- Great Lakes
- Great Plains
- Rocky Mountains
- Trophy Catches
Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, striped bass, yellow bass, catfish and even sunfish will all be feeding more aggressively, quite often with dramatic results at the surface when these predators encounter large balls of shad, said Game and Fish Fishing Report Editor Rory Aikens.
Aikens, who is currently collaborating with Arizona Highways magazine on producing an Arizona fishing guide book in conjunction with Game and Fish, added that a similar scenario is playing out in the high country lakes as well.
Thanks to superb near-record snowpack this past winter and habitat-drenching summer monsoon rains, our Arizona lakes are mostly full of water, nutrients, forage and healthy sport-fish, Aikens pointed out. I fully expect some of the best fall fishing we have seen in a couple of decades.
Roosevelt Lake is going through the new-lake syndrome so it should be a standout, especially for lunker bass. Dont forget that the slot limit has been removed. Also, keep in mind that the Tonto Basin should be one of our quail hunting hot spots this fall, Aikens advised.
Lake Pleasant, Saguaro, Bartlett, Canyon and Apache should be providing good to excellent action, especially for fish actively feeding at the surface.
It won't surprise me to hear about anglers catching 50 to 100 stripers on topwater at Lake Pleasant. There is no limit on stripers there. Even though it is the opposite of what we ask anglers at other lakes, we would actually like anglers to catch, keep and eat as many stripers as possible to ease that burgeoning population, Aikens said.
Another standout this fall should be Alamo Lake west of Wickenburg. Alamo was supercharged with runoff and nutrients again this year, so I believe it is set to explode with fantastic action especially topwater activity this fall, Aikens predicts.
Don't ignore the Colorado River lakes.
Lake Powell should be a dream for smallmouth, striped bass, largemouth bass and even walleye. I fully expect Powell to provide some of the best fall fishing in the nation. Ironically, anglers can often get lonely in remote scenic canyons where the action can cause your arms and shoulders to hurt from reeling in so many hard-fighting fish, Aikens said.
Another top contender is Lake Havasu. Striper activity seems to be less than previous years, but the smallmouth bass action is absolutely superb and largemouth bass opportunities abound. Plus, there are plate-sized redear to catch and lots of fat and feisty channel catfish that will often hit bass lures, Aikens advised.
For Havasu, be sure to go armed with some topwater frogs to work along the bulrushes and cattails, or over grass beds.
For those looking for something a little different, fish the Parker Strip for smallmouth bass, especially along the first few miles below Parker Dam.
I fished Lake Moovalya (the strip) recently and it just knocked my socks off. There are lovely grass beds waving in the current and rocky reefs where smallmouth bass explode on topwater lures. There are long lines of docks that are just made for flippin and pitchin for hiding bass, or my favorite, skipping Gitzits like flat stones across the water, Aikens said.
Another fall treat is Lees Ferry below Glen Canyon Dam. This is some of the best fishing of the year at the Ferry for tail-jumping wild rainbow trout. Ironically, it is also the off season for angler visitation. I call the Ferry the cathedral of trout fishing. The fall weather, scenic beauty and fishing action conspire to provide a world-class experience, Aikens advised.
In the high country, you can pretty much take your pick. Brown trout will start staging for the spawn, rainbows and Apache trout will be increasingly active and aggressive, and the lakes are full. Big Lake should be excellent for cutthroat and brook trout.
The mountain habitats are green and lush from excellent snowpack and superb monsoon rains. There are mast crops galore from pine cones and acorns to mushrooms and truffles. Wildflowers abound. Berry bushes are heavy with natures bounty. Some wetter areas in forested riparian habitats have bittersweet wild strawberries. This might turn into one of our most spectacular mountain autumns in a couple of decades, Aikens predicted.
Aikens added that once squirrel season opens this fall, be sure to take along that trusty .22. Many mountainous areas have tremendous young squirrel crops this year, and they are fattening up gloriously on the abundant mast crop. Hunting squirrels and catching trout while experiencing autumn colors and elk bugling will provide smile-generating memories for years to come, Aikens said.
Aikens summed up the situation. This is shaping up to be an autumn we will be telling tall tales and having daydreams about for years and years to come. You won't want to miss out.
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