Anglers visiting Phoenix or Tucson can try their hand landing a bass in one of Arizona’s twenty lakes and ponds that comprise Arizona’s Urban Fishing Program, a cooperative venture between the Arizona Game and Fish Department and local Parks and Recreation Departments to intensively stock and manage park lakes for fishing recreation. These artificial municipal lakes and ponds are supplied by ground or canal water and stocked every three years as available with largemouth bass.
While fish can be found in any of these urban lakes, the three ponds that comprise Phoenix’s Papago Ponds offer blue ribbon bass fishing. Other prime fishing spots include Kiwanis Lake in central Tempe, Red Mountain Lake in Mesa with its rocky habitat and Alvord Lake, the 25-acre lake in Phoenix that represents the largest lake in this program. For complete information on each lake or pond including location, hours of operation, a map noting any available boat launches, and any rules applicable to that particular body of water, download a copy of the AZ Game and Fish Departments, “2005 Urban Fishing Program” brochure from its website (azgfd.gov).
Often anglers can be found landing 6 to 9-pound bass, and a 13-pound cow was hooked at Kiwanis Lake and a 12.5-pound bass was taken from Papago Ponds. The daily bag and possession limits for largemouth bass in all Urban Fishing Program lakes are two bass with a minimum size of 13-inches. As of 2000, the Arizona Game of Fish Department has been keeping Urban-Fish-of-the-Year and Catch and Release records from these designated Urban Fishing Program waters, thus giving anglers an opportunity to log their trophy catch.
Recommended lures include jigs, rattle tapes, smaller crankbaits, and three and four-inch finesse styled plastic baits. According to Urban Fishing Program Manager Eric Swanson, for the best results in landing a trophy bass, work the bottom of the lakes and around structures with a very slow retrieve.
In addition to stocking and maintaining these lakes, the Arizona Game and Fish Department offers fishing education opportunities such as workshops and clinics. Log on to Arizona Game and Fish’s website (www.afgd.gov) for maps of lakes and ponds, weekly stocking schedules, fishing reports, and the current Urban Fishing Bulletin. An urban fishing license is required to fish any lake or pond in the Urban Fishing Program. Licenses can be purchased online at azgfd.gov, from any Game and Fish Department office or one of the 340 license dealers in Arizona or by calling toll-free (866) 462-0433. Also, isitors to the Phoenix or Tucson area looking for travel information can log on to www.visitphoenix.com or www.visittuscon.org.