Water temperatures across the state have dropped to their winter standards, and fog and snow has slowed or stalled driving in the high country.
Be sure to check the Arizona Department of Transportation website for the latest road conditions.
Read for some winter fishing? First, anglers can pick a species to target, then figure out where you’ll go and how you’ll fish ’em. Here are some updates on a few popular species to target:
We just stocked incentive trout into many Community Fishing Program waters, including this one caught by Kevin Wood, a 20.25-inch, 5-pound, 14.4-ounce trout taken Jan. 9 from Surprise Lake. Many more have been reported – go get yours. Trout is probably the best winter option for putting dinner on the table or bragging to buddies about high catch rates.
In the Tucson area this week, we stocked Patagonia Lake with 1,000 rainbow trout and Pena Blanca with 1,500 trout. At the Community fishing waters Kennedy, Lakeside, Sahuarita and Silverbell, some incentive (larger than average) trout have been stocked.
Sounds like trout fishing is good at Parker Canyon Lake as well. See the angler report from Parker Canyon in the full report.
Know your winter tactics — it’s not an easy time to catch bass. With typical wintertime water temperatures (surface temperature at Bartlett Lake been around 52 degrees) a largemouth bass becomes lethargic and may feed once at first light and be satisfied for a couple days.
This isn’t to say avoid bass fishing. Just be prepared. Consider that about 10 percent of largemouth bass in our lakes will be staying shallow, or within the first 10 feet of the bank, throughout the day. As the sun comes up, many will travel deep where they might settle into a comfortable 66 degrees (say, 25 feet down.) This also is where the shad has been. In fact, as pointed out by Gary Senft, Bass Pro at the Mesa Bass Pro Shops, the deeper the water, the more plentiful the bait.
Target points, humps, reefs and islands.
And fish slowly. For example, creep a dropshot-rigged Roboworm (bass are eating a lot of orange and red colors, such as Salt River craw) along the bottom. Wait for a possible, subtle bite as the bait is falling. This is where bite-feeling techniques such as holding or thumbing your line as the bait is falling can be critical to catching a bass. Also, this is when having better gear such as fluorocarbon line and sensitive rod tips can make a big difference. Check online about the advantages of having tungsten weights …
We’ve had some good bass reports lately from Roosevelt Lake, where the green tinted water has meant fresh nutrients coming in. One angler (in our Angler Report section) reported having great action with an afternoon, crankbait bite in 8-10 feet of water.
According to our local bass fishing pro Clifford Pirch, that green tint is a result on new water carrying nutrients into the lake.
Best reported spots have been Alamo Lake (see full report), Bartlett Lake and Apache Lake. In general, crappie will be deep and near large schools of bait fish.
So there you go! See our Fish&Boat Arizona map for directions to our state’s primary fisheries.
See the full report for more details, and please share your fishing memories and pictures with us at BFishing@AZGFD.gov.
Don’t forget to bring your license! Need one? They can be purchased online. Your purchase helps conserve wildlife for future generations! (The Arizona Game and Fish Department does not receive state tax dollars.)
Free fishing events
We have lots of upcoming, free fishing clinics and events open to the public in the Phoenix, Tucson and southwest Arizona areas.
Frank: I spent a couple of days last week on Roosevelt and would call the bass fishing good. Sixteen keepers (including the attached 8-pound, 4-ounce beauty) and 10 a day later. Fishing cranks in 8-10 feet, and it is an afternoon bite.
Todd B.: I just read the report from the 7th. I have been telling people these fish are big this year. I have been fishing at Veteran’s lately for trout. The trout there have been averaging 14-15 inches and weighing about a pound each. These are nice fish for the average stocker. I have caught a few around two pounds each. I have seen some bigger ones cruising around however. Berkley Power Eggs have been the trick at Veteran’s this year. I use a little anise extract on the eggs before casting out. Just a little of the extract goes a long way, so just use a drop or two. I am still fishing in shallower water, and limiting out each trip. An eighteen inch leader seems to be doing the trick. Thank you.
Barry W.: Striper action was great last week at Pleasant. Maybe with the temps warming up this has caused the fish to be a little more aggressive. A friend and I fished from 2 p.m. to sunset.
To be honest it took a few hours to locate the fish and was slow. Many northern coves we tried did not have many striper on the fish finder. Around 4:30 p.m. we located a huge school of striper (200-plus fish) at the depth of around 20-28 feet. The striper were working a reef nearshore that dropped from 4-20 feet and having a feeding frenzy on shad.
We used a drop shot rig with anchovies and caught 37 stripers in less than an hour. The exciting thing about this fishing trip is my friend and I both had five double headers in that hour. Normally the striper action is much slower this time of year compared to the summer action at Lake Pleasant.
The key is to find the schools of striper. If you don’t have a fish-finder I would recommend dropping bait and chumming. If you don’t get any bites or action after 20 minutes bring the lines up and try a different location (keep searching). Striper travel in schools and are constantly on the move from what literature says and what I have witnessed. Once you find the school be sure to chum and keep that school interested below your boat.
We did not catch any fish bigger than 1.5 pounds, but the action was constant. We did see some anglers catching fish near us that were in the 5-6 pound range. It’s a great time to get out on the water and fish for striper, but it just requires a little more work to find them.
Also for you crappie fisherman we found lots of crappie suspended at 10-15 feet near underwater brush/ trees in the far back coves. I would highly recommend using a live minnow at around 8-10 feet or very small jigs. We talked to one kayaker who caught a few that same day using very small live minnows with a small circle hook. I have included a video that is two minutes long showing the constant fun action we had but most important it recorded our back-to-back double headers.