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Arizona Fishing Report

Courtesy of Arizona Fish & Game
Posted December 6, 2017

Fishing Report: Dec. 15, 2017

Editor’s note: The AZGFD fishing report is a free resource meant to inform anglers, and remember that nothing beats spending time on the water to figure out what’s biting. Help us keep these reports fresh for your fellow anglers by sending your reports and photos to BFishing – one will be selected for Catch of the Week.

Finally, reports from guides, tackle shops or angler groups are not endorsements.

OK, on to the  full report.


Central Waters

(Updated Dec. 6; Editor Nick Walter, 623-236-7214)

ROOSEVELT LAKE — (2,111 feet, 57-percent full).

Dec. 14 report from Jim Goughnour of Rim Country Custom Rods:

Bass fishing on Roosevelt Lake is being reported as fair. The falling water temperatures are having a significant impact on fish patterns. The water temperature is in the high 50s on most days and the low 60s on days with no wind. These colder temperatures are pushing bait fish and sport-fish to deeper depths where the water temperature is actually warmer than at the surface. Anglers are reporting that these changing conditions are creating different fishing techniques depending on the day.

During the warmest time of the day, when the water temperature increases even slightly, bass become active and will feed heavily. Crankbaits, jerkbaits and spinner-baits were reported successful on warmer calmer days while a slow falling spoon and slow moving jigs in a brown and purple color or a Texas rigged worm in a dark opaque color, along the bottom, during colder and windy days. These periods of high activity will continue to diminish as the conditions deteriorate over the next month.

The lake remains at 57% full while the lake level increases slightly each week. The amount of water coming into the lake from the Salt River is at 60% of the normal flow rate for this time of year. The Tonto Creek is flowing at about 25% of its normal flow rate. The water is very clear, however, the wind which has recently been blowing up to 30 mph causes the water to be stained in some areas of the lake.


BARTLETT LAKE – Lake elevation is 1,768 feet, feet, 61 % full.

The water level has dropped 2 feet during the past week and water temperature has been around 56 degrees and falling.

Best bet is throwing crankbaits during mornings and smaller plastic baits (Roboworms or baby brush hogs) on Texas rigs or dropshots in 15-25 feet of water. There has not been much of a morning top-water bite.

Jigging spoons haa become a more effective technique as well.

Don’t forget the Bartlett Lake Marina is now open. See or contact 480-221-0503 for more information.

Note: The Arizona Catfish Conservation Association, a 501c3 non-profit club based in Arizona, is asking anyone who catches a tagged flathead or channel catfish at Lake Pleasant or Bartlett Lake to note the number of the tag, along with any other information such as weight, length or girth, GPS coordinates (if available) and then visit


LAKE PLEASANT – (Lake elevation 1,676 feet, 72 % full).

The lake is up 6 feet over the past week.

Scooter Griffith from  The Arizona Fishing Guides  said  Nov. 22 the lake has been fishing extremely well. “We are catching big numbers of stripers,  white bass and largemouth,” he reported. “Somedays you can catch them 40 feet and deeper on spoons and other days you catch them in 3 feet or less. Half ounce to 1 ounce spoons and @arizonacustombaits retail swim baits in glimmer shad and scooters special have been most productive.”

Carmen from the Hook Up Outfitters  previously said water temperatures have been in the low-70s and largemouth action has been picking up as we head into a fall-time bite. Largemouth have been hitting top-water lures such as Zara Spooks, not only during the first light but from mid-morning until the early afternoon as well. A dropshot rig  and paddletail swimbaits also continue to be effective for largemouth.

Striped bass are primarily in 20-60 feet of water — along with shad — and are mainly suspending on main lake points on drop-offs and can be caught on A-rigs, paddletail swimbaits, as spoons and spin baits.

Shad have usually been in 30 feet of water in main lake areas, although sometimes move outside of the northern coves.

SAGUARO LAKE – The lake is 1,525 feet (94-percent full).

The lake was stocked with rainbow trout the week of Nov. 13 and will be stocked again the week of Dec. 18. Scooter Griffith from The Arizona Fishing Guides said  the lake is putting out numbers of big fish. Most of them have been coming out in the deep grass using a drop shot or a shaky head technique.

Other successful baits reported were walking baits and Ricos and dropshot-rigged Roboworms in 15 feet of water.

Yellow bass is an option if the largemouth bass are finicky — jigging spoons deep is an excellent winter tactic here and at Apache lake. Also try nightcrawlers on dropshot rigs.

 See a how-to video “Return to the land of giant bass.” 

Flathead catfishing also can be excellent. Fish shallow during the nighttime with bluegill or carp as bait. This is the time the flatheads fatten up for the winter.


Note: The Arizona Catfish Conservation Association, a 501c3 non-profit club based in Arizona, is asking anyone who catches a tagged flathead or channel catfish at Lake Pleasant or Bartlett Lake to note the number of the tag, along with any other information such as weight, length or girth, GPS coordinates (if available) and then visit


CANYON LAKE – Lake level is 1,656 feet (94-percent full.)

The lake was stocked with rainbow trout the first week of November and is scheduled to be stocked again next week. Scooter Griffith from The Arizona Fishing Guides said Nov. 22 that the lake is still putting out numbers of big fish. Most of them have been coming out in the deep grass using a drop shot or a shaky head technique.

A fishing pier is now open to the public at the Boulder recreation site of Canyon Lake. Trout are stocked in this area.

Located in the Tonto National Forest’s Canyon Lake, the Boulder recreation site is 15 miles northeast of Apache Junction on State Route 88.

The pier is the culmination of a joint effort between the U.S. Forest Service, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and Canyon Lake Marina to remove the original, 20-plus-year-old pier damaged by storms during the summer of 2015 and replace it with a modern pier.

Funding for the pier came from Forest Service fees collected at developed recreation sites, such as picnic areas, campgrounds and boat launch areas.

APACHE LAKE – Lake elevation is 1,906 feet (92-percent full).

The lake was scheduled to be stocked with rainbow trout this week. Fishing has been somewhat slow during the past few weeks for bass as water levels had increased.

The ticket is jigging spoons deep for bass. This is an excellent winter tactic here and at Saguaro Lake, especially for yellow bass.

Scooter Griffith from  The Arizona Fishing Guides  also said the fishing at Apache has been tough but is slowly back on the incline. “Your best bet is to try to find schools deep on spoons,” he said.

COMMUNITY FISHING WATERS —  See the Community fishing news. Incentive trout stockings are coming in January and this week we are scheduled to stock the “core” Community waters.

HORSESHOE LAKE – Lake elevation is 1,970 feet (8-percent full).

When the lake is full, there are a lot of spawning fish. No new reports.

LOWER SALT RIVER – On Friday afternoon, the river was flowing at 8 cfs out of Stewart Mountain. The river was stocked last week and is scheduled to be stocked again with trout next week. Water levels are too low at Blue Point Bridge to stock — fish Phon D. Sutton or Granite Reef. Anglers can try fly fishing with copper johns, prince nymphs, and egg patterns can work well for sub-surface flies, and for dry fly anglers can try stimulators and elk hair caddis. If you are spin fishing try small Rooster Tails with a gold blade in the slower moving water.

You might be able to catch some bass or sunfish in the deeper holes.

Creeks below the Mogollon Rim

Stream trout stockings have ended but trout fishing on the Rim streams remains good. On the right day, anglers can have a stream all to themselves. Jim Goughnour of Rim Country Custom Rods reported that stream anglers are reporting having the streams to themselves or sharing a stretch of water with only one other angler. A Copper John fly in a mayfly nymph pattern, Rooster-tails and PowerBait were all reported successful.


Mogollon Rim and White Mountains

(Updated Dec. 11; Editor Mike Lopez, 928-532-3692)

Recommended Waters to Fish

Fishing is good at Patterson Ponds (upper pond) and Show Low Creek meadows at the Show Low Bluff trailhead, which were both stocked last week with rainbow trout.  General trout fishing is good at Big Lake, Becker Lake, and Luna Lake, and Woods Canyon Lake, although water temperatures are getting cold (30s) in the highest elevation lakes and trout activity is slowing a bit. Some lakes are starting to ice over, which should be considered UNSAFE at this time.


BEAR CANYON LAKE – Fishing is fair.  Roads are still open but the lake is likely starting to ice over.

BLACK CANYON LAKE – Fishing is fair.  The lake was stocked last in June. The lake is 7 feet below spill and the new boat ramp is still fully functional.

CHEVELON LAKE – Fishing is fair for stocked rainbows and wild brown trout.  The brown trout should still be active and can be caught with Z-rays, Kastmasters, or black streamers.  Chevelon Lake is a hike-in lake with a two trout limit and artificial fly/lure only regulations.

WILLOW SPRINGS LAKE – Fishing is fair for rainbow trout and tiger trout.  Roads are still open but the lake is likely starting to ice over.

WOODS CANYON LAKE – Fishing is good for rainbow trout and fair for tiger trout.  Roads are open but the lake is likely starting to ice over.



FOOL HOLLOW LAKE – Fishing is fair for stocked (12”+) rainbow trout.  Supercatchable rainbows (12”+) were last stocked in late August and there are still a few around. Water temperatures are good for trout activity throughout the lake.  The fishing piers and platforms are accessible.

RAINBOW LAKE – Fishing is poor.  The lake level is still very low and the weeds are thick in the shallow areas.  The fishing pier is not very useful, since it is very shallow off the end of the pier.

SCOTT RESERVOIR – Fishing is poor. The lake level is extremely low and turbid due to irrigation releases. Can’t launch boats from the boat ramp. Try fishing from the shore with chicken livers on the bottom for catfish.

SHOW LOW LAKE – Fishing is fair for stocked (12”+) rainbow trout.  Supercatchable size (12”+) rainbow trout were last stocked in late August and there are still a few around.  Water temperatures are good for trout activity throughout the lake.

WOODLAND LAKE – Fishing is poor.  Fish were last stocked in late-May and there are likely few left.  The lake is low and weedy.

PATTERSON PONDS – Fishing is good for trout. Rainbow trout were stocked last week in the upper pond.  A regular fishing license or a community fishing license is required to fish here.  The pond daily bag limits in community fishing waters (2 trout; 2 catfish; 5 sunfish) apply.  Please use good catch and release methods if you are releasing fish.



BECKER LAKE – Fishing is fair to good. Anglers were catching big rainbow trout on lures and streamers, but there have been no recent reports. Water temperatures are in the high 30s, so the trout are likely starting to slow down. Becker Lake is open to catch-and-release only for trout, artificial fly and lure only; single barbless hooks only. No bait. No trout may be kept.

BIG LAKE – Fishing is good for lots of small rainbows and larger cutthroats. Try lures or flyfishing streamers for cutthroat trout. Water temperatures are in the 30s and the trout are likely slowing down, so don’t retrieve to fast.

CARNERO LAKE – Roads are open but the lake is mostly frozen over.

CLEAR CREEK RESERVOIR – Fishing is poor for trout, but fair for sunfish and bullheads.  Sunfish can be caught on a size 12 hook with a small piece of worm, in rocky or weedy areas, or black bullhead on the bottom with a size 6 hook and a half or full worm.

CONCHO LAKE – Fishing is poor.  Trout were last stocked in April and likely few are left.  The lake is low.

CRESCENT LAKE – Fishing is fair.  The water quality has improved significantly since the summer, but still has somewhat of an algae bloom.  Some ice is present.

GREER LAKES (River; Tunnel; Bunch) – Fishing is fair at River Reservoir, which is still has open water. Tunnel is ice covered, while Bunch is partially ice covered. Lake levels at River and Tunnel are still low but coming up slowly as these irrigation reservoirs are filled during the fall and winter.  The lake level at Bunch is good and has the only usable boat ramp at this time.

HULSEY LAKE – The road is open but the lake is ice covered.

LEE VALLEY LAKE – The road is open but the lake is ice covered.

LUNA LAKE – Fishing is good.  Although there is still a strong algae bloom of diatoms, the fishing has picked up with cooler water temperatures.  Anglers are reporting catching lots of 10-11 inch rainbow and an occasional large cutthroat.

LYMAN LAKE – Lyman Lake State Park is open. Fishing is fair for carp and catfish. Use corn or night crawlers for carp and chicken liver for catfish.

NELSON RESERVOIR – Fishing is fair.  The current regulation is unlimited bag limit for trout from September 1 through March 31.  The lake is full.



EAST FORK of the BLACK RIVER – Fishing is fair. Roads are still open.

LITTLE COLORADO RIVER in GREER – Fishing is fair. There may be some skim ice on pools in the mornings.

SHOW LOW CREEK TAILWATER – The pools below Show Low Lake dam are ice covered.

SHOW LOW CREEK MEADOWS (COMMUNITY FISHING WATER) – Fishing is good at this new Community Fishing Water located at the Show Low Bluff trailhead in Show Low.  It was stocked last week with rainbow trout in the Show Low meadow from the Bluff trail upstream to the Hampton Inn. Bait can be used, but daily bag limits are 2 trout, 2 catfish, 1 bass (minimum size 13”) and 5 sunfish.

SILVER CREEK – Fishing is fair to good.  Seasonal Catch-and-Release regulations (with artificial lure and fly only with single barbless hooks) are in effect and will continue through March 31.  All trout must be released immediately and please use proper catch-and-release techniques to ensure the trout survive after swimming away.  The upper section is now open.

SHEEPS CROSSING/West Fork LCR – Fishing is poor. The road is open but most pools are ice covered.

Central Mountains

Angler Reports:

(New reports; Editor Chuck Benedict, 928-214-1244)

(These are recommended fishing waters. Those not listed either are considered poor or there have been no reports. Send your reports to

Ashurst Lake

One of our Wildlife Specialists fished Ashurst Friday.  He was using Joe’s Flies fishing from a boat and caught 10 rainbows and one brown in about 2 hours.

All of the fish were 14-16 inches long and fat. The Coconino National Forest will probably close the gates soon — but for now it’s the place to go in the Flagstaff region.

Frances Short Pond

Michael W.:

Incredible Day Of Fishing At Francis Short Pond! This was our first time fishing here.  I caught & released 19 beautiful Rainbow Trout… Ranging from 14 to 23 inches.  My friend caught & released 12 Rainbow Trout… Ranging from 13 to 15 inches.  All fish caught on Crappie Tubes, Split-Tail Grubs and Super Duper lures. As I was trying to lift the 23 inch Rainbow Trout out of the water after measuring it, the trout thrashed around and broke the line, then swam off (no picture).  A long handle net is a must in order to bring in the larger fish up from the steep rocky bank!  Here is a picture of one of my 17″ trout.  Weather Conditions: Cool & cloudy. Water Conditions: Muddy

See more fishing spots

Colorado River/Prescott area Waters

Editor Gregg Cummins, 928-263-8868

(These are recommended fishing waters. Those not listed either are considered poor or there have been no reports.)

Been fishing? Please sense your reports to

New reports:

Colorado River (below Davis Dam)

Trout are being stocked weekly and meal worms, nigh crawlers and power baits are working near the stocking sites. Spinner baits are also producing results, especially spinners with red spots. Striped bass and channel catfish are being caught with anchovies and the best lures for stripers include the Long A Bomber or the Savage Gear Glide Swimmer.

Lynx Lake

From a Monday, No .20 AZGFD creel survey, of the 37 people interviewed, 12 people have caught fish —  26 trout and three nice catfish.

PowerBait worked for the trout and worms for the catfish.  Small spinners are a must just in case the trout aren’t interested in the PowerBait.



See more lake-specific information

Lake Powell and Lees Ferry


“Trophy caught in Warm Creek”

In the last fish report we reported stripers and shad holding in the 15-30 foot depth range but suspected that colder weather would force both species to seek deeper water where temperature was more stable. With that in mind we headed for Warm Creek to look for striper schools. We passed the floating restroom and slowed down and started graphing.

See the details in the full Dec. 14 report from Wayne Gustaveson (

LEES FERRY – Latest report:



See the full report from Lees Ferry Anglers.

Southwestern Waters

Send your reports to

New reports:

ALAMO LAKE – (Elevation 1,111.41 feet – 1,078 this time last year.)

Wade from the Arizona Crappie Associated reported: “Water temps are running from the upper 50s early climbing to the mid 60s by afternoon.

Bass fishing has been steady with a lot of smaller fish being caught and some nice ones for those who are patient and put in the work.

Crappie are biting consistently all over the upper end of the lake. Many big fish are being caught with plenty in the 2.5 lb range. Most productive lure is a Roadrunner with John Deer grub tipped with a minnow. Fish are being caught from 5 to 15 feet down mostly in a water depth of 25 to 35 feet of water. ”

Our recent surveys showed tons of largemouths! We caught the second most bass ever since we began surveying. Most that we found in our surveys were less than 10 inches, but from talking to some anglers the bigger ones were in deeper water than we could effectively sample them with electrofishing so we were just missing them. If you wanted to teach a kid to bass fish there’s hardly a better place because basically any method will work.

The black crappie fishing should be excellent because very few were caught/harvested last year due to rising and very stained water. Those fished should have survived until this year, meaning they should be bigger and more plentiful than the previous years and will hopefully provide some amazing fishing.

See more Angler Reports

LAKE HAVASU — (Elevation: 446 feet.)

From our recent survey, the bass population looks excellent as always.  Good numbers of small, medium, and big ones.  Based on this year’s survey we can see nothing to suggest it will not continue to be ranked as a top-25 bass lake in the U.S.

The redear sunfish action should continue to be world class.  We got a ton of redear in our surveys, including several that were 3+ pounds. We fully expect a few of those huge redear to come out this spring again.

The striper fishing should continue to be excellent.  Based on our creel survey of the lake, and through talking with anglers, we have found that it seems to be hard to not catch stripers right now in Havasu.  They are not big by any means (ave 10 – 12 inches), but if you just want to catch fish and bring home some fish for tacos, Havasu should be excellent.

When it was a bit warmer, channel catfish fishing was good off of a few of the docks around the lake using live bluegills.

PARKER STRIP – This may be the as good a bass fishing spot as anywhere. Our survey was unbelievable this year because we averaged around 80 bass/ 15 minute electrofishing site.  Though most were very small young-of-year and “age 1” fish, we did get a ton of 2- to 4-pound largemouth and smallmouth bass.  We also got a decent number of redear sunfish in our surveys — 17 percent of them were over 11 inches long with the biggest being over 3 pounds.  While a world record is now likely to be in the Parker Strip, the average size is really good and is probably very competitive with Havasu.


YUMA AREA PONDS – Trout stockings returned Nov. 16! See the stocking schedule.

COLORADO RIVER (between Picacho State Park and Imperial Dam, including backwaters and Martinez Lake) –  No reports.

MARTINEZ LAKE — No report.

Southern Waters

(These are recommended fishing waters. Those not listed either are considered poor or there have been no reports. Send your reports to Please send your fishing reports from Southern Arizona to

Pena Blanca Lake

Water quality issues at Pena Blanca have returned once again and the Department is forced to suspend winter trout stockings until conditions improve. Rainbow trout originally scheduled to be stocked at Pena Blanca Lake will now be redirected to Parker Canyon Lake.  Read more.

Parker Canyon Lake

Matt from the Parker Canyon Lake Marina reported that some anglers have caught limits of rainbow trout from shore throwing spinners such as small Rapalas or Kastmaters as well as PowerBait. Bass  anglers also have had some luck dropshotting right off the banks into vegetation. The colder it gets, the better the trout fishing seems to get.

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