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Game and Fish event June 4 at Goldwater Lake

Luis Mendoza, left, casts his line into Goldwater Lake in June 2015 while Mike Talayumptewa waits for a bite. Novice anglers can catch their first fish with Arizona Game and Fish department help this Saturday, June 4, at AZGFD's ninth annual First Fishing Clinic.
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier, file

Luis Mendoza, left, casts his line into Goldwater Lake in June 2015 while Mike Talayumptewa waits for a bite. Novice anglers can catch their first fish with Arizona Game and Fish department help this Saturday, June 4, at AZGFD's ninth annual First Fishing Clinic.

As daytime high temperatures climb into the upper 70s and low- to mid-80s here in the late spring and early summer months, anglers will be flocking to area lakes stocked with fish.

And yet while experienced fishers hit the water running, what are novices to do?

From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday, June 4, the Arizona Game and Fish Department will host the ninth annual First Fish Fishing Clinic at Goldwater Lake.

Game and Fish officials say the clinic is designed to help folks catch their first fish with department personnel and volunteers who will be available to help with equipment and instruction.

There’s a special surprise in store starting Saturday, though.

This summer on the lake, located 3 miles south of Prescott off Senator Highway, anglers will have a unique opportunity to catch a Gila trout, one of Arizona’s two native trout species being stocked in the lake’s waters.

Game and Fish officials say Mora National Fish Hatchery in north-central New Mexico is providing retired brood stock for the clinic. They add that anglers could catch a world-record Gila trout. The record catch of 3 pounds, 7 ounces was achieved by Bo Nelson at Frye Mesa Reservoir near Safford on March 19, 2011.

Mora National Fish Hatchery biologists say they work to restore and recover the threatened Gila trout, a fish found only in the high desert and mountain watersheds of the Gila, Salt and Verde river drainages in New Mexico and Arizona. Biologists there maintain wild brood stocks of the rare Gila trout to keep them in as much of a natural setting as possible.

The June 4 clinic is sponsored in part by the City of Prescott and other local vendors. Parking is free during the event. Game and Fish representatives say they will provide fishing equipment, although participants are encouraged to bring their own.

“While many people have had this experience, this year is a great opportunity to catch a memorable fish and create a once-in-a-lifetime memory,” said Nick Walter of Arizona Game and Fish.

The event coincides with Arizona’s Free Fishing Day and is a part of National Fishing and Boating Week. Although bag limits are in effect, a fishing license is not required. The lake will be stocked with Gila and rainbow trout and raffle items will be given away.


While it takes some skill to catch a fish, the equipment and bait that you use are equally important.

Dick’s Sporting Goods in Prescott Valley sells a variety of spin-casting, bait-casting or trolling rods, reels and combos, as well as fly-fishing rods. The store off Highway 69 near Sam’s Club also gives customers choices for bait, including hard baits and lures, flies and saltwater lures, among others.

Walmart, which has two locations in Prescott (Gail Gardner Way, Highway 69 and Prescott Lakes Parkway) and one in Prescott Valley (Glassford Hill Road), also sells fishing gear and supplies.

“Among the many factors to consider when choosing fishing gear are where and how you’ll fish, the type of fish you intend to catch and where you’ll cast your line,” Walmart says on its website. “The gear you need will also vary based on the catch.”

To catch larger fish, such as Gila trout, fishers need a sturdier fishing rod, a heavier gauge of fishing line and a bigger hook, for example.

“Each type of fish will require a specific bait and a specific lure,” the website adds. “It’s a good idea to purchase bait, lures and hooks for a variety of species.

“Finally, consider where you’ll cast your line. If you’re fishing a lake with a lot of debris or visible algae, you’ll need a fast-acting reel, such as a spinning, open-face design, to allow you to make corrections quickly. You’ll also need different gear depending on whether you’re fishing from the shore or a boat.”

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