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Arizona Anglers Round Table
Meeting Summary for July 14, 2003

Attendees: Various
Location: AGFD Wildlife Building
Time: 1800-2100
Host/Facilitator: Jim Warnecke (AGFD Region 6)
Note Taker: Laura Lutz

Jim Warneke, Region 6 Fisheries Program Manager Arizona Game and Fish Department, started facilitation at 1800 by welcoming guests, laying down meeting ground rules, and attendee introductions.

Fishing Lake Pleasant: Paul Hodges, tournament “dropshot” bass fisherman, provided information on his scouting strategies for Lake Pleasant (employing techniques used in terrestrial game hunting). Paul maintains that Lake Pleasant is one of the toughest lakes to fish and indicates that he puts considerable effort into: mapping-out drainages and geographical indicators, river channels, lake fluctuation, boat positioning relating to current, and food chain dynamics. He also demonstrated his technique of documenting lake topography by using a series of landscape photographs. He uses this to find fish habitat obscured by fluctuating water levels.

He has noticed a considerable increase in the number of bluegills, and consequently recommends bluegill, rather than shad pattern lures. Paul also passed around examples of artificial bait he uses regularly.

Paul also notices an increase in fish movement and feeding during summer, and suggests moving from spot to spot rather than spending a lot of time at any one location.

Boating Access: MariAnn Koloszar, Boating Access Coordinator for AGFD, provided updates on boating access and navigational aids.

Saguaro Lake: Forest Service is working on repairing the courtesy docks on ramps #1 and #2, as well as replacing existing wooden docks with synthetic docks on ramps #1, #2, and Bagley Flats. Mesquite flats buoy line was doglegged in approximately another 50ft. per Law Enforcement request. Damaged buoy at Elephant rock was replaced.

Canyon Lake & Saguaro Lake: A suggestion to the Forest Service will be made to put in a grant application to resurface or replace ramps to improve traction.

Roosevelt Lake: A project has been awarded for Badger Ramp for an extension of the ramp.

Bartlett Lake: A project may be awarded for Jojoba Launch ramp to be extended. Water levels predicted to drop: 4ft by end of July, 12ft in August, 5ft in September, and another 7 ft in October.

MariAnn welcomed any and all comments or suggestions on boating access. Feel free to contact MariAnn at (602) 789-3481 or Ken Branson at (602) 789-3473.

The UofA USGS Fisheries/Wildlife Co-op Unit: Scott Bonar, University of Arizona Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit Program Leader, gave a power-point presentation summarizing his involvement in fisheries research and management. He began by explaining the Cooperative Unit’s mission to facilitate cooperation among the Federal government, colleges and universities, the States, and private organizations for cooperative programs of research and education relating to fish and wildlife. The Unit’s goal is to address critical issues for management of aquatic resources in the Western United States. Scott is involved in studies relating to native fish and introduced fish interactions, fisheries management, and control of aquatic nuisance species.

Currently, Scott’s research projects include: Interactions between native and introduced fishes in the Verde River; impact of northern pike illegally introduced into southwestern reservoirs; effects of habitat on native-introduced fish interactions; as well as thermal tolerance of selected native fishes and sport fishes of Arizona.

Scott emphasized three main contributing factors of native fish population declines: habitat loss; over-harvest; and nonnative competition and predation. He also gave some of the history of fisheries in Arizona. Scott expressed the importance of maintaining sport-fishing opportunities in Arizona, while continuing to find ways of preserving Arizona’s native fish assemblage.

Donuts for Deputies: John Ramsey, Law Enforcement Officer for Maricopa County Lakes, gave an overview of his primary duties as a Lakes Officer, and voiced concern over budget issues and how they affect his ability to do his job. He explained that budget shortfalls resulted in a loss of law enforcement, watercraft, and manpower, subsequently decreasing job efficiency. When asked what the public can do to help, John suggested providing political input for budget allocations and by contacting local magistrates and courts to encourage tougher penalties for water user violations.

Lake Pleasant Fisheries Research and Management: Scott Bryan, Research Specialist Arizona Game and Fish Department, gave a brief summary of Lake Pleasant fisheries issues including: striper reproduction; white bass, bluegill, and carp recruitment; nutrient flow; and smallmouth documentation.

Scott said that striped bass were found reabsorbing eggs, indicating poor spawn, while bluegill, white bass, and carp were found to be abundant. Scott reminds the group to document any sightings of smallmouth in Lake Pleasant. Lake Pleasant’s nutrient flow has been under scrutiny recently, and investigations into the cause are being considered.

Bill Luke Big Bass Days: Dan Mayberry from Bill Luke Big Bass Days informed the group of efforts and donations including the safety booth and possibilities of resource renewal in the form of fry fish.

Concerns arose pertaining to the negative impacts of tournament fishing on the Lake Pleasant fishery, and how to alleviate some of the pressure placed on bass caught in tournaments. Suggestions included:

- Changing dates of tournament
- Adequate live-well systems
- Catch limit reductions

Action Item: Dan said he will provide a summary of the 2003 BLBBD event to Larry for dissemination shortly (w/in a month?).

Lee’s Ferry Issues: Larry Riley, Fisheries Branch Chief Arizona Game and Fish Department, gave a brief update on coldwater fishing near Lee’s Ferry. Fish densities have increased and ratings on fishing in the area are earning a score of 7 on a 1-10 scale. He also wanted to correct misinterpretations of the suppression studies being conducted down-river to research management techniques for the endangered humpback chub. He wanted to emphasize that the trout fishery near Lee’s Ferry will not be adversely affected by these studies and efforts will continue to manage that area as a prime trout fishery. Flow modifications in the canyon will continue, and are expected to reduce the success of fish recruitment. Lee’s Ferry trout may reap a benefit from this by reducing the likelihood of over-recruitment.

Commission Order 40: Larry continued by informing the group of Commission Order 40 and its revision process and issues. Modifications to fishing regulations often result from public input and suggestions, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department welcomes angler comment during August-September. Management proposals are due to the Commission by October. The regulations are also in the process of being revised to incorporate a more comprehensive and reader-friendly format.

Golden Natives Update: Rob Bettaso, Native Fish Program Manager Arizona Game and Fish Department, gave an update on Apache and Gila trout recovery efforts in 2003.

Apache Trout: Some of the planned recovery actions for this summer have hit a roadblock and for those specific actions reassessments are in progress. Planning continues apace for other apache trout recovery actions. Recently, several favorable media events have given very positive press to our Apache trout recovery efforts.

Congratulations to Trout Unlimited for writing a successful grant proposal (Bring Back the Natives) through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Again, the strong partnership between the angler groups, agencies, and other affiliations continue to bare fruit and help the cause.

An Apache trout workday was held on June 21 to remove crayfish from Burro Creek.

Gila Tout: AGFD’s Director has agreed to sign the Revised Recovery Plan after minor edits are made. Other signatories include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Forest Service, and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

Planning efforts continue toward reintroduction of Gila trout into the Blue River drainage, Chitty Creek, and West Fork Oak Creek. In conjunction with a proposed downlisting rule, a draft 4-d rule is being developed to allow for eventual development of sportfishing opportunities after downlisting.

Surveys are planned for Dude Creek (Verde River drainage) in August to determine population status and look for evidence of reproduction. Monitoring will also be scheduled for the reintroduced population in Raspberry Creek in the Blue River drainage.

Roosevelt Lake Fisheries Issues: Jim Warnecke gave a brief update on Roosevelt Lake concerning fisheries issues including slots, largemouth response to current water levels, and predictions for short and long-term angling quality.

Sportfish/Angler Outreach: Larry Riley began by explaining some of Arizona Game and Fish Department’s current outreach efforts including: fishing clinics, water works wonders campaign, marketing/advertising using T.V. and radio spots, posters, flyers, bumper stickers (Bite This!), etc. Larry then solicited comment on outreach strategies and ideas. One suggestion was to add more effort to cater to school-age children.

Saguaro Lake as a Blue Ribbon Largemouth Fishery: Several anglers expressed concerns about the apparent lack of research on the Saguaro Lake bass fishery. Anglers have begun to notice a marked decline in large bass, and fear that bass fishing on this lake will continue to decline. Anglers suggest that increased fishing pressure on Saguaro is having a serious impact on bass populations as well as bass size and weight. Anglers suggest using creel surveys as a way to determine angler use.

Action Item: Upon requests by several anglers, Jim asked those interested in a volunteer creel program at area lakes to email him to participate.

Next Round Table: The next one is scheduled for September 22, 6-9 pm (AGFD Region 6 Office, Mesa).


Document AZ Anglers Round Table Summary.20030714.doc



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