The Early Bird Gets The Fish!
Grab your ultra-light rods and head to Alamo Lake - It's Crappie Time!
February 15, 2012
Black and White Crappie
According to Stew Kohnke, our Alamo Lake wildlife manager (and one of my favorite fishing partners when he doesn't outfish me too badly), some boats are catching 20-plus crappies in a day.
Most boats are catching 10-15 in a day. Crappie have been ranging from ¾ lbs to 2 pounds. Jigs tipped with minnows in 14 to 20 feet have been working the best. Others are having some luck by the buoy lines in 25- to 30-feet.
Bass Could Stage Soon
Kohnke said that the water temperature is 54 to 56 in most areas of the lake, but he did find some 60-degree temps in the shallows. Bass fishing has been slow but should be picking up any day if we have stable weather for a few days.
Alamo is like a huge, shallow solar bowl in the desert. When we have non-windy sunny winter weather, it's possible to have bass staging for the spawn in late February. Keep in mind that Alamo has no marina, and no boat gas. You won't find personal watercraft and skiers here.
It's a pure fishing lake in the desert. The Alamo Lake State Park has lots of camping available.
Another Early Bird Fishery
Another early bird fishery, Lake Havasu, is also a wide, shallow lake located in a wide, shallow valley rimed with sun reflecting desert mountain ranges. But, it does have a couple of elements that Alamo lacks — striped bass and smallmouth bass. Well, toss in plate-sized redear as well.
I love Havasu in February and March before the recreational boating hordes from California descend upon this popular desert oasis.
A little farther downriver is the lesser-known Martinez Lake, which is really a Colorado River backwater near Yuma (go to Quartzite and hang a left). Once again, it is large and shallow expanse of water, so it warms up quickly in the warm desert sun. This is one of the few places in Arizona where you can skip lures under docks. You might just tie into some lunkers here.
More Good Bets Right Now
My other early bird special is Saguaro Lake. It doesn't heat up as rapidly as Alamo or Havasu, but it typically turns on before the other lakes in the Salt River chain. An added dimension here is that we stock it with trout in winter.
Keep in mind that last week we stocked Deadhorse Ranch and the Verde River with rainbow trout. Deadhorse Ranch is adjacent to the community of Cottonwood.
We also stock the Verde River from Cottonwood to Camp Verde. Pretty much, when you see a bridge crossing the Verde River along this stretch, we stock trout there in winter. Makes a pretty neat one-two punch.
When the fish aren't biting, take the family to Tuzigoot National Monument, the Verde Train or Jerome. In fact, camp out and do them all! Also, Oak Creek Canyon is just up the road. We will be stocking Oak Creek again at the end of February.
I made a trip up to the Verde Valley this past weekend and was delightfully surprised at the green up from Sunset Point to Cordes Junction. Now, if we can just get a few rain storms to visit us.
The Lower Salt River has also just been stocked with trout. The best fishing will likely be from the confluence of the Salt and Verde rivers (Phon D. Sutton Recreation Area) downstream to the Granite Reef Recreation Area.
Another one of my winter favorites, Parker Canyon Lake, has recently been stocked with trout. Parker Canyon sits on the shoulders of the Huachuca Mountains.
It has an excellent angler trail just made for those who like to walk the shoreline and wet a line in the process. Parker Canyon has a really good population of largemouth bass, so you might want to try multiple techniques.