ADEQ fish advisory for Largemouth Bass

PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, in association with the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD), has issued a fish consumption advisory for largemouth bass caught from Willow Springs Lake in Coconino County that recommends healthy consumption amounts. This advisory is based on recent analysis of Willow Springs Lake largemouth bass fish tissue sample data that showed elevated levels of mercury.

ADEQ recommends that adults limit consumption of largemouth bass to 2.5 ounces (uncooked weight) per week and children 12 years of age and younger limit consumption to two ounces per month (uncooked weight).

Willow Springs Lake is home to a variety of fish and during the spring and summer, the AGFD stocks the lake with rainbow trout that can be eaten in unlimited amounts.

Fishing, bird watching, swimming and other recreational activities at Willow Springs Lake are not affected by this advisory and are encouraged for enjoying the great outdoors. Generally, any contaminant levels found in water are several folds lower than in fish tissue.

Fish are an excellent source of protein and can be an important part of a healthy, diverse diet as they are low in saturated fat. The American Heart Association recommends people eat at least two fish or seafood meals every week. The public health recommendations in this advisory are based on frequent and long-term consumption of fish, not infrequent or occasional fish meals.

RESOURCES:

Click to learn more about ADEQ Fish Consumption Advisories
Click to view the ADEQ Fish Consumption Advisory Fact Sheet (PDF)

A quarter-million extra fish being stocked into Arizona waters through June

PHOENIX – A quarter-million more fish. With lakes around the state extra full after a wet spring, the Arizona Game and Fish Department needed extra fish. And it got them.

During the past week––in preparation for the Memorial Day weekend—AZGFD has been stocking an additional 20,000 trout and catfish into waters statewide. Through June, we’ll have stocked a quarter-million more rainbow trout, catfish, bass and sunfish statewide. After heavy rains and runoff this spring, many fisheries are replenished and ready for angling action.

Most catfish are going into Community Fishing Program waters. Give Mr. Whiskers a try.

Or plan a trip to where the extra trout have been going: Woods Canyon and Willow Springs lakes on the Mogollon Rim (both have tiger trout), Kaibab Lake near Williams and Ashurst Lake southeast of Flagstaff.

Also, during the week of May 22, scenic Lynx and Goldwater lakes in Prescott will get extra trout.

Northern Arizona anglers in particular will enjoy many benefits of this surplus:

  • On Wednesday, May 17, the first stocking of bonus rainbow trout, purchased from Crowthers Freshwater Trout in Colorado, were stocked into Ashurst Lake. Anglers fishing at Ashurst Lake that day started catching fish as soon as the stocking ended using small spinners such as roostertails and small spoons.
  • Knoll Lake had its first stocking of the year last week and will get more rainbow trout this week.
  • Catfish are also being stocked into City Reservoir near Williams, and on Wednesday, May 17 were stocked into Frances Short Pond. Chunks of hot dogs make great catfish bait.

Plan a trip now. Need a license? A General Fishing License is $37 for residents and $55 for nonresidents, Combo Hunt and Fish Licenses are $57 and Youth Combo Hunt and Fish Licenses are $5. All are good for 365 days from the date of purchase. Save time and buy online, 24/7.

Life jacket exchanges tomorrow help kick off ‘Boating Safety Week’

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department and agencies across the U.S. and Canada will join forces to promote life jacket use and boating safety as part of National Safe Boating Week.

The annual event begins Saturday, May 20 and ends Friday, May 26. To help mark the occasion, the department’s Boating Safety Education program will hold Life Jacket Exchange events from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the 10-lane boat ramp at Lake Pleasant; Canyon Lake boat ramp; Saguaro Lake boat ramps; the London Bridge Beach at Lake Havasu City and Katherine’s Landing at Lake Mohave.

During the exchanges, people with old, worn and less-effective life jackets can swap them for a new life vest, while supplies last.

“Boating in Arizona can offer great experience for everyone on the water, but only if it is done safely and responsibly,” said Josh Hoffman, AZGFD Boating Safety Education coordinator. “While time on the water can be fun, it can quickly turn dangerous if you’re not prepared. National Safe Boating Week serves as a reminder to all boat and watercraft users to always wear their life jacket. It could very well save your life.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey also helped to kick off Safe Boating Week, by issuing a proclamation, encouraging the public to be safe while on the water.

“Year-round, people continue to enjoy all that our natural environment has to offer through the joy of boating. National Safe Boating Week is observed to call attention to important life-saving tips for recreational boaters so that they can have a safer, more fun experience out on the water,” the proclamation states.

National Safe Boating Week marks the launch of the 2017 North American Safe Boating Campaign. This yearlong campaign promotes safe and responsible boating and the value of voluntary, consistent life jacket wear by recreational boaters through the national theme, “Wear It!”

U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in three-fourths of recreational boating fatalities in 2015, and that 85 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.

“Each year hundreds of people lose their lives in boating incidences, and they might still be alive if they had been wearing a life jacket,” said Rachel Johnson, CAE, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council, the lead organization for the North American Safe Boating Campaign. “It’s not enough to just own a life jacket and store it on a boat, you must wear it,”

New life jackets are much more comfortable, lightweight and stylish than the bulky orange style most boaters know. There are innovative options, such as inflatable life jackets, allowing mobility and flexibility for activities like boating, fishing, paddling or hunting and are much cooler in the warmer weather.

“Completing a boating safety course is also an important step to being a safe boater or watercraft user. Educated boaters are safe boaters,” Hoffman said. “Luckily the Arizona Game and Fish Department offers free boating safety courses.”

For more information on boating in Arizona or to sign up for a free safety course, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating. Those registering for an online safety course through BOATERExam.com can receive $10 off during Safe Boating Week by using the promo code NSBW17.

Great spring fishing in northern Arizona expected for Memorial Day weekend

WILLIAMS – Now is the time to get the tackle box ready, grab the fishing rods, and explore northern Arizona for some spring fishing.
Here are some updates on fish stocking activities in this region:
  • About 9,000 rainbow trout, or around 5,000 pounds, were recently stocked in Ashurst Lake. Folks fishing at Ashurst Lake started catching fish shortly after stocking.  They were using small spinners such as rooster tails and small spoons.
  • Kaibab Lake, north of Williams, will receive a similar load of fish. About 9,000 fish measuring up to 15 inches.
  • Trout stocked in Lower Lake Mary during March and April were up to 15 inches long.
  • Catfish were dropped recently into City Reservoir in Williams and Frances Short Pond in Flagstaff. Chunks of hot dogs make great catfish bait.
“We have so much water in northern Arizona this year, we are trying to get fish into as many lakes as we can,” said Chuck Benedict, a fish biologist at AZGFD. “We want to encourage people to come up Memorial Day weekend, enjoy our great weather and fish.  Typically Flagstaff and Williams are great for trout in the spring, and in reality, bass, pike, catfish, and crappie fishing are the best during the summer.”
Some tips to remember before heading out to fish:
  • Licenses now include trout and two-pole privileges (no separate stamps needed) and costs $37 for residents and $55 for nonresidents. The license is now valid for one year from the day you buy it — not just for the calendar year.
  • Anyone 10 years and older will need a fishing license. Youth licenses only cost $5 and are available for youth ages 10-17.
  • Review the 2017 Arizona Fishing Regulations — they are available online, or at most license dealers as a booklet that you can throw in your tackle box. The regulations have all the information you need to fish in Arizona.
  • Some lakes have special restrictions or regulations: catch-and-release only, daily limits, or the type of bait allowed.
  • Do not transport live fish or bait. Illegal stocking is a big problem and impacts the department’s efforts to manage the state’s fisheries. In some cases, fish like northern pike and bass have been illegally stocked and have had detrimental impacts to trout fishing and native fish populations.
Locations of these waters:
  • Frances Short Pond is located just northwest of downtown Flagstaff and is a great place to walk or ride a bike and try your luck.
  • Lower Lake Mary is about 8 miles from Flagstaff on Forest Road 3; Ashurst is about 12 miles down the road from Lower Mary.
  • Kaibab Lake is near Williams and off Highway 64, just north of Interstate 40.
  • City Reservoir is just south of Williams.

AZGF stocks Buckskinner with catfish

WILLIAMS – Rose Newbold, Director of Recreation in Williams, witnessed the release of about a thousand pounds of catfish into the Buckskinner reservoir on a windy Wednesday. Arizona Game and Fish released a couple hundred catfish into the pond this afternoon.The steep drop in the road down to Buckskinner prevented the delivery truck from reaching the reservoir. So the Arizona Game and Fish personnel had to dump them into a regular truck and tote them down to Buckskinner for release.

AZGFD to participate in multi-agency OUI checkpoint on Colorado River

KINGMAN — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) will participate in a multi-agency enforcement patrol this weekend on the Colorado River, pursuing those who are operating their boats and other watercraft while under the influence (OUI) of drugs or alcohol.

AZGFD, together with the Nevada Department of Wildlife and the National Park Service, will be enforcing Arizona’s OUI legal limit of a .08 blood-alcohol content.

Throughout the weekend, boaters may be required to pass through a checkpoint and be subject to a systematic safety inspection. Operators will be checked for any sign of impairment from alcohol or drugs, and to ensure the required safety equipment, such as proper life jackets and working fire extinguishers, are aboard.

“The responsibility for boating safety among watercraft users is critically important,” said Brandon Carley, law enforcement supervisor for the department’s regional office in Kingman. “The area is growing quickly, and we share these waterways with California and Nevada. It’s becoming very congested, which lends itself to more potential hazards.”

Carley advises boaters and watercraft users should review all regulations prior to launching. That includes having a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for every person on board and making sure that anyone 12 and under is wearing one at all times. Boats also must be equipped with a fire extinguisher and a Type IV throwable personal flotation device (PFD).

For more information on boating in Arizona, or to sign up for a free safety course, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating.

North Kaibab Ranger District to open campgrounds on May 15

FREDONIA – Recreational campgrounds on the North Kaibab Ranger District will open May 15 and remain open until Oct. 15.

Both the Jacob Lake campground and the DeMotte campground will be open and available for public recreation and overnight camping. The Jacob Lake campground is located 30 miles southeast of Fredonia, Ariz. on U.S. Route 89A at roughly 7,900 feet. The DeMotte campground is located about 25 miles south of the Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center on Arizona Highway 67 at roughly 8,700 feet.

A complete list of amenities may be found at Recreation.gov by searching for the specific campground. Campers are reminded to be mindful of any rules associated with the campground and always maintain fire safety when making a campfire. To stay current with any fire restrictions in Arizona go to firerestrictions.us/az.

Additionally, the Kaibab Camper Village, which is privately owned and managed but surrounded by Kaibab National Forest, is also scheduled to be open from May 14 through Oct. 15. Kaibab Camper Village offers full RV hookups and tent sites, and is located just 40 miles from the Grand Canyon National Park North Rim. For more information on Kaibab Camper Village, please visit kaibabcampervillage.com or call 928-643-7804.

To make reservations at the Jacob Lake campground or the DeMotte campground, please visit Recreation.gov or call 877-444-6777. For additional information on all of the Kaibab National Forest recreational sites please visit fs.usda.gov/recmain/kaibab/recreation.

Paper applications for 2017 fall hunts now being accepted

PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Department has posted the 2017-18 Arizona Hunting Regulations online at www.azgfd.gov/draw.

The department now is accepting paper applications for 2017 hunt permit-tags issued through the draw process for deer, fall turkey, fall javelina, bighorn sheep, fall bison and pheasant. The online application service for the draw is expected to be available in early to mid-May.

Paper applications can be mailed to: Arizona Game and Fish Department, Attn.: Drawing Section, P.O. Box 74020, Phoenix, AZ 85087-1052, or dropped off at any department office statewide. The application deadline is 11:59 p.m. (Arizona time) Tuesday, June 13. Paper applications must be received by the department by the deadline. Postmarks do not count.

The printed 2017-18 Arizona Hunting Regulations booklets are expected to be available in the next week or two at department offices and license dealers (PDF) statewide.

In the meantime, hunters are encouraged to open a free AZGFD customer portal account. The portal allows customers to create a secure account where they can manage and view their contact information, as well as their license and draw results history and bonus points, in their personal “My AZ Outdoors” section. A portal account is a mobile-friendly, convenient way to access the online license purchase and hunt draw application systems.

Another benefit of having a portal account is the opportunity to sign up for the “I Support Wildlife” program, which helps fund wildlife conservation in Arizona. An annual membership for $25 includes access to the new “premium” version of the Recreational Access Arizona (RAA) online mapping application, the latest fish stocking reports, an “I Support Wildlife” window decal and a one-year subscription to the award-winning Arizona Wildlife Views magazine.

The premium RAA mapping application is a significant upgrade over the free version and is a tremendous tool when planning your hunt. It is designed to work on all mobile devices (with active cell service) and lets you see your current location in reference to different data layers, including Game Management Units, wildlife waters, Arizona land ownership, an ESRI USA Topographic (USGS 24k Topo) basemap and more. Even better, the premium mapping application allows you to create your own point locations and automatically save and sync that data to all of your devices.

For questions about opening a portal account, call the department at (602) 942-3000 and press “7.”

Homes for fish: habitat improvement project underway at Roosevelt Lake

PHOENIX – They are manmade homes for fish, some made of concrete, others of PVC, and like building a neighborhood, provide the architecture for sustainable life.

The first step in placing fish habitat into the central Arizona reservoirs took place on Thursday, April 20 at Roosevelt Lake with Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists dropping Fishiding HighRise structures made of environmentally-safe PVC to the bottom of Roosevelt Lake. These recycled items, 8 feet tall and excellent habitat for crappie, became the first fish homes. AZGFD plans to expand them into fish cities.

For anglers, this Tonto National Forest Lakes Habitat Improvement Project will result in better fishing for generations to come in the region’s most popular fishing lakes.

Also in April, Roosevelt Lake was stocked with 12,000 pounds of crappie fingerlings, as well as 25,000 pounds of 4-inch Florida-strain largemouth bass for the third consecutive year. Roosevelt Lake also is above 70-percent full for the first time since October of 2011. The higher water level has flooded shoreline brush that provides more cover and habitat for spawning fish. The fish habitat improvement project includes placing multiple types of fish habitat around the lake at varied depths to ensure there is plenty of fish habitat available for when water level fluctuates.

Similar work is planned for other lakes along the Salt River chain and Bartlett Lake. The next planned step involves AZGFD biologists using a 36-foot pontoon boat to transport and lower heavier concrete fish habitat structures — critical to anglers’ fishing opportunities — into Roosevelt Lake.

This fish habitat project is a cooperative effort with numerous anglers, as well as volunteers from organizations such as Gila Basin Angler Roundtable and Midweek Bass Anglers. Supporting agency partners include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration Program, Tonto National Forest, and the National Fish Habitat Partnership-Reservoir Fish Habitat Partnership. Volunteers have been helping build concrete fish balls and Georgia cubes for two years and have donated hundreds of hours to the project.

Natural and artificial habitat are critical for fish spawning, recruitment, and growth. The reservoirs of central Arizona lack sufficient hiding and ambush cover and habitat for growth and survival of young fish. The artificial structures provide a surface for microscopic animals to grow, which attracts bait fish and in turn the predatory fish for anglers to target.

Fishing is one of Arizona’s most popular outdoor activities. Providing good places for anglers to fish is one of AZGFD’s primary goals. Five of the biggest and most popular lakes to fish are located in central Arizona and are managed by Salt River Project for the valley’s water supply: Roosevelt Lake, Apache Lake, Canyon Lake, Saguaro Lake, and Bartlett Lake.

In 2014 the Department embarked on a program to improve fisheries habitat in the reservoirs of central Arizona and restore the fisheries to their former glory days. All five of these lakes are more than 70 years old, and Roosevelt Lake is more than 100 years old. Over time, reservoirs lose quality fish habitat through decomposition of the natural vegetation that was flooded, particularly where water levels fluctuate wildly, such as at Roosevelt.

Similarly, one of the largest and most successful fish habitat projects in the nation, the Lake Havasu Fishery Improvement Program, has been ongoing since 1993 and is credited with improving sport fish habitat in this Colorado River reservoir.

The Tonto National Forest is the land management agency for five of the biggest and busiest fishing lakes in Arizona. In 2013, the economic value to the state of Arizona associated with these five lakes was estimated to be more than $318 million.

AZGF Commission approves proposed boating and water sport rules, fees


PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Commission recently approved several boating and watercraft regulation changes aimed at increasing customer service and public safety on Arizona’s waterways.

The commission approved the changes at its April 7 meeting, amending the state’s Article 5 rules, which outline boating and water sports regulations and fees. The proposed changes will now be considered by the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council on June 6 and, if approved, will become effective Aug. 5.

The proposed changes were recommended as part of a legally required five-year review of the department’s administrative rules. For more information or to view the complete list of proposed Article 5 changes, visit www.azgfd.com/agency and click on “Rulemaking.”

The following are among the proposed changes:

Requiring a signature be notarized/witnessed when the seller is not listed as the owner on the current registration or the signature of the buyer or seller is in question.
Allowing owners to obtain a duplicate watercraft registration/decal at www.azgfd.gov/boating.
Increasing the valid timeframe for a temporary certificate from 30 to 45 days and allowing a watercraft agent to issue a temporary certificate with the sale of a used watercraft.
Requiring liveries to affix a placard on the watercraft indicating the business name and phone number, and requiring a person who rents, leases or offers a watercraft for hire to register as a livery.
Requiring a wake surfer to wear a personal floatation device and that an operator ensure an observer is watching if a person is being towed behind the watercraft and/or surfing a wake created by the watercraft.
Prohibiting teak surfing, which is pulling a person from a vessel’s swim platform.
Requiring towing companies to notify the owner/lienholder that they have taken possession of a vessel within 15 days of obtaining the information from the department.
Authorizing a third-party vendor to process new watercraft registrations, transfers, renewals and duplicate registrations.

The following fee changes are also proposed:

Watercraft transfer fee to $13
Duplicate decal and certificate number fee to $8
Dealer certificate of number fee to $20
Establish an abandoned/unreleased watercraft application fee of $100
Transfer of ownership of a towed watercraft application fee to $100

For more information on boating in Arizona or to sign up for a safety course, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating.