Holiday Weekend Fishing Tips


Here are my tips for all you Thanksgiving anglers, especially those looking to renew their spirit while escaping the Black Friday shopping syndrome (and aftermath).

My top choice is Tempe Town Lake for trout and bass. We stocked Town Lake with trout last week and stocked it again (including some larger incentive rainbows) during the Welcome Back the Trout Celebration Nov. 22.

Good trout and bass fishing — now that’s a tough combination to beat.

Next is the Lower Salt River below Saguaro Lake. It’s scheduled for rainbow trout stockings this week. The Lower Salt also has some pretty nifty bass to catch as well. Salt River Project has apparently shifted its water releases to the Verde River/Bartlett side, so we’ll be stocking at the Phon D. Sutton and Granite Reef Recreation areas, but should also put some trout into the deeper pools around the Blue Point Bridge as well.

Lees Ferry is definitely worth a visit right now. The walk-in area is going great guns right now. This is a great time of year to catch some wild rainbows there using either fly-fishing or spinning gear. Fishing the walk-in can be a little tricky with the current high flows.

Looking for a mid-elevation excursion? Try Dead Horse Ranch State Park adjacent to Cottonwood or the Verde River (or both). The Verde is stocked from the town of Cottonwood to the town of Camp Verde — pretty much if there is a bridge crossing the river, we stock there.

Not sure I have a great feel for what is happening on the desert impoundments right now. This is the transition period from the fall activity patterns to the winter ones. Fish are edging deep and as the water cools, their metabolism slows down. Bass can still be found chasing shad at the surface at times, but for most lakes, expect topwater action to be sporadic (but worthwhile).

For all you wing shooters, don’t forget that the late dove season opens on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Maybe catch the morning bite and then the late afternoon flight. Sounds like the beginning of a fine poem.

LAKE PLEASANT: Lake elevation: 1,651 feet (48 percent full).

An angler fished from 2 to 5:30 p.m. and caught five small largemouth bass and enjoyed a lot of hits using Redeye shad and wacky Senko’s in depths around 20 feet.

ROOSEVELT LAKE: Lake elevation: 2,119 feet (64 percent full).  Tonto Creek runoff is 24 cfs, while inflow from the Salt River is at 145 cfs. Buzzbait and drop shot seemed to be the ticket for a few anglers.  They hauled in a couple 1.5-pound bass. The weather fronts kind of turned the bite off over the weekend, but with the weather warming up, the fishing should pick up over the week, but another front is forecasted over the weekend or early next week. We’ll see.

APACHE LAKE: Lake elevation: 1,907 feet (93 percent full). A couple anglers braved the weather at Apache Lake and one angler caught a 3.5-pound largemouth bass with a blade while it was raining. Once the rain stopped, they fished over some rocky substrate and hauled in about 10 smallmouth bass till the bite evaporated. Small Rooster Tails caught the stocker trout’s attention. The bass are keying in on the trout so small swim baits works well especially near Burnt Corral and the Palo Verde areas. Water temps were between 57 and 63 degrees.

CANYON LAKE: Trout have been stocked, so now is a good time to get out the swim baits. Expect bass to be mostly deep, but they can come up into the shallows to feed just about any time of day right now during this fall-to-winter transition period.


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