Arizona Fishing Is Hot and Cold


arizona fishing


Arizona fishing is hot... and cold. You get to do both.

Arizona fishing waters offer huge contrasts. Warm water desert lakes and cold high country waters are less than two hours apart. You can easily catch trout at Ashurst Lake all morning, and then drop down to Roosevelt Lake. There you can do some bass and crappie fishing in the afternoon and evening.



The photo above shows the fog drifting off Upper Lake Mary on a cool spring morning. Here we fished for pike. Later that day we were catching smallmouth bass at Apache Lake. I've also fished for stripers at Lake Pleasant on a hot desert night, and stopped by Ashurst Lake for a little morning trout fishing on the way home.

Our desert lakes offer great warm water angling. And our beautiful high country lakes and streams provide great cold water angling.





Fishing in the state's central and western desert lakes offers year-around sport, even in the very hot summer months.

Speaking of hot... when it gets too hot for day fishing, desert anglers often switch to nights and the early morning hours.

You can find more Arizona fishing information here.

Arizona fishing in the desert lakes offers lots of action and excitement. Healthy bass, catfish, and crappie populations are the rule.

But  you often need a boat and proper gear to fish the more remote parts of our larger lakes.


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Compare that with the smaller and very accessible cold water trout lakes and streams South of Flagstaff.

Arizona fishing in our high country waters is restful to your eyes and spirit. Although the lakes are smaller, they are rarely crowded.

Arizona fishing is better in the spring and fall seasons, but that's usually true all around the West. In our case it's true for both warm and cold waters.

In March, April, October, and November, while most anglers are looking to the desert lakes, a few are in the high country enjoying great trout fishing action.


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Arizona Fishing South of Flagstaff also offers some huge northern pike... and beautiful scenery, with lots of color. 

The photo above was shot at Ashurst Lake before sunrise. Looking north, the snow-crowned San Francisco Peaks shine in the early morning light. The photo below was also shot at Ashurst... as the sun began to make it's colorful appearance.



Arizona fishing for trout and northern pike attract a lot of anglers. Cold water fishing South of Flagstaff offers you a choice of several lakes and streams, including:


  • Ashurst Lake
  • Coconino Reservoir
  • Kinnikinick Lake
  • Upper Lake Mary
  • Lower Lake Mary
  • Oak Creek
  • West Fork (of Oak Creek)


The Arizona Fishin' Holes publication (available at all Arizona Game and Fish Department offices) is full of the information every Arizona angler needs.

Arizona’s Official Fishing Guide arrives in time for the New Year

Arizona’s Official Fishing Guide is hot off the presses and ready for purchase online from Arizona Highways Magazine or at Costco stores.


This “official” fishing guide for Arizona was a joint project between Arizona Highways and the Arizona Game and Fish Department. It was the first major collaboration between Arizona’s iconic magazine and the state’s renowned wildlife management agency. The book should be available soon at all Arizona Game and Fish Department offices as well.


The Arizona Highways website offers several publications that anglers will find informative, interesting... and beautiful.





With two exceptions, all of the waters listed above are accessed from Lake Mary Road. This road runs south from Flagstaff to Clints Well, where it meets Highway 87.

Oak Creek and the West Fork. Highway 89A follows Oak Creek north of Sedona, through Oak Creek Canyon..

Ashurst Lake (pictured above) is a popular lake, for camping as well as fishing.

Coconino Reservoir is a small lake reached by a very rough road south from Ashurst Lake.

Lower Lake Mary often suffers from a lack of water, but can produce fast action for stocked trout in the early spring. The lake is full, and good fishing is happening now.




Arizona fishing in our local waters offer you a variety of fish, including rainbow trout, brown trout, northern and walleye pike, and even a few bass and crappie.

The links below provides more information.

These waters also offer a huge bonus. Most of them boast nearby campgrounds or day use areas that offer shade and cool breezes.

Fishing in the high country lakes South of Flagstaff offers a wonderful summer retreat to the cool mountains. One weekend per month is great medicine for desert dwellers.


Arizona Fishing News and Information

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July 18, 2014



Arizona Game and Fish Department proposes changes to fishing regulations


Are catfish limits too liberal at Arizona Lakes? Would you like to see more opportunity to catch Arizona’s native trout species?

In order to best manage fish populations, simplify and streamline regulations, and incorporate public request, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is evaluating these fishing regulation changes.

The department is conducting a series of public meetings during July to provide information on the proposed fishing regulation changes and solicit comment. The meeting schedule is:

  • Pinetop Regional Game and Fish office, 2878 E. White Mountain Blvd., July 22, 6 p.m.
  • Tucson Regional Game and Fish office, 555 N. Greasewood Rd., July 23, 6 p.m.
  • Kingman Regional Game and Fish office, 5325 N. Stockton Hill Rd., July 23, 5 p.m.
  • Flagstaff Regional Game and Fish office, 3500 S. Lake Mary Rd., July 24, 6 p.m.
  • AZGFD Headquarters Office, Phoenix, 5000 W. Carefree Hwy, July 25, 6 p.m.
  • Tonto Basin Chamber of Commerce, State Route 188 and Rattlesnake Dr., July 28, 6 p.m.
  • Yuma Regional Game and Fish Office, 9140 E. 28th Street, July 29, 6-8 p.m.


In addition, the public can also submit written comments for 30 days via email to or by mail to: Arizona Game and Fish Department, Fisheries Branch, c/o Andy Clark, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086.

The changes are scheduled to be presented to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission at its meeting scheduled for Sept. 5-6. The public is welcome to attend and address the Commission on these proposals.

The proposed changes are:

  • Reduce the statewide bag limit for all species of catfish to 10, in the aggregate.
  • Designate all public waters as Community Fishing Program waters within the municipal boundaries of the cities of Phoenix, Maricopa, Avondale, Scottsdale, Gilbert, San Tan Valley, Cave Creek, El Mirage, Sun City, Sun City West, Beardsley, Goodyear, Buckeye, Chandler, Youngstown, Peoria, Glendale, Surprise, Payson, Tucson, Sahuarita, Yuma, Somerton, Tempe, Litchfield Park, and Fountain Hills, except the portions of the Verde River, Salt River, Gila River and Lake Pleasant.
  • Propose to change regulations at Freestone Park (Gilbert) and Friendship Park (Avondale) to a limit of two trout, two catfish, one bass (13-inch minimum length) and five sunfish
  • Designate Water Ranch Lake to a single barbless hook requirement for all species and place catch and release regulations on bass and sunfish.
  • Change regulations for Horton Creek, and Grant Creek to single barbless hook, artificial fly and lure only and catch and release only for trout.
  • Reduce daily bag limits of trout on Chevelon Creek above and below Chevelon Lake as artificial fly and lure only, with reduced bag limits.
  • Modify regulations to a limit of six trout, four catfish and two bass (13-inch minimum length) within the Williams area lakes: Kaibab, Cataract, Dogtown, City, and Santa Fe Reservoirs.
  • Reduce the bag limit to 25 sunfish and crappie, any combination, in the lower Colorado River, including Lake Havasu and Mittry Lake.
  • Maintain the current catch-and-release regulation for largemouth bass in Dankworth Pond and Pena Blanca Lake until Dec. 31, 2016.
  • Open catch and release seasons for Gila trout in Frye Creek and Apache trout in Upper East Fork-Little Colorado River, single barbless hook, artificial fly and lure only.
  • Allow goldfish to be used as live bait when collected and used onsite only in specific waters.


View the full details of the rationale behind each regulation.



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July 16, 2014



Nominations sought for 2014 Arizona Game and Fish Commission Awards


Recognize your fellow wildlife conservationists; Nominate them for a Commission Award



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July 9, 2014

Arizona Daily Independent


Administration’s hatchery plan would devastate Arizona economy


Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar introduced H.R. 5026, the Fish Hatchery Protection Act on Tuesday. The bill would preserve propagation fish hatcheries and propagation programs within the National Fish Hatchery System and stipulates that only the Congress can authorize the termination of such facilities or programs.

Read more



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June 29, 2014

Bureau of Reclamation


Bureau of Reclamation seeks public comments on proposed Native Fish Restoration Project in central Arizona


PHOENIX - The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking public comments on a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for a proposed fish barrier in Spring Creek, Yavapai County, Arizona. The proposed project is located within the Coconino National Forest north of the town of Cornville. Following construction, federally-endangered spikedace and Gila topminnow fish would be stocked in Spring Creek upstream of the fish barrier. The proposed project also considers stocking other federally listed fish, amphibians and semi-aquatic species.

Details of the proposed project are available in the draft Environmental Assessment. To request a copy, call Reclamation’s Phoenix Area Office at (623) 773-6251, or e-mail The draft EA is also on the internet at

Written comments should be sent by July 28, 2014 to John McGlothlen at Reclamation’s Phoenix Area Office, PXAO-1500, 6150 West Thunderbird Rd., Glendale, AZ 85306-4001, or faxed to (623) 773-6481.

For further information or questions call John McGlothlen at (623) 773-6256.



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June 18, 2014

Grand Canyon National Park


Once Thought Locally Extinct, Endangered Razorback Suckers Discovered Spawning in Grand Canyon National Park 


GRAND CANYON, Ariz. – The Department of the Interior announced today that researchers recently discovered Razorback suckers (Xyrauchen texanus), an endangered fish species, spawning in the lower Colorado River within Grand Canyon National Park. The detection of larval Razorback suckers, believed to have been missing from the Grand Canyon since the 1990s, provides evidence that these fish may be naturally reproducing in an area where the species has not been seen in over 20 years.

"The discovery that the Razorback suckers are spawning in the national park far upstream from Lake Mead is good news for this endangered species,” said Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Anne Castle. “It is also a demonstration of the power of the partnership among Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey, who have worked for recovery of this species side-by-side with Arizona state officials, Indian tribes, private landowners and researchers.” 

The larval fish were first detected on April 14, 2014 and again in multiple samples from April and May, confirming the occurrence of spawning and indicating that suitable habitat is available to support larger populations of this species.

“I’m proud to see that Grand Canyon provides habitat once again for this unique species, as well as for the endangered Humpback chub, and I’m committed to working with our cooperators to continue native fish conservation efforts within the park,” said Dave Uberuaga, Superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park. 

Unique to the Colorado River Basin, Razorback suckers were once widespread and abundant throughout the Colorado River and its tributaries from the Green River in Wyoming to the Gulf of California. Because of basin-wide alterations in habitat and the introduction of nonnative species, however, spawning and survival to adulthood were known to occur only in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. 

Researchers typically determine the age of captured Razorback suckers and monitor their habitat use, reproduction and movements, using specialized equipment designed to detect signals emitted from sonic tags implanted within the fish. 

Although the monitoring of the Razorback sucker has been conducted in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area for several years, the study was extended, beginning in the spring of 2014, from the Lake Mead Inflow area near Pearce Ferry upstream to Lava Falls Rapid within Grand Canyon National Park.  

On March 16, 2014, in cooperation with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, BIO-WEST, Inc. and the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the National Park Service and Bureau of Reclamation successfully released nine adult endangered razorback suckers in the Colorado River within Grand Canyon National Park, downstream of Lava Falls (River Mile 180).

During a subsequent April monitoring trip in Grand Canyon, conducted by BIO-WEST, Inc., American Southwest Ichthyological Researchers LLC, Bureau of Reclamation and the National Park Service, biologists located several newly released sonic-tagged fish, as well as previously tagged fish that migrated upstream from Lake Mead. 

“The most surprising result was finding larval Razorback suckers at 9 of the 47 locations in the park – far upstream from Lake Mead,” said Mark McKinstry, biologist with the Bureau of Reclamation. 

These results illustrate the resiliency of this fish to adapt to changing conditions according to Brandon Albrecht and Ron Kegerries of BIO-WEST, Inc., who have been monitoring the Lake Mead population for 18 years and are lead biologists for the Grand Canyon Razorback research. 

Brian Healy, fisheries program manager for the national park, said “Razorback suckers continue to surprise us in Grand Canyon, first with the discovery of adults after 20 years of absence, and now with spawning within the park. We’re all hoping to see evidence that these larval fish survive to adulthood in the coming years.”

“This exciting news suggests that Grand Canyon is becoming a significant basin-wide haven for the endangered fishes in the Colorado River,” said Lesley Fitzpatrick, biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Razorback suckers are named for the bony keel on their backs. They are the largest species of suckers that live in the Colorado River and reach a maximum length of 36 inches. They can live 40 years or more, feeding on a variety of insects and crustaceans.

This study is part of a cooperative effort funded by the Bureau of Reclamation, with the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program, Nevada Department of Wildlife, Arizona Game and Fish Department, BIO-WEST, Inc., American Southwest Ichthyological Researchers LLC. and Hualapai Tribe and is a component of the recently released Comprehensive Fisheries Management Plan for Grand Canyon National Park. 

The U.S. Geological Survey conducted extensive research on how the aquatic ecosystem of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon has been heavily influenced by Glen Canyon Dam and the decades of controlled release of water for power generation.

Additional information about Grand Canyon National Park’s fisheries program is available online.



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June 13, 2014



Arizona Game and Fish Commission votes to support
McCain amendments to Sportsmen’s Act


Amendments would enhance hunting and fishing opportunities in Arizona



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June 9, 2014

Prescott National Forest


Forest Service Lifts Bald Eagle Closure on the Verde River


The Forest Service has lifted the closure order on the bald eagle nesting area along the Verde River, south of Camp Verde. The Ladders Bald Eagle closure area is closed annually to the public from December through June in order to protect bald eagles, a sensitive species, from disturbance during their breeding and nesting period. In addition, thesite is monitored annually by eagle watchers from the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Nestwatch program to observe eagle biology and behavior. The site was occupied this season but there was no successful reproduction by the eagles.

The Ladders closure area is located south of Camp Verde along a two mile section of the Verde River and adjacent National Forest lands in the vicinity of the "Verde Falls" downstream to below Sycamore Canyon. Roads now open to public use include Forest Road 9709R from its junction with Forest Road 574 and parts of Forest Road 500 and Forest Road 9244 south of Cottonwood Basin.

The Closure Order and the Bald eagle Nestwatch Program are two of many management actions that agencies use to ensure that Arizona will always have bald eagles for the public to enjoy. The Forest Service and the Arizona Game and Fish Department would like to thank the residents of the Verde Valley and of Arizona for their cooperation with this bald eagle closure area.

If you have any questions please contact Albert Sillas at (928) 567-4121.



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June 6, 2014

Lees Ferry Anglers


Lees Ferry Fishing Report



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June 1, 2014

Western Outdoor Times


Page Springs And Bubbling Ponds


Page Springs Fish Hatchery is a wonderful destination for a day trip - that's right, the Fish Hatchery is a destination! For starters, it's free. Kids will love it because there is a trail that meanders along the creek, plus there is a picnic area where you can have some lunch and something cool to drink while the kids look at all the fish in the tanks.

Speaking of kids, be sure to bring some quarters so the kids can feed the big trout in the show pond. It's even fun for grown-ups - get a quarter's worth of fish chow from the machine and have fun watching the enormous trout come up to grab it. They are definitely not shy.

Read more



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May 27, 2014



Arizona Game and Fish rescues more than a half-million trout from Sterling Springs Fish Hatchery


With Slide Fire raging nearby, fingerling trout transported to safety


SEDONA, Ariz.—With the Slide Fire bearing down on Sterling Springs Fish Hatchery, the Arizona Game and Fish Department on Saturday, May 25, rescued some 600,000 trout fingerlings from the hatchery and transported them to safe sites.

The Sterling Springs Fish Hatchery typically produces 1.6 million eggs annually. In addition, the hatchery is responsible for 68 percent of the trout production for stocking in state waters. The emergency fish rescue operation that began at 6 a.m. helped ensure Arizonans will have trout to catch, and protected a portion of threatened, native Apache trout.

Four trucks made two trips each to transport more than 350,000 rainbow trout and 150,000 brown trout to Page Springs Hatchery, as well as more than 80,000 Apache trout to Canyon Creek Hatchery. Another 200,000-plus fry remain in Sterling Springs Hatchery tanks, too small to move, yet relatively protected.

See an on-the-scene Arizona Game and Fish Department video of the fish rescue.


Before the rescue, the Slide Fire incident management team ensured the hatchery was safe enough to allow Game and Fish personnel to enter and exit with minimal risk.

“Wednesday afternoon, things were getting pretty bad close to here,” said Bryce Sisson, manager at the Sterling Springs Fish Hatchery. “We could see flames less than a quarter mile from the hatchery that afternoon when we left. A helicopter was dropping water real close to the hatchery. It was looking pretty scary on Wednesday.”

Water for the hatchery is delivered through a pipeline more than 1 mile long. Any fire compromise to the pipeline, which is fragile and above ground, would have quickly killed fish. Also, when monsoons come, water delivery again is at risk from a potential overland flow of ash, silt and debris that could put all trout in the hatchery runways at risk.



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May 1, 2014



Community Fishing Bulletin


CFP expansion waters stocked

Water Ranch Lake in Gilbert
On Friday, April 25, eleven of the Community Fishing Programs expansion waters were stocked with catfish. Ponds stocked include Bonsall (Glendale), Discovery and McQueen (Gilbert), Pacana (Maricopa), four Yuma waters (Redondo Lake, Fortuna Lake, West Wetland Pond, and Council Ave. Pond), Roadrunner and Granada (Phoenix), and Eldorado (Scottsdale). Catfish stockings will continue in all CFP waters through mid-June. Grab your fishing poles and catch a feisty catfish!


Turn in poachers!

We need your help in catching poachers. Fishing without a license and taking too many fish are common violations. This interferes with our ability to manage fishing lakes and reduces your opportunities to catch fish. The Arizona Game and Fish Department's Operation Game Thief is an anti-poaching program that encourages the public to report any suspicious activity or knowledge about a poaching violation.

A toll-free hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-352-0700. The information also can be reported on the Department’s website ( Your report can remain confidential upon request, and rewards of up to $8,000 are available for information leading to an arrest. Do your part by helping the Department by reporting poachers.

Payson Wildlife Fair set for May 10

The 20th Annual Payson Wildlife Fair is happening on Saturday, May 10. This free event in the cool pines runs 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. at Green Valley Park, 1000 W. Country Club Dr. in Payson.

Admission, parking and activities are free! The Arizona Game and Fish Department will be stocking 800 pounds of rainbow trout for this event; that’s more than 1,000 fish going into the lakes! There will be fishing poles and bait available to borrow for free. No fishing license is required during the event hours (sign up at the fishing clinic booth). See you there!

Gilbert to propose catch-and-release for Water Ranch

The town of Gilbert is evaluating a proposal to modify Water Ranch Lake at the Riparian Preserve into a Catch-And-Release lake. As part of the town’s proposal, new catch-and-Keep fishing opportunities are being proposed at Freestone park in addition to the newly added CFP ponds of McQueen and Discovery parks. Thus far, there have been two public meetings convened on March 19th and March 22nd, and many comments have been received on both sides of the issue.

The tentative date for discussion by the Town Council is set for Thursday, May 15, 2014 to be held at 50 E Civic Center Dr Gilbert, AZ 85296. If the proposal is approved by Town Council, new regulations would need to be approved by The Arizona Game and Fish Department Commission at the September 2014 meeting. Public comments will be solicited during that process as well.



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April 26, 2014



Trout stockings to resume at Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery


The Arizona Game and Fish Department, in cooperation with Mohave County and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), succeeded on Tuesday, April 22, in creating a short-term solution to provide recreational fishing opportunities this fall in the Willow Beach-Bullhead City area.

Arizona Game and Fish will be providing some 21,000 juvenile rainbow trout to be reared and stocked through the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery, which is located along the Colorado River south of the Hoover Dam.

"This is a huge win for anglers in Arizona and Mohave County," said Chris Cantrell, fisheries chief for Game and Fish. "This will have a positive impact on all Arizona anglers, particularly from Willow Beach south to the Bullhead City area."

On Nov. 21, 2013, the hatchery, operated by the USFWS, conducted an emergency stocking of 11,000 rainbow trout when the low water level made it impossible to draw water. The hatchery, however, lost 20,000 fish due to a lack of water movement through the system. Since then, the hatchery has been unable to rear or stock sport fish.

Despite the hatchery's pipeline and infrastructure damages, this solution will allow for short-term angling opportunities. Meanwhile, Game and Fish, USFWS and Mohave County will continue to work toward a long-term solution to supply trout to Arizona waters for recreational fishing opportunities.

Added Stewart Jacks, USFWS fisheries and aquatic conservation assistant regional director: "These are challenging times, but this is a great example of people working together to come up with a solution. That includes those working at the hatchery. They are 'boots on the ground' every day -- no matter what's thrown at them, they come back looking for a solution with professionalism and dedication."

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission remains opposed to a reprioritization of National Fish Hatcheries by USFWS and will continue to work towards ensuring that the USFWS fulfills its commitment to support sportfishing in Arizona and across the nation.



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April 22, 2014

Arizona Daily Star


Study finds mercury in trout caught in three Grand Canyon creeks


With their natural beauty and protected environments, the Grand Canyon and other national parks in the West would seem removed from having mercury in their streams and rivers.

But a federal study found small levels of the contaminant in rainbow trout and brown trout at three Grand Canyon creeks — Bright Angel, Havasu and Shinumo — as well as in fish at 20 other parks.

Read more



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April 14, 2014

Grand Canyon National Park


Tagged Razorback Suckers Released in Grand Canyon



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April 6, 2014



2014 Arizona Fishing Regulations


PDF, 7mb



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April 5, 2014



Attention anglers: Tagged trout to be stocked into East Verde River


PHOENIX -- The Arizona Game and Fish Department is implanting radio tags into a small percentage of hatchery-raised trout that will be stocked into the East Verde River in order to examine stocked trout movement and fate.

These stockings will begin in April and coincide with the summer trout stocking schedule.

If you catch a trout with external tags (as pictured) you may keep OR release the fish. These fish are safe for human consumption.

If you catch a tagged fish, please call the number on the colored tag (623-236-7538) with the following information:

  • Location of the caught trout
  • Identification number on the colored external tag
  • Date the fish was caught

Tagged fish include a colored external tag (top), and radio tag with its incision (bottom).


Colored external tag with identification number (top) and phone number.


Radio tag


If you choose to keep a trout, please return the internal radio tag to any Arizona Game and Fish Department office or employee. You may consume the fish!

Currently, the Department can estimate catch rates (the number of fish anglers catch and keep). However, we cannot answer important questions such as: How long do trout live after being stocked? Do stocked trout move to a different area of the stream after being stocked? If they do move, do they move upstream or downstream?

These are important questions the Department will answer by using radio telemetry, which will help develop better stocking practices for improved angler use and satisfaction. So how does it work?

Each fish will have a unique identification number, which is printed on the colored tag and the implanted radio tag (see pictures). Each radio tag emits a beep, every two seconds, on a specific radio frequency. With a special receiver tuned to each specific radio frequency, we can locate each individually tagged trout. The signal can be transmitted about one kilometer. As we get closer to the tag, the signal, or beep, will get louder. With this equipment, the Department can locate exactly where each tagged fish is and determine how far the fish has moved, if and when the fish died, or if it was caught and removed from the stream. This allows us to study the fish, and anglers to enjoy catching and consuming them!

So remember, if you are fishing along the East Verde River and catch a trout with these tags, you may keep and eat the fish. Just call 623-236-7538 to report the catch, and please return the radio tag to any Department office or employee.



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February 24, 2014



Redear Sunfish World Record?


A pending world record, Arizona style, was yanked out of Lake Havasu on Sunday. Hector Brito's redear sunfish weighed 5.78 pounds. A steroid shellcracker, it was.


If you’ve never seen a 6-pound panfish, it’s time to head to Havasu, where the redear sunfish are likely benefitting from the invasive quagga mussels as a food source.

Brito (right) caught the redear sunfish at 11:30 a.m. and brought it to Bass Tackle Master in beautiful Lake Havasu City, where John Galbraith weighed it at 5.78 pounds on an Arizona Game and Fish-certified scale. It was 17 inches long. Brito caught the plump panfish by the chalk cliffs with a dropshot rig that included a No. 8 Aberdeen gold hook and a nightcrawler.

The record awaits certification by the International Game Fish Association.

The previous record, held by Bob Lawler, was 5.55 pounds in 2011. Redear sunfish have grown to trophy size in Lake Havasu. Redear sunfish in the 2-pound range and larger are regularly caught at this 19,300-acre impoundment on the Colorado River, formed by Parker Dam. Bluegill and redear can be caught around structure such as docks, vegetation, or artificial structure using mealworms, nightcrawlers, or small crappie jigs.

Yeah, it’s a pending world record, but with the unprecedented sizes of redear that have been caught at Havasu, look for an even bigger one to be caught within the next couple of years, or even months -- redear bite better in May and June. Might as well make it your record.

“(Brito) said he thought it was a catfish,” Galbraith said. “I don’t know what the genetic potential is for redear. But this record fish was not even a spawning fish. There’s some out there that are in the mid-6 (pound range) easy.”

Galbraith said the redears have been getting exceptionally large during the past four years the lake has been infested with the invasive quagga mussels. (Be sure to clean, drain and dry your boat before leaving Havasu or any AIS-affected lake – it’s the law.) See more information on aquatic invasive species.

Crawdads eat quagga mussels, which could be another reason for the enlarged redear, as well as smallmouth bass. Redear, we assume, eat quaggas, although this hasn't been proven. These sunfish meander along the bottom of lakebeds seeking and cracking open snails and other shelled creatures with its thick, pharyngeal teeth and hard, movable plates in its throat that allow it to crunch exoskeletons.

Congrats to Mr. Brito on the record. Who’s next?



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January 19, 2014



Outdoor recreationists are reminded to avoid bald eagle closure areas during breeding season


Each year as part of its highly successful program to manage and conserve bald eagles in the state, the Arizona Game and Fish Department asks outdoor recreationists to help protect important eagle breeding areas by honoring the closure of 23 areas across the state. Various land and wildlife management agencies close the breeding areas for part of the year, beginning in December, to protect the state’s 55 breeding pairs of bald eagles. Some of the closure areas are located near popular recreation sites.

“Cooperation from outdoor recreationists during the breeding season is critical and has been a major reason that the population continues to grow. Bald eagles are very sensitive to even short durations of human activity during breeding,” says Kenneth Jacobson, head of the Arizona Game and Fish Department Bald Eagle Management Program. “Breeding areas that are closed and fail to result in successful reproduction will be reopened as soon as they are deemed inactive.”

The bald eagle was federally listed as an endangered species in 1978. Nationally, the birds recovered enough to be removed from the list in 2007.

In December, Arizona bald eagles begin rebuilding nests in preparation for laying eggs. During this time, land and wildlife management agencies enact the seasonal breeding area closures. Bald eagles nest, forage and roost at the rivers and lakes that have become some of Arizona’s most popular recreation spots, and this time of year can be challenging for the birds.

Game and Fish’s bald eagle management efforts are supported by the Heritage Fund, an initiative passed more than 20 years ago to provide for wildlife education and conservation through Arizona lottery ticket sales.


  • Statewide – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established a 2000-foot above ground level (AGL) advisory along the Salt and Verde river drainages. When traveling in these drainages or near riparian habitat statewide, aircraft should maintain a minimum of 2000-foot AGL to ensure compliance with state and federal law.


Verde River
  • Verde River below Sycamore Canyon Wilderness may be closed to foot and vehicle entry from Dec. 1 to June 15. Floating through is allowed. Contact Coconino National Forest, Sedona Ranger District, (928) 282-4119.
  • Verde River near Chasm Creek is closed to foot and vehicle entry from Dec. 1 to June 15. Floating through is allowed. Contact Prescott National Forest, Verde Ranger District, (928) 567-4121.
  • Verde River near Cold Water Creek, allows watercraft to float through but no stopping on the river or landing is allowed Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Prescott National Forest, Verde Ranger District, (928) 567-4121
  • Verde River upstream of the East Verde confluence is closed to vehicle and foot entry from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed, but no stopping in the river or landing is permitted. Contact Tonto National Forest, Cave Creek Ranger District, (480) 595-3300.
  • Verde River near Mule Shoe Bend, allows watercraft to float through but no stopping in the river or landing is allowed from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Tonto National Forest, Cave Creek Ranger District, (480) 595-3300.
  • Verde River below Horseshoe Dam is closed to vehicle or foot entry on the southwest side of the river from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed, but no stopping in the river or landing on the southwest side of the river is allowed. Contact Tonto National Forest, Cave Creek Ranger District, (480) 595-3300.
  • Verde River below Bartlett Dam is closed to foot or vehicle entry from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed, but no stopping in the river or landing is permitted. Contact Tonto National Forest, Cave Creek Ranger District, (480)595-3300.
  • Verde River at the Needle Rock Recreation area is closed to foot and vehicle entry on the east side of the river from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed, but no stopping in the river or landing on east side of river is allowed. Contact Tonto National Forest, Cave Creek Ranger District, (480) 595-3300.
Tonto Creek
  • Tonto Creek from Gisela to 76 Ranch is closed to vehicle, foot entry, and floating through from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Tonto National Forest, Tonto Basin Ranger District (928) 467-3200.* Tonto Creek inlet to Roosevelt Lake is closed to vehicle and foot entry within 1000 feet of the nest on land, and to watercraft within 300 feet on water from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Tonto National Forest, Tonto Basin Ranger District (928) 467-3200.
Salt River
  • Salt River from Horseshoe Bend to Redmond Flat allows watercraft to float through, but no stopping in the river or landing is allowed from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Tonto National Forest, Globe Ranger District, (928) 402-6200.
  • Salt River near Meddler Point is closed to vehicle and foot entry within 1000 feet of the nest on land, and to watercraft within 300 feet on water from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Tonto National Forest, Tonto Basin Ranger District (928) 467-3200.
  • Salt River near Campaign Bay may be closed to vehicle and foot entry within 1000 feet of the nest on land, and to watercraft within 300 feet on water from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Tonto National Forest, Tonto Basin Ranger District (928) 467-3200.
  • Salt River below Stewart Mountain Dam is closed to vehicle or foot entry on the south side of the river from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed. Contact the Tonto National Forest, Mesa Ranger District, (480) 610-3300.
  • Salt River near Goldfield-Kerr Fire Station is closed to foot and vehicle entry on the north side of the river from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed. Contact Tonto National Forest, Mesa Ranger District, (480) 610-3300.

Crescent Lake

  • A portion of the entrance road may be restricted to a “no stopping zone” and a portion of land near the parking area may be closed to foot entry from April 1 through July 30. Contact the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest, Springerville Ranger District, (928) 333-4372.
Greer Lakes
  • A portion of the lake may be closed to watercraft and a portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from March 1 through July 31. Contact the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest, Springerville Ranger District, (928) 333-4372.

Lower Lake Mary
  • There may be no vehicle or foot traffic allowed on a portion of the north side of the lake from Jan. 1 to Aug. 30. Contact the Coconino National Forest, Mormon Lake Ranger District, (928) 774-1147.

Luna Lake
  • Luna Lake is closed to vehicle and foot traffic on the north side from Jan. 1 to June 30. The area adjacent to the nesting closure on the upper end of the lake is closed for nesting waterfowl from Feb. 15 to July 31. Contact Apache National Forest, Alpine Ranger District, (928) 339-4384.

Show Low Lake
  • A portion of the lake may be closed to watercraft and a portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from approximately March 1 through July 31. Contact the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest, Lakeside Ranger District, (928) 368-2100.

Whitehorse Lake
  • A portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from March 1 to Aug. 31. Contact the Kaibab National Forest, Williams Ranger District (928) 635-5600.

Woods Canyon Lake
  • A portion of the lake is closed to watercraft and a portion of the shoreline is closed to foot entry from April 1 through Aug. 31. Contact the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest, Black Mesa Ranger District, (928) 535-7300.


If you are visiting bald eagle country, an advance call to the local land management agency (USDA Forest Service district, etc.) or the Arizona Game and Fish Department may help you plan your trip to avoid disturbing bald eagles. By following these simple guidelines, we can all help ensure that our living wildlife legacy will last for generations to come:
  • Enjoy bald eagles from outside the closures, especially during critical nesting times (December to June). These areas are posted with signs and/or buoys, and many have daily nestwatch monitors. Anyone approached by a nestwatcher and asked to cease an activity or leave a closed area should comply. A few good places to see bald eagles without disturbing them (during December and January) are at Lake Mary and Mormon Lake near Flagstaff or on the Verde Canyon Train in Clarkdale.
  • Bald eagles protecting an active nest will let you know if you are too close. If a bald eagle is vocalizing and circling the area frantically, you are too close and need to leave the area quickly. Bald eagles incubating eggs or brooding small young should never be off the nest for more than 15 minutes.
  • Pilots should maintain the FAA-recommended 2,000-foot AGL advisory when flying over bald eagle habitat such as along the riparian areas of the Salt and Verde Rivers and Lakes such as Lake Pleasant, Roosevelt lake, and Alamo Lake. These areas are designated on the Phoenix Sectional Aeronautical Map. Special brochures for pilots regarding this advisory can be obtained by calling the Arizona Department of Transportation or the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s nongame branch, (623) 236-7506.
  • Help from anglers is especially needed. Monofilament and tackle has killed two nestlings and has been found in two-thirds of all bald eagle nests in the state. Every year we remove this potentially lethal material from nests and/or entangled nestlings. Ospreys, shorebirds, waterfowl and songbirds also succumb to this litter. Do not discard any type of monofilament along rivers and lakes, but recycle it at fishing stores. Keep your monofilament fresh; do not use old brittle line. Make sure to use the correct test line for the fish you are trying to catch. Also, do not cut the line when an undesirable fish is caught and return it to the water with the hook and line attached.
You can help bald eagle research and recovery efforts by reporting any harassment or shooting of bald eagles. Call the Arizona Game and Fish Operation Game Thief Hotline at 1-800-352-0700 or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement at (480) 967-7900.



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August 28, 2013



Arizona becoming destination for monster flathead catfish


PHOENIX -- The way some anglers look at Arizona as a fishing destination has begun to change since April when “Flathead” Ed Wilcoxson landed the heaviest recorded fish in the state’s history.

Word is getting out that The Grand Canyon State is home to many gargantuan flathead catfish.

Wilcoxson, after photos of his 76.54-pound flathead catfish taken out of Bartlett Lake were shared on fishing forums and media outlets across the World Wide Web, has received phone calls from interested anglers as far away as Africa, England and Australia. He said producers from the hit show “Duck Dynasty” on A&E requested Wilcoxson send them a short video of him fishing.

With Labor Day weekend just ahead, anglers can escape the heat and fish the night for this square-tailed catfish that may attain weights up to 100 pounds.

“I believe there’s bigger ones than (my record) out there,” Wilcoxson said. “I hooked two last year that absolutely broke me off. Even fishing as much as I do, it took me by surprise.”

Read more


~~~~~ ~~~~~

April 12, 2013



History made: Angler reels in state’s heaviest recorded fish

Eddie "Flathead Ed" Wilcoxson holds his state record 76.52-pound flathead catfish
PHOENIX – Eddie “Flathead Ed” Wilcoxson was asleep on the fold-out cot of his 24-foot pontoon boat on Friday, April 12, when what would become a state record flathead catfish began taking drag at Bartlett Lake.


About 35 minutes later, at 2:37 a.m., Wilcoxson, 56, boated what Arizona Game and Fish Department officials verified is a 76.52-pound flathead catfish. It measured 53.5 inches in total length with a 34.75-inch girth.

It also became the heaviest recorded fish of any species in state history, topping the 74-pound flathead catfish caught in 1988 out of the Colorado River by Walter Wilson of Bard, Calif.

In addition, Wilcoxson’s flathead beat the previous inland waters state record held by Adrian Manzanedo of Florence, who in 2003 caught a 71-pound, 10.24-ounce flathead at San Carlos Lake.

“Everybody’s got the same chance I do,” Wilcoxson said. “You just have to get out and do it.”

Wilcoxson, of Surprise, was in the yellow cliffs area of Bartlett fishing in 35-38 feet of water over a rock pile. He caught the flathead using an Ugly Stik fishing rod, Okuma 45D reel, 60-pound braided line, an 18-inch steel leader with a SPRO Power Swivel and, as bait, a live 2-pound carp.

“I sleep out on the water 3-4 days sometimes,” Wilcoxson said. “Sometimes during Thanksgiving I’ll spend three weeks straight out there. Also, I fished 39 weekends last year.”

Bill Stewart, also of Surprise, was on the boat as well.

Wilcoxson owns the “AZ Fishing 4 Flathead Cat” fishing guide service. He said he received his new guide license April 1. “But I’ve been fishing Arizona my whole life,” he said.

He said he’d never caught one this big, although he did land one that weighed about 65 pounds.

“When it came close to the boat, I saw there was only one treble hook in the corner of his mouth,” Wilcoxson said, “so I backed off on the drag. If not, it would have ripped right out of his mouth.”

Wilcoxson said he and Stewart brought the behemoth in the boat with the help of a heavy-duty lip grabber.

In addition to flathead catfish, the 2,015-acre Bartlett Lake, located in the Tonto National Forest northwest of Phoenix, holds largemouth bass, sunfish, crappie, channel catfish, carp and crayfish.

Bartlett Lake also produced the state record carp that weighed 37 pounds, measured 40 inches, and was caught in 1987 by Jonathan Gardner of Phoenix.

A USFS Tonto Pass is required to access Bartlett Lake.



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May 6, 2011

Arizona Game and
Fish Department

Sunfish caught at Lake Havasu could be world record


Robert Lawler of Lake Havasu on May 2 landed a huge 5.55 pound, 16.75-inch redear sunfish out of Lake Havasu.

You read that correctly – sunfish.

The behemoth panfish had a 19-inch girth. Lawler used a Texas-rigged 7-inch Power Worm. There’s no doubt it is a contender for a world record.

Right now, it's a semi-official Arizona state record for the Colorado River.

Oddly enough, these relatively small species feed on invasive quagga mussels. This guy must have been getting his fill.

The existing state record redear was caught Feb. 16, 2010 at Lake Havasu by a California angler and it weighed 4 pounds 2.24 ounces and was 15.5 inches long.

John Galbraith of provided the photo.

To learn more about big fish records in Arizona waters, fishing tips and more, visit

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March 2, 2011

Arizona Game and
Fish Department

Historic first-ever state record Gila trout caught at Frye Mesa Reservoir



PHOENIX – The historic first-ever Gila trout record in Arizona was caught on Feb. 28 from Frye Mesa Reservoir following the stocking of these colorful native salmonids into the reservoir near Safford on Feb. 27.

Robert Woods of Flagstaff caught a 19¼-inch, 3.35-pound Gila trout at Frye Mesa Reservoir on Feb. 28 and brought it 

into the department’s Flagstaff regional office for verification.

It’s not only the standing state record right now, it is also the first-ever record for this native fish.

“Angling history is seemingly being made each time we turn around. These are exciting times for anglers in Arizona,” said Fisheries Chief Kirk Young.

Here’s what’s been happening.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission on Feb. 4 created the first-ever season on native Gila trout at Frye Mesa Reservoir on the Pinaleño Mountains in southern Arizona. It’s a 1-fish limit though for these trout – catch more and you can be cited (some already have been).

“Arizona has never had an open season on Gila trout. They were thought to have been extirpated from the state before we had regulated fishing seasons,” explained Young.

This has all been possible because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mora National Fish Hatchery in New Mexico had larger surplus Gila trout available that were not conducive for stocking in small recovery streams. Those larger Gila trout were stocked into Frye Mesa Reservoir last week on Feb. 27.

That’s not the only unique angling aspect to the proposal.

Mt. Graham is now the only mountain on the planet where you can fish for native Gila trout, native Apache trout, plus rainbow trout, brown trout and brook trout. It’s now the Mt. Graham Grand Slam.

Remember, when it comes to Gila trout, it’s only one-fish per customer. Eight anglers have already been warned about exceeding this bag limit at Frye Mesa Reservoir.

“Basically it means you may have one fish in your possession, not one at home and one on your stringer. The reason we allowed for the harvest of one was so that anglers could turn in a state record or keep a unique trophy fish,” said Jason Kline, a fisheries biologist in the Tucson region.

Game and Fish officials are also encouraging anglers to practice catch-and-release on these natives – there are only so many to go around. "This is an incredible opportunity to catch a native trout. Please consider releasing these colorful native trout so that others can experience these remarkable angling memories."

However, Arizona is not the first state to have a season on Gila trout. New Mexico has had a limited season on Gila trout in specific waters.


~~~~~ ~~~~~

December 9, 2009

Arizona Game and
Fish Department

New state record striper caught during major winter storm


Angler reels in a fishing bonanza at Lake Pleasant

PHOENIX – While most people were huddled indoors out of the torrential rain on Dec. 7 while a major winter storm pummeled the state, John Davis was enjoying a fishing bonanza at Lake Pleasant, including landing a new inland state record striped bass.

“I’ve never experienced anything quite like it, they were hitting topwater all day long in the rain. It was really something,” Davis said.

Arizona Game and Fish Department officials say John’s monster striper weighed in at 28.58 pounds and measured 45.7 inches long. He caught the behemoth on a Zara Super Spook, which is a topwater lure.

What’s more, he was the only angler out there braving the storm, and reaping the benefits.

John said the behemoth striper actually hit the lure twice without being hooked, but came back a third time. John was amazed he could even land the fish – it ran like a runaway freight train, tearing off line and it took him some time to subdue the giant.

Davis would like to have the striper mounted, or at least have a replica of it created.

Davis, a Phoenix resident, routinely fishes Lake Pleasant, but said he has never seen such phenomenal topwater action before. “The stripers were in a feeding frenzy in Humbug Cove. I was getting multiple hits on my topwater lures, all day long. It was amazing.”

John said the sometimes it rained very hard, but the wind didn’t blow, so it wasn’t too bad out there. “Actually, it was kind of nice.”

It’s always nice when you hit the jackpot. John caught and mostly released around 50 stripers during his rain-soaked, day-long fishing bonanza.

Game and Fish biologists said research studies at Lake Pleasant have shown that the majority of striped bass congregate in the northern coves during winter, especially over submerged creek and river channels.

“The striper fishing at Lake Pleasant has really taken off the past several years. In fact, the striper bite last winter was pretty remarkable – anglers were routinely catching dozens of fish. It looks like we are off to a good start again this winter,” said Fisheries Chief Kirk Young.

Lake Pleasant has not always had stripers, but it is the only lake in the state with white bass. However, when the Waddell Dam was raised in the early nineties, Central Arizona Project water from the Colorado River began being pumped into this popular desert reservoir on the Agua Fria River. Eventually, striped bass from the Colorado River got into the lake.



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