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Metro PHX, SRP Canals and City Park Lakes


Fishing_Rod

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Greetings All,

Sharing my recent angling adventures in the metro Phoenix Arizona area. It has been hot, well over 110 F, but expected for this time of year in PHX, also known as "The Valley of the Sun", an appropriate moniker. I had a few errands to accomplish in person up there, which compelled me to make the 3 + hour drive to get it all done. Of course the rest of the trip is structured to permit goofing off angling time.

 

In the PHX metro there are many miles of Salt River Project canals where angling is permitted. The water levels and flows vary as the water is managed for delivery to different locations. So you just don't know what you'll find till you arrive. So for me a simple up-size change to my typical soft plastic bait was necessary. Here I used a three inch curly tailed grub on either a 1/8 or 1/16 oz jig head which was selected to deal with different flow conditions. It is soft plastic package that is low cost, very available, and effective.

 

When it is crazy hot simply look for shade where you can find it. It holds fish, is good for angler, and others too.

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The ducks found a lovely landing spot in the shade and near the water's edge. Pretty comfortable and safe. Just outside a cast's distance from the ducks I managed to find this bass interested in my soft plastic offering.

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So much fun, and not being in the sun too was rather nice. I am amazed as the water level was on the lower side of things, approximately 2 feet deep. I am not accustom to fishing in a current. So when the bast struck I was astonished how much the current contributed to the struggle.

 

Now the canals are not the only fishing waters. There are a number of city park ponds, and lakes. Many of these parks serve as water management features to help deal with storm run off. When I arrived you could see the many dead young fish along the rocks. I'm guessing there was a drastic water level change that apparently stranding all these young fish. They were about 1 ~ 2 inches in size.

 

Since I was the only one angling in the heat the lake was pretty quiet and still. I could see fish activity as something was chasing the minnows. I sent the grub in and eventually connected through a violent strike on the slowly moving grub. It was about 14 inches and put up a spirited struggle peeling drag and straining the light action rod. Always fun to have a full bend in the fishing rod. 

 

A few casts later there came another more traditional strike. It was a thump that came just after I paused the grub's motion. I applied quick tension only to feel a heavy dragging resistance. Like that of a panfish holding laterally against your efforts. Wow, this struggle does not feel like that of a bass. Yup, initially I though it might be a big sunfish. Naawh, this is my first time ever finding crappie in a park lake. Cool, so glad I did not do a hard violent hook set. The sweep set for a win!

 

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Fishing and catching in metro PHX summer time heat. Wow, who would have thought it possible. Yeah, be considerate of the weather conditions. The heat can really get to you quick if you are not reasonable or prepared. Similarly during the monsoon season, the storms build quick, like within minutes. The intense storms can catch you if you are not vigilant. The lightning is crazy too. So let's be careful out there and have some good fun!  Be well, and Cheers!

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  • Super User

Heat stroke is a higher % then a bass strike?.

I would suggest night fishing however it doesn’t cool down at night in Phoenix metro area.

Yes you have miles and miles of irrigation canals and dozens of public ponds to fish all to yourself in the oppressive summer heat.

My suggestion is explore the Mogollon rim lakes.

Tom

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Greetings All,

@Arizona_bass_21 I appreciate your most gracious offer. I am over three hours from PHX. So I'm only up there when I have to run errands that require my presence. I will reach out if I've got sufficient time on upcoming opportunities.

 

I am familiar with most of the metro area as I attended university up there and lived up there as a young adult. So my adventures up there are limited to those travel occasions. After rolling along the freeway for over three hours catching fish is GREAT! It is nice there are more angling opportunities than when I lived there. Have fun exploring. Chandler was a fun community back then and looks to be full of good stuff these days too. A whole lot busier!

 

I did a search on the SRP canal map and then referenced the satellite views from online maps to find places to park nearby and that also had some structures (dams, gates, connecting features). That is what I did in preparation to explore. Oh, realize there are plenty of fish in the straight seemingly featureless sections too. I had a large channel cat chomp down on the grub in a straight section on a previous trip.

 

Keep in mind the conditions, water level and flows, are always changing. So keep a positive attitude and don't persist in one location for too long. I did not find it helpful to do so. Which is why I had several alternate locations to try in Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert, and Tempe. I also keep things rather simple as there are lure eating shopping carts and other snag hazards. Small soft plastics, a hook, and a weight, works great! I did the grub on a jig but a small, 4 inches or less, weedless worm rig worked great on previous adventures. By the way I'm recommending the weedless worm route to keep things successful and simply minimize the snag hazard. Next visit up there I intend to down size my gear. I finally found a handle extension for my landing net. The long handled landing net is helpful as there is not often an easy way to reach the fish, other than using the net to assist in the lift or a straight line pull (not good for your equipment or fish).

Now the crappie was about fifteen minutes away in Scottsdale from where I was in Mesa (later in the day). A sort of quick run up north on the 101. It was a spontaneous urge to try something different than continue to work the canals. It payed off in very limited time I had remaining before departing. It was one of those situations where I just wanted to catch a few more fish.

 

Also, I've never caught a crappie in any of the park lakes in the SE valley, so I can't say where to go down in that area if you seek them.

 

Funny I used to have to drive across the construction site of what now is the 101. That was a while ago. I used to use the exercise course at the newly constructed ASU Research park. Back then they didn't allow angling. I understand it is permitted these days and I have confirmed there are bass in several of the lakes there. Again smaller soft plastic achieved angling success for me there.

 

@WRB Tom, you are the da Man when it comes to thoughtful comments. Great recommendation to escape the heat and be up in the pines. I've had many a memorable adventure in most of the central AZ rim lakes and streams. The new community water in Payson is a good time if you don't have a weekend or holiday schedule.

 

Growing up in AZ qualifies me as a desert dawg. Many, many, adventures in triple digit temps. It does keep the riff raff down at my angling destinations. It is very important to be careful and remain vigilant. Heat exhaustion, heat stroke, lighting are all not helpful in making a happy angling adventure.

 

@Arizona_bass_21 I hope you're able to explore and possibly share your findings. Keep it simple and have a great time! Since your in Chandler there are miles of fish holding canals. Some of the tilapia on light gear are fierce! I almost got spooled on a couple of occasions. You can simply sit there and hold on till the fish runs out of steam or there's no hurry to worry as you can also jog along the canal to keep the line managed while fighting the fish too. I keep that as an option as the line payed out. I thought it was a carp or catfish. Nope, what a surprise to see the big tilapia.

I glanced at the regional weather weekend forecast down here in SE AZ and I might have an opportunity at near by Parker Canyon Lake. The catching down there has been outstanding. Usually if I catch quantities of fish in the double digits it is rather good. I'm usually not fussy about fish size, anything on-line is good fun. Even better when the double digit criteria applies to bass 1.5 pounds and bigger. Yeah, the heat has really got them amped up!
Be well and Cheers!

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  • Super User

I went to school at AZ State in the early 60’s when the Tempe stock yards were still open...

The Salt River lakes Roosevelt, Apache, Canyon and Saguaro are all good bass lakes fishing from a boat! My in-laws had a home on the Magollon rim so got familiar lakes. My favorite lake was San Carlos lake on the Indian reservation back then because no one fished it. You could fish fromshore with a spinner bait catching bass until you were tired.

Tom

 

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Greetings!

@WRB Tom, again you are Da Man! Similar appreciation, you simply had a slight head start on me. Yes, so many memories of San Carlos, crappie, bass, bluegills, and those monster catfish. I lived, grew up, up stream a bit on the Gila so I know the area well. Back in the day waterdogs were a big hit in that big reservoir.

 

There are still a few archive videos on YouTube of the older days of San Carlos.

 

While I was up there a good friend would occasionally take a poor college student fishing up at Bartlett, Horseshoe in his old flat bottom jon boat. I don't recall all the prop shear pins we went through from debris in the "dirty" Verde. Yeah, really tough choice, let's see do calculus, physics, chemistry, or go fishing! YaY! Have a good day! Cheers!

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  • Super User

I got hooked on bass fishing as a teen.  night fishing with a mentor on Pena Blanca.  I was skunked but he got a good one and the fight and splashed hooked me.

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Greetings All and Happy Friday!

@Darth-Baiter Now that is a full on bigger bass attack location in Southern AZ. Yes, I'd love more opportunities to yak attack on Pena Blanca. After the extensive mucking out of the lake bottom the catching there is RIGHT ON! I have had many occasions of double digit quantities of bass to be had just floating and working the shorelines. Regrettably, my last visit was early spring time this year. In past years I would visit often as time permitted.

 

It is a bit over an hour drive on a good road as long as you don't mind the hills and twists along Ruby Road. They have rebuilt the parking and boat launch a few years back so things are better there. I'm not all that crazy about that steep stroll up to the parking lot from the boat ramp. So it goes.

 

That angling adventure is great for me cause I swing by downtown Nogales to pick up greasy chicken before continuing to Pena Blanca. I have every confidence in greasy chicken as an attractant for me and bass!

 

Yeah, PB lake is one of those places that is a great challenge when using UL gear. It is still a challenge using heavier gear as there are some healthy big fish in there! The lake has awesome features that help those bass thrive. During late summer the weeds might be too much for boats but great in a yak. I've never really needed to use a punch rig. Just some careful pitches. I am usually  able to hit the openings. If not some gentle rod action will usually get the weedless rig to slide off the emergent weed and slip in for the monsters to chomp on, then it is total GAME ON!

 

Golly, I may have to reconsider the weekend plans after thinking about PB lake. Yeah, it is another weekend of excessive heat warnings so the conditions may be favorable as most will not want to be out there.  Fine by me, I'm good to goof off.

 

Just a reminder for others,, please prepare for the conditions or reconsider cause it can be difficult. The current seasonal weather situation is not to be taken lightly or with reckless abandon. The heat, and lightning (yes, still some monsoon activity in the region) are seriously bad so let's be careful out there.

 

I am glad to hear from everyone that is, was, a neighbor. I think it is awesome to be able to share experience and info. You all Rock Da Casbah! Enjoy the weekend! Cheers!

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  • Super User

My family moved to Scottsdale AZ in 1961, finished High School and followed in the summer of ‘61, it was 112 at night when arrived, thought it was hell.

AZ State was in Tempe next to the stocks yards......

The 1st safety pin spinnerbait I discovered was at Lake Roosevelt, hand made white with 2 silver willow blades, killer lure and all the Salt River chain of lakes and fished them all.

The spinner bait killed the San Carlos bass and occasional 2 lb crappie....from shore!

 Tom

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Greetings All,
Yes, another weekend of crazy 114 F temperatures in both TUS and PHX metro areas. Us down here in Southeastern AZ got a smattering of scattered isolated storms. Those area that got storms were lucky, the rest of us just got a few drops. Not enough to even consider the ground "wet".

Hopefully today brings a significant change in the regional weather pattern. It is a good start to have mostly cloudy skies. All of the region's water shed could use a good recharge. My very dirty and bug covered truck could use a good rinse job too. Hey, it is a truck, so it should look the part, right?

@WRB The safety pin type spinner bait I remember were the what I knew as the "Beatle Spin" where you could attach either a hook or jig. I coveted those in my youth. Growing up in a small rural town shopping for fishing tackle was tough when budget was very limited and selection was too. I learned to tie good knots and cast carefully. It has been some time since I used on and probably should consider using one just for this time of year. Thanks for the memory and recommendation.

 

I sure could have put it use this weekend for sure. There were bass and crappie going nuts slashing at minnows at every bit of water I visited. Me, I decided to travel light and only carried the essentials, a package of curly tailed grubs, jigs, tube baits, and some EWG hooks. I basically swam those near the activity and hooked up a number of times. Bass from a few ozs to several pounds, a few nice surprises. It was fun to see the crappie on-line too. Both black and white. Still amazed to see that lovely black line all along the dorsal edge.

 

Of course the 114 F took a toll on this old guy too. Shade trees are very helpful to aid in recovery from full sun exposure sessions. Just me and the geese milling about the shade. They did not seem to care that I was there amongst them. I'm glad as I really did not care to yield from the shade until I was ready to take on the exposure again.

 

I had a previous thread regarding the low cost $9 spinning combo from Wally World that I'm using casually. Well, I though I had broke or worn it out as there was a developing hitch from catching a number of larger bass and putting the spurs to them in hauling them out of snag city. It turns out after hauling another multi-pound bass out of a canal, I decided to really examine the reel during a rest break. It turns out all that happened was the shaft nut holding the spool arbor worked loose. I got the nut snugged and then torqued using my multi-tool enough to finish out the adventure. I'll look closer today after work and see if there are any other things needing attention. The fiberglass fishing rod has more flex than I prefer for my use with the soft plastics. It would be better suited to working dynamic lures like crankbaits. Still the low cost rig is working out better than I envisioned and has withstood everything I've put it through. Not a bad value as a very basic general utility rig. Yeah, I've been deliberately aggressive using it just to see if it is durable enough as a casual experiment. Just something of a back to basics revival. Fun for sure.

 

Yes, a bit cooler would be nice for this angler. However, the fish catching action lately has been outrageous as I'm catching quality and quantity at all the various locations. Hoping to share the successful vibes to the rest of the angling adventures out there. Just make sure you've got plenty of liquids and shelter from the heat, whew! Who knew recreating would require such effort! Yeah, it is all good!  Cheers!

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  • 2 months later...

Greetings @AzBassin,

Sorry I don't have information on your NW side of metro PHX. I simply don't go over there. I don't even live in the metro PHX area either. I used to live in the east valley which is why that side of town is familiar to me when I do make trips up there.

 

It is my understanding that several of the canals like the one near the former MetroCenter, I-17 near Dunlap has produced some fish. I recall a YouTube video showing someone angling near that location. I had to do some satellite view research to determine that is where the location appeared to be.

 

I wish you success in your exploration(s). Much like I did with my adventures it did take some research and simply casting about to find them. I didn't look for "S" curves but that may be productive. I sought out more minor differences to focus on. Sometimes it was just a change in the wall structure. The escape ladders have been productive just as the various water control features.

 

Overall I have had way more success using slow moving baits, like soft plastics run low and slow. Metal spoons have worked too as long as there are no debris concerns.

 

I hope you are able to find some fun in the NW part of town. Be well and Cheers!

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  • Super User

It’s a very long time since being in AZ. I recall Glendale is NW of PHX and “had” the Aqua Frair and New “seasonal rivers” near Sun City and a few ponds. Water being a premium it may be all private now but worth checking out.

Tom

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  • 3 months later...

Greetings and Happy Lunar New Year All,

It is the year of the Dragon and I had occasion to have an angling and sight seeing adventure. The winds were above my comfort zone to be out on the local regional waters in my kayak. I also was excited to make the most of my day so a long three hour run to the PHX metro area to look about and see if I could wrangle some fish out of the Salt River Project (SRP) canals. 

 

February is a bit early in the year to as it is on the colder side. However, it was well into the 70s (F), 21 (C) up in the East PHX metro areas. I was guessing the concrete lined canals with the lower water conditions might warm up a bit sooner. My guess was correct as I arrived at one of the locations and found a bunch of carp swimming about in clusters. So those seeking carp fun here is your opportunity. They are big and hungry. 

 

I did manage to find a few bass through all the walking along the canals. Some accurate casting towards the debris field allowed me to connect on a few. Yes, there is everything from buckets, tents, bricks, blocks, shopping carts, and a luggage cart that I spotted in the mile long walk about. 

 

I started with a skirted jig and found quickly that was way too much for the low clear water conditions. Only one large bass was even remotely interested and was too timid other than to look at the offering. Fortunately I through to bring my Ultra lite gear with me. A walk back to the vehicle for an equipment exchange. Ditch the bait cast and heavy spinning gear for the UL gear. A curly tailed grub on a 1/16 oz jig and a seedless 3 inch worm. Both were the tickets. The first cast with the 3 inch seedless worm scored the 16 inch bass about 3 seconds after entering the water. Yeah, I waited an extra second to savor the feeling of the strike. 

 

The curly tailed grub found a slight shorter bass hanging around the shopping cart. So glad the breeze did not carry the jig into the cart. It came uncomfortably close. I was not quite sure it was a strike or snagging the cart initially. There was a little bit of give on the line as responded with tension. From there it was simply game on and keep the four pound mono tight. 

 

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On this trip I did manage to remember and bring the long handled landing net. Very helpful as the water is only about 1 - 2 feet deep in most areas so it is a long way down that steep canal wall. Using the landing net rather than hoisting on the line is a better way. 

 

I ended up having to depart earlier than expected. There was a serious automobile crash which had the interstate closed for most of the day. This pushed most of the east bound interstate traffic off to an alternate path and that was clogged up. I took a very different path home, away from the interstates and through the mountain areas of central AZ. I was able to capture some awesome images of back lit cacti and revisit the several 10% grades on AZ highways. The last time I took that road it was in my old refurbished Pontiac Sunbird and I was loosing speed and dropping gears quick. These days my old pickup truck didn’t have issue with the grade and with the air conditioner running too. Aaah technology with torque. 

 

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Pretty neat, bass catching with landscape photography too! A full day of fun in the big city. Nice to visit, glad I don’t live there. Be well and Cheers!

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Hi @Don51 and et al.,

 

Thanks, yes as good as could be under the circumstances. I'm usually fighting the clock on these extended travel destinations. It is just over a three hour drive to get to the metro PHX area. Worse when traffic is not favorable.

 

I do what I can to keep that "recreational" focus and make the most of anything that happens. The canal system is not too popular for fishing. Which is OK by me as it is comfortable, convenient, and enjoyable to have a place to wander about freely. Many years ago when I lived there for my early college days I did not realize fishing in the canals was permitted. In a way I'm making up for those lost opportunities. I am the jerk on this end of the line waiting for that jerk on the other end. 😄

 

There are the opportunities when I have particular shopping errands (like when seeking/considering fishing supplies) or assisting elderly family members in metro PHX area. After getting that sorted out, any spare time is for me to goof off some before making that long drive back.

 

I was really surprised that being out in the full sun with the air temps in the 70s could feel so hot. It is only going to get warmer... Be well, and Cheers!

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