish that you immediately release them so they can continue their valuable biological function.

Just heard from Mike McFarland, who is now guiding for Hook Up Outfitters, with some great information on Lake Pleasant. He's seeing a fair amount of largemouth bass on beds, with lots of bass staging for the spawn as well. For striped bass, some may have spawned, others haven't. For stripers, focus the main lake points, islands and reefs in 25 to 60 feet of water. I'll plug more details from Mike into the Pleasant report below. Thanks Mike, always good to hear from an expert who is on the water every day.

Hearing good reports from Alamo, Apache, Roosevelt, Saguaro, and Havasu as well. Bartlett for some reason has been a little challenging at times, but it is still one of my favorite lakes this time of year.

For the high country, the mighty Rim Road (FR 300) is still not open, but Chevelon Lake is accessible via the FR 504 from Heber, but keep in mind it's a steep but short hike into the lake (and a tough hike out), and there isn't much in the way of shoreline access. The gate is still closed into Willow Springs Lake on the Mogollon Rim, but one angler hiked in and fished it, although with no success. The was probably too cold, but that too could change rapidly.

This past week we did liberally stocked Kabiab Lake near Williams and will stock it again this week, so it should provide some good fishing opportunities. The road is open into the lake, but the campgrounds are still closed. We are also stocking Cataract Lake near Williams with trout this week, so you might want to give it a try.

The road is apparently open to Dogtown Reservoir near Williams, although the campground is still closed. Fishing might be slow, but you might just catch some larger hold-over trout, especially browns.

In the White Mountains, Becker Lake, Luna Lake, the Greer Lakes, and Nelson Reservoir in the Springerville and Alpine areas are ice-free with anglers beginning to catch some rainbow trout. Fools Hollow Lake and Show Low Lake have open water and decent fishing.

At the Greer Lakes, fishing for wild brown trout and carryover rainbows is fair. All of the Greer lakes (River, Tunnel, and Bunch) are ice-free. The paved roads to these lakes are clear and dry (easy access). Tunnel Reservoir is full, and River and Bunch are nearly full. A 24-inch 5-pound brown trout was recently caught at Bunch Reservoir.

This is also a good time to catch some cool water fish. Try for walleye at Fool Hollow and Show Low lakes. A woman caught a 23-pound northern pike at Upper Lake Mary near Flagstaff recently on a frozen anchovy. Upper Lake Mary also has lots of 1-plus-pound yellow perch, and this is a good time to start trying for them as well.

You can't hardly beat a trip to Lees Ferry right now (picture on the left). The fishing and the weather are both terrific and the scenery is spectacular. To me, it's the cathedral of trout fishing.

Also, check out the Lake Powell fishing report. If Wayne Gustaveson says it could be great fishing this weekend, it's sure worth a lot of consideration. Personally, what I would love is a day or two on Powell followed by a day on two on Lees Ferry, then I would be walking around smiling for the next month or so (dreams can come true).

It's time to go catch some great memories. Maybe I'll see you out there.

By Rory Aikens, © 2011 AZGFD

Read the full fishing report here

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