Commission Appointment Recommendation Board to meet November 7

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Commission Appointment Recommendation Board will meet on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, beginning at 9 a.m., to review and select for interview applicants for the 2018 vacancy on the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. The meeting will be held at the Arizona Game and Fish Department headquarters at 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Quail Room, in Phoenix and is open to the public.

See meeting agenda (PDF).

The board will meet again on Wednesday, Nov. 15, beginning at 9 a.m., to conduct interviews with the candidates who were selected at the Nov. 7 meeting. That meeting is also at 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Quail Room, in Phoenix and is open to the public. The board will select from two to five finalists at the Nov. 15 meeting and forward those names to Gov. Doug Ducey for his consideration.

Members of the Commission Appointment Recommendation Board are William “Jim” Lane (chair), Susan E. Chilton, W. Hays Gilstrap, Charles I. Kelly, and Phillip D. Townsend.

Per Arizona State Statute 17-202, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission Appointment Recommendation Board shall assist the governor by interviewing, evaluating and recommending candidates for appointment to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. The Commission Appointment Recommendation Board shall recommend at least two, but no more than five, candidates to the governor. The governor must select and appoint a commissioner from the list submitted by the board.

For additional information about the Commission Appointment Recommendation Board, contact the Governor’s Office of Boards and Commissions at (602) 542-2449 or toll free at 1-800-253-0883 or on the web at www.azgovernor.gov.

For more information on the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, visit www.azgfd.gov/commission.

AZGFD makes change to Wild Trout Challenge

PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Department is temporarily suspending the requirement for anglers to catch a Gila trout in order to complete the Wild Trout Challenge.

With the closure of Frye Creek, there is no longer a wild population of Gila trout open to fishing.

The Arizona Trout Challenge, which requires anglers to catch six of the eight total species in Arizona, remains unchanged since the closure to Frye Creek will not affect anglers trying to catch stocked Gila trout in Frye Mesa Reservoir.

In June, the 48,000-acre Frye Fire severely impacted the habitat in Frye Creek and nearby Ash Creek, and both populations of Gila trout, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, were effected by post-fire flood events that moved large amounts of ash, sediment and debris through the creeks.

Survey crews did not find any Gila trout in the creek, said Tracy Stephens, AZGFD’s Native Trout Biologist.

See more information about AZGFD’s trout challenges.

AZGFD closes Frye Creek to fishing

PHOENIX – Fishing trips to scenic Frye Creek, a Gila trout recovery stream located on Mt. Graham in southeast Arizona that offers rare opportunities to hook Gila trout—one of two trout native to Arizona—will have to be put on hold.

AZGF Photo

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has temporarily closed Frye Creek to fishing in order to evaluate and restore a population of Gila trout following widespread habitat damage on Mt. Graham due to this past summer’s Frye Fire and ensuing flooding.

The Department hopes to reopen the stream to fishing once habitat is suitable for stocking of Gila trout and a population is established that can sustain angling pressure.

Good news for anglers: the closure does not include Frye Mesa Reservoir, where Gila trout are stocked for recreational opportunities. However, the area is still under a closure order issued by the Coronado National Forest.

In June, the 48,000-acre Frye Fire severely impacted the habitat in Frye Creek and nearby Ash Creek, and both populations of Gila trout, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, were effected by post-fire flood events that moved large amounts of ash, sediment and debris through the creeks.

Fortunately, just prior to the flooding, AZGFD salvaged 190 Gila trout from Frye and Ash creeks and they were transported in good health to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Mora National Fish Hatchery in New Mexico.

Recently, AZGFD surveyed the creeks and did not find any fish. AZGFD will continue to monitor both streams annually to document habitat changes and recovery.

Also, see the Mt. Graham closure update from the Coronado National Forest.

Green light: Go fish!

AZGFD, ADEQ release “Green Light” list of fish, including all trout, Arizonans can eat without restrictions

PHOENIX – Arizona anglers have a ton of “Green Light” reasons to keep catching and cooking fresh fish.

For the first time, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) have launched an initiative to highlight a “green light” list of fish species from specific waters that may be consumed without limits.

The list includes all trout statewide. Arizona has a total of 220 waters that AZGFD manages for trout, making up approximately 40,000 surface acres of lakes and 1,000 miles of rivers or streams.

These “Green Light Fisheries” also include channel catfish supplied for the AZGFD Community Fishing Program.

See all the green light waters on the ADEQ interactive e-Map, including other waters and fish species classified as “Green Light Fisheries.”

Ben Avery Shooting Facility offering discount on National Hunting and Fishing Day

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is inviting recreational shooters to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day on September 23 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility.

Arizona hunters and anglers who show their valid hunting or fishing license will receive an $8 discount for unlimited shooting (rifle only) from noon to 5 p.m. at the benchrest range, where steel targets will be placed at intervals up to 300 yards.

Those who don’t have a valid hunting or fishing license still are invited to come out and participate at the regular price ($15). All skill levels are welcome. There will be range safety officers available to assist all shooters. As a reminder, eye and ear protection is required and can be purchased at the shooting sports center.

The shooting sports can provide a lifetime of enjoyment with family and friends. It’s a safe, fun activity enjoyed by an estimated 50 million Americans, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). The world-class Ben Avery Shooting Facility, one of the nation’s largest publicly operated shooting facilities, drew more than 225,000 recreational shooters in 2016. The facility is located at 4044 W. Black Canyon Highway in north Phoenix.

National Hunting and Fishing Day, an annual celebration of hunters and anglers, features a unique twist in 2017. Richard Childress, NASCAR legend and honorary chair for this year’s event, is asking hunters and anglers to take someone new hunting or fishing, or to their local shooting range.

Those who pledge to introduce someone to the outdoors between now and Sept. 23 will be eligible to win a Richard Childress Racing VIP race weekend package or an outdoors getaway that includes a two-night stay in a log cabin at Big Cedar Lodge near Branson, Mo., several outdoor excursions and experiences, and passes to Johnny Morris’ new Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium. For more information, visit www.nhfday.org, or call (417) 225-1162.

Each new hunter and angler helps to fund conservation. Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR) (PDF) funds are comprised of excise taxes collected on the sale of hunting and fishing equipment (including 11 percent on ammunition), the benefit of which comes right back to the states for habitat improvements, shooting ranges, boating access and more.

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.

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.

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.