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
April 17, 2014
Summer catfish stockings have returned
Beginning the week of April 20, channel catfish stockings
will begin at the “non-core” Community Fishing Program
lakes, which for the first time will include Yuma’s
Fortuna Lake, Redondo Pond, Yuma West Wetlands Pond and
Somerton’s Council Avenue Pond. Other non-core waters
that will receive their first summer catfish stockings
every two months (with catfish and bluegill coming in
June) are Discovery Ponds, McQueen Pond, Pacana Pond,
Granada Ponds, Roadrunner Pond, Eldorado Lake, McKellips
Twenty-two CFP waters received the first summer
stocking of catfish on March 21, and a second stocking was
completed on April 4. There was some higher mortality
associated with the first stocking of the season, which is
a normal springtime occurrence.
The catfish come from Arkansas, where they (and most of
the country) experienced a particularly harsh winter. Some
of the largest bluegill we’ve seen were stocked with the
first load of catfish this year. It’s a prime time to
grab the fishing poles, a comfortable chair, and the kids
(not necessarily in that order), and hit the CFP lakes.
Catfish will be stocked into 33 CFP waters during the next
two weeks. Trout stockings will continue in Green Valley
Lakes (Payson) until the Payson Wildlife Fair on Saturday,
New Community Fishing Program Manager
In addition to expanding the Community Fishing Program
(CFP) waters in 2014, those who are familiar with the
program know that Eric Swanson retired last December.
Swanson led this nationally recognized fishing program for
20 years. That vacancy was recently filled by Scott Gurtin.
Gurtin has worked for the Department for 17 years in
various positions – most recently serving the past six
years as the state’s Hatchery Program Supervisor.
“I’ve got big shoes to fill, literally and
figuratively speaking,” Gurtin said.
Although smaller in scope and size than our Hatchery
Program, the CFP stocks almost a quarter-million pounds of
fish annually (about 62 percent as much as the
Department's six trout-producing hatcheries), with plans
to expand opportunities where it’s feasible. Gurtin will
be busy visiting all the CFP waters while stocking in the
Gilbert to propose catch-and-release for Water
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-kieep fishing opportunities are being
proposed for Freestone and Crossroads parks, in addition
to the newly added CFP ponds at McQueen and Discovery
parks. So far, there have been public meetings on March 19
and March 22, and approximately 50 comment cards have been
received backing both sides of the issue.
Make sure your voice is heard. Tentative date for
discussion by the Council is set for May 15, 50 E. Civic
Center Dr. Gilbert, Ariz., 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 its September 2014 meeting. Public comments
will be solicited during that process as well.
Water Ranch is one of the most frequently visited and
heavily fished lakes in the CFP. Under a catch-and-release
strategy, stocking would likely continue, but at reduced
frequency and numbers. Use of bait would likely change to
mimic that of The Pond at Town Hall, which is artificial
fly and lure, barbless hooks only.
Grand Canyon National Park
April 6, 2014
2014 Arizona Fishing
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
Spring fishing has arrived in Northern Arizona
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Now is the time to get the tackle box ready, grab the
fishing rods, and explore northern Arizona for some spring fishing!
A particularly warm and dry spring has arrived, and unfortunately it
followed a mild winter. What does this mean for the fishing? It means that the
Arizona Game and Fish Department is stocking northern Arizona lakes and
anticipates that by late May or early June, as temperatures warm up and lake
levels drop, water quality will diminish and conditions will be unsuitable for
stocking fish. It is a good idea to check the fishing report for up-to-date
Ashurst Lake, Lower Lake Mary, Frances Short Pond, and Kaibab Lake are local
waters that have received fish from Page Springs and Tonto Creek Hatcheries,
two of the fish hatcheries owned and operated by the Arizona Game and Fish
Department. Frances Short Pond is located just northwest of downtown Flagstaff
and is a great place to walk or ride a bike to and try your luck. Lower Lake
Mary is about 8 miles from Flagstaff on Forest Road 3 and Ashurst is farther
down the road about 12 miles. Kaibab Lake is near Williams and off Highway 64,
just north of Interstate 40.
“Even with the lack of winter snow, fishing should be good for trout
during April and May on most of our lakes,” said Chuck Benedict, an AZGFD
fish biologist. Benedict added: “People like to visit Flagstaff and Williams
in the summer and want to trout fish, but in reality the bass, pike, catfish,
and crappie fishing are the best during the summer, now is the ideal time for
Some tips to remember before heading out to fish:
- License fees have changed. The new Fishing License now includes trout and
two-pole privileges (no separate stamps needed) and costs $37 for residents
and $55 for nonresidents. The license is now valid for one year from the day
you buy it, not just for the calendar year.
- Anyone 10 years and older will need a fishing license. Youth licenses now
only cost $5 and are available for youth ages 10-17.
- Review the 2014 Arizona Fishing Regulations; they are available online or
at most license dealers as a booklet that you can throw in your tackle box.
The regulations have all the information you need to fish in Arizona.
- Some lakes have special restrictions or regulations: catch-and-release
only, daily limits, or the type of bait allowed.
- Do not transport live fish or bait. Illegal stocking is a big problem and
impacts the department’s efforts to manage the state’s fisheries. In
some cases, fish like northern pike and bass have been illegally stocked and
have had detrimental impacts to trout fishing and native fish populations.
- Trout fishing in northern Arizona is better in the spring than in the
- Summer fishing in Flagstaff and Williams is best for bass, crappie,
northern pike and bluegill.
For more fishing information visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department
website at http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/fishing.shtml.
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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