Monday, April 16, 2012

The Urban Fishing Addiction

There is nothing more intoxicating than the electric thrum surging though a fishing pole being whipped into a large arc as the hook is set on a huge whiskered channel cat taking the foul smelling dough ball at the end of the line, or the quick, soft, barely perceptible tick of a beady eyed bass sucking a well presented lure into its gaping maw as it is slowly bounced passed his hiding place. I can not remember a time when I did not love fishing, any kind of fishing, for any fish species. It doesn't matter when I go, where I go, who I go with, or how the weather is, I just want the opportunity to put a line out and try to coax one of those scaly little water breathers to take my bait. This is a difficult addiction to have in dusty valleys and water starved canyons of the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona.
Not a bad size for a small urban lake. maybe 2lbs and 16" long.

In the Tucson area, there is a scarcity of nearby large bodies of water, and perennial streams and rivers. This really limits opportunities to go fishing, but there are a few small urban lakes that are available without having to make a two hour drive each way. These lakes are perfect for a Sunday morning fishing trips, or to kill an hour or two after work.The Arizona game and fish department (AZGF) manages these lakes (without using any state or local tax money) under their "Urban Fishing" program and stocks them about every two weeks. depending on the season there are several species that get put into these small waters. AZGF stocks catfish in the summer, trout in the winter, sunfish twice annually, and there are grass carp in all of the lakes for weed control, and about every two years or so they stock some fingerling large mouth bass.

Beautiful Rainbow Trout from an Urban Lake.
Urban program waters are an excellent place to go fishing for some of the most popular sport fish out there, but they are also some of the most challenging waters to fish in. Even though the stocking schedule only lists the week that stocking will occur, it always seems to be crowded at the lakes for about three days after they have been stocked. On the morning of a stocking the "Fisherman Communication Network" kicks in and every fishing addict who fishes that lake knows the fish truck was there within an hour of it arriving. After the initial surge of fishing, only the smartest fish are left. These fish have PhD's in fishing tactics, and can be very hard to catch, so they tend to grow to some pretty impressive sizes for these small lakes.

These so called "hold over" fish can scratch the fishing addiction itch rather nicely from time to time. The channel cats can be as big as 6lbs and can hold in the lakes for several years. The trout normally do not survive the summer months, but can be as large as 3lbs and love to attack flys and small spinners at the end of the stocking season. The bass tend to stay under the 5lb mark and are extremely educated, but are loads of fun when you do get one to bite. These fish do a great job of feeding the addiction, but they leave an almost overwhelming desire to catch bigger fish from a larger lake. And the time spent at these ponds will make any wife jealous of the attention given to the pursuit of those finned wonders of nature.



  1. Nice fish, I love urban fishing. People go by all the time and say "are there fish in there?" Even had a mom tell her son that "he's just practicing his cast, no fish in there." And then the people eye's when they see me catch like a 14lb Carp or 4lb Largemouth, is just priceless.

    1. I get comments like that all time as well. we get a pretty fair amount of "snow birds" here, and to them my little lake looks like a mud puddle. Their reactions to people fishing in it are priceless.