Tag Archives: Lower Salt River AZ

Au Revoir Arizona Fishing

13 Jan

Now that I’m settled in in New Jersey, I wanted to post some final thoughts on fishing in Arizona. Simply put, I hated living in Arizona. It is dry, dusty and damnably hot. Having placed myself in a situation where relocating was not possible, I was doomed to try to endure. The one saving grace was fishing. During the triple digit temperatures of the Arizona summer, you would have to be out the door by four o’clock in the morning. This gave you at least until ten or so when triple digit heat would radiate from the Sun. I do not write about my intense dislike with living in Arizona to simply air my gripes in cyber-space. rather, I write of my dislike only to highlight the manner in which fishing provided if not an escape, then at least a respite. I write to that another, who is disillusioned with the Valley Of The Sun, might discover these words and be led to explore fishing in the desert.

My first exposure to fishing in Arizona was through the Urban Lake System (now called the Community Fishing Program). Frankly, the lakes in this program were a God-send. They are easily accessible and extremely user friendly, even for the novice fisherman. They are regularly stocked with catfish in the summer and rainbow trout in the cooler winter months. If you are an Arizona resident or winter visitor, you owe it to yourself to get the necessary (and relatively inexpensive) fishing license and try out one of your local Urban Lakes. While many of the videos on my video page (see the tab above) show some of the Urban fishing, here is my most memorable catch, a huge catfish on a fly rod, yes, a fly rod, filmed at Red Mountain Lake in Mesa.

Simply put, I cannot recommend the Community Lakes system enough for any Arizona resident, or winter visitor.

While the Urban Lakes provided easy access fishing, the big waters provided the most beautiful experiences in spectacular natural environments. By the big waters I mean Canyon Lake, Saguaro Lake and my “watery-mistress”, the Lower Salt River. Even if you do not fish, take a ride and enjoy the day hiking at one of these locations. Not sure if its worth the trip? Then check out my fishing videos and see some unbelievable scenery. So spectacular is the scenery and so profound is the experience of being at these locations, that in addition to fishing, I often filmed my martial arts videos in these environments. Here is one of my most memorable filmed my very last day on the Lower Salt River amongst one of the many wild horse herds that call the river home.

You can also use this link to access all of my kata videos, all have a description advised of the filming location. Check out a few and then get in your car and check out these big waters. http://senseijohn.me/kata-syllabus/

In the last few months of living in Arizona, I was exposed to a very unusual aspect of fishing. That is fly fishing for carp (both common and grass carp, or amur). You can find exciting fly fishing in almost any irrigation canal that is not posted otherwise but, I recommend you checkout SRP’s website for regulations and further details as ALL fishing is catch and release.


In addition, you will find carp, and largemouth bass, at the lakes at ASU Research Center in Tempe, again, consult the local regulations.


Checkout any of the articles in my Fishing Journals category prior to the date of this post and discover the therapeutic beauty of Arizona fishing.

And so, with this post, I say “Au revoir Arizona.” In the next article, I’ll look to what’s ahead as I prepare to once again fish New Jersey waters, both fresh and salt.


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Sensei John

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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.


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.



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


16 Nov

I went fishing early this morning to clear my mind.

I wanted to placidly revisit this article. I hoped to transform a straightforward  tale of a good day spent on a river into a melody of words worthy of all who cast feathery little flies with the hope of seducing nature’s magnificent creatures to our offering. This was the result; “A good day of fishing?”

I arrived at a favorite fishing location along the Lower Salt River here in Arizona. Prior to casting, I stood upon a rock outcropping and performed my form of moving meditation, to wit: several Goshin-Do Karate Kata

The rock outcropping on top of which I performed Kata.

I performed several Kata with exotic names, Sanchin (Three Battles), Seienchin (Walk far to quell and conquer), Nami Kiribi (Cutting wave), Chinto (Crane on a rock) and Hakutsuru (White Crane). I finished. I was physically and mentally sound. This state of being reminded me of a quote by Ernest Hemingway, “All I must do now was to stay sound and good in my head until . . . I can start to work again.” (See Endnote # 1).

Being “sound and good in the head” I set about fly fishing. Then it happened. A simple mental glitch. Clarity of thought was invaded by clouds of a once slumbering sentiment awakened. In the end,  all that remained was a haunted shadow of a poem, a tanka. So, I’ll simply relay Sensei Bob’s dazzling fishing journey and leave you with the tanka. Maybe after enjoying Sensei’s Bob’s good day on a river, you can figure out the rest.

FLY FISHING DOJO’S New Jersey Contributor, Sensei Bob had recently spent a bountiful day on the Ramapo River. He had previously fished a certain location on the river to no avail. After several visits to this unfruitful location, he once again cast into its seemingly barren depths. Drawing upon his martial arts induced tenacity and his instinctive feel for nature, he knew this location would bear fruit. This past Saturday was the day. In less than thirty minutes he had caught and released three shimmering rainbow trout. All exceeded fifteen inches in length.

One of three of Sensei Bob's magnificent rainbow trout.

Sensei’s tenacity and instinct bore fruit; it did not fail him. I know Sensei felt a sense of natural redemption. A feeling that nature inured him with the ability to enter its domain and leave fulfilled with a pure sense of satisfaction. It was a good day of fishing on the Ramapo River.

I had hoped that my own fishing sojourn would intuitively formulate the words that would breath life into Sensei Bob’s day. Words that would coalesce into phrases that would capture the essence of triumphing over frustration; eventually seducing three majestic rainbow colored trout. Those words failed me. All I was left with is this tanka.

  • On a river
  • In a barren desert
  • A trout rises; a fly is cast.
  • A fisherman recalls
  • A moment in time
  • Best left forgotten.

In closing I remain, shrouded in the cocoon of thought, perhaps to be forgotten on another day, on another river. Another “Good day of fishing?”

Sensei John


1. Lyons, Nick, Hemingway On Fishing, (The Lyons Press, New York, NY, 2000) p. 78 excerpting “The River” as appeared in A Moveable Feast.

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