photo of 3 people with fish they caught.

January is normally the coldest and toughest month to fish in Arizona. But this year we have experienced a very mild Winter, with daytime high temperatures that have reached the 80 degree mark in January. The above average January temperatures, means that we can look forward to increased fish activity and early pre-spawn conditions unless there is a departure from the normal weather patterns in the upcoming weeks and months. We also, have experienced Winter rains intermittently, that have caused runoff into the lakes. This stained water in the coves will be up to 2 to 4 degrees warmer than the clearer water on the main lake (depending on the time of the day and the day time temperatures). In addition, the runoff brings fresh nutrients into the lake. This combination of warmer water and fresh nutrients will attract the bait fish, which in turn it will attract the fish that feed on them. This is especially true, on lakes like Pleasant, Roosevelt, and Bartlett. This means we can look forward to fish increased activity to increase and an early spawn (unless there is significant deviation from the normal seasonal weather patterns in the upcoming weeks and months). The combination of these factors is good news for Arizona fishermen, because it means the fish will be becoming more active earlier in the season, making them easier to locate and catch early in the 2024 season.

Bite Windows are something all anglers should be aware of especially during the colder months when the fish’s metabolism slows down.

After the Bass spawn, the shad spawn occurs, a negative Bite Window occurs after the early morning bite and it last until the fish again become active later in the day.

The Salt River lakes experience a Negative Bite Window when the current suspends, or its reduced, or is interrupted. When there isn’t any current the fish become inactive and become harder to catch. The same thing is true of Lake Pleasant when the pumping station is not pumping water into the lake.

Winter  fishing at first light and again later in the day is your Best Bite Window opportunities almost year round in Arizona, but especially in the Winter.

Spring fishing the good Bite Window is expanded due to water temperatures and daytime temperatures are warming up.

Summer Bass fishing on Arizona lakes the pumping stations tend to pump more water to generate electricity during peak demand times, thusly creating the Best Bite Window for the anglers. Unfortunately, this is usually during the hottest time of the day.


Arizona fishing rating scale


 Lake Pleasant is rated GOOD. The Striper and White Bass bite on Pleasant has improved. Fish are being caught on anchovies presented on Drop Shot Rigs, Spoons, shad and perch jerk baits. The Largemouth are deep, but have been following the bait fish into the shallows and will continue this pattern as the surface water temperatures continue to rise. Baits that have proven effective rage from Drop Shot, Carolina Rigs, and Deep Diving Cranks, to Spinner baits Senkos, and the more traditional medium and shallow water baits including: Top Water patterns as the surface water temperatures approach the 70 degree mark. The Pre spawn activity begins as the surface water temperatures approach the 60’s. It looks like a recipe for some good spring fishing.


Bartlett Lake is rated GOOD. With best chance at catching numbers of Bass later in the day as the daytime temperatures rise. Be aware of the location of boulders and areas that provide brush lines this time of the year. Texas rigged worms and seiko type baits can be very effective as well as Drop Shots and Spinnerbaits during this time of the year. The Crappie action on the lake is beginning to show signs of increased activity. Small jigs live minnows, and grubs can be very effective during this time.


Roosevelt Lake is rated GOOD. The best Bass baits include: 4 to 6 inch Texas Rigged worms including: Senkos. Texas Rigged Brush Hogs, medium crank baits and Drop Shot Riggs. The Crappie are becoming more active and are suspended at around the twenty feet next to cover. Crappie fishing will improve as the weather and surface water temperatures begin to warm up. Best baits include: minnows, small grubs, and Crappie Magnets in Spring patterns.


Apache Lake is rated FAIR. Best Bass baits would include: Drop Shot Rigs using your favorite 4inch worms, 4 inch Texas Rigged worms (including Senkos) and or craws. Jerk baits and cranks are also a possibility depending upon the depth and location of the fish. Crappie fishing is slow, but will improve as the surface water and the daytime temperatures begin to warm up. Minnows on light jig heads or small curly tail grubs in black and chartreuse or motor oil would be worth a try depending on water clarity.


Saguaro Lake rated FAIR to GOOD for Bass in the 31/2 to 6 lb range. The Fall patterns are in effect and the surface water temperatures are hovering around the mid 60’s. Here to the trick is locating and staying on the bait schools as we approach December and January they normally stock trout in Saguaro. This adds another dimension, Trout imitation swimsuits to your arsenal. Remember the depth of the schools and water clarity are key to selecting the right bait, color, size, and presentation.


Canyon Lake is rated FAIR. With a chance at a Big Fish. Best chance with Drop Shot Riggs using large 7 inch Robo Worms in red color or variations of red. If the fish don’t respond downsize to 4 inch. If you decide to fish the hydrilla try Top water like Spooks or Pop Rs in your favorite Spring patterns. Remember to experiment with retrieves until you find out what the fish want.



Alamo Lake is rated GOOD. Alamo water levels have risen. Try Wacky Rigging Senkos. Begin by searching out deep structure and then work into the shallower structure, Begin with the larger sizes in Green Pumpkin or your favorite Spring colors. If you don’t have success downsize. You can also try a Drop Shot Rig with your favorite Spring color of Robo worm or any of your favorite worms. Again start with the larger sizes and if the fish don’t respond try dropping down to a smaller size and experiment with different colors based upon water clarity. The Crappie bite is still slow, but it will improve as the weather and the surface water temperatures continue to warm up.