Good Gear, Good Advice All It Takes To Get You Hooked On Spring Fishing


The bitter cold and snowstorms that roared through northern Gila County the first week of March slowed the bass and crappie spawn at Roosevelt Lake, which led to less-than-desirable fishing conditions.

But with the warm weather that has followed the storm into Arizona, conditions are once again ideal for the spawn to begin.

Arizona Game and Fish Officer Rory Aikens, himself an avid fisherman, predicts that the warm weather will mark the beginning of "March fishing madness."

Aikens' advice to Roosevelt fishermen is to try crankbaits, spinnerbaits, plastic worms and jigs off mainlake points. Also, he says, try crayfish pattern crankbaits and jigs for smallmouth along rocky shorelines.

A six-pound smallmouth was caught last weekend on a minnow.

For those opting for crappie, the bite has also been picking up during the warmer weather. Aikens says to try one- to two-inch jigs with chartreuse tails in a red/white pattern or minnows.

When the spawn begins, crappie congregate in larger schools in shallower water where they feed aggressively.

Call the Arizona Game and Fish Department's toll-free number at (800) ASK-FISH for more information.

Another great source of fishing advice is from Jane and Jerry Haynes at Action Bassn' Tackle, at 513 S. Beeline, next door to Dairy Queen. The husband-and-wife team are longtime tournament anglers at Roosevelt and other nearby lakes. They can be reached at 474-2982.

The unthinkable

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has teamed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to try to reintroduce the Mexican gray wolf into the wilderness in eastern Arizona and in New Mexico.

One of those working on the project is former Payson High School teacher and coach Bruce Sitko.

The efforts of Sitko and his colleagues were thwarted over one year ago when a pair of eastern Arizona men allegedly killed a female wolf that was a member of the Hawks Next Pack living near the New Mexico/Arizona border.

The alleged killing is said to have taken place in Arizona near Nutrioso, but then the two men transported the carcas across the state line in an attempt to conceal evidence.

According to AG&F officers, 21-year-old James Rogers of Eagar and a juvenile have been charged in the killing of the wolf.

They were charged with multiple violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act in Arizona's Federal District Court.

Rogers faces potential penalties of up to $100,000 in fines and one year in prison, if he is convicted of a violation of the Lacey Act and $25,000 and six months in prison if convicted of violation of the Endangered Species Act.

The killings of three other Mexican grays wolves in 1998 are still under investigation.

Officials are asking anyone with information regarding those killings to call Arizona Operation Game Thief Hotline at (800) 352-0700.

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