Arizona Fishing Is Hot and
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
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
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.
Compare that with the smaller and very accessible cold water trout lakes and streams
South of Flagstaff.
Arizona fishing in our high country
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
July 26, 2014
Community Fishing Bulletin
Summer break for fish stocking
The Community Fishing Program does not stock fish from mid-June through
mid-Sept. at any of our designated waters.
Water temperatures are high, and stress associated with hauling leaves fish
vulnerable to die-off. Catfish stockings will resume the week of Sept. 16-21.
Catfish stocking is scheduled to resume during the week of Sept. 14.
Meantime, you might consider heading up to the mountains to cool off and enjoy
some good trout fishing. See
the Summer Trout Stocking Schedule.
Be a responsible angler,
dispose of used fishing line and hooks
Improperly disposed line and fishing hooks can pose unitended risks to your
fellow anglers and wildlife that often use the same waters. Please do your part
to keep the parks clean, safe, and enjoyable for all visitors, including
migratory waterfowl, birds, turtles, and even mammals such as bobcats, coyotes
TURN IN POACHERS! Call Operation GAME THIEF (1-800-352-0700)
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
Our toll-free hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Information also can be reported on the Department’s website (www.azgfd.gov).
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.
Here’s some tips for reporting violations (remembering who, where, when
and what are all important):
Name: Get a name of the person if possible. If not, a license plate
number will do.
Description: Record approximate height/physical build, hair, eyes,
facial hair, and clothing.
Violation: Describe what you saw in as much detail as possible. How do
you know it was a violation?
Date/Time/Location: What date, time of day, and specific location did
you witness a violation?
Other information: Provide any other descriptor that would help an
officer pick the suspect from a crowd.
Do not interfere with or attempt to stop the violator. If the officer has
not yet arrived, get license plate number(s), vehicle description(s), or
suspect description(s) before the violator leaves, but be subtle about it.
It is also extremely helpful, if you can, to take digital photos and/or
video tape of the suspect(s), vehicle(s), or activity. If you need to leave,
then leave. You have done your duty by calling in the information.
July 24, 2014
Arizona Game and Fish Department
Commission Chairman to present testimony on Fish Hatchery Protection
PHOENIX -- Arizona Game and Fish Commission Chairman Robert Mansell will
present testimony on Wednesday, July 23 in Washington D.C. to the House Natural
Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular
He will share Commission perspective on H.R. 5026, the Fish Hatchery
Protection Act, sponsored by Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar (CD-4), and voice
support for a 10-year moratorium on National Fish Hatchery Closures.
Mansell will explain that the Commission has a vested interest in the future
of the National Fish Hatchery System and what changes to the system could mean
to fisheries, recreational opportunities and state hatchery systems.
“According to the American Sportfishing Association, more people in
America fish than play golf and tennis combined,” Mansell said. “If fishing
opportunities are severely curtailed, many state and federal agencies will have
fewer tools to get youth and the public recreating outdoors.”
In Arizona, at the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery located along the
Colorado River south of the Hoover Dam, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in
an emergency stocking of 11,000 rainbow trout when low water
levels compromised the water delivery system to the hatchery. At that time, the
Service also informed Arizona it would end all trout stocking efforts in
At the latest legislative session, at the request of the Arizona Game and
Fish Commission, the Arizona House of Representatives issued a proclamation,
requesting that members of the Arizona Congressional Delegation and the Arizona
legislature take appropriate actions to ensure the USFWS fulfills the national
hatchery system mission as a support to the states’ fisheries conservation
mission and honor its Memoranda of Understanding with the states and their
associated conservation agencies.
In April, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and Mohave County, in
cooperation with the Service, created
a short-term solution to provide recreational fishing opportunities this
fall in the Willow Beach-Bullhead City area.
In short, Mansell will point out that the states' longstanding relationship
with the National Fish Hatchery System is in peril. Cessation of sport fish
production at western federal hatcheries will result in:
- Loss of a successful economic driver.
- Loss of recreational opportunities.
- Reduced ability to get youth and the public outdoors.
Mansell will testify that the moratorium will allow the Service and other
federal agencies an opportunity to properly consult with state wildlife
agencies to create a viable alternative.
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:
Regional Game and Fish office, 2878 E. White Mountain Blvd., July 22, 6 p.m.
Regional Game and Fish office, 555 N. Greasewood Rd., July 23, 6 p.m.
Regional Game and Fish office, 5325 N. Stockton Hill Rd., July 23, 5 p.m.
Regional Game and Fish office, 3500 S. Lake Mary Rd., July 24, 6 p.m.
Headquarters Office, Phoenix, 5000 W. Carefree Hwy, July 25, 6 p.m.
Basin Chamber of Commerce, State Route 188 and Rattlesnake Dr., July 28, 6
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 email@example.com
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:
the statewide bag limit for all species of catfish to 10, in the aggregate.
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.
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
Water Ranch Lake to a single barbless hook requirement for all species and
place catch and release regulations on bass and sunfish.
regulations for Horton Creek, and Grant Creek to single barbless hook,
artificial fly and lure only and catch and release only for trout.
daily bag limits of trout on Chevelon Creek above and below Chevelon Lake as
artificial fly and lure only, with reduced bag limits.
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.
the bag limit to 25 sunfish and crappie, any combination, in the lower
Colorado River, including Lake Havasu and Mittry Lake.
the current catch-and-release regulation for largemouth bass in Dankworth
Pond and Pena Blanca Lake until Dec. 31, 2016.
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.
goldfish to be used as live bait when collected and used onsite only in
full details of the rationale behind each regulation.
July 16, 2014
Nominations sought for 2014 Arizona Game and
Fish Commission Awards
your fellow wildlife conservationists; Nominate them for a Commission
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The draft EA is also on the internet at www.usbr.gov/lc/phoenix.
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.
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
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
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.
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
Arizona Game and
Fish rescues more than a half-million trout from Sterling Springs
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Arizona Daily Star
Study finds mercury in trout caught in three Grand Canyon
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.
Grand Canyon National Park
April 6, 2014
2014 Arizona Fishing Regulations
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
If you choose to keep a trout, please return the internal radio tag to
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
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
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
Brito (right) caught the redear sunfish at 11:30 a.m. and
brought it to
Bass Tackle Master in beautiful
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
“(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
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.)
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
Congrats to Mr. Brito on the record. Who’s next?
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 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)
- 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)
- 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 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
TIPS FOR VISITING EAGLE AREAS
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.
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.
- 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
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.”
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
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
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.
May 6, 2011
Arizona Game and
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 BassTackleMaster.com
provided the photo.
To learn more about big fish records in Arizona waters, fishing tips and more,
March 2, 2011
Arizona Game and
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
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
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. http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/recreation/fishing/documents/GilaTroutFishingMaps.htm.
December 9, 2009
Arizona Game and
state record striper caught during major winter storm
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.
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
It’s always nice when you hit the jackpot. John caught and mostly
released around 50 stripers during his rain-soaked, day-long fishing
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
“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.
Arizona fishing comes as a surprise to some visitors. They envision all of
Arizona to resemble the scenes in western movies such as John Wayne's She
Wore A Yellow Ribbon.
A Google search using a keyword phrase such as arizona fishing secrets
can help you find interesting information.
Arizona fishing can be successful and satisfying without being hot. Get out and
catch a few.
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