Urban Fishing Bulletin: Weeks of May 25 – June 7
Behind the scenes with our Arkansas catfish contractor
Urban Fishing Program Manager Eric Swanson took a journey to Arkansas and back with catfish contractor, Mr. Fish, to get an in-depth, behind the scenes look at the entire catfish delivery operation. The trip started with a one-way ticket to Little Rock, Arkansas and included visits to some of the top aquaculture companies and facilities in the world. Swanson witnessed the gathering up of over 15,000 pounds of catfish from a 20-acre pond, the sorting process to remove all smaller catfish, and the loading and weighing out of up to 500 pounds of fish into each of 35 tanks on two hauling trucks. Hard work, organization and professionalism were evident by all people responsible for the raising, handling and hauling of the catfish. The fish tanks were flushed with cool, clean water and salt and ice was added to make the journey more comfortable and safe for the fish. Swanson rode with Mr. Fish owner/operator Roger Coffman in one of two large bob trucks the entire 1600 mile, 34 hour non-stop journey to Arizona. The catfish were checked and monitored throughout the journey and treated with the best of care to ensure they stayed cool and calm and were given ample oxygen. On Friday, May 16 all but 2 of the 8,600 strong, healthy catfish had survived the marathon journey and were ready for a 12-hour day of stocking into 19 lakes. “I know without a doubt that Mr. Fish is one of the best, if not the best, fish hauler and transporter in America. We are fortunate to have a long-term contract with them to deliver catfish and sunfish to our Urban Fishing waters for many years to come,” boasted Swanson.
May 26-31 catfish stocking status and lake monitoring
All urban lakes will be stocked with catfish the week of May 26-31, with the exception of Water Ranch Lake in Gilbert (see golden alga article below). Cool, favorable weather last week helped to slow biological activity that elevates lake pH levels. Biologists will continue to monitor lake water quality every two weeks to ensure conditions are suitable for catfish stockings. If pH levels exceed 9.5 or golden alga blooms occur, biologists will not stock a lake and will instead reroute the fish to other, nearby urban waters.
Golden alga flares up at Water Ranch Lake – no fish stocking
On Friday, May 24 anglers at Gilbert’s Water Ranch Lake began noticing odd behaviors in fish and a few dead ones. Catfish were observed swimming slowly in the shallows oblivious to human activity. The Town of Gilbert’s lake management consultant had the lake tested for golden alga and the results were positive. The timing over the holiday weekend caused an unfortunate delay in the algaecide treatment of the lake leading to higher fish mortalities. Water Ranch Lake will be aggressively treated May 26-27 to control the problem golden alga before it can take out more fish. Recent water quality tests for conductivity and alkalinity showed that Water Ranch Lake had higher values than most other lakes, making it more susceptible to golden alga blooms and fish kills, but also explaining why the golden alga problem here is worse than any of the other five affected lakes. Biologists and lake managers are working to put a stop to the reoccurring algae blooms and fish kills, and are determined to win this battle. There will be no catfish stockings the week of May 26-31, or until the golden alga can be brought back under control and further tests are negative.
Urban fishing report
Fishing for catfish continues to be good to excellent the week of stocking. The top bait for the 14-20 inch channel catfish are stink baits fished on the bottom. Other baits such as shrimp and worms have worked well. Anglers are catching good numbers of sunfish on small worms or mealworms. Cats have been biting best mid morning and in the evenings. Recent stockings have included some big catfish in the 3-5 pound range. At Green Valley lakes (Payson) fishing is good for trout with most fish biting bait such as worms or PowerBait. Bluegill, crappie and bass are biting well on small jigs and worms fished under a bobber at Green Valley.
- Phoenix Area Lakes – May 16 stocked catfish. Next stocking, catfish the week of May 26-31.
- Tucson Area Lakes – May 16 stocked catfish. Next stocking, catfish the week of May 26-31.
- Green Valley Lakes (Payson) – May 9 stocked trout (double stocking, last of season) No further trout stockings until mid October.