Roosevelt The Place To Fish This Spring

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The word out of Tonto Basin is that Lake Roosevelt is a "fishing hot spot."

Crappies are spawning and largemouth bass will begin just about as soon as any Rim country angler can get to the lake and cast a lure.

A quick check of the Arizona Game and Fish Department's fishing report compiled by Rory Aikens, an old friend from Pinetop, reveals some anglers at Roosevelt are catching lots of bass above the slot limit.

Of course, those in the slot must be returned immediately.

For crappies, Rory says, one- to three-pound fish are common.

Longtime guide Curt Rambo, arguably the best crappie fisherman on Roosevelt, says Aikens' projections might be a little large -- most crappie he's seen are from 3/4 to 1 1/2 pounds.

Whatever the size, crappie is the best-eating fish in Arizona.

The lake level is only 39 percent but that still equals more than 12,000 surface acres, which is a pretty good spread of water.

A Mesa angler who successfully visits Roosevelt during the spring months recently shared his fishing techniques.

He says finding the fish is easy even for those who do not have sonar. First, he advises, use polarized sunglasses which will enable you to see fish on their nest.

Rambo calls it "sight fishing."
Using a trolling motor, the angler cruises shorelines and coves, scouring the water looking for nests. The nests are often shiny rocks which the male has fanned with its tail.

A successful angler's tackle should include a spinning rig with light line and lure. A popular lure is a Gitzit with a small lead head.

The technique is to cast the lure across the nest and slowly drag back.

Aikens says this type of fishing is one of the few times you can actually see the bass going after the lure.

The light line is necessary because heavier ones are easily seen by bass.

There are other methods to fish bass during the spawn. One is to work jerkbaits -- like Bass Assassin or Slug-Go -- in shallow water, all the time retrieving with a herky-jerky motion. The reason for the motion is that it imitates an injured shad. To bass, shad is the evening meal's main course.

All bass, however, are not shallow; some are still in deep water awaiting their turn to spawn. To snag them, some anglers drag lures, like plastic lizards, across the bottom in up to 30 feet of water.

Whatever the angling philosophy, Roosevelt is the place to be this spring.

High country
Those who prefer trout fishing on the Rim country lakes should find many good opportunities at Woods Canyon, Black Canyon and Willow Springs.

The unusually warm winter weather means late March and April will probably turn out to be the peak trout fishing months.

Old friend
Payson elementary school teacher Dan Reid crossed paths with former Longhorn basketball and track star Nicole Engstrom in Tucson recently.

Nicole is now a police officer in the City of Tucson after a two-year stint as a school teacher.

Locals will remember Nicole as a two-sport star for Payson High School in the late 80s.

She went on to accept a track and field scholarship to the University of Arizona where she was the women's team captain for three years.

A shoulder injury hampered her through her late collegiate career.

Dan says Nicole is happy in her new career and now training for the police olympics.

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