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.

 

arizona fishing

 

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.

 

Hotwire

 

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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October 17, 2014

AZGFD

 

Community Fishing Bulletin: Oct. 16, 2014

 

Trout stocking resumes in Payson’s Green Valley Lakes

Rainbow trout will be returning to Green Valley Lakes this week! Grab the fishing poles and pack a picnic basket - take the family to the park to make some memories!


freestonepond_1.jpg
Gilbert’s Freestone Pond added to CFP

 

Freestone Pond in Gilbert has been added to the Program, and the pond received its first stocking of catfish last week. The park is a beautiful addition to the program and makes the 4th location in Gilbert where people can fish for stocked sportfish.


Expansion waters stocked with catfish

Anglers looking for some new scenery can head to any of the 11 expansion waters to catch some feisty catfish. Last Wednesday, Oct. 8, we stocked waters in Gilbert (Discovery, Freestone, McQueen), Glendale (Bonsall), Maricopa (Pacana), Phoenix (Roadrunner), Scottsdale (Eldorado), and four Yuma area waters (Fortuna, Redondo, Yuma West Wetlands, and Council Ave in Somerton).


Friendship Park in Avondale potential addition to CFP

We’re working to get Friendship Park in Avondale added to the program in November. If successful, Avondale will become our 16th city in which we have existing partnerships.

Fishing Clinic at Water Ranch Lake (Gilbert) on Saturday, Oct.18

You’re invited to join Gilbert Parks and Recreation and the Arizona Game and Fish Department for a morning of fishing at Gilbert’s Youth Fishing Day on Saturday, Oct. 18 from 8 a.m.-noon at the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch Lake (SE Corner of Greenfield and Guadalupe Rd). The Department will loan fishing gear and bait to the first 100 participants who do not have equipment of their own. Young anglers will be able to win great prizes in the kids’ drawing. There’s NO COST, and you don’t need a license to fish during the clinic as long as you register at the fishing booth when you arrive!

TURN IN POACHERS! Call Operation GAME THIEF (1-800-352-0700)

You may notice some additional Law Enforcement Officers at CFP waters as we’re working to improve compliance at CFP Waters. Please help us by reporting known or suspected violations. Although the Department may not be able to send an officer to each reported violation, simply reporting the incident to the Department helps establish where and when we have poaching problems. Every call is logged into a database and will be used to direct enforcement activities on your Community Fishing Waters

 

 

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October 14, 2014

AZGFD

 

Game and Fish Commission Appointment Recommendation Board to meet Oct. 22

 

 

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October 12, 2014

AZGFD

 

Northern Colorado River to receive trout

 

 
WillBeach_4.jpg
First stocking south of Davis Dam in nearly a year

 

BULLHEAD CITY, Ariz. –– Trout stocking south of Davis Dam has been on hiatus for nearly a year, but that will change beginning Oct. 1.

Trout from Arizona Game and Fish hatcheries, and raised by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery, are ready for the first stocking south of Davis Dam since late 2013.

“This is great news and a fantastic opportunity for anglers on the Colorado River,” said Matt Chmiel, the Fisheries Program Manager for the Game and Fish Region 3 office in Kingman. “While fishing in the area has remained strong, trout have been recognizably absent for nearly a year.”

On Nov. 21, 2013, the Willow Beach hatchery conducted an emergency stocking of 11,000 rainbow trout when the low lake level made it impossible to draw in water due to a damaged lower-level pipeline. This fact, along with additional federal budget cuts, resulted in the closing of the sport fish part of the hatchery.

In early 2014, Game and Fish provided the national hatchery with 22,000 sub-catchable rainbow trout to raise to a catchable size while lake levels were high enough for the one functioning pipeline to draw in water.

“However, the lake level will soon be dropping and the time has come to stock the fish,” Chmiel said. “The timing is critical. All 22,000 fish must enter the river before water levels drop below the intake valve.”

Chmiel explained stockings will continue for several weeks in October at Rotary Park and Davis Camp.

“But there’s no need to focus on just those two locations,” he said. “Trout disperse quickly and many areas along that stretch of the river will work.”

For rainbow trout, Chmiel said small spinners and PowerBait are often effective, although marshmallows can work.

“Fishing is just a great way to relax and spend some time with the family with few interruptions,” Chmiel said. “Getting kids outside and away from the computers helps create an important connection with the outdoors.”

A fishing license is $37 for in-state residents and $5 for all youth ages 10-17. The license is good for trout and is valid for 12 months.

For a statewide fishing report, log on to the Game and Fish Department's website at azgfd.gov. Licenses are available at the any of the Game and Fish regional offices or headquarters as well as at license dealers throughout the state and online at www.azgfd.gov/fishing.

 

 

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September 22, 2014

Cronkite News Service

 

In Mohave County, fish hatchery’s woes hurting businesses’ bottom lines

 

 

BULLHEAD CITY – At Rusty’s Riviera Marina, owner Rusty Braun depends on anglers who load up on bait and tackle before heading to Lake Mohave along the Colorado River.

Rainbow trout are the biggest draw, he says, because those are easier for kids to catch in the cool water released from Hoover Dam. The anchovies he sells are a popular bait for those.

But business has suffered since last year, when a pipeline at Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery 50 miles upstream stopped the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from stocking trout on Lake Mohave.

“It really took effect, especially when it first happened,” Braun said. “People kept coming in to fish for trout, but there wasn’t any, so that whole group was just gone.”

The problem began in August 2013, when a pipeline feeding water to the hatchery became clogged, cutting off the supply to raceways used for rainbow trout and killing tens of thousands of fish. The pipe broke a few months later, killing even more fish and leaving the hatchery unable to stock the lake with trout.

The hatchery continues to breed endangered fish by using another pipeline that works only when the lake is high enough and by filtering and reusing water. Lately some of that capacity has been used to raise 20,000 trout donated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department that will be released in October.

Before the damage, Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery was stocking 144,000 rainbow trout annually and kept a one-year supply of trout on hand. Mark Olsen, the hatchery’s project manager, said in a typical week the hatchery would release anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 trout into Lake Mohave.

“We didn’t feel comfortable bringing rainbow trout back on station because the lake will go down again,” he said.

Olsen acknowledged that the problem has been a hit to Mohave County.

“Recreational fishing definitely stimulates the economy,” he said. “It brings in fishermen, and they spend money on equipment, fuel, lodging and restaurants, and it provides a lot of jobs for the economy too in the local area.”

Hildy Angius, chairman of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors, said it’s not just about the economy.

“We are dealing with people’s livelihoods,” she said.

Angius said the hatchery has been working with Mohave County, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sen. John McCain and U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, whose district includes the area, to find a solution.

Engineers to explore how to give the hatchery a secure long-term water supply determined the cost of replacing the pipeline to be between $100,000 and $1.3 million, Angius said.

At a congressional hearing in mid-September, the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told Gosar and others that fixing the pipeline depends on several factors, including funding. He said the agency would resume stocking Lake Mohave when repairs are completed.

Officials from Mohave County testified before Congress earlier that failing to resume stocking trout could cause sport-fishing in the region to dry up.

Christine Tincher, spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Region, noted that keeping the hatchery operating has required creative solutions including creating a barge with a floating pump that can supply water regardless of the lake’s level.

“We came up with a platform with a floating pump, which is totally out-of-the box thinking,” she said.

Stewart Jacks, assistant regional director for fisheries and aquatic conservation for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Region, said he is optimistic that the floating pump can be a solution for enabling the hatchery to resume stocking trout.

“There are lots of different options of ways to get water there,” he said. “There are lots of issues we are dealing with but with the time frame we are looking at.”

At Rusty’s Riviera Marina, said he and others here are hoping for a solution soon.

“It was just devastating for everybody, even the big-box stores like Wal-Mart and Big 5 (Sporting Goods),” he said. “All their sales were down.”

About this project:

 

 

Access Across Arizona is an initiative to increase news coverage in Arizona communities often underreported by mainstream news media. Using advanced cellular broadcast technology, Cronkite News students travel to Arizona’s rural communities to produce broadcast, digital and live-television reports via Arizona PBS. This technology was made possible by a grant from the ASU Foundation and Women & Philanthropy.


See related story:

Feds hold out hope at congressional hearing of restarting Mohave County trout hatchery program

 

 

 

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September 4, 2014

Congressman Paul  Gosar

 

Rep. Gosar Presses Fish and Wildlife Service on Willow Beach Hatchery Promises

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) wrote a letter addressed to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Director Dan Ashe seeking answers to the future of the rainbow trout stocking program at the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery:

“On July 25, 2014, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs Subcommittee held a hearing on my legislation, H.R. 5026, the Fish Hatchery Protection Act. Some troubling things were revealed at the hearing. Namely, that USFWS failed to hold a public comment period and did not consider job losses or associated economic impact before terminating important recreational fishing programs. Even Deputy Director Steve Guertin testified, ‘This was not our [USFWS] finest hour’.

“The Deputy Director went on to testify that USFWS did not consider 1,700 jobs in Mohave County and $75 million in economic output associated with the Willow Beach Hatchery or the 4,000 jobs and $80 million in payroll nationally before terminating rainbow trout stocking programs throughout the country. I call on USFWS to find a solution for the Willow Beach Hatchery and resume the rainbow trout stocking program as soon as humanly possible."

Background:

Congressman Gosar’s letter to Director Ashe can be found in its entirety HERE.

Below is the exchange during the July 25, 2014 hearing highlighting Deputy Director Guertin testimony including his statement in regards to reinstating the trout propagation program at the Willow Beach Hatchery:

Rep. Gosar: The Fish and Wildlife Service stated in a letter to this Subcommittee sent on May 30, 2014 that the reason for terminating the rainbow trout stocking program at the time was that the agency didn’t have the 1.5 to 8.5 million dollars to repair a broken water [supply] line and to keep the trout stocking program going… Recent engineering reports indicate that these estimates were a gross exaggeration and that the broken water [supply] line would only cost around $100,000 to fix. If the water, now listen very carefully, if the water supply line is fixed, does the Fish and Wildlife Service plan to reinstate the trout propagation program at the Willow Beach Hatchery?

Deputy Director Guertin: I believe we would, yes.

 

 

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August 12, 2014

Lees Ferry Anglers

 

Lees Ferry Fishing Report

 

 

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August 4, 2014

AZGFD

 

Local anglers buzzing about Arizona Game and Fish Department project aimed at determining movement and fate of hatchery-raised rainbow trout

 

PAYSON, Ariz. -- Call them robot fish, mechanical fish, even Frankenfish.
In the tiny Payson community of Beaver Valley, hatchery-raised rainbow trout hover in pools of the East Verde River, or perhaps enjoy the shade of a shoreline undercut. Then there’s a different sort of rainbow trout in these waters – ones that mill around with a pair of protruding, lightweight tags.
 

These fish have undergone surgery.
 

Since April, Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists at the Tonto Creek Hatchery have begun implanting the lightweight wire tags into a small portion of rainbow trout to determine the fate and movement of stocked hatchery trout.
 

Now far removed from surgery, recovery room-like buckets of water, and finally their hatchery runways, many tagged rainbows are wild and healthy in the East Verde. A tiny tag protrudes from the back, another from the belly.
 

The community is abuzz about these high-tech fish.
 

Ask the Kreimeyers. Also near the banks of the East Verde in Beaver Valley lives Roger and Linda Kreimeyer, married 49 years. They’re at the heart of a community engaged by the Game and Fish research project.
 

“I get phone calls all the time: ‘Did you see the stocking truck today?’” Linda Kreimeyer said. “It’s a fun event for families here. Everyone is curious about tagged fish. They want to see these mechanical fish.”
 

She laughs, then gazes down toward the tributary of the Verde River that begins at the Mogollon Rim near Washington Park, then flows mostly southwest through Gila County and the Tonto National Forest.
 

Game and Fish biologists are still asking anglers who catch a tagged fish to return the tags. The Department in April issued a news release asking anglers who catch a tagged trout to call the number on the colored tag (623-236-7538) with the location of the caught trout, identification number on the colored external tag, and date the fish was caught.
 

After all, future generations of anglers depend on such conservation efforts.
 

Those in Beaver Valley have taken notice of the project. It might be a stocking truck pulling up to the tiny creek, even a Department biologist or volunteer pointing a large antenna at the river to detect the position – and, in turn, fate or movement -- of a tagged trout, part of the technology of telemetry. Sometimes, an angler will catch one of these “robot fish,” which Game and Fish biologists say are safe to eat.
 

Also, see an Arizona Game and Fish Department video of underwater. tagged trout.
 

It’s one of the more unique and lengthy projects anglers might witness.
 

"We’re getting phenomenal results,” said Arizona Game and Fish Department Fisheries Research Biologist Jessica Gwinn. “And we’re very excited that the angling public is interested in our project and participating with us.”
 

Game and Fish biologists will survey the East Verde River from 2014-2015, and then perform the same research methods in the East Fork of the Black River from 2015-2016.
 

As for the project on the East Verde River, conclusions are likely to form in 2017 or 2018.
 

“We want to follow the trout through several seasons,” Gwinn said. ““Early project results indicate a great return on the tags.”
 

Around Beaver Valley, anglers seem to understand their role in conservation, showing their passion for wildlife in part by engaging in the heritage-rich sport of fishing.
 

“Fishermen are really taking ownership of this project,” Gwinn said. “They live here, so they do have ownership of this stream.”

 

 

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August 3, 2014

AZGFD

 

Trout propagation program at Willow Beach Hatchery a step closer to reinstatement

 

 
WillBeach_3.jpg
Willow Beach
Fish Hatchery Protection Act bill passes House Natural Resources Committee

 

PHOENIX -- The full House Natural Resources Committee voted to move H.R. 5026, the Fish Hatchery Protection Act, to the House floor at a “markup” committee meeting held July 30.

Consequently, the trout propagation program at the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery could be a step closer to being reinstated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

Arizona Game and Fish Commission Chairman Robert Mansell presented testimony (see Mansell at 1:09:00) on Wednesday, July 23 in Washington D.C. to the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs.

After sharing Commission perspective on the bipartisan bill sponsored by Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar (CD-4), USFWS Deputy Director Steve Guertin said he believes the USFWS would reinstate the trout propagation program if the Willow Beach Hatchery’s water supply line is fixed.

Nearly 1,700 jobs in Mohave County, and nearly $75 million in economic output associated with the Willow Beach Hatchery, are at risk as a result of the recent termination of the hatchery’s rainbow trout stocking program. In contrast, the estimated engineering cost to fix the broken water supply line is $100,000.

“We appreciate the difficult choices federal agencies must make given the current budget climate; however, the National Fish Hatchery System’s trust responsibility is to ensure sufficient fish stocks for sport fishing purposes,” Mansell said. “This is not only important to Arizona and the nation’s economy but is vital to many of the state hatchery systems across the nation.”


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 November conducted 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 perpetuity.

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 USFWS, created a short-term solution to provide recreational fishing opportunities this fall in the Willow Beach-Bullhead City area.

 

 

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July 24, 2014

AZGFD

 

Arizona Game and Fish Department Commission Chairman to present testimony on Fish Hatchery Protection Act

 

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 Affairs.

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 November conducted 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 perpetuity.

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.

 

 

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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 ggonzalez@usbr.gov. 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.

 

 

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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 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

AZGFD

 

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

 

Fish.Rescue.2.cropped.jpg
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.

 
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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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April 26, 2014

AZGFD

 

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

AZGFD

 

2014 Arizona Fishing Regulations

 

PDF, 7mb

 

 

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April 5, 2014

AZGFD

 

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

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

 

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

 

 
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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

AZGFD

 

Redear Sunfish World Record?

 

 
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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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August 28, 2013

AZGFD

 

Arizona becoming destination for monster flathead catfish

 

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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

 

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April 12, 2013

AZGFD

 

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


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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 BassTackleMaster.com provided the photo.

To learn more about big fish records in Arizona waters, fishing tips and more, visit www.azgfd.gov/fishing.


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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. http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/recreation/fishing/documents/GilaTroutFishingMaps.htm.

 

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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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