8 Jun

Arizona, Valley Of The Sun –  May, 2011, turned out to be a difficult month on many fronts, including an unexpected return to New Jersey to attend the memorial and funeral for a very dear friend. For purposes of this fishing journal, time spent on the water was less than I would have preferred. Hopefully, things will turn around in June.

Having said that, the majority of species that could be lured to take a fly were a plethora of panfish, including crappie and bluegill. Although several large bass were seen, catches were of the smaller variety. There was an occasional rainbow or two. and small bass. I hope you enjoy reading about your favorite fishing waters.

PLEASE NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, all fish were safely released after being photographed.

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

Given the unusual circumstances of this month, I was only able to fish the Lower Salt a few times. After water flows increased to summer levels, I concentrated my fishing at the Water Users Recreation Area. This area is above river from where float tubers launch and thus can provide extended fishing time in the morning hours. The fly rods I tend to use on the river (summer flows) are a 9 foot Sumo XS and 8 foot Fenwick Ferrulite. Longer rods for longer casts and fishing Czech-style nymphs.

At Water Users Recreation Area

The beginning of the month (after flow levels increased) was a bit inconsistent. One day, catches of largemouth bass were reasonable with catches of bluegill plentiful (best pattern was a # 14 rooks blueberry nymph tied behind a # 12 claret wooly bugger). The next day would be nothing. But such are the foibles of fly fishing.

Below is the water flow chart for the Lower Salt River for the month from WWW.Watershedmonitor.Com.

CANYON LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

I fished several areas of shoreline on Canyon Lake with consistent catches of small bass and plentiful panfish.  Given the steady stream of panfish, crappie & bluegill that would take a fly, I downsized my equipment to my 6 foot Fenwick Ferrulite fly rod, throwing a four weight line and ending in a 7x or 8X tippet.  The result was often some heart-stopping action provided by light tackle connected to some nice-sized panfish.

The areas that I primarily fished are:

The shoreline adjacent to and surrounding the fishing bridge at Boulder Recreation Area,


the rock ledge on the far shoreline from the bridge (use caution hiking down the rocks)

Di & a bluegill from the rock ledge

and the shoreline surrounding the first one lane bridge on highway 88 (use caution hiking down from the road to the shoreline).


The most productive patterns this month were the following: # 14 BH rooks blueberry nymph behind a # 12 BH claret wooly bugger, # 16 red serendipity nymph behind a # 12 sparkle shad streamer and a # 16 wire caddis nymph tied behind a # 10 apache lady wet fly. These flies were fished with a twitch and pause retrieve. As morning temperatures inched steadily to the triple digit range, there was fast and furious dry fly action to be found courtesy of a # 16 black/pink foam ant or a # 16 chartreuse/black ant.  I fished the ants drifting with surface wind currents with an occasional twitch. There were times that almost every other cast resulted resulted in a fish; every sixth cast or so in one that was nice size.

Chloe inspects a bluegill from the rock ledge before release

After a long morning at Canyon Lake, one tends to develop an appetite. To quell the hunger derived from a morning of flicking flies at the aquatic citizens of the lake, the FLY FISHING DOJO crew often stops at Los Favritos Restaurant on Apache Trail in Apache Junction for the biggest, best tasting and economical Burritos in Pinal County. Give them a try the next time you are in “AJ”.

Los Favritos Restaurant, Apache Trail, Apache Junction


Success on the Urban Lake system this month was somewhat inconsistent. Catfish were (and still are) being stocked by AZ Fish and Game. These fish are reluctant to take a fly, but were caught using various baits, including hot dogs reported by one fisherman I spoke with. It seems to me that during the stocking of the catfish, the other resident summer species of bass and bluegill bury themselves deep into the cover.


Small bass and bluegill were inconsistent but could be found with wet flies and nymphs that had some sparkle to them. Such patterns included: # 14-16 BH rooks blueberry, # 16 wire caddis nymph, # 14-16 rainbow warrior nymphs, # 16 red serendipity nymph, # 14 alexandria and # 14 apache lady wet fly.


Results that I experienced were generally the same as at Veterans Oasis Lake, including the productive fly patters. I did have one heart stopping moment when a large carp chased and was briefly hooked on a # 14 pink san juan worm pattern. I hope to explore this pattern on the resident carps more in June.


Fisherman As Warriors –  link:

Sanchin Kata For Fisherman –  link:

Until my next submission, I hope you continue to enjoy the articles I post on this weblog. Tight lines.

Sensei John

Sensei John is available for lectures on the interrelationship of fly fishing and martial arts protocol, ideology and philosophy. Please see the “LECTURES & LESSONS” Page tab above for more information.

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