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AZ: Autumn is Just Around the Corner – It's Topwater Time

AZ: Autumn is Just Around the Corner – It's Topwater Time
AZ: Autumn is Just Around the Corner – It's Topwater Time
AZ: Autumn is Just Around the Corner – It's Topwater Time

Summer is rapidly waning as the days get shorter and the nights get longer, prompting a cyclic seasonal opportunity in the large desert reservoirs – it’s topwater time.

“Forage fish such as threadfin shad are often feeding actively on plankton near the water’s surface, and predatory fish such as bass are aggressively feeding on the shad, sometimes with dramatic food-chain results – large surface boils,” said Rory Aikens, the fishing report editor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Aikens said the topwater bite is definitely underway right now and will continue getting better and better as the season progresses.

“Predatory fish such as largemouth bass and striped bass will continue getting more aggressive as we transition into autumn conditions. The fish are compelled to incessantly feed when possible to improve their body conditioning before winter arrives,” Aikens explained.

This is the time of year when anglers can catch lots of bass – sometimes in a hurry.

“It can be an absolute hoot at times. When bass are in a feeding frenzy, you might have multiple fish pummeling your lure and knocking it about like pinball gone berserk. You can even get to laughing so much it’s tough to set the hook,” Aikens advised.

Here are some of the waters to consider for your topwater adventure:

Lake Pleasant, which has largemouth bass and striped bass. You might even hook into a smallmouth bass, although they are not very common here.

Lake Havasu for both striped bass and largemouth bass. This lake also has a robust population of feisty smallmouth bass.

Lake Powell for striped bass, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and even delectable walleye. With around 1,700 miles of shoreline to choose from, you can find vast stretches of water that haven’t been fished recently.

Lake Roosevelt, which is Arizona’s largest inland reservoir, is still going through what biologists refer to as the “new lake syndrome.” This is not only one of Arizona’s most productive bass and catfish fisheries, on any given day you might just land your biggest bass ever. You definitely don’t want to miss the topwater season at “Rosy.”

Canyon Lake, which many consider to be the land of the lunkers. Although it only has 1,500 surface acres, this long narrow lake is bounded by steep canyon cliffs, providing huge bass deep hiding cover where they lurk and ambush prey. On any given day, it’s possible for a new state record bass to be caught here.


Apache Lake is well along the comeback trail from golden algae blooms much earlier this decade. This scenic lake along the famed Apache Trail is once again putting smiles on angler’s faces, and not just from the spectacular scenery.

Lake Mead, which is the largest man-made reservoir in North America. You can catch striped bass and largemouth bass along miles of secluded shoreline, especially in the basins located in Arizona. This is a great place to experience desert solitaire in a unique landscape where millions of years of Earth’s geologic history are exposed to the elements. In fact, this rugged landscape provided the almost surreal backdrop for the movie, “Planet of the Apes.”

“This is definitely the time of year when you can experience terrific fishing adventures and catch lots of great memories,” Aikens said. “With any luck, maybe I’ll see you out there.”

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