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Top Places To Fish In Arizona

Mark Armstrong
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When it comes to fishing in Arizona it can be difficult to narrow down a good location, especially if you have a particular species in mind that you’d like to target. But with lots of sunshine and scenery, Arizona can be a great place for a fishing adventure, whether you’re after cold water species or warm water ones.

But where’s the best place to go? And what can you catch? We’ve put together this quick guide so that you can check out some of our favorite fishing spots in the state.

> Read our ultimate guide to fishing

Top Places To Fish In Arizona - PinterestPin

Why Arizona?

When you think of Arizona, you may think of hot desert landscapes and the Grand Canyon, but the Southwestern state actually has a pretty diverse landscape, with pine forests and high elevations that regularly see snow in the winter, such as Flagstaff.

However, for the most part, Arizona has a dry climate that sees hot summer temperatures and mild winters.

For being such a dry, desert state, there are – perhaps surprisingly – a lot of lakes and rivers, including the mighty Colorado River that runs through the Grand Canyon.

Types Of Fish To Catch

There are many types of fish that are either native to Arizona or have been introduced for game fishing purposes. Many of the lakes and rivers are stocked regularly, particularly during the summer months, with schedules and species varying depending on the location.

Trout, including rainbow trout and brown trout can be found in many of the cooler rivers and lakes in Arizona. The rare and native Apache trout can also be found in some waters in the White Mountains.

Bass fishing can be popular in Arizona, with a variety of bass species to be found, with largemouth and smallmouth bass being widely available in many lakes.

Catfish are another target species in Arizona. There are also fishing competitions and tournaments held in several locations, with the Arizona Fish and Game department hosting their own challenges for trout, bass and catfish.

Other common catches can include crappie, bluegill, sunfish and at higher elevations, walleye and pike.

Should I Worry About A License?

To fish in any public waters in Arizona you will need a fishing license. That goes for both Arizona residents and non-residents who are 10 years of age and older.

Some stores and visitor centers within national or state owned parks may sell fishing licenses but it can be worth checking in advance before you set off on your trip. You can also purchase a license online through the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

5 Best Places To Go Fishing Around The Grand Canyon State

1. Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu - fishing in ArizonaPin
Courtesy: Andrew Wilkinson on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Lake Havasu can be a fantastic spot if you’re looking to catch bass. The clear water lake is formed from the Colorado River and over the last couple of decades has seen a focus on the improvement of habitats for fish.

This means there are plenty of opportunities to catch daily limits of largemouth, smallmouth and striped bass. Fishing can be good all year, with spring being a particularly good time but because of the location, on the border with California, spring can often begin a little earlier compared to other Arizona locations.

There are boat ramps at Lake Havasu State Park, as well as beaches, camping and shore fishing. Dock fishing can also be found on the lake.

2. Lees Ferry

Lees Ferry in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area can be the place to be if you’re looking for rainbow trout. This section of the Colorado River flows through some of the country’s most spectacular geological scenery at Marble Canyon. It is believed to be have more than 20,000 trout per mile and can be an ideal spot for fly fishing.

Video: Fishing Lees Ferry

It can get pretty hot from spring through fall, as there is little to no shade available, so sun protection is recommended. However, fishing can be great all year round, with waters remaining cool, even in the hotter months.

There’s a campground at Lees Ferry, which can offer a little shade, bathrooms and a place to spend the night.

3. Alamo Lake

Alamo lake in Arizona - great for fishingPin
Courtesy: Los Angeles District on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Alamo Lake is thought to have some of Arizona’s best largemouth bass fishing opportunities and can be a great place for crappie fishing. With the surrounding desert landscape, Alamo Lake also provides a welcome retreat for wildlife.

The 3,500 acre lake is home to sunfish, catfish, tilapia and bluegill, so it can be a good spot if you’re looking for a little variety. Alamo Lake State Park offers boat ramps, which can also be suitable for launching a canoe or kayak (read our Arizona kayaking destinations here) if you want to get out on the water.

For added convenience, the state park has a visitor center with a store that sells bait and fishing gear (including licenses), as well as food and beverages if you plan to stay overnight in the campground or one of the onsite rental cabins. The handy facilities may make it a good choice if you plan to take your kids on a fishing trip.

4. Big Lake

Big Lake - One of the best lakes in Arizona for fishingPin
Courtesy: Andy Atzert on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Located in the White Mountains on the eastern side of the state, Big Lake can be a fantastic lake for trout fishing, where you’ll find yourself surrounded by lush pine forests and beautiful scenery. The lake offers 575 acres where you can fish, either from a boat or from the shore.

Rainbow trout, brook trout and cutthroat trout can all be found in the lake, along with the occasional Apache trout, which can only be found in Arizona.

The Big Lake Recreation Area has plenty of campgrounds that offer bathrooms and convenience facilities and there is also a visitor center and store where you can grab essentials and fishing supplies or even rent a boat.

5. Roosevelt Lake

Number 5 - Roosevelt Lake for Fishing in ArizonaPin
Courtesy: Broderick Delaney on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Roosevelt Lake is the largest lake that’s entirely within Arizona and is believed to have some of the best fishing opportunities in Arizona, particularly when it comes to largemouth bass, crappie and catfish. The lake has also produced previous records for both largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as large catfish weighing more than 60 pounds.

Roosevelt Lake Marina can be a good launch spot if you have a boat and you can also stock up on live bait or cool down with a drink in their bar after a long day on the water.

Located in Tonto National Forest, there are a number of places where you can camp overnight to enjoy a full weekend of fishing at Roosevelt Lake. Additionally, there is a visitor center where you can discover more about the local area and wildlife.

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Wrapping Up

With Arizona’s hot, dry climate you might want to pack plenty of water and sunscreen no matter where in the state you plan to fish. Arizona is home to some great lakes and rivers, some with crystal clear water and spectacular scenery.

Remember to get your fishing license before you start your trip and remember that the temperatures can change quickly if you’re in the desert areas, and can become cool at night if you’re camping.

Have you got a favorite fishing spot in Arizona? Let us know. And remember to share this so your followers can benefit from discovering Arizona’s great fishing opportunities.

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