The onset of spring means one thing for urban anglers: the return of the bullish catfish.

On Thursday, March 21, the Phoenix and Tucson Urban Fishing Program lakes and ponds will be stocked with channel catfish that average 1.7 pounds. According to our Arkansas-based contractor, these catfish that run from 14-19 inches in length will be a bit larger than last year.

Beginning with this spring kick-off stocking, catfish will be stocked every two weeks through mid-June at average rates of 40 to 60 fish per acre. More than 13,600 pounds of Arkansas farm-raised catfish will be stocked into the urban lakes every two weeks.

The urban lake water temperatures have risen into the 60s, triggering the annual stocking changeover from winter trout to spring catfish. The final winter trout stockings were completed March 4.

Channel catfish are best caught using a hook and sinker setup fished on the bottom. Anglers should use 6 to 10-pound test line, depending on the amount of structure in the area (use heavier line when fishing near structures), with a No. 2 to No. 6 baitholder hook and typical catfish baits such as worms, stink baits, hot dogs, liver or shrimp. Target deep waters around midday and shallower waters after dark.

To fish Urban Fishing Program waters, anglers age 14 and over must purchase the $18.50 urban fishing license or the super conservation license. Licenses can be purchased at any of the 320 license dealers, game and fish offices or online at http://www.azgfd.gov.

For more information on the Urban Fishing Program, visit http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/urban_fishing.shtml.

The 2013 Urban Fishing Program guidebooks are available for free at all Arizona Game and Fish Department offices and at license dealers.

Logo courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department

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