One of the first things that I look for when I get to the lake is what zone to target. The recent runoff on our desert lakes has made that decision much easier than normal.
When a body of water becomes stained or muddy, it draws most of the fish up shallow.
Anytime you find these muddy conditions, you can forget about all the other options and stick to techniques that fit shallow water and low visibility.
My shallow water arsenal includes spinnerbaits, shallow cranks and flipping jigs.
For spinnerbaits in muddy water, I like to use a 5/8-ounce Sweetwater with Colorado or painted willow blades. You can get away with bright colors in these conditions, too.
The same goes for the shallow cranks. Bright colors and a good loud rattle are a must for my shallow cranks in off-colored water.
To complete my shallow plan, I like a Sweetwater flipping jig. This is a lure that you can go down the bank and pick apart specific targets like bushes, weeds and cracks in the rocks. You only hit the spots that look like they could hold a bass.
You can often use your spinnerbait or shallow crank to locate the fish and then really work the area over with the flipping jig.
For any of your tackle needs, or to go fishing with Clifford Pirch, call (928) 978-3518.
Apache: Fishing is fair to good. Fishing with live minnows for all species has been productive. Worms and jigs are also good producers.
Bartlett: Fishing is good. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits have been working well. Jigs and worms are also catching some fish. Most of the lake is off-colored to muddy from recent runoff and continues to rise. Choose darker plastics for the muddy water.
Canyon: Fishing is fair. Just like Saguaro, conditions are prime for giant bass. It hasn't really gone off yet, but it's real close.
Lake Mead: Horrible.
Pleasant: Fishing is fair. Drop shotting and Carolina rigging have been the most productive strategies. Secondary points along creek channels are all holding fish. Also, try reaction baits in the back of coves, as more and more fish move into the shallows. Crappie fishing has been fair to good on live minnows in off-colored creeks.
Roosevelt: Fishing is fair. The crappie fishing should take off again any time, but most anglers are only catching a couple a day for now. Bass fishing is improving. Most of the action is coming in the newly submerged cover.
Saguaro: Fishing is fair to good. Jigs and worms fished along the edges of the channel have been fairly productive for bass. Also, try the Castaic swimbaits for a lunker. This can be the deadliest time of the year, as the giant females are moving very shallow. Key on any ambush point and cover lots of them.
Other fishing spots
Angler's Note: Deep snow has made these lakes mostly un-accessible. However, water levels should be good this spring.
Chevelon Canyon: Winter conditions prevail.
Bear Canyon: Winter conditions prevail.
Black Canyon: Winter conditions prevail.
Willow Springs: Winter conditions prevail.
Woods Canyon: Winter conditions prevail.
Green Valley Lake: Fishing has been good to excellent, with most anglers catching limits of feisty trout. This fishery is part of the urban fishing program and requires an urban fishing license. The lake contains rainbow trout, bluegills and catfish. Power Bait, salmon eggs and worms are effective. Try crappie jigs, small Rapalas, crankbaits and small spoons.
Chevelon Canyon: Winter conditions prevail.
Northern Arizona waters
Runoff has made several lakes muddy, which may make angling difficult.
Kaibab: Lake is open.
Cataract: Lake is open.
City Reservoir: Closed.
Dogtown: Lake will be closed to all users including anglers to allow the Forest Service to renovate the campground and picnic areas.
Whitehorse: Lake is drained for renovation.
JD Dam: The Lake is open, but access is difficult.
Santa Fe: Lake is dry.
Lower Lake Mary: Has some water this year.
Upper Lake Mary: Lake is filling. A 20-pound northern pike has been caught this year.
Ashurst: A 17-pound northern pike was caught in January. Trout fishing should pick up.
Kinnikinick: No report.
Oak Creek: Fair for rainbows. Fair for browns. Try Power Bait, corn or worms. With lower water temperatures you will find fish slowing. Try size No. 20 midge imitations or blue wing olives sizes No. 16 or 20 and nymph imitations such as pheasant tails or hare's ears size No.16 or 22. Fishing may be tougher but this is the time of the year to catch a nice holdover rainbow or a brown in spawning colors.