Times Spent Outdoors: Priceless!

There's Year-Round Fishing In Arizona

Keep in mind that here in Arizona, there is plenty of year-round fishing. Bass and other sport fish may not be as active, but they are still catchable. In many cases; it's a matter of slowing down your presentation and going to smaller baits.

Some pro anglers, on the other hand, have been known to not only slow down their presentations, but also upsize their offerings to make it worthwhile for big bass to dine.

The Reel Deal

It's winter trout and crappie time.

First, The Trout

There are rainbow fishing opportunities galore. Topping Santa's fishing list is Lees Ferry in northern Arizona, a spectacular wild-trout fishery. A guided fishing expedition at the Ferry would be a great Christmas present.

The Urban Fishing Program lakes, as well as Tempe Town Lake, have also been stocked with rainbows. Town Lake will also get an extra stocking of trout the week of Dec. 16 right before the winter break for the kids in school.

On Nov. 25, Oak Creek was stocked with trout. Oak Creek after a little snowfall can be spectacular.

Of course, winter weather can be detrimental to travel. Motorists traveling in Arizona's high country need to be aware of some annual closings. See the latest information from the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Also, Interstate I-17 south of Camp Verde was closed overnight last week - late-night drivers between Phoenix and Flagstaff need to plan ahead or allow for extra time. Before heading out on the roads, drivers are encouraged to call 5-1-1 or log on to ADOT's Traveler Information Center for the latest highway conditions around the state.

Then, The Crappie

In the desert impoundments, consider targeting sporting crappie populations at Alamo, Bartlett and Roosevelt. As the water temperatures drop, the crappie will congregate into large schools in open water that can be up to 50 feet deep or so.

The crappie formations, or schools, look like inverted pyramids (or Christmas trees, if you like), with the most active fish at the top, around 15 or 20 feet deep.

The two primary strategies for catching these crappie are to use your fish finder, locate a school, sit over it, and slowly jig a 1/16- or even 1/32-ounce jighead with curly tail or other small grub, Roadrunner or maybe a marabou jig.

The other is slow trolling (1.5 mph) crappie jigs or even small crankbaits. Or combine the two - trolling until you get a bite, then vertically jig.

The Topock Marsh (close to Needles along the Colorado River) can provide some nice crappie fishing as well. This is also a superb place to see migrating waterfowl (maybe take along a shotgun or camera, or both).

And, The Catfish

Although Arizona is a flathead catfish destination, action at prime flathead fisheries such as Lake Pleasant and Bartlett has slowed. Flathead weighing more than 20 pounds get lethargic as the nights get colder.

Still, anglers can catch 15-18 pound flatheads with better consistency by locating bluegill in 30-35 feet of water. Find the bluegill, and you'll often find feeding flatheads looking for dinner.

Finally, Jenny Blumenstein caught the Big Fish of the Year entry in the catch-and-keep category. It's a 16-inch white bass weighing 1-pound, 12.8-ounces and taken from Lake Pleasant on Dec. 1.

By the way, if you have some fishing reports, fishing pics or what have you, please send them via "Been Fishing?" BFishing@azgfd.gov or directly to nwalter@azgfd.gov.

Public Meeting

The Arizona Game and Fish Department will host another meeting to discuss the current and proposed management of sport fisheries on Haigler Creek and receive public comment, this time from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 18 at the Arizona Game and Fish Department headquarters in Phoenix.

The meeting will be held in the Quail Room (adjacent to the main entrance). The department headquarters are located at 5000 West Carefree Highway (1.5 miles west of I-17).

The department manages portions of Haigler Creek, located in the Tonto National Forest east of Payson, as a wild rainbow trout and brown trout fishery, as well as a put-and-take rainbow trout fishery. The proposal calls for the department to reintroduce native Gila trout into Upper Haigler Creek with the goal of developing a catch-and-release fishery for this unique trout species.

Game and Fish held public meetings on this subject last month in Payson and Young.

Angler Reports

An anonymous angler had this Parker Canyon Lake report from Tuesday, Nov. 26: Fished from boat. ... Live worms and Power Bait caught few. Had great success using Z-Rays. All four on boat caught limit. All the usual stock size.

Charles S. fished Picacho State Park to Imperial Dam this past week: Water surface temps have been between 59.6 and 60.4 and the winds have been creating plenty of chop, especially the closer you get to Picacho.

Even though it's already December, I will go out on a limb and say that the fishing in the current is still fair to good. We continue to catch decent smallmouth (up to 2.7 pounds), as well as decent largemouth bass, including the 5.2-pound largemouth (pictured) that we boated Sunday morning.

All of our fish are coming off of soft baits, though it's a bit frustrating because the smallmouth are not biting on the same baits as the largemouth, even though they are sharing the same areas.

My advice for anyone who is planning on fishing this area is to keep trying different styles of baits from the same family. Many times just making a simple change from something like a paddle tail or curly tail worm to a straight stick worm can make a world of difference. Ditto for colors: put down your go-to summer and fall colors and try something new.

We have been launching out of Fisher's Landing and the low water levels have wreaked havoc on the launch area. If you have a boat that requires a significant amount of water to launch, consider launching at the Martinez Lake ramp -- it's a little longer and deeper.

Embedded is a largemouth bass picture sent in that reportedly was caught on a spoon by the no-wake buoys in Saguaro Lake.

Russ T. fished Tempe Town Lake on Tuesday, Dec. 3: Caught a 3-pound largemouth bass at 12:04 p.m., a 2-pound bass at12:08 p.m. and another 2-pounder at 12:18 p.m. Not bad for 14 minutes of fishing with a silver Fat Rap. Happy fishing.


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