Where will the next State Record come from?
This winter has already been a mixed bag with record snow levels in places followed by some warmer weather lately. That’s Arizona! While it’s next to impossible to predict what the rest of winter has in store for us and what water levels may turn out to be, it’s always kind of fun to think about where that next state record fish might come from. Winter is usually a great time to think about upcoming fishing trips, and maybe where to prioritize you effort in 2017.
It’s just one biologists opinion, but here are some thoughts on where huge fish of several of our most popular game fish might be caught this year.
Largemouth Bass: It’s no surprise to those who have been fishing Saguaro Lake, but there have been great numbers of bass over 10 pounds being caught lately, and no sign of slowing down. Canyon Lake is always a perennial favorite to foster the next state record largemouth. After all it’s where the current record (16 lbs, 7.68 oz.) was caught, and that population has the highest levels of Florida strain genetic influence of any water in Arizona. Now records are recorded from inland waters AND Colorado River waters. If you like to fish the big river on the west end of the state, the Imperial Division and Cibola Division are great bets to catch a largemouth that weighs in the “teens”. Mittry Lake also has great big largemouth that rivals Canyon Lake in Florida strain influence.
Flathead Catfish: It’s hard to argue if you said Bartlett Lake. It’s the lake the current record holder (76 lbs. 8.64 oz.) came from. However, Lake Pleasant and Roosevelt Lake are both dark horses to take the record away from Bartlett. Flatheads over 50 pounds are routinely being caught at all three of these reservoirs, with reports of 60 plus pounders not uncommon.
Channel Catfish: This one is a little trickier as there is no clear cut place to catch trophy sized channel cats (if there is, please let me know). The current record (32 lbs. 4 oz.) came from Parker Canyon Lake down on the border. Parker Canyon could still have another record lurking, but your odds are probably equal at places like Topock Marsh (Colorado River record is 35 lbs. 4 oz.), Lake Havasu, Alamo Lake and again Saguaro Lake.
Rainbow Trout: That next huge rainbow could come from Becker, Carnero or Luna Lakes up in the White Mountains. These lakes grow trout fast, but are susceptible to winter and summer kills (mostly because of low oxygen). If all goes well this winter, there could be some really big trout come out of those lakes. A sleeper lake could be Dogtown Lake near Williams. The addition of woody habitat over the last few years has really contributed to high growth rates for trout.
Tiger Trout: A new comer to the state last year; we don’t know how big this species will get in Arizona waters. But one thing is for sure, the current record of just under a pound from Willow Springs Lake will fall this year. Tiger Trout are stocked into Willow Springs, Woods Canyon, Carnero and Becker Lakes. Again, the latter two grow trout fast, so look to those for Tiger Trout over 5 pounds.