Yuma home to some great fishing opportunities
Editor's note: The following story, "Yuma Area Fishing" was written for the outdoors column this week by Richard Myers, Wildlife Manager of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. He'd like to share with all fishermen in our area.
The Yuma area has long been known for its rivers, both the Colorado River and the Gila River. Many canals feed off the Colorado River, such as the Gila Main Gravity Canal, Salinity Canal and various other agricultural canals. Other waters that are created by the Colorado River include Mittry Lake and Martinez Lake. Other man-made ponds include Fortuna Pond, Redondo Pond, Quigley and Growler Pond. Such waterways create a unique environment for fishing opportunities in the southwest desert.
Yuma has some of the greatest fishing opportunities in the state of Arizona, as well as the entire United States. Species of fish include flathead catfish, channel catfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, striped bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, tilapia, striped mullet, carp, black crappie and even stocked rainbow trout.
Yuma has weather that can support fishing year-round. Fishing is usually best in the early spring and fall months. The canal systems are excellent for catfish. Anglers can have success in the early morning hours and early evening during the warm summer months. During the winter months, catfishing is good all day long. Anglers can use a variety of baits. Main choices are stinkbaits, both homemade and store bought. Also nightcrawlers are excellent. Canals also hold largemouth bass, which can be caught on a variety of lures, as well as on nightcrawlers. Bluegill will bite worms or even corn. Striped bass also are found in the larger canals such as the Gila Main and can be caught on chicken liver or worms and can be found around fast moving water.
The Colorado River has several access points for shore and boat access and holds just about every warm-water fish species. The largest fish found in the Colorado River is the flathead catfish, which can reach sizes of 70-plus pounds. These monster fish are usually caught at night with live baits such as bluegill or goldfish. Largemouth bass reach sizes of 16-plus pounds. Places along the Colorado River such as Martinez Lake hold these lunker fish. Many bass clubs, both local and statewide, regularly fish tournaments in the Martinez Lake area. Bass will bite various spinnerbaits, plugs, plastics and natural baits.
There are several ponds in the Yuma area, which have excellent fishing opportunities. One such pond is Fortuna Pond. This is a small acreage pond, which is usually stocked with channel catfish and rainbow trout. Three stockings occur of both fish per year. Catfish are stocked in the fall months, usually October, November and December, while trout get stocked in the winter months of December, January and February. Trout will bite on powerbait and worms as well as lures. Channel catfish will bite chicken liver, worms and stinkbaits.
Fishing requires a fishing license. See the Arizona Game and Fish Department 2004 Fishing regulations for complete license requirements and information. Fishing licenses are sold in most hunting and fishing stores in town as well as at the Yuma Game and Fish office. Fishing licenses are also sold online at Arizona Game and Fish's Web site: www.azgfd.com.
Game and Fish also has a free brochure about Yuma area fishing holes. The brochure contains fishing information about all the Yuma area fishing spots including the Colorado River and ponds throughout Yuma. This brochure also contains driving directions and a map to all fishing holes in Yuma.
Practice catch and release: This great program should be put to use by each of us anytime we catch more fish than we will use, no matter what the species - to ensure our future fishing opportunities. The program should also be put to use (no matter how many bass you might catch) in the spring when largemouth bass begin the annual spawn where female bass will be filled with eggs and the male bass will be protecting the nests once the eggs have been laid.
But the program only works when fish are successfully' released back to the water in good shape. Here are some guidelines we can all put to use:
*Use barbless hooks made from metals that rust quickly, and set the hook immediately so the fish doesn't swallow it.
*Land a fish quickly - never fight it to exhaustion.
*Decide whether to keep or release the fish as soon as the fish is hooked. Minimize handling - a wet cotton glove or rag helps to hold the fish while protecting its mucous and scales. Support the fish by the midsection and tail. Don't handle the fish by the eyes or gills.
*Keep the fish in the water whenever possible, while gently removing the hook with needle-nosed pliers. Cut the leader close to the fish's mouth when the hook cannot be removed quickly or is lodged too deep - most fish in this case will recover.
*When releasing, if the fish doesn't swim away immediately, resuscitate it by moving it gently back and forth into the current until the gills are working normally. A released fish has an excellent chance of survival when handled carefully. If we all practice this technique, we all benefit.
Yuma Desert Bass Anglers: To get in on Saturday's Bass Tournament launching out of Fisher's Landing, call Mac or Bobbi McDermott 726-1984.
*Yuma Bassmasters: Sign up until 5 p.m. today at Davidson Marine or by 6 a.m. Sunday to fish the bass tournament that day launching out of Fisher's Landing. Call Gary Knight 783-6502.
*Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club: Roy Price Memorial Bass Derby Sunday with fishing open to any area along the Colorado River beginning at safe light with weigh-in at 3 p.m. at Fisher's Landing. Call Don Emmel 342-3016. A reminder to call David Root 783-5026 if you can assist with the Jan. 15 waterhole project in the Kofas.
*American Bass - Yuma region: Jan. 15 - Aluminum-only Bass Tournament with sign up 5:30-7 p.m. Jan. 14 at Sportsmen's Hideaway. Call Dave Willhide 782-2621 or 210-6348.
*Yuma Women's Reel and Rifle Club: Corrections to last week's information include: Annual dues, due now, are $20 adult, $10 guppy or junior (Remember you must have dues paid at least 10 days prior to getting a fish on the board); Mark your calendar for the Jan. meeting on Thursday, Jan 27 rather than the 28th. Sorry about that! A reminder that annual contests for bass, catfish and striped bass began Jan. 1 for paid members. All ladies and their young gals interested in hunting and fishing are welcome to join the club to enjoy the great variety of activities. Call June Wolfe 782-7738.
Along with the coming of the new year is the archery-only season in Arizona for javelina, with general and juniors-only seasons under way later. If this is your first javelina hunt, some suggestions may help.
Besides getting in plenty of practice beforehand, the best way to begin the archery season is to get as much information as you can about the area you intend to hunt. Check with Game and Fish as well as local sports dealers and other hunters. Then pre-scout the area and don't leave your optics at home.
Locate bedding areas and trails. Javelina have the habit of defecating in the same area as they bed down and along nearby trails. Find these bathrooms to see if any droppings are recent and if it smells piggy. Javelina mark bushes and rocks with the scent gland on their back, and the odor is distinctive. Also check within a few miles of any water source and look for freshly-chewed prickly pear and the tiny cloven-hoofed tracks.
A hunters' noisy gear can blow it big time, so be sure to wear proper footwear and clothing so you can be quiet. During the hunt, use your optics rather than your boot leather to locate herds. Binoculars are a must. Having a spotting scope can pay big dividends. Using a varmint call can work on a javelina's curiosity and most usually they'll respond quickly to a dying rabbit squeal.
Javelina are nearsighted but have excellent hearing and an extraodinary sense of smell, so stay downwind once you've spotted a herd and make as little noise as possible, hunting slowly and carefully, always looking for fresh sign. Watch next week's column for tips on "hunting mule deer in the desert".
Renegade Archers of Yuma: All archers are welcome to shoot the trial at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Foothills Archery Range for bow hunting practice as well as fun recreation.
Call Jean Wilson 726-0953 for directions.
*Adair Park shooting ranges: Yuma Trap and Skeet Club-matches 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. Call Jaime Almazan 246-8299; Cholla Gun Club - fun Snowbirds .22 rifle and pistol league at 8:30 a.m. each Friday at the metallic silhouette range. Call Jerry York 344-3404; Yuma Rifle and Pistol Club - Jan. 16 Cross Course match at the big bore range. Call Paul Lerma 783-6766; Yuma Matchmasters - Open IPSC Combat Match 7:30 a.m. Sunday at the small bore range. Call Ron Martin 329-1007.
Jean Wilson can be reached at
email@example.com or 726-0953.