Tag Archives: Arizona Urban Fishing Program


11 May

Arizona, Valley Of The Sun, April, 2011, after three months away, it was good to once again return home on April 18th. My first day of fishing Arizona waters was April 20th, so what follows is a somewhat abbreviated report. PLEASE NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, all fish were safely released after being photographed.

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

I was able to fish the Lower Salt on April 23rd at the Water Users Recreation Area, Blue Point and Sheep Crossing. Results were slow, but unusually interesting. To my surprise, several carp were located. I managed to hook three of them using a # 14 San Juan Worm weighted with a split shot. These fish put up a real nice fight resulting in two of the three escaping.

Look for improved results with the scheduled stocking of rainbow trout in the coming weeks by Arizona Game & Fish

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

As of the date of publication, water flows on the Lower Salt surged to summer levels.

CANYON LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

I fished waters in and around the Boulder Recreation Area for two days with spectacular catches of various panfish eager to take a fly.


So spectaculr was the panfishing that I dedicated a separate report and video entitled “Panfish Party Heat At Canyon Lake” to these two days.

Here is a link to the report https://flyfishingdojo.com/2011/05/01/panfish-party-heat-at-canyon-lake/

and video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0Fi5JcuJVs.


Once again, I fished the Urban Lakes system on days that I only had two to three hours to dedicate to fishing. The lakes are presently being stocked with catfish by Fish and Game. These fish are difficult to catch using a fly. Notwithstanding my lack of luring catfish to my feathery offerings, I was able to catch a few small largemouth bass and bluegill of various sizes. Some days were good and some slow, a few were even S-L-O-W.

PLEASE dispose of bait containers properly


Veterans Oasis Lake was the first Arizona water that I was able to fish upon my return. My first day on the water was April 20th and it was great. I saw two of my fishing fiends that I hadn’t seen since I left for work in New Jersey. I was also able to shake off the cold New Jersey winter by catching quite a few bluegill and small bass.

For this auspicious occasion, I chose to fish with my favorite fly rod from my teenage years, a Fenwick Ferrulite 6 foot rod. I fished a light, ten foot leader with a 7 X tippet and had a blast with the plentiful palm sized bluegill. The flies of choice this day were a combination of a # 14 Alexandria wet fly with a # 16 Red Ass wet fly on the tail and a # 14 Zug Bug nymph with a # 16 BH Red Serendipity nymph on the tail end.


I was able to fish this urban lake once on April 28th. The results of this day were a few small bass & several bluegill on a # 14 Alexandria with a # 16 Red Ass as a dropper.

I had also caught and released several bluegill on a # 14 March Brown with a # 16 Scrambled Egg drew the attention of a great blue heron looking for an easy meal. This beautiful bird came closer and closer each time I caught and released a bluegill. At one point in time, it was only about eight feet away as you can see in the photo below. For perspective, the fly rod I am holding tucked under my arm was only six feet long. Eventually, the heron flew off.


I fished this lake twice with reliable catches of bluegill, some nice sized. The best pattern again seems to generally be a large dark nymph in front of a red nymph on the tail end.

The most productive pattern proved to be a # 14 Zug Bug nymph with a # 16 BH Red Serendipity nymph on the tail. Both were readily taken but the red pattern more than the dark pattern.

Chloe inspects a bluegill prior to release

At this urban lake, Di also caught her first catfish of the season.


I made a few brief and uneventful trips to Discovery Park Lake and the ponds at Cosmo Dog Park. Except for a few bluegill and one small carp, these trips were lack luster.

Until my next submission, I hope you continue to enjoy the articles I post on this weblog. Keep your flies in the water.


Great Blue Heron at Water Ranch Lake link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRgw1oPVYw4

Panfish Party at Canyon Lake link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0Fi5JcuJVs

Sensei John

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1 Nov
Arizona, October, 2010, at long last we are rewarded for enduring summer with moderate temperatures. A result is that fishing is more enjoyable and productive. Without further adieu, here is of Fly Fishing Dojo’s fishing journal for October.

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

 LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

Cool temperatures and consistent water flows made for enjoyable mornings on the Lower Salt.

Sensei John on the Lower Salt

 Catches and releases of largemouth bass, bluegill and trout were enjoyed. The favorite areas were Sheep Crossing and Phon D. Sutton.

The most productive fly patterns were (Streamers) # 14 Wooly Buggers in black and claret, # 12 and # 14 Muddler Minnows, (Nymphs) # 14 Gold ribbed Hare’s Ear, # 16 Rainbow Warrior, (Wet Fly) # 14 Alexandria, # 14 Red Ass, (Dry Fly) # 14 Foam Dragonfly (blue), # 14 Purple Haze-parachute, # 16 Mosquito and # 16 Adams.

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

CANYON LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

The cooling temperatures meant less shoreline swimming and picnicking activity. This resulted in more shoreline access for fly fishing. Though Fly Fishing Dojo was only able to fish two days on this lake, the results were more than satisfying. Fishing a dry # 14 Foam Dragonfly one particular morning was difficult, but produced a breathtaking fishing experience. The fish were actually jumping from the water to catch low-flying, mating dragonflies. You would have to calculate where the mating pair would set down on the water and cast within close proximity. As soon as the fly hit the water – BAM – you had better be ready to set the hook or you would have an empty hook coming right at you.

I fished the dragonfly close to reeds as pictured above. With shoreline cover, you had to make use of a water-loaded roll cast. If you timed the cast with the living dragonflies, you were sure to entice a fish; hooking it was a different story.

Fly Fishing Dojo also shot its first test video footage on this lake. Hopefully, during November we will soon begin to have video coverage of the topics and reports submitted on this weblog.


The urban lake system continued to provide convenient, accessible fishing. Catches of bluegill and largemouth bass started sluggish, but increased steadily as the month progressed. The bait fisherman I talked to reported nice catches of the recently stock, farm-raised, catfish. The third week of October saw a stocking of bluegill and small to medium largemouth bass. The recently stocked fish were skittish at first. After a few days of acclimating to their new surroundings, they became eager to take a fly. Such eagerness resulted in one memorable morning at Water Ranch Lake.

Trout fisherman can look forward to the Fall/Winter stocking of farm-raised rainbow trout which will begin the end of November.

Except as noted, the most successful fly patterns remained those previously mentioned.

VETERAN’S OASIS PARK LAKE, Chandler, AZ (See Note # 1)

Due to its close proximity, I continued to be able to fish this lake at least twice a week. I never have a disappointing day at this lake. Fly fishing this lake will, at a minimum, produce steady catches of bluegill. Call me simple, but on a day when I only have an hour and a half to two hours to fly fish, I would rather catch and release a few bluegill than catch nothing at all.

WATER RANCH LAKE, Gilbert, AZ (See Note # 1)

Water ranch produce steadily; however, catches of largemouth bass seemed to fall off at the beginning of the month. After the recent stocking, fishing improved.

On Friday, October 26th, I had a dazzling morning of fly fishing at the Water Ranch. I arrived at the lake about seven in the morning. I only had about two hours to fish and was really in the mood for consistent action catching at least bluegills. I tied on my favorite brace of exploratory flies, a # 14 McGinty wet fly on the head and a # 14 Rainbow Warrior nymph on the tail. I walked to one of my favorite starting points adjacent to a bank of reeds and started fishing. After about six casts, I was disappointed; usually my choice of flies would produce at least a bluegill. I decided to take one more cast and move on when I noticed a silver streak in the water pursuing but not taking the flies. The streak was larger than a bluegill so I decided to change flies to something larger and perhaps more appetizing. I hoped that the prospect of a more satisfying meal would provoke a strike from the mysterious flash of silver. I tied on a # 14 Claret Wooly Bigger on the head followed by a # 14 Apache Lady wet fly on the tail. On the very next cast, a decent size largemouth bass had kissed the Apache Lady and was hooked. Clearly, there was no need to move so I continued casting. For the next two and one half hours, I steadily caught and released largemouth bass ranging in size from seven inches to twelve inches and numerous bluegill. I took “a few” photographs of the fish for this weblog. I arrived home and discovered I had downloaded nineteen pictures of bass released and eight pictures of bluegill released. I didn’t even take a picture of every fish caught. What a morning!


I had a fly fishing lesson to give at dusk that same day. I called the student and changed the scheduled location of the lesson to Water Ranch. At 5:00 pm, I arrived and met the student. The location I fished in the morning was taken, so we walked to the section where water enters the lake from the recharge basin. After a fifteen minute lesson, the student was roll casting and retrieving the same brace of flies sufficiently well enough to land four largemouth’s. The size was about ten inches on average, but to that first time fly fisherman it was a delight. I knew she was hooked on fly fishing.

Di now happily addicted to fly fishing



Though not aesthetically pleasing, from a fly fishing viewpoint, this lake continued to produce well. Again, due to its small size, the only way that this lake will continue to provide good fishing is through conscientious management via a catch and release system.

I had two memorable days at this lake. The first was on Saturday, October 2nd when I finished working and desired some sunset fly fishing. After a half hour, a dust storm began to move in. The winds and dust soon made fly fishing impossible.

As this bass was caught & released, the dust arrived.


The dust & wind arrived ending fly fishing.

The second memorable day was Thursday, October 14th when my youngest daughter, Kim, arrived for a visit from New Jersey. After she unpacked we were able to get 2 fast hours of successful catch and release fishing in.




Due to time constraints, I was unable to visit the following lakes previously reported, Red Mountain Lake in Mesa and Cosmo Lake in Gilbert. I will make an effort to fish these lakes next month and report.

Until my next submission, I hope you continue to enjoy the articles I post on this weblog. Keep your flies in the water. Fly Fishing Dojo is now on Facebook; Please see the Video and Media Page tab above.

Sensei John


1. These lakes are part of the Arizona Urban Fishing Program. The program which provides man-made fishing lakes in close proximity to major population centers is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Please feel free to shop unique Fly Fishing Dojo logo wear by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page.

Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life. You may visit the weblog at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.


1 Oct
Arizona, September, 2010, Temperatures “cooled” to a high in the lower triple digits with cool mornings in the high seventy, low eighty degree range. With cooler morning temperatures, not only was fishing physically more enjoyable, but the results greatly improved. Unfortunately, during the last week of September, temperatures again surged to almost record high. The corollary increase in morning temperatures again resulted in smaller catches. I hope you enjoy the within journal as much as I enjoyed “researching” it. REMEMBER – ALL FISH WERE SAFELY RELEASED AFTER BEING PHOTOGRAPHED.
LOWER SALT RIVER, Maricopa County, AZ

Due to the Lower Salt River flowing too high and too fast for my tastes, I did not fish the river in September. For purposes of consistence in my fishing reports, here is the water flow chart for September from WWW.RiverMonitor.Com.


With the cooler morning temperatures, fishing in the urban lake system steadily improved throughout the month. Bluegill were plentiful and provided consistent fun on light fly equipment. My outfit of choice for these tempting little fish morsels remained my six foot Fenwick Ferrulite rod, a double taper, five weight floating line and a nine foot leader ending in a 7X tippet. It is axiomatic that bluegill readily take a fly. My flies of choice for these bluegill generally fell into the sub-surface category and involved fishing the flies double in a head to tail configuration. The specific sub-surface patterns that I favored were a # 14 McGinty, # 14 March Brown, # 14 San Juan Worm, # 16 Rainbow Warrior*, and # 16 Ju-Ju Bee*. There was also early morning action on dry flies. My patterns of choice consisted of a # 16 purple Haze*, # 16 Mosquito and a # 16 Adams Irresistible. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the patterns indicated by an asterisk (*), they may be obtained though Big Y Fly Co at WWW.BigYFlyCo.Com.

To my extreme gratification, Bass fishing greatly improved. In the beginning of the month, small bass could be taken on using the light fly tackle described above.

Early September, temperatures exceed 105 degrees.

As the month progressed, not only did the size of the largemouths increase, the tenacity with which they fought after being hooked amplified. After breaking a fair number of larger bass off the 7X tippet, I modified my fishing strategy. I began to bring two fly rods to the lakes. The first fly outfit I carried with me was the ultra-light outfit mentioned above. I supplemented that outfit with a sturdier outfit designed to catch a larger bass for photographing and subsequent release. My outfit of choice for these larger bass was my nine foot Sumo Distance XS fly rod casting a seven weight floating weight forward line with a nine foot leader ending in a 4X tippet.

Slowly, the size of bass caught increased.

I employed two strategies to find and catch the bass that these lakes had to offer. The first strategy was to locate bluegill using the lighter tackle. Inevitably the excitement of the hooked bluegill would draw a larger bass out of cover. Once a larger bass was sighted, I switched to my heavier tackle. The second strategy was to walk the lake shore with the Sumo XS at the ready and sight fish for bass. This sight fishing strategy is similar to wading salt water flats and sight fishing, only instead of wading, it involves walking the soil and/or concrete walkways of my urban lakes. Again, similar to the salt water flats, once a bass is sighted, an exacting cast, with accurate and delicate presentation often resulted in the satisfaction of a bass hook-up.

I used this sign as an impromptu measuring device before releasing this bass.

My flies of choice for the larger bass included # 14 Wooly Bugger (in caret color), # 12 Muddler Minnow, # 12 Lite Brite Zonker*, # 12 Alexander*, # 14 San Juan Worm and # 10 Silver Epoxy Minnow Streamer. Again, I fished these flies double. I also had a few heart stopping thrills using a dry # 14 Foam Dragonfly. The colors blue and tan produced the best. The dragonfly had to be well presented with no ripple to be effective. When so presented the strikes were fast and almost instantaneous. Once the fly hit the water – Bam, the game was afoot.

Bass could not resist a well presented Foam Dragonfly.

Arizona Fish and Game stocked catfish during the week of September 20th and provided bait fisherman with ample opportunity to take home a catfish or two. Anglers are encourage to selectively harvest the catfish. Di was able to catch a few that we subsequently harvested. The meat of these fish was clean and tasty.

Di before releasing this urban catfish.

With the sun setting earlier in the sky, I began to fish the Urban Lakes at sunset. Ernest Hemingway once observed that “The setting of the sun is a difficult time for all fish” (See Endnote # 2). Perhaps this is so because, as the sun descends to sleep, fish shed natural inhibition and will readily take a well presented fly, or even, artificial lures.

           Bass at Sunset          

VETERAN’S OASIS PARK LAKE, Chandler, AZ (See Note # 1)

Early in the month was the start of dove hunting season. I spent many early mornings on this lake casting to the rhythmic pow-pow of hunters shooting at their tasty quarry. Mid-month early mornings provided the slightest whiff of steam coming off the lake close to the reed beds. Bass fishing was somewhat sporadic with some mornings being better than others. The morning of September 14th provided me with a classic example of how the martial arts state of mind called “Mushin” can be of benefit to fly fisherman. Using this state of mind, I was treated to sight-fishing two back-to-back largemouths as I walked the lake shore. The subject of the martial arts state of mind called “Mushin” and fly fishing will be addressed in my next article.

Bass loved a Muddler Minnow.

WATER RANCH LAKE, Gilbert, AZ (See Note # 1)

Fly fishing this lake was satisfying with consistent catches of bluegill and a few small bass. In addition, I was privileged to view nature’s spectacular awakening and subsequent slumber at sun rise and sunset.

Nature prepares to sleep at the Water Ranch.

The magnificence of nature’s display was diminished by the increasing amount of trash and waste being left lakeside by those that pretend to call themselves “fisherman”. No-one who takes the noble title of “fisherman” would denigrate the sport with such lazy, selfish acts of pollution. The sad part is that these lazily, slovenly lake visitors carried the trash with them and after use, simply discarded it. Garbage consisted of off-the-shelf fishing rod cases, folding chairs, worm containers and an assortment of drinking bottles. In one instance, a broken chair was thrown into the lake. The people that left their garbage certainly are not qualified to call themselves “fisherman”. They clearly have no idea of what it feels like to loose a natural resource to careless pollution. Stop for a minute and think about what this particular park would be like if the lake was too polluted to fish in, and the trails were over run by garbage and the vermin that seeks such garbage. Look well.


RED MOUNTAIN LAKE, Mesa. AZ (See Note # 1)

This lake was the slowest of all lakes in the urban system that I visited. Perhaps this was due to fishing pressure or perhaps due to limited catch and release philosophy. I do not know the exact cause. I like to think that October will be better for this lake.


This small lake, or perhaps I should say pond reminds one of a backyard swimming pool. It is one of the most fruitful ponds for fishing excitement for its limited size.

Having said that, it MUST be nurtured and cared for. There must be careful resource management and a MANDATORY catch and release policy for this pond to continue to temporarily surrender it‘s bounty. Enjoy it as you will, but, please think of the future and carefully release all fish from this facility.

Sensei John takes a line from the Godfather movie - not quite "Sleeping With The Fishes".


September 20th was my first visit to this lake. I visited it a few times thereafter. It produced bluegill consistently. I also had a thrill of catching a carp on a # 14 Rainbow Warrior but “quick-released” it about a foot from shore. I will continue to explore this lake in the coming weeks.

Until my next submission, I hope you continue to enjoy the articles I post on this weblog. Keep your flies in the water.

Sensei John


1. These lakes are part of the Arizona Urban Fishing Program. The program which provides man-made fishing lakes in close proximity to major population centers is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

2. From, Hemingway, Ernest, The Old Man And The Sea, (Simon & Schuster, New York, NY 1952), p. 73. Also Hemingway On Fishing, Lyons Nick (Editor), (Nick Lyons Pres, New York, NY, 2000) p. 222. You may see my review of Hemingway On Fishing by clicking on the Sensei’s Reviews category.

Please feel free to shop unique Fly Fishing Dojo logo wear by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page.

Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life. You may visit the weblog at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.


7 Sep
Arizona, August, 2010, summer monsoon season was upon us, not only was it hot, but humid as well with dew point readings very high. The National Weather Service posted excessive heat warnings and excessive ozone warnings almost daily. Weather was not fit for fish or fly-fisherman. Fishing may best be described as a sweat-filled quest for sporadic fish. Due to the heat and other factors, I was only able to average 2 ½ days a week of fishing.
I knew that the size of any species caught would be getting smaller and smaller as the heat grew worse. So, to compensate, I adjusted my tackle accordingly. My equipment for the urban lakes was a 6 foot ultra-lite Fenwick Ferrulite Rod ( 2 5/8 grams), a Panther-Martin # 63 lite reel, Cortland 444 floating 5 weight double taper line and at least a 9 foot leader ending in an 8X tippet. In addition, I finished field testing a new rod. The review will be posted shortly.
At least in the coming weeks, I can look forward to temperatures below 100 degrees and hopefully better fishing. I hope the following fishing journal encourages you to beat the heat and wet a fly.  

Veterans Oasis Lake, August 29th seeing a distant hot air balloon stirs memories of cooler temperatures.

LOWER SALT RIVER, Maricopa County, AZ

With the heat and humidity, tubing pressure was great on the Lower Salt. As such, I usually ended my mornings of fishing by 10:30 or 11:00 am. Fishing was sporadic at best. Catches were mainly bluegill and small bass. There was dry fly action to be found in the early morning, particularly between the hours of 5:30 and 6:30. The two patterns that produced were a # 16 Adams Irresistible and a # 16 Purple Haze (parachute style hackle). Fishing conditions was so difficult that I often drafted my dog Chloe, a fish-finding Min-pin, to act as a guide.

Chloe helps locate fish on the Lower Salt River.

The deviation in water flows were less dramatic than in July, but there was an occasional spike or two. Here is the August water flow chart for August obtained from WWW.Watershedmonitor.Com.

Lower Salt River water flows for August, 2010.

My equipment list for the Lower Salt generally included longer rods. I used either a 7 ½ foot Cortland Pro-Crest or an 8 foot Fenwick Ferrulite. I also interspersed a 9 foot rod that I was field testing. With all three rods I used a Cortland Pro-Crest reel throwing a # 6 floating weight forward line. My leader was always 9 foot ending in an 8X tippet.

On the Lower Salt River wearing the official Fly-fishing Dojo logo T-shirt.


Many of the people I have met while fishing the Arizona Urban Lake Program are surprised to see a fly-fisherman. Most people that I encounter fishing these lakes are bait fisherman and a few make use of artificial lures. The majority find a spot on a lake, set up shop and generally spend most of their time fishing in that one spot. They may fish in another spot or two before calling it a day.

My SUMMER tactic for the urban lake program is to cover as much water as possible. It is a tactic that goes back to my days of tournament bass fishing. During those days I would cover water fast with either a spinner bait or a crank bait until fish were found and then fish productive water slowly. Applying that concept to fly-fishing, I quickly cover water with a double set-up of wet flies and nymphs to find fish.

Patch from my time as a member of the Bassing America Grand National Tournament Circuit.

Generally, once at my desired lake, I fish my “honey-holes” first and begin to make my way around the lake. In this manner, I can cover the entire shoreline of a lake in about 1 to 1 ¼ hours. It is “aerobic fly-fishing”. During this stage I am looking for bluegill. If I find that bluegill are present, then I concentrate my fishing for any bass that are present. I especially concentrate around the reeds that are found in the lakes, sub surface vegetation and the moving water found at the point at which the lake is filled via the recharge system. The goal is to find an catch a few bluegill. The thrashing of the caught fish excites the remaining bluegill and usually lures a bass or two out from within the reeds. Then the trick is to entice the bass to the fly.

VETERAN’S OASIS PARK LAKE, Chandler, AZ (See Note # 1)

As my “go-to” fishing location, this lake still produced, but it took some work. Bluegill were always plentiful and eager to take a fly, including a few dry flies. As the heat increased throughout the month, the bluegill provided the only tug on my line. Early in the month, average size bass could be seduced into taking a variety of flies ranging from size 14 Woolly Buggers, # 14 Tellico nymphs, size 16 Ju-ju Bee nymphs and wet flies in the Adams, Blue Dun and March brown patterns in size 14.

August 4th an average size bass on a # 14 Woolly Bugger.

As the month progressed, lake levels fell and the size of bass taken dramatically decreased.

Veterans Oasis Park Lake levels by August 17th were low.

By 7:15 most mornings, I was already soaked with sweat from walking the lake looking for first bluegills and then the bass that hopefully were within the same location. On the ultra-lite equipment and tippet, even small fish made the hot mornings semi-bearable.

A small bass poses with the Fly Fishing Dojo logo

WATER RANCH LAKE, Gilbert, AZ (See Note # 1)

Water and fishing conditions on this lake were generally like the conditions at Veterans Oasis Park. I will note that the bluegills found at Water Ranch tended to be more aggressive. On a few occasions, I actually landed doubles. Admittedly, the fish were small, but again with morning temperatures skirting triple digits, relatively high humidity and ultra-lite equipment, even a double of small bluegill are fulfilling. Hey look at it this way, it beats sitting home.

Small bass on a # 16 Adams Irresistible Dry Fly fished close to the reeds.

One highlight of my fishing at Water Ranch is looking for the large Koi that inhabits this lake. This Koi, which is well over 24 inches is a bit of an urban legend. I nicknamed the Koi “Oishi” after the leader of the rebellion by the 47 Ronin.

Water Ranch Lake. The urban legend on film - a rare photo of the Koi I call “Oishi”.

Another highlight of my fishing was meeting the noted author, Al Schneider. Al is another former New Jersey resident who found his way out west to Arizona. He would come by often and we would talk a bit as I fished. One day he surprised my with a signed copy of his breakout book, There’s A Better Place. Thanks Al. It is definitely a recommended read.

Many thanks, Al. See you next week.


I found about this lake from a friend. It is the newest park and lake constructed. It was finished in or around December 2009. My understanding is that it will be part of the Arizona Urban Fishing Program. There are two man-made lakes at the park. Both are relatively small. These lakes differ from the other Urban lakes that I fish. The lakes mentioned above have a natural bottom and mostly natural shoreline with a portion being concrete walkway and access points. The lake in Discovery Park appears to have a concrete bottom. On the two visits to this lake, I was able to temp small bass into taking a fly. Like a fine wine, fishing and size should improve with aging.

Small bass on a # 16 Wet March Brown.

Until my September report, I hope you continue to enjoy the articles I post on this Blog. Keep your flies in the water.

Sensei John


1. These lakes are part of the Arizona Urban Fishing Program. The program which provides man-made fishing lakes in close proximity to major population centers is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Please feel free to shop unique Fly Fishing Dojo logo wear by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page.

Please feel free to view my other blog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life. You may visit the blog at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.


4 Aug

Arizona, July, 2010, hot, consistent triple digit temperatures, humid, Monsoon season. I was very lucky to be able to average 4 days a week of fishing. I hope the following fishing journal encourages you to beat the heat and wet a fly.


I have an affinity for the Lower Salt and was able to fish it at least once a week. When I fish the Lower Salt, I use either a 7 ½ foot Cortland Pro Crest rod with # 5 double taper floating line and a 9 foot leader with a 6X tippet or an 8 foot Fenwick Ferrulite Rod throwing the same line and leader. I also fished with a nice 9 foot rod which I recently acquired. I will not provide the specifics of the rod now as I an still field-testing it and will be posting a review of the rod in about 3 weeks. My usual starting points are 1) a quarter mile up river from the first tubing launch point, 2) Sheep Crossing from the Bush Highway bridge to about a mile down river, 3) Coon Bluff and 4) Phon Sutten. The most productive stretch of water for me was the first two locations. Trout were few and far between; however, I had fair catches of decent-sized Bluegill and small to decent small mouth bass. Having said that, due to the heat (low temperatures in the mid-nineties and triple digit high temperatures) fishing was tough. Adding to the overall slow fishing conditions was varying water depth and flow. As you can see from the flow chart obtained from WWW.Watershedmonitor.Com water flows for the month ranged from a low of 300 c.f.s to a high of 1,150 c.f.s The most drastic single day fluctuation was on July 31 when flows ranged from 300 c.f.s. to750 c.f.s. in less than 24 hours. Rough on the fish.

Lower Salter River Flows as recorded by WatershedMonitor.Com

The most interesting aspect of fishing the Lower Salt this past month was the unusual encounters with nature. On several occasions I saw a herd of wild horses in the area of Sheep Crossing.

A small herd of wild horses 7-3-10

I also learned that it is best to avoid fishing the Lower Salt on a hot holiday weekend. The weekend of July 4th I wanted to get in some river fishing. Though I have a few spots that are unaffected by the tubers and kayakers, I learned that my spots are not impervious to law enforcement. I was fishing a deep secluded pool when I began to hear a loud sound, almost like a giant vacuum cleaner coming from down river. The sound was so loud that it drowned out the tuber’s numerous floating boom boxes. These floating radios usually provide a constant cacophony of unsynchronized milieu of rock, rap and reggae music. “Ok“, I thought. I knew my hope for a quiet day on the river was a bit optimistic, but this is loud droning sound was more than a bit out of the ordinary. I looked downstream and to my amazement saw a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department airboat coming up the river. I watched the patrol boat speed up river. As I stood knee deep in at the base of what was once a quiet pool turned into a churning mass of water, I knew it was time to leave.

MCSO Airboat Crew (stock photo)

As I was packing my equipment into the truck I heard an airborne roar. Upon looking into the blue heavens, my eyes set up not a wondrous Herron, hawk, or even a vulture, rather, it was a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Helicopter patrol. It was good, I guess, to know that the thousands of river-revelers, sans this one fly-fisherman, would be well protected (from themselves) on land, sea and air by the ever vigilant efforts of our fatherly local government agencies.

MCSO Helicopter Patrol

Oh well, I’ll see how the dog days of summer pan out on the Lower Salt in the coming month of August.

VETERNA’S OASIS LAKE, Chandler, AZ (See Note  1)

This lake provided me with regular fishing. I was often able to take an hour or two, hit potential productive spots, many of which are now “favorites” and be back to work all within two and a half hours. The lake, which is a recent addition to the Urban Fishing Program, produced well.

Sunset at Veteran's Oasis Lake, July 1oth

There were consistent catches of bluegill and large mouth bass. I saw several large white amur, in excess of the thirty inch minimum. When fishing this lake, I used a small Fenwick Ferrulite six foot rod ( 2 5/8 rod weight) with 5 weight double taper line. I also used a nine foot 7X tippet to add to the fun. With this set up, the blue gill were fun, but the largemouth bass were a thrill. My fly patterns involved using double nymph and wet fly combinations. The most productive combination was an Apache Lady, # 14 on the head and an Olive Chironomid Pupa, #16 on the tail end. This set up produced the most fish consistently. I had a real exciting catch of a largemouth bass using the Apache Lady with a # 16 Ju-Ju Bee dropper. Size-wise, the fish was only about 11 inches. Fight-wise it was a contender. It took about 8 minutes to work him out of the reeds in which he was hiding with the small Fenwick rod and the 7X tippet.

Bass could not resist the # 16 Ju-Ju Bee (the black dot in the lower jaw)(released unharmed)

Catfish were recently stocked and provided bait fishermen with nice catches. Additionally, it provided me with an important aspect to my fly-fishing. This aspect is the idea that your fishing partner, whether they fly-fish or not, must have the opportunity to catch fish. In my case the catfish provided Di with suitable quarry. 


Back home Di lets Chloe inspect her catfish (subsequently breaded & eaten)

WATER RANCH LAKE, Gilbert, AZ  (See Note # 1)

This is another lake that I was able to fish at least once or twice a week. I used the same ultra-light tackle and double nymph or wet fly set-up as described above. Once again, the lake was fertile with Bluegill and small largemouth bass. I say small because the minimum size for keeping a largemouth is 13 inches. Notwithstanding the size limit, it is always best to practice catch and release with the bass as they are only stocked once a year. My average catch was between 11 and 13 inches. But, once again, on a rod that weighs less than 3 ounces, a 7X tippet and a fly that is often a size 16, these fish provide the sought after excitement.

Bass on ultra-light fly tackle and 7X tippet July 17th (released unharmed)


July 30th, I happened to be in Mesa on business. A quick check of my map showed that I would be only 2 miles from this lake. Naturally, that meant the fly-fishing equipment would be packed. I arrived at the lake about 3:00 pm. The wind was blowing strong as a summer monsoon storm front loomed in the distance. I made a quick trip around the lake casting a wooly bugger, size 14 with a Red Ass, size 16 on the tail. After one trip around the lake, about 10 Bluegill succumbed to the mythical Siren’s call of the Red Ass. The next time I find my way out to Mesa, I will again fish this lake in a more calculated manner.

Until my August report, I hope you continue to enjoy the articles I post on this Blog. Keep your flies in the water.

Sensei John


1. These lakes are part of the Arizona Urban Fishing Program. The program which provides man-made fishing lakes in close proximity to major population centers is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

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