Tag Archives: Arizona Community Fishing Program

Arizona Urban Lake Guide Part 1

8 Feb

community fishing sign  I’ve had a few comments on my You-Tube videos asking for information on where I fish on a specific Urban Lake. The answer isn’t necessarily where I fish on any one of the Urban Lakes, but how I fish the lake. In the next few articles, I’ll try to share my techniques and hopefully make your Arizona Urban Lake fishing (now called “Community Lake Fishing”more satisfying.

Sunrise, Veteran's Oasis Lake, Chandler, AZ

Sunrise, Veteran’s Oasis Lake, Chandler, AZ

First and foremost, I loved the Arizona Urban Lake program. In fact, having relocated back to New Jersey it is probably the one thing I miss the most about living in Arizona. The Urban Lakes were my go-to fishing water. Any time I could spare even as little as an hour I would be on one of the lakes. And that is the first consideration as to how I would fish any of the lakes; time.

If I had two hours to travel and fish I would fish the Urban Lakes with a “Once-around” strategy. On days that I had three to four hours to fish (again with about and hour travel), I would either fish one of the lakes with more attention to detail or plan on fishing two of the Urban Lakes. Days where I could devote at least five hours to fishing, I would fish the “big-waters” – Lower Salt River, Canyon Lake or Apache Lake.

"Super-Moon" at Veterans Oasis Lake

“Super-Moon” at Veterans Oasis Lake

What is my “Once-around” fishing method?

As to Urban Lake selection, the three closest lakes to my home which was in San Tan Valley were: Veteran’s Oasis, Water Ranch and a small Urban Pond in Gilbert. I do not name it here as fishing pressure really put a damper on fruitful days spent there; however, those that are curious can read any of my past fishing journals and get the name. Generally speaking, these lakes were more often than not my “once-around” lakes.Additionally, depending on where my work took me, I would get some fishing in on another Urban Lake. For example, if I had to be in Mesa, I would fish Red Mountain Lake before my work. Lastly, time of day was not a factor, if my mornings started too early to fish, then I would fish at night.

Stocking Rainbows at Red Mountain Lake - see video page for more

Stocking Rainbows at Red Mountain Lake – see video page for more

Prior to fishing, I would have three fishing rods prepared and ready with all lures tied and set. My usual rod set up was;

   CIMG1161  Any species:

Fly Rod – 7-8 foot with a 5-6X tippet depending on time of year. I always start with a wet fly combination involving a streamer with a small nymph dropper fly. If fishing is super slow, I’ll change this to a small dry fly and fish bluegill instead of skunking out;

I would also pre-rig two bait casting rods. The pre-rig would depend on the species.

  CIMG3943   Largemouth Bass:

In addition to the above fly rod:

Bait caster # 1 – this will have a fast exploratory lure, usually a rattle trap in a weather appropriate color. In summer months; however, and if I’m on the water by sunrise, this rod will be outfitted with a top water proper;

Bait caster # 2 – usually with a spinnerbait or a soft plastic lure to use as a follow-up to rod number 1.

   CATFISH-3  Catfish:

In addition to the above fly rod:

Bait caster # 1: curved hook heavily weighted and baited with week old shrimp that I would salt.

Bait caster # 2: rigged for Largemouth bass to fish while my bait was in the water waiting for catfish.

   

chloe-fish Rainbow Trout:

In addition to the above fly rod:

Fly Rod # 2: a 7 foot fly rod with a 6X tippet with a dry fly and dropper combination. The dry fly is usually a hopper, or large ant pattern.

Spinning Rod # 1: In-line spinners

Once on the water, I start on the water as close to the parking lot as possible. I usually start with the fly rod to see if there’s any fish around. I hope for blue gill or small bass that may provide forage for larger fish. After a few casts, I’ll follow up with the rattle trap or popper. In all instances I start closest to shoreline and work my way out. After six to ten casts I move on a few feet. You MUST be careful walking the edge of the Urban Lakes as many times fish will hold close to shore and be easily spooked! In this manner I work my way around the entire lake. In most instances this takes about an hour.

To this general strategy I would add:

If I find good size fish, I’ll stay on that area longer and stay with that lure or fly. Once I feel I got what I can out of that area, I’ll resume my walk;

Based upon my experience, I have my “honey-holes” on each lake. Naturally I’ll fish them a little longer than other areas. But, the key concept is to fish as much water in the time available as possible.

If I loose confidence in any of my pre-rigged lures, I’ll change them. Circumstances may also dictate this. For example, if I’m catching small bass on a red streamer and have a chrome blue rattle trap on my bait caster, I’ll change that to something that is either red or includes red such as a “bleeding” pattern.

That basically summarizes my “Once-around” strategy for those days when I really do not have a lot of time to fish. If its one of those days when I really want to fell a tug on the line, I’ll spend the last few minutes of an outing with the fly rod playing with, catching and releasing blue gill. After all they decades of fishing, they always put a smile on my face on otherwise fish-less days.

Featured Video:

Please visit my video page for many videos on the Urban Lakes: https://flyfishingdojo.com/video-media/

In part two of this Urban Lake series, I’ll review my strategy for days that I can more time fishing the Urban Lakes. Until then, “Tight lines.”

Sensei John

Sensei John Szmitkowski

© Copyright 2017 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

sunsu-cactus   You may wish to view my martial arts blog at https://senseijohn.me

September & October, 2014 Fishing Journal

2 Nov

September & October, 2014, Valley of the Sun. With many things on our personal agenda, including an upcoming relocation to New Jersey, we fished when we could and not as often as we would have liked. As of this writing, one of our team members has already relocated to New Jersey. Here’s a photo of her last bass in Arizona, a beauty caught at the Lower Salt River on October 3rd.

di last bass

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

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

With seriously decreased water flows, the key to success is finding deep, moving, well oxygenated water.

   salt-Sept   salt oct

Areas that previously had water may now be dry

Areas that previously had water may now be dry

Depending on the area you desire to fish, this can involve some degree of hiking. The results; however, are worth the hike.

  CIMG5462   CIMG5467

Notwithstanding the consistent low flows, I always consult the flow chart for the river before heading out the door. WWW.Watershedmonitor.Com.

CANYON LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

   CIMG5470   CIMG5505

Our last visit to Canyon Lake was on September 30th. At the time, the fishing bridge at Boulder Recreation Area was still closed. We will attempt to verify the status of the bridge by the time of our next report.

URBAN LAKE FISHING:

Arizona Game and Fish will start stocking rainbow trout in mid-November.

Riverview Lake, Mesa

On Sunday, October 12th, 2014 saw major blooms of green algae in various locations on the lake.

riverview algae

From talking with other fisherman, it seems this phenomenon was relatively new. Our experience that day was that the algae seems to have hampered the bite. One small largemouth bass was caught.

   CIMG5487

 

vulture-me  In the photos I’m wearing an uv protection shirt I purchased from Wicked Catch gear. You can visit their website at http://www.wickedcatchgear.com/fishing-shirts/
use promo code: WCProstaff-JSzmitkowski at checkout for a 5 % discount (not applicable to shipping costs and taxes).

Until the next submission, I remain,

Sensei John

Sensei John

sunsu-cactus Please feel free to view my weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts at http://senseijohn.me

July, 2014 Fishing Journal

8 Aug

July, 2014, Valley of the Sun.
I’m driving to the Lower Salt River one morning hoping to get in a few hours of fishing before the triple heat swoops in. Classic rock plays on the radio. A song ends. The D.J. begins the weather report, “Today’s weather; Christ is gonna be hot!” “One fourteen in Phoenix later, but now, the Talking Heads Burning Down The House.”
I think, “What a great way to sum up fishing in the Arizona summer.”

Hemingway once said,“No one can work every day in the hot months without going stale. To break up the pattern of work, we fish . . . “ (Endnote # 1) So, in these unbearably hot days, when one’s spirit can easily go stale, I turn to fishing whenever I can and my karate kata when I can’t. Before my fingers go stale, I best get on with July’s fishing.

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

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

When time permits, fishing the Lower Salt is a double bonus. First, you’re fishing – ‘nuff said. Second, you’re able to wade its cool waters and keep your body temperature within a comfortable zone. Do; however, use caution. The river moves fast and has some tricky currents. A few people drown each year.

                     bass-c00n-b-rat-l     bass-tellico-coob-bluff

The problem with fishing the river is one of changing water flows. I always consult the flows before planning a trip. You can also do so by visiting
http://www.watershedmonitor.com/contentView.aspx?DT=0&KW=WW_LwrSaltRiver
If there is a change of more than 200 c.f.s. within a day of my trip, then I fish elsewhere. Here’s what the flows looked like for July, 2014.

salt-july

More photos from the river.

   bass-mask      salt-coon-bass-bh-eggi-juan-kenobi

 

CANYON LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

On those summer days when I can spare a few hours to fish and the changing flows keep me off the river, I fish Canyon Lake. My exact choice of location is a function of the difficulty of hiking to the location compared with the temperature. My relevant temperature measurement isn’t the forecasted high temperature but rather how early it will hit one hundred degrees. The earlier the time of day, the less hiking I do. In those instances, I’ll fish the more readily accessible locations all along the lake.

 boulder-green sunfish-bluegill- copy

I always look for new fishing spots along the lake’s shore. If I’m on the lake and the heat’s a bit much, I’ll scout out new fishing spots for future trips. I recently began to explore the area in and around the Laguna Beach boat launch. I hope to have more in future reports.

CIMG5096

 

community fishing sign  URBAN LAKE FISHING

The Urban Lake System, now the Community Fishing Program, provides easily accessible fishing; often within a driving distance of less than fifteen miles. or so. On days that I cannot spare sufficient travel time to the big waters, then I fish these more accessible lakes.

Health issues, drastically cut into our time to fish these lakes. There are; however, two items of distinction from this month.

Riverview-Mesa   Riverview Lake, Mesa, AZ

The first is our trip to the newly renovated Riverfront Lake in Mesa. This lake is not quite in “our neighborhood” as are Veterans Oasis, Water Ranch and Red Mountain, but I wanted to see it after its renovation. All I can say is, “Wow, what a great job!” The lake is beautiful and well planned. We caught a few small bass, but did see quite a few larger fish. I think in the coming months that I’l do a full feature and video on this renovated lake. Definitely worth the trip.

Red Mountain   Red Mountain Lake, Mesa, AZ

The second item of distinction occurred July 2nd. We were fishing Red Mountain Lake in Mesa. It was a hot morning. We were walking the bank, going back to the truck when we saw a huge catfish an inch or so away from and facing the concrete retaining wall. He was feeding on something. I’ve seen largemouth bass also do this. I can’t seem figure out either this behavior or what they’re feeding on. We had a few rods with a soft plastic grub, a rat-l trap and my fly rod with a big nymph. To avoid spooking the fish, I decided to throw the fly.

catfish-collage copy

I cast about six or seven times letting the fly hit the edge of the concrete. I would then ease it into the water. On about the eight cast, the fish took the fly and a twenty-plus minute fight was on! Di was able to get some really great video.

I hope you enjoy the new collage editor I downloaded, it is my goal to be able to show fish caught and fly or lure used in future submissions.

7--20-13 inch-asu_Fotor_Collage

In the photos and video we’re wearing uv protection shirts we purchased from Wicked Catch gear. You can visit their website at http://www.wickedcatchgear.com/fishing-shirts/
use promo code: WCProstaff-JSzmitkowski at checkout for a 5 % discount (not applicable to shipping costs and taxes).

Until the next submission, thanks for stopp’in by,

Sensei John

Sensei John

FFD-STICKERS-2_Fotor   As a Thank-you for reading, I have listed a two-pack of FlyFishing Dojo on E-bay for only $ 1.00 which includes mailing. To get your FFD sticker two-pack, simply go to e-bay and search “Fishing stickers-FlyFishing Dojo Logo blog” – do not bid more than the $1.00, I’ll keep listing while supplies last.

Until the next submission, I remain,

ENDNOTES:
1. Hemingway’s quote cane be found in my favorite book on “Papa” -Lyons, Nick, Hemingway On Fishing, (Nick Lyons Press, New York, NY, 2000) p. 153, originally published as “A Situation Report” in Look magazine, September 4, 1956. For my review of this “must read’ please use this convenient link: https://flyfishingdojo.com/2010/07/26/hemingway-on-fishing/

You can follow the adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

Please feel free to shop unique Fly Fishing Dojo products wear by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page. This months new product – Fly Fishing Dojo Coffee Mug

Taking a coffee break from blogging and vlogging with the FFD logo coffee mug and FFD black and white baseball t-shirt.

office-mug-shirt

 

sunsu-cactus   Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life at http://senseijohn.me

May & June, 2014 Fishing Journal

5 Jul

May and June, 2014, Valley of the Sun, 

May 15th, that’s the day.
The sun rose warm promising temperatures approaching a hundred degrees. A bit early for near triple digit temperatures here in the Valley. But that wasn’t what made the day standout. It was the first day since mid-October when medical reasons kept us off the water that we were able to fish. It was only for an hour on a local urban pond and no fish were caught, but what a great day! If fish caught and released were the sole criteria for determining the quality of a day on the water, then some days were better than others. Thankfully results are not the sole factor in determining whether the overall day was good or not.

blk-ant  The first fish actually caught was this palm-sized bluegill on a # 16 dry black ant. I firmly believe that fishing results are a matter of perception. After all those months of surgery and chemotherapy, hooking this bluegill was like catching a blue marlin.

We started out slow, fishing the local lakes and ponds in the Community Fishing Program (formerly the Urban Lake system). We visited Red Mountain Lake and Discovery Pond regularly. We also made a few trips to Veterans Oasis Lake and Water Ranch Lake. The results were good with catches of small to mid-size bass. Enough to keep us encourage to continue building stamina back after chemotherapy and get out on the big waters.

Di first bass  After seven months of weekly chemotherapy, Di hooked her first bass. Oh, what a feeling!

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

bass-salt-   bluegill-canyon     redear-hat

We started fishing at the ASU Research Park Lakes. These lakes are part of an industrial/office park. As such, to avoid the “nine-to-five workday” we tend to fish these lakes on the weekend. The atmosphere is generally pleasing and relaxing. The fishing experience and results tend to be very satisfying. Hook-ups have included largemouth bass, catfish and carp (quickly becoming a favorite quarry for my fly rod).

bass no mask   CIMG4959   carp

In early June, health status was good enough to begin fishing Canyon Lake and the Lower Salt River. Both of these locations involve a fair amount of hiking along challenging terrain. Health-wise we did good. Fishing results were slow, but, hey we were off the water for almost seven months during chemotherapy. So, it may take a bit of time before we’re back up to snuff.

vulture-me  Fishing the Lower Salt River involves a lot of hiking; moving from location to location in search of fish. Our team member that finished chemo was still building her stamina and trips to the river proved challenging. So,we fished the river once a week; more as stamina increases. As the summer progresses, fishing will be limited to those locations that are not impeded by river tubing.

hatch helicopter copy  Our first trip to the Lower Salt River saw an unusual occurrence. US Forest Service and MCSO officers were looking for a poacher. As we cast, we watched the drama unfold with officers on horseback, and helicopter. We often heard “Come out with hands up and we can work this out, if we come in to get you, you’re going to jail.” Here’s a link to the full story: https://flyfishingdojo.com/2014/06/09/match-the-hatch/

In these dog days of summer fishing success on the Lower Salt varies depending on river flows. I check the flow beginning three days before any planned trip and the in morning before heading out. If there is a change in flows greater than 200 c.f.s., I don’t fish the river and wait for more uniform flows.

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

salt-april-may-june

NON-TRADITIONAL FISHING
canal  With the popularity of fly fishing for carp growing in the United States, We started fishing some of the local canals in search of carp and amor.

saltJPG  We hope that we are able to continue to fish in these venues and provide more reports in the coming months.

Sneak-peak at July: July 2nd I caught this huge cat fish ON A Fly (details in the July journal) but, here’s a video (condensed) of the over twenty minute fight:

PRODUCT NOTE (and discount code):

In the photos I’m wearing an uv protection shirt I purchased from Wicked Catch gear. You can visit their website at http://www.wickedcatchgear.com/fishing-shirts/
use promo code: WCProstaff-JSzmitkowski at checkout for a 5 % discount (not applicable to shipping costs and taxes).

Fly Fishing Dojo FEATURED PRODUCT:
fly_fishing_dojo_bandana  This Month’s featured product is the FFD Logo bandanna. You can visit our “Shop” Page Tab or use this convenient LINK: http://www.cafepress.com/flyfishing_dojo.1286760541

Until the next submission, I remain,

Sensei John

Sensei John

FFD-STICKERS-2_Fotor  As a Thank-you for reading, I have listed a two-pack of FlyFishing Dojo on E-bay for only $ 1.25 which includes mailing. To get your FFD sticker two-pack, simply go to e-bay and search “Fishing stickers-FlyFishing Dojo Logo blog” – do not bid more than the $1.25, I’ll keep listing while supplies last.

Sensei John is available for guest speaking engagements. Please see the “GUEST SPEAKING” Page tab above for more information.

You can follow the DAILY adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

CIMG2517  Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life at http://senseijohn.me

%d bloggers like this: