I hit Big Lake this morning. The wind has been pretty fierce the past week and today was supposed to be more of the same but I just was tired of making materials and needed to fish. Hit the lake about 6:15 to wind and some spitting snow. I was not going to attempt to launch a kick boat as the wind was predicted to get worse as the day progressed. Walked the banks…mostly out of the winds for a couple hours. Tried midges, pt’s, streamers, leeches…stripped and dangling….nada. Oh well, not the first time I’ve been blanked early in the season…..and I’m sure not the last.
Good news is we have more water this season than this time last year. Big is about 2.5 ft below full pool. Crescent is full (although dead). No fish stocked there this season so far…. still testing water quality to see if it improves. WMLF is still trying to make improvements on the lake and have been told this may be the year …..SOMETHING HAPPENS! Sunrise is up some. The island is at least an island again. Not all of the ridge extending from the shoreline is under water but most of it is. A-1 is higher than I’ve seen it in recent years. Carnero killed over the winter but has been restocked already and has plenty of water. Some of the fish stocked were bigger than the average 8″-9″ stocker…..and we all know how fast they grow in that lake.
Looks like it may be a decent season…at least waterwise. And don’t forget Tigers go in Becker, Carnero, Woods Canyon and Willow Springs next month. I believe Becker gets them next week. They WILL be in the lake for the annual Becker Best Days at Becker May 14th. Come join us and maybe catch your first AZ Tiger Trout.
Got back from Utah Sunday without a chance to wet a line up there. Played a little catchup with work and got a call from old fishing buddy, Matt Worman. Matt and I used to guide for bass on Apache and Canyon ….back when. Since then we haven’t spent much time on the water together. So when he invited me to join him at Apache for a day or two of smallie chasing….how could I refuse? I had talked with DW on the latest poop….’cause I know he was fishing it when I was working my tail off in Utah. Got the latest …as things always seem to change. Seems the smallies are winding down with their spawn and the lmb’s are moving in. There may have been a yellow bass spawn as well because Daryl had much better success after he switched from the DW Minnow he usually fishes to a mega amber/olive ss leech.. That is what I started out with….nada. I switched to my usual RL chartreuse Ultra Foxy and Matt fished his old faithful patterns. Fishing was pretty much as usual except we picked up a crappie each, some yellows, a bluegill and more lmb’s than smallies….and the smallies were not the size we had caught earlier in the season….may be a post spawn thing?
Anyway, I had tied up some new patterns I call Helmet Heads. They employ the plastic helmets made by Fish Mask and make it much easier to put a hard head on your streamers, which makes for better quality stripping. I tied on a 1/0 shad pattern and picked up about a 3 lb lmb right off the bat. Fished it for awhile and then I went a lot smaller with a yellowish/goldish baitfish that maybe would resemble a young yellow….Boom!!!! It was like somebody turned on the light switch. We proceeded to have one of the best afternoons we’ve ever had on Apache. Not sure how many we caught but it was pretty much non stop everywhere we stopped. Didn’t take enough pics but here’s a few.
We didn’t land any giants but the sheer quantity made for a great day. I think Matt got our biggest lmb at 3.5 lbs but I can’t tell you how many 2-2.5 lb lmb’s we landed…and these lmb’s are the hardest fighting lmb I’ve ever played with. Not sure why, maybe the strain of lmb’s we put in after the Golden Algae dieoff…not really sure….but they are well worth the trip down that bumpy, dusty road.
I had a great trip to Oregon, saw some old friends, attended a great tying expo and even caught a few fish on the Deschutes. It rained every day I was there so it was nice to come back to some sunshine. I spent the whole of the next week playing catchup on back orders so no fishing for about 8-9 days….BAD! Daryl called Saturday and told me he was whacking some good fish at Boulder Cove on Canyon. That just made the no fishing situation even worse.
DW was mainly bed fishing with bed flies/jigs when the sun and wind cooperated but caught some good fish stripping DW’s as well. He landed a 6 that he didn’t get a pic of.
I continued to bite my lip and work…yes, this is where I pat myself on the back. Sunday I ran out of labels….no labels….means can’t work. So, 11 am I packed up and made my way down to Boulder Cove. The cove was packed by then with the weekend crowd, grilling hot dogs and kayaking. Had a tough time finding a place to park. Finally someone left and I grabbed their space and launched. I think DW may have sore lipped most of them by then because the fish were pretty spooky. Tough to find a player. We caught a few but Daryl said the bite was much better the day before….the old “should have been here yesterday” gig. We started stripping DW’s and I hung a pretty good one that fought like a mad man.
We fished til dark and decided to go hit Apache the next day. We ate breakfast at the Butcher Hook and launched at Burnt Corral about 7 and fished until 1-2 pm. We landed about 9 between us but landed only one nice fish. We decided to go hit Rosey for the afternoon bite
When we had breakfast we heard of some good bags coming that weekend from a couple tourneys….28 lbs with a 10, a 9, an 8 in the bag. That’s good fishing anywhere. Supposedly the lmb’s were on beds everywhere. Launching at Grapevine we had ideas of bed fishing but the water clarity was only about 3 ft. We stripped some and caught a few fish but it was pretty slow. Figured it wouldn’t hurt to look for a few beds…glad I did. I found a pair that were locked but really spooky. Eventually, after 6 trial runs they came back to the bed…at least the male did. I finally got him after about 25 minutes of fooling around.
He went 4 and the female was half again his size.
Joe Staller and Gentry Smith hit Apache Sunday as well and sent me a few pics of their day.
They were fishing Waterdog (Davis Wash). Joe caught his smallie on a bronze peacock simi seal leech with an orange bead and Gentry caught his lmb on a chartreuse/white RL Ultra Foxy. Good job guys.
The Salt River lakes are on fire right now. I know some of you are trout fanatics but you’re really missing out on some exciting fishing by not trying to chase the bass. It’s probably the only thing I miss about living in the valley, but hey….life up here’s not so bad. The high lakes are opening up and trout fishing’s right around the corner.
We had a WMLF meeting Sunday 2/21. I got an invite to go down Friday and hit Saguaro from Rod Buchanan and Joe Staller. The lmb’s are starting to bed and they know how much I enjoy fooling with bed fish. I already had some chores I had to do in “the big city” so sounded like a plan. We hit Sag around 8, calm wind but cloudy. Could have been better but could have been much worse too. We fished pretty much the whole day and were in to fish the entire time. These were pretty much all the smaller bucks, never really saw any giants but they were a blast to catch. Biggest bass was around 4 lbs caught by Joe “Hit Man” Staller. All caught on the bed jig/fly I make up. What a hoot.
Here’s some more pics.
Water temps were around 58-59 but I had some time Sunday am before the meeting so I walked the banks and spotted for a group of kayakers on a Healing Waters outing. Temps were warmer, around 61-62. Just gonna get better as it warms up…it’s just starting.
Joe Staller, Rod Buchanan, Daryl and I hit Apache. Fished from about 9-3….had the toughest day so far this season. We managed to land 10 between us…with a couple good fish. Joe took big fish honors with a nice healthy lmb that probably went 4 lbs. He ate a chartreuse/white Foxy Minnow as has been the case most of the time this season….so far. Joe was drifting a fly deep in 46′ of water. Rod landed three with DW picking up the most….5, with 4 coming under a bobber on a Simi leech. That tells you how slow the bite was.
There was a club tournament going on and they all seemed to struggle as well. You just never know with these crazy fish. Go today and you may whack ‘em….who knows. That’s interestingly one of the things about bass fishing that keeps you coming back for more abuse.
Rod landed his 17″ smallie and chunky lmb on a chartreuse/white Clouser fishing in 15′-20′ water.
I snuck away and hit Apache for a few hours yesterday. Lake was busy, lots of trailers in the parking lot and the campground had more campers than any other time this year. I think everyone is trying to catch that magic 30 lb bag again. It felt like Spring, great weather, cardinals flying around and lots of new green grass everywhere. The desert is pretty awesome in the Spring, definitely it’s best show…..but it’s only early Feb???
Bite wasn’t that good…..about a fish an hour. Landed 4 but two were nice fish…one at just under 3 and one over 3.
They’re still eating the chartreuse RL Ultra Foxy. Talked with several other boaters and nobody had caught a thing. Smallies do like flies….thankfully
Joe and Gentry snuck away last Wed for a day at Apache. Between them they had 6 on, landed 4. Joe said he was using two flies and they all hit the chartreuse. Good job guys
Daryl and I hit Apache Sunday around 9. We found blue skies and a dead calm lake. Along with a full moon that night and a tournament the day before, we had pretty low expectations… and for the most part we were right. We hit the normal spots we had been doing well at and blanked for the first two hours…not even a bump. Found very few shad and marked almost no fish. We commented on how we needed a chop….voila. Within the first five minutes after the wind picked up I had two fish landed and missed another. That would have been fine….BUT…the wind decided to really kick up and forced us to run for cover. On the way back to the ramp, Daryl hit an area that held some shad. He dropped his bronzeback Simi Seal leech, let it sink a bit, twitched it a couple times and BAM….a nice 5 lb lmb was on the other end. That’s why I love bass fishing. You have no idea what will happen next.
A lmb like this one will make any trip a successful one. Apache is coming back strong. There seem to be more smallies every season and they are all in great shape. We are catching enough 1-2 lb fish that will make a good fishery into a great one down the road
Tim Oliver, Daryl and I made it to Apache for a day. Hit the lake around 9 and got off around 3. Lake was clearer than last week but the fish still wanted chartreuse. We landed 15-16 between us. Nothing big this trip but some nice 2-2.5 lbr’s. Lot more boat traffic this time, probably because of the three day weekend…..awesome lake.
Here’s some pics
Beautiful January Winter day on the water. Blue skies, long sleeve shirts and willing smallmouth. Gotta love AZ.
Five of us hit Apache Sunday for a day of chasing smallies. The lake had risen since the last trip, colder and more off color from the recent runoff. The tactics used last trip were not effective this time. Chartreuse proved to be the color that did ALL the damage. Fishing was much tougher as well. Five guys fishing….six fish caught. That’s bass fishing. If you plan to do much of it, plan on it being that way. One day they’re there, willing to eat….next day the lake is void of ANY fish. I think that is one of the reasons it appeals to me so much, aside from how hard they fight. You are constantly rethinking your plan of attack. I can’t tell you how many times the fly that worked one day is rejected the next. It’s often frustrating but when you get it right….you feel you have accomplished something. I always try and think (whether true or not)….they are eating something, just figure out what it is and how they want it served to them.
Here’s some more pics