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    2009 May - Desert Rat - The Premier Hunting and Fishing Blog of the Southwest!

    Archive for May, 2009

    Rory Aiken’s Fishing Report

    What a Memorial Day weekend – the fishing was great. Plus on Saturday, the expected rain kept the hordes away and the temperatures wonderfully mild. The parking lot at Lake Pleasant’s 10-lane was half empty Saturday morning. What a deal!

    From the angler reports I have received so far, the long-awaited great post-spawn bite finally made its visit to many lakes this past weekend. Bartlett, Roosevelt, Alamo, Havasu, Canyon, Apache and Saguaro all seemed to be providing lots of action, especially when the rains blessed our parched soils with welcome relief (dove and quail seasons should be awesome).

    Plus, a lot of the mountain lakes also provided bountiful fishing thrills during the holiday weekend. Anglers at Upper Lake Mary near Flagstaff had a northern pike bonanza using everything from black-and-silver Rapalas to inline spinners.

    Lower Lake Mary seemed to do okay as well, but this is a very shallow, ephemeral lake. Even though it has hordes of trout, the water quality will slowly erode as we move into summer. So go catch the trout now. They are fat footballs (we mostly stocked them in late winter).

    One of my favorite fishing lakes (it is a little scenically challenged compared to most other mountain lakes), Kinnickinick, once again produced a nice brown trout – at night. Those who love catching big browns will want to note this fishing strategy. Voracious browns (and other large predatory trout) will likely be feeding at night (quite often on other but smaller trout). So night fishing in some of the high country lakes might just get you that speckled monster salmonid.

    By the way, occasional thunderstorms and sprinkles are expected the rest of the week in the mountains, so if you have a chance to get up there, go. The fishing is great, the weather is near perfect, and the holiday crowds should be a fading memory, so the wildlife should come back out from hiding.

    As expected, Powell was on fire for 1- to 2-pound smallmouth bass and delectable walleye, with lots of striper action thrown into between wind gusts to keep anglers enthralled. By the way, the water is rising four feet per week right now, with lots of banks sloughing into the water being combined with vast acres of newly flooded vegetation – I have just described walleye heaven.

    Another spot that broke loose during the holiday weekend was Lees Ferry. On a scale of 1-to10, one angler rated it as a 9. Can you imagine catching-and-releasing 100 wild, tail-dancing rainbows in a single day at one of the most picturesque tail-water fisheries on this planet? It was one of my tips for escaping the crowds last weekend, and it sounds like anglers hit a bonanza there. The crazy crystal ball sometimes works so well it scares me at times.

    I haven’t heard much yet from the White Mountains, but I have little doubt anglers who went there will be replaying sweet catching moments in their dreams for months to come as the triple-digit fidgets visit the deserts.

    I did have a pair of anglers leave a phone message (no names) to say the trout they caught (and ate) from both the West Fork and East Fork of the Black River had lots of grasshoppers in their bellies. Kids and adults – match the hatch, even if you are fishing with spinning gear or old cane poles (or alder branches for that matter). Live grasshoppers wiggling on the surface can really get the trout (and youngsters) excited.

    We have a waxing moon with the first quarter on May 30 and a full moon on June 7. The brighter the moon, the more active the fish are at night. However on the flip side, the brighter the moon, the less effective are the submersible fishing lights. If you do fish on moon-bright nights, use dark lures. Sounds counterintuitive, but the dark lures make a better silhouette the fish can see from below. Noisy lures can work great. Black buzzbaits at night can get exciting at times. If you can’t find black lures in the stores, take your old banged up ones and zap them with some glossy black enamel spray paint. I did a chrome Rat-L-Trap with black tiger stripes to keep the flash while creating a bolder silhouette.

    So go catch some great night fishing memories. Maybe I’ll see you out there.

    Kids can take their parents fishing for free on June 6 and 13

    Hey kids, if your parents didn’t get a fishing license yet this year, you can still take them fishing for free during the first two Saturdays of June, advises Arizona Game and Fish Department officials.

    Arizona’s Free Fishing Days celebrating National Fishing and Boating Week are on two consecutive Saturdays, June 6 and 13.

    “With most of our lakes full for a second year in a row thanks to excellent winter rains and snow pack, this is a phenomenal time to take your parent’s out fishing,” said Rory Aikens, the department’s fishing report editor. “It’s up to you kids to make sure your parents don’t suffer from an outdoor recreation deficiency.”

    Check out the latest fishing report below so you can best plan your fishing outing. The department’s Web site also lists the latest fishing clinics in case your parents need some basic tutelage on the angling arts.

    “Remember kids, at any time of year you can sign your parents up for any of our fishing clinics even if they don’t have a fishing license. Those who are registered for a fishing clinic don’t need a license during the hours and location of the clinic,” Aikens advised.

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    Posted on 31st May 2009
    Under: Arizona News, Fishing, General | No Comments »

    It’s never too hot to dream about hunting

    From my friend Doug Burt, AZGFD PIO

    It’s never too hot to dream about hunting

    The temperatures have hit 100 degrees and summer is finally here. While temperatures like these might have some folks running indoors for the air-conditioning,personally I’m glad the heat is on.

    After 20-plus years in Arizona, I’ve learned to appreciate the dry summer heat and all the great outdoor activities it brings. The skies are blue nearly every day, and trips to the lake or to the mid desert offer great treks along trickling creek bottoms.

    Another thing the heat of June marks is the fall draw deadline on Tuesday, June 9, and the dreaming begins about going hunting after that elusive whitetail or monster mule deer. And, let’s not forget the promise of Arizona’s extensive small game season for dove, quail, rabbits, squirrel and waterfowl - I can see the covey rise now.

    Right now, the two-year hunt guidelines are being revised, and the department wants to hear your thoughts. The guidelines are used to formulate the hunt recommendations, which translate to the hunting seasons that you participate in. The focus for the revision is for standardization, simplification, and to increase hunter participation. Comments can be sent by e-mail or mail through the end of May, and a series of public meetings will follow in June.

    There is still an open invitation to sportsmen’s groups, rod and gun clubs and conservation organizations to join the department’s Hunter Heritage Workgroup meeting June 20 at Vincent Ranch on the Mogollon Rim east of Payson. The department received a financial grant from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) to start a sportsmen’s group based mentor and hunter recruitment game camp program, and this should be a key topic of discussion. For details, contact Craig McMullen at cmcmullen@azgfd.gov.

    Now is a great time to start taking note of wildlife activities when you’re out at the lake or doing some desert exploring. I’ve been seeing a lot of dove activity and it looks like we should have another great dove opener in September. The quail are still calling and the babies are starting to show up - let’s keep our quail fingers crossed that they survive this drying trend and make it to the opener in October. If you want to keep your shooting and hunting skills sharp, rabbit season runs year round, and despite the old tale, healthy rabbits harvested in the summer are fine to eat. Hunting the washes in mid-desert elevations can prove to be very productive at first light.

    Until next time - enjoy the heat, happy hunting and be safe.

    Doug Burt is the department’s public information officer for hunting and shooting sports. He’s also involved in the Hunter Heritage Workgroup, which is focused on increasing public awareness, acceptance and participation in hunting. He has been an avid small game, upland and waterfowl hunter since moving to Arizona in 1986, from Michigan.

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    Posted on 31st May 2009
    Under: Arizona News, General, Hunting | No Comments »

    Wanna Follow Desert Rat on Twitter?

    OK - I just signed up and I’m skeptical. If there’s enough interest, I’ll keep at it.

    You can find me at MMac_DesertRat

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    Posted on 31st May 2009
    Under: General, Hunting | No Comments »

    Plinking and Informal Target Shooting Top Popularity List

    Plinking and Informal Target Shooting Top Popularity List

    More than half of shooters went target shooting in the past month, and plinking or informal target shooting was by far the most popular activity, according to a recent survey. This held true whether the survey respondents were shooting rifles or handguns.

    In the March 2009 survey from Southwick Associates, approximately 53% of shooters said they had gone target shooting in the past month. Among the target shooters, about 56% shot rifles and 51% shot handguns.

    Whether they shot rifles or handguns, the majority of shooters (74% of rifle shooters and 77% of handgun shooters) engaged in plinking or informal target shooting. Only 8% of survey respondents who went target shooting engaged in competitive shooting activities.

    By participating in HunterSurvey.com or TargetShootingSurvey.com, you will be automatically entered to win a monthly drawing for a $100 gift certificate at your favorite outdoor retailer. Better yet, you will also be automatically entered in the annual drawing for a $1,000 outdoor equipment shopping spree! To get started, go to www.HunterSurvey.com or www.TargetShootingSurvey.com and click Take the Survey.

    Launched in 2006, HunterSurvey.com and TargetShootingSurvey.com help the outdoor equipment industry, government agencies and conservation organizations track consumer activities and expenditure trends. The information above represents only a small sample of the vast amount of data that is available from the complete survey results. The results are scientifically analyzed to reflect all U.S. anglers. Find out how a subscription to the complete survey data can help your business, government agency, or organization.


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    Posted on 27th May 2009
    Under: General, Hunting, Press Releases | No Comments »

    Supreme Court Nominee 2nd Amendment Adversary?

    From this article: KEN BLACKWELL: Obama Declares War on America’s Gun Owners With Supreme Court Pick

    A snippet:

    Last year the Supreme Court handed down the landmark decision in D.C. v. Heller, holding that the Second Amendment right to bear arms applies to individual citizens in their private lives. The ruling marked a turning point in gun rights in this country.

    In the past year, the biggest question courts now face is whether the Second Amendment applies to the states. That may sound crazy, but the reality is that the Bill of Rights only controls the federal government, it doesn’t apply directly to states or cities. Only the parts of the Bill of Rights that are “incorporated” through the Fourteenth Amendment apply to the states.

    Since the Heller decision, only two federal appeals courts have written on the Second Amendment. That’s six judges out of about 170. Of those six, three said the Second Amendment does apply to the states. And those judges were out of the liberal Ninth Circuit in California, and included a judge appointed by Bill Clinton and another appointed by Jimmy Carter. — Even leftist judges can get this.

    But not Judge Sonia Sotomayor. She is one of only three federal appellate judges in America to issue a court opinion saying that the Second Amendment does not apply to states. The case was Maloney v. Cuomo, and it came down this past January.

    Gun owners better keep an eye on this nominee…

    Read the full article on the link above.

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    Posted on 26th May 2009
    Under: General, Politics and More | No Comments »

    AZGFD States Position Regarding CBD Notice Of Intent

    Arizona Game and Fish Department states its position with regard to advocacy group’s “Notice of Intent to Sue” over jaguar capture

    May 22, 2009

    On May 12, the Arizona Game and Fish Department received a Notice of Intent to Sue from the Center for Biological Diversity for what the Center claims are “violations of Section 9 of the Federal Endangered Species Act for taking jaguar.”

    It should be noted that at the beginning of April, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and others requested an outside investigation, in addition to the department’s internal review, into the capture of the jaguar known as Macho B. The Center for Biological Diversity issued a news release around that time also expressing their desire for such an investigation. The investigation is currently being conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

    Only the Center for Biological Diversity can explain why they have issued a notice of intent to sue the Game and Fish Department prior to the conclusion of the investigation they advocated for and supported in April.

    While the Department is still reviewing the notice, our initial read does not indicate any substantive difference in the allegations in the notice and those issues that are part of the ongoing investigation.

    The Department continues to fully cooperate with the investigation. In the event the investigation or our ongoing review reveals any inappropriate conduct or actions, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and Department will take appropriate measures.

    The Department would like to offer further comment on these issues, but due to the ongoing investigation, we are unable to do so until the investigation is concluded. However, our silence should not be construed as agreement with claims made by individuals or groups in media reports or in other venues.

    Click to view Notice Of Intent To Sue document

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    Posted on 25th May 2009
    Under: Arizona News, Conservation Groups, General, Hunting, Politics and More, Press Releases | No Comments »

    Remembering The Fallen

    Please take a moment today and reflect that Memorial Day is not all about barbeques and fun at the lake. Pause and remember those who have sacrificed, so that we are able to enjoy all of those things which we sometimes take for granted.

    They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning
    We will remember them.

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    Posted on 25th May 2009
    Under: General | No Comments »

    Don’t Forget The Links!

    I have been adding and adding to the links that you see on the right hand of the page. Rarely are these purely “link love” link exchanges, though a couple of them are. There may be one or two on there that are affiliates - supposedly I get a percentage if someone goes there and buys something. That hasn’t happened yet…

    The vast majority of links though are sites that I think are interesting, valuable, or truly are Desert Rat “partners”. When you are sitting around surfing the net - I encourage you to visit some of the links I have listed. I doubt you will be disappointed.

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    Posted on 24th May 2009
    Under: Arizona News, General, Hunting | No Comments »

    NRA Attendance at 60,000 Plus

    I’ve been wondering about attendance at the convention that was held here last week. Thanks to Great Satan Inc for providing some info.

    Supposedly, the convention ended up being the biggest ever in Phoenix. With over 6000 pai attendees, the banquet was the biggest ever held in the state!

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    Posted on 23rd May 2009
    Under: Arizona News, General, Hunting | No Comments »

    Repeal of Gun Ban in National Parks Won’t Take Effect Until February

    Repeal of Gun Ban in National Parks Won’t Take Effect Until February

    President Obama signed the gun law Friday as part of a measure creating new rules for the credit card industry, but because the credit card law won’t take effect for nine months, the gun measure also will be delayed

    From this article on FoxNews.com


    Spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said the Interior Department will follow Congress’ directive and put the new firearms law into effect in late February 2010.

    Bryan Faehner, associate director of the National Parks Conservation Association, praised the Interior Department’s decision.

    “We are pleased, because that provides more time that our parks will remain safe and free from shotguns, rifles and semiautomatic weapons,” Faehner said.

    “We hope that the American public and members of Congress will have more time to understand the far-reaching repercussions of this outrageous and disturbing law that has nothing to do with credit cards and will only put park visitors at risk,” Faehner said.

    Until February, rules adopted during the administration of President Ronald Reagan will remain in place. They severely restrict guns in the national parks, generally requiring that they be locked or stored in a glove compartment or trunk.

    “As Interior prepares to implement the new law, the department will work to understand and interpret its implications for our national parks and wildlife refuges, with public safety and the safety of our employees as our foremost consideration,” Barkoff said. “For the time being, the current Reagan administration regulations governing possession of firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges remain in place.”

    The Interior Department’s decision drew immediate criticism from Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, chief sponsor of the gun measure.

    Spokesman John Hart said Coburn will offer the gun amendment to other bills in order to implement the decision quicker.

    Read the full article at the link above….

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    Posted on 22nd May 2009
    Under: Arizona News, Conservation Groups, General, Hunting, Politics and More | No Comments »

    More on “booth babes”

    Not too long ago, I made a tongue-in-cheek post featuring some ladies I encountered at the NRA Convention. Well the next day that post was linked from another site, and I received a massive amount of traffic. I beat my previous record by about 6x !

    Now, I’m a bit of a country boy, and sort of naive to boot. I did notice at the convention that there was a lot of pretty women working those booths! I bet easily 50% of the booths contained at least one pretty girl. Not all of them were scantily clad and/or well-endowed. There was pretty girls in business suits too. And cowgirl gear. Little did I know, the topic of “booth babes” is a hot topic. Take a look at this debate that simmered over on a Field and Stream Blog.

    I admit that I was surprised that this phenomenon hasn’t died at the hands of political correctness. Sure the “gun crowd” may be male-dominated, but it’s certainly not “male only”. I’m a people watcher, and I watched the ladies in the crowd interacting with the “booth babes”. I didn’t see any mad housewives, didn’t see girlfriends hitting their beaus; I didn’t see Grandmas tut-tutting and rolling their eyes. For the most part, the booth ladies I talked to were polite, funny, and fairly well-versed in the products they were pitching. The crowd didn’t seem offended in the least. They seemed to take it in stride.

    So what do you think? Should we be past the days when pretty girls were needed to hawk products? I know you probably like them - but do we really need them?

    Arizona Cowgirls

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    Posted on 22nd May 2009
    Under: Arizona News, General, Hunting, Interviews, Politics and More | 1 Comment »

    Colorado is requiring boat inspections for invasive mussels

    From AZGFD:


    May 20, 2009

    Colorado is requiring boat inspections for invasive mussels

    PHOENIX — Arizona boaters heading to Colorado need to be aware of new regulations in that state requiring state-certified inspections of boats for zebra and quagga mussels prior to launching on any Colorado Lake, reservoir or waterway.

    “Mandatory boat inspections have proved successful in other states at stopping the spread of invasive mussels,” said Elizabeth Brown, Colorado Department of Wildlife invasive species coordinator.

    The new Colorado regulations limit inspections to trailered watercraft. Hand-launched crafts, including kayaks, rafts, canoes and belly boats may launch without an inspection.

    Zebra and quagga mussels were discovered in Lake Pueblo in January 2008. Subsequent sampling confirmed the presence of zebra and or quagga mussel larvae in six other locations in Colorado.

    Arizona wildlife authorities said that since their discovery in Lake Mead in 2007, prolific quagga mussels have spread to Lake Mohave, Lake Havasu and via the Central Arizona Project Canal to Lake Pleasant near Phoenix. The invasive mussels have also spread widely along waterways in California.

    “All Arizona boaters should drain, clean and dry their boats after each visit to any lake to prevent spreading quagga mussels or other unwanted aquatic nuisance species,” advises Tom McMahon, the invasive species coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

    For more information on invasive mussels, please visit Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Web site at www.azgfd.gov/h_f/zebra_mussels.shtml
    or the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Web site at: www.wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/Profiles/InvasiveSpecies/ZebraandQuaggaMussels.htm

    Media note: Media contact for the Colorado Division of Wildlife is Public Information Officer Jerry Neal at (303) 291-7161

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    Posted on 21st May 2009
    Under: Arizona News, Fishing, General, Press Releases | No Comments »