One of the tricks to winter bass fishing is targeting the most active fish. This often means going for smallmouth bass instead of largemouth because they are much more comfortable in colder water.
Smallmouth bass are actually cold water fish that are well adapted to the Southwest because of our deep canyon lakes that provide deep, cold hideaways and our cold rivers that originate from snow melt or the water released from the bottom of these deep lakes.
Smallmouth tend to migrate into the cold shallows this time of the year in search of a slow-moving food supply. Due to the colder shallow water, crawdads and shore minnows make an easy prey for the hungry, aggressive smallmouth.
Because of their aggressive disposition, they can be the toughest fighting fish in fresh water and often fall for the more reactive fishing techniques. One of the favorite winter tactics is fishing in an in-line spinner like Don's Dragonfly or a Panther Martin. This is done on light line (approximately 6-8 lb. test) and a light action rod to absorb the shock a smallmouth can deliver when it strikes.
High Country Bassmasters
The High Country Bassmaster club is now forming. If you are interested in good fellowship, friendly competition and improving your fishing skills we invite you to join us. You don't have to have a boat.
The next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 9.
For more information, call Kyle Sawyer at 474-5359 or Frank Love at 479-3221.
Cliff's Tip of the Week
Looking for the perfect Christmas gift for the fisherman in your family? Come see professional anglers Cliff Pirch or Mark Kile at the Tackle Box in Tonto Basin. Look for the green fence marked COVERED STORAGE on the west side of the highway in Tonto Basin. The store is open from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.
Apache: Fishing is fair. Jigging spoons and tailspinners have been working well on all species, especially yellow bass. Inline spinners continue to work well for smallmouth in shallow water. Early morning and mid-afternoon seem to be the most active time periods.
Canyon: Fishing is fair. Yellow bass continue to be the most active fish. Jigging spoons and tailspinners are working best. For largemouth, try the Castaic Trout - especially after they stock the lake with trout next week.
Pleasant: Fishing is fair. Bass fishing has picked up a little. Spooning or worm fishing in 25-40 feet has been the best pattern. White bass have also been providing quite a bit of spooning action.
Roosevelt: Fishing is fair to slow. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits are catching a few fish. Also try fishing worms on a split shot or Carolina rig.
Saguaro: Fishing is slow. The lake was scheduled for a trout stocking this week so trout fishing should be picking up. Fishing for big largemouth should also be good as soon as the trout hit the lake. Swimbaits like the Castaic Trout should work best.
Mogollon Rim waters
Angler's Note: Check the weather and road conditions. Expect ice around the rims of the lakes in the morning. Colder weather at night could cause the higher elevation lakes to freeze over.
Chevelon Canyon: Fishing is fair. The spawning season is under way for brown trout and anglers should try fishing near the mouth of Chevelon Creek and up the creek. Use lures such as Z-Rays, Panther Martin spinners, and Rapalas. Flies such as wooly worms, wooly buggers, and peacock ladies should work. Trout between 10-14 inches may not be possessed.
Black Canyon: The road to the lake has been opened (snow could change that) and the lake level is low. The lake has been devoid of oxygen. Water quality sampling in November revealed good oxygen and pH readings. Fingerling and catchable rainbow trout were stocked Nov. 19.
Willow Springs: Check before going. The gate was open prior to the storm, but snow could result in it being closed. Fishing is fair. Try Power Bait, worms or salmon eggs. Lures such as Z-Rays and Panther Martin spinners and flies such as wooly worms and wooly buggers are also effective. This lake has largemouth bass.
Woods Canyon: Fishing is fair. Try Power Bait, worms or salmon eggs. Lures such as Z-Rays and Panther Martin spinners and flies such as wooly worms and wooly buggers are also effective. This lake has largemouth bass.
Green Valley Lake: Fishing has been excellent, with most anglers catching limits of feisty trout. This fishery is part of the urban fishing program and requires an urban fishing license.