The amount of rain and snow from the recent storms is again the major topic of Rim Country anglers. There has been much more moisture this year throughout the West and the additional two feet of snow on the Rim will ensure good water flows into Roosevelt Lake for the next couple of months. The lake has risen over 12 vertical feet in the past month and 25% since the beginning of the year. Experts are projecting the lake could fill to 80% this spring. Both the Salt River and Tonto Creek are flowing at many times their normal rates, resulting in the lake reaching the 62% full mark. Fishing conditions have decreased recently due to the increased flows and are being called poor to fair by experienced anglers. However, some anglers are reporting a reaction bite on SR5 sized crank-baits in darker colors. The water temperature is in the mid 50’s and increasing to the high 50’s in the afternoon on sunny days. Most of the water in the lake is stained and there are reports of debris floating throughout the lake. Anyone boating on Roosevelt Lake is advised to take extra caution. Most debris can be seen above the surface however, others are just below the surface. A submerged tree can cause significant damage to a prop or lower unit.
Crappie anglers can be seen trolling along shorelines and submerged points. Experienced angler are reporting that the water condition is far from ideal for the crappie fishing. A few anglers reported fair to poor success on recent trips. However, all crappie anglers are anticipating an excellent spawn over the next couple of months. All of the newly submerged brush will provide excellent cover for spawning crappie. Until then, trolling a 1/4 oz jig head and a grub tail, tipped with a minnow, is a typical winter technique for crappie anglers on Roosevelt and Apache Lakes.
A “fish kill” occurred recently on Apache Lake. Several anglers reported thousands of shad washed up on the shoreline of the lake. AZGFD Aquatics Branch Program Manager, Curtis Gill said the kill was caused by Golden Algae, which depletes the oxygen level of the water where the algae is present. Mr. Gill said, “it appears to have affected only shad and is confined to only the river portion of Apache Lake. Hopefully, the recent rains lowered the conductivity enough to abate the issue. AZGFD will continue to monitor the situation.”
The long awaited habitat deployment into Roosevelt Lake is exciting news for Roosevelt Lake anglers. The deployment planned for later this spring and early summer will begin around the mid-lake islands and over time, extend to other portions of the lake. The habitat and the Florida Strain bass which have been growing in the lake for the past few years, are expected to control the large gizzard shad population in the lake. Some of the Florida Strain bass are in the 13″ to 15″ range and will be aggressively attacking all kinds of bait. The average angler will not be able to visually tell the difference between a Northern and Florida Strain bass, however one tell-tail sign is how hard a Florida Stain bass fights. If an angler thinks he has hooked a large bass or a good sized small-mouth only to find it is a 14″ bass, it’s probably one of the Florida Strain. If you catch a bass that you think may be a Florida Strain, be sure to give it “CPR”. Catch-Photograph-Release! By releasing the Florida Strain bass, you’ll help to ensure the success of the restocking and maintain the health of the fishery by controlling the gizzard shad population.
The AZGFD has scheduled six public forums to meet with constituents about developing the 2017 fall hunt recommendations for deer, bighorn sheep, turkey, javelina, bison, bear, mountain lion, and small game animals. Hunter inputs are critical to planning process. All hunters are encouraged to provide inputs to the Department. For more information regarding these forums, visit the AZGFD portal website.
Have a great week of fishing and I hope to see you on the water.
By: James Goughnour
Rim Country Custom Rods