Now is the time to get the tackle box ready, grab the fishing rods, and explore northern Arizona for some spring fishing!

A particularly warm and dry spring has arrived, and unfortunately it followed a mild winter. What does this mean for the fishing? It means that the Arizona Game and Fish Department is stocking northern Arizona lakes and anticipates that by late May or early June, as temperatures warm up and lake levels drop, water quality will diminish and conditions will be unsuitable for stocking fish. It is a good idea to check the fishing report for up-to-date stockings.

Ashurst Lake, Lower Lake Mary, Frances Short Pond, and Kaibab Lake are local waters that have received fish from Page Springs and Tonto Creek Hatcheries, two of the fish hatcheries owned and operated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Frances Short Pond is located just northwest of downtown Flagstaff and is a great place to walk or ride a bike to and try your luck. Lower Lake Mary is about 8 miles from Flagstaff on Forest Road 3 and Ashurst is farther down the road about 12 miles. Kaibab Lake is near Williams and off Highway 64, just north of Interstate 40.

“Even with the lack of winter snow, fishing should be good for trout during April and May on most of our lakes,” said Chuck Benedict, an AZGFD fish biologist. Benedict added: “People like to visit Flagstaff and Williams in the summer and want to trout fish, but in reality the bass, pike, catfish, and crappie fishing are the best during the summer, now is the ideal time for trout fishing.”

Some tips to remember before heading out to fish:

  • License fees have changed. The new Fishing License now includes trout and two-pole privileges (no separate stamps needed) and costs $37 for residents and $55 for nonresidents. The license is now valid for one year from the day you buy it, not just for the calendar year.
  • Anyone 10 years and older will need a fishing license. Youth licenses now only cost $5 and are available for youth ages 10-17.
  • Review the 2014 Arizona Fishing Regulations; they are available online or at most license dealers as a booklet that you can throw in your tackle box. The regulations have all the information you need to fish in Arizona.
  • Some lakes have special restrictions or regulations: catch-and-release only, daily limits, or the type of bait allowed.
  • Do not transport live fish or bait. Illegal stocking is a big problem and impacts the department’s efforts to manage the state’s fisheries. In some cases, fish like northern pike and bass have been illegally stocked and have had detrimental impacts to trout fishing and native fish populations.
  • Trout fishing in northern Arizona is better in the spring than in the summer.
  • Summer fishing in Flagstaff and Williams is best for bass, crappie, northern pike and bluegill.

For more fishing information visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department website at http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/fishing

Logo courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department

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