The summertime lake crowds have waned, but Lake Pleasant remains a popular destination for those hoping to catch the big one. Fishing guide and owner of Reel ‘Em In Adventures, Warren Risberg, said fall provides some of the best fishing the lake offers; bar none. Here are five tips from Warren, plus more insight for anglers new to Lake Pleasant.
Lake Pleasant Fishing Tips
- Fish during the warmest time of day in the winter months and at sunset. Even one degree water temperature can trigger the bite
- Try vertical fishing below the boat with cut bait
- Troll at 2.5 mph, that's the sweet spot
- At sunset, pay attention to the blue herons at the lake as they are feeding on the thread-fin shad—find the shad and you will find the fish!
- If you are unable to catch your bait, the next best bait is Anchovies (which can be purchased at the Scorpion Bay General Store)
- Cut the heads and tails off so the marrow passes through on both sides
- Use the anchovies for vertical fishing below the boat
Risberg's most recent fishing tours have been bringing in 18 to 52 fish per trip which have been a combination of Striper bass, White bass and Channel catfish. He said those numbers are actually on the low side of what he would normally expect. This is because of unusual weather and limited fresh water. “Central Arizona Project isn't letting enough fresh water into the dam right now which has had an impact on our catching. Currently, they are intermittently allowing water to come in, but it's not enough to get the fish going in the right direction. When more water is released into the lake, you should see a bigger difference in your catching as it brings fresh oxygen and nutrients into the lake which helps the fish migrate.” In addition, he said the lake is coming off a crazy weather year which included a long winter, short spring and tremendously hot summer. “July was just a killer with water temperatures consistently in the 90s.”
The first week of October Lake Pleasant is sitting at 67% water capacity and the fish are holding between 35-27 feet which he says is very shallow. The best fishing is very close to Scorpion Bay Marina, just outside Pipeline Cove. The great majority (85%) of the fish you will catch on my guided trips are striped bass. They are unlimited. “I don't specifically target largemouth bass; I just dabble with what bites.”
Eager anglers should mark their calendars for the next full moon, which Risberg says typically leads to the most successful tours. “After a hot summer we had a full moon on August 30 and we were back to catching good fish,” he said. “We caught more than 82 that evening.” But can you really use that to predict success? He stands by it. “Some people think the fuller the moon, the more fish. In Spring a full moon means fish are mating so the moon phase does have an impact on what's happening in the lake.”
Current lake conditions are proving to be challenging with large schools of channel catfish and small stripers dominating the water. “They're everywhere, these one to six-inch stripers are thriving throughout the lake right now which means I'm going through a lot of bait. Wherever I go I'm attacked. These little guys are catching it before it gets down to the big guys.” That said, it's still a great time to be out on the water. “We're in fall so we have a solid two to three months of good fishing. Once the cooler water hits around the end of December, the fish don't move as much, they become lethargic. Their metabolism slows down so they don't require much food. So fish now, because by the 2nd week of January, the water is in the 50s and fishing will be slow until March.”
Risberg adds, “When you drop the bait below the boat and the marrow is gone, they aren't going back for that meat so throw it away. Make sure the marrow is still intact.” He also said worms are okay throughout the year and slip bobber tactic can be effective. Risberg also recommends using umbrella rigs, keeping in mind that in Arizona only two hooks are allowed on an umbrella rig. And, when you can, troll the water. “Trolling speed 2.5mph is the money speed, over or under, forget it.” He recommends using medium to heavy rods (30-pound braid) with a 17–20-pound leader line.
Regardless of what they catch, Risberg said a day on the water is a day well spent. “People are still having fun. The fishing is still good and the lake is beautiful, what more could you ask for?”
To book a trip with Warren Risberg visit: https://www.reeleminadventures.com/
If you bring the gear, Scorpion Bay can provide the boat. The marina offers both pontoon and speed boat rentals available for half or full day. For more information visit our website.
About Scorpion Bay
Located just 45 minutes from downtown Phoenix in Peoria, Arizona on Lake Pleasant, Scorpion Bay offers convenience and world-class marina services for the entire family. With hundreds of covered and uncovered wet slips, world-class food at Scorpion Bay Grill – as well as boat rentals including pontoons, fishing boats, ski-boats, kayaks and other water toys – you’re sure to find a full day of entertainment on the water. As part of Lake Pleasant Regional Park, visitors can venture out for hiking, picnicking and wildlife viewing in the area. Parking is easily accessible, and our no cost electric tram will take guests and their gear from the parking lot to the dock in minutes. Scorpion Bay is managed by Desert Troon Companies https://desert-troon.com/
Scorpion Bay is Arizona’s premier floating playground, offering everything from daily pontoon and ski boat rentals to slips for harboring your yacht (or dinghy). Come for the fishing or come for the frolicking—either way, incredible mountain views, fantastic dining and world-class marina services await less than an hour out of Phoenix. https://www.scorpionbayaz.com/