APACHE LAKE - Lake elevation is 1,908 feet (94-percent full). The last stocking was the week of Dec. 2. The next is Dec. 30. The Arizona Fishing Guides reported that Apache Lake is always good this time of year -- some really nice smallmouths can be caught on jerk baits and small shakey head worms and small jigs.

Anglers had been doing well on dropshots and Texas rigs in the colors that have typically been successful – red crawler and morning dawn. Brush hogs also have been successful. Senft has caught the majority of his largemouth bass in 15-30 feet of water. Sometimes he found a shallow crankbait bite. Senft this weekend recommends starting with a crankbait because of cooler morning temperatures that drive the fish into shallow waters.

BARTLETT LAKE – Lake elevation is 1,784 feet, 80 % full. Gary Senft, a Bass Pro as the Mesa Bass Pro Shops, said Bartlett is the state’s hot spot for those who simply want to catch fish. He said the fishing has been unbelievably good from one end of the lake to the other throwing dropshots, Texas rigs, cankbaits and spinner baits.

“Normally the bite slows down a bit, but the fish are biting good,” Senft said. “We’ve had these cold fronts, but the fish are still biting.”

He said largemouth bass have been biting from 8-38 feet of water depth. There has not been much of a top-water bite, however.

Target boulders, points, ledges, islands and coves – bass are simply following shad.

Previously, The Arizona Fishing Guides reported Bartlett Lake is starting to unload a few bigger-than-normal fish. You can catch these guys using a heavier spinner bait down in the channel bends up in the river end, or flipping jigs around shallow boulders.

Three weeks ago, Jeremy Hoffman, the north Phoenix Sportsman’s Warehouse manager, said fishing continues to be good but has slowed down just a bit with the last cold front that moved through.

CANYON LAKE - Lake elevation is 1,658 feet (96-percent full). The last stocking was the week of Dec. 9. The next is Jan. 6. The Arizona Fishing Guides reported Canyon Lake is doing well also seems to be best right after the stocking of the trout, but you can still coax the non-trout eaters into eating a jerk bait.

The last trout stocking is Dec. 9. Some trophy bass are being caught on trout swim bait imitations. A few weeks ago, many anglers reported little success using dropshots. Instead, first thing in the morning, angler can spot shad boils and throw jerk baits and small swim baits.

Like Saguaro, anglers can draw reaction strikes using jerk baits, crankbaits and, at certain times, spinner baits and top-water baits can really come into play. The jerk bait is the main bait.

“Matching the hatch” can be particularly crucial. Use small baits, such as a small swim bait on a ¼-ounce jighead.

LAKE PLEASANT – The Arizona Fishing Guides reported that Lake Pleasant is also doing very well. This is the time of the year that the water is rising and all the fish like to eat shad shallow. Keep your eyes open for boils and always be looking for the birds. They are like me: always hungry...

ROOSEVELT LAKE - Lake elevation is 2,100 feet, 47-percent full. Dec. 13 report from James Goughnour of Rim Country Custom Rods: The cold fronts moving through Rim Country are making a difference to Roosevelt Lake.

The lake level remained steady at 46% of capacity and the flows in Tonto Creek and the Salt River are in the normal range for this time of year.

Deep-running crankbaits were reported successful last week along with a slowly moving Carolina Rig and a jigging spoon such as a crippled herring.

The water temperature is dropping rapidly so look for deeper fish. The afternoon shallow bite we have been discussing will get shorter as temperatures drop even on clear sunny days.

The Arizona Fishing Guides reported Roosevelt Lake is not quite back to its normal fishing; it is still pretty good by any Arizona lake standards. Spoons and big jigs can be used to catch most of them. Just look for the bait balls on your fishing graph.

SAGUARO LAKE - Lake elevation is 1,526 feet (96 percent full). The lake is being stocking (beginning Dec. 16.) The next is Jan. 13. From the Arizona Fishing Guides: Saguaro Lake is still pumping out the big ones mostly on spoons and big reaction baits. You should remember it is not for the faint of heart and it can bring some of the most experienced fisherman to their knees but one big one and you forget it all.

Previously, Hoffman, the north Phoenix Sportsman’s Warehouse manager, had been fishing the lake lately and offered these tips: Saguaro is falling into its usual winter pattern which for me is throwing jerkbaits early in the morning, and then spooning the main lake channel throughout the rest of the day.

I always do best using size 78 Lucky Craft Pointers and small Rapala Husky Jerks in any shad color pattern. For spooning it’s hard to beat ½- ounce and ¾-ounce KastMasters and Hopkins in silver or gold. Make sure to ALWAYS use some sort of swivel when vertical jigging with spoons to avoid line twist.

If you’re interested in catching yellow bass, this is the time of year where you can really load up. Use a light action rod with 6-pound test fluorocarbon and a 3/8-ounce gold KastMaster. Good spots to try would be outside of Butcher Jones, around Ship Rock, and the creek channel just outside of “The Snags” in 30-50 feet of water.

If you can find them schooled up, it’s not uncommon to catch 20-plus fish an hour. FYI – Yellow bass meat is very white and flakey and makes darn good grilled fish tacos!   back...
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