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Arizona Fishing Report

Courtesy of Arizona Fish & Game
Posted December 21, 2017

See “The Reel Deal” statewide summary


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. 21; Editor Nick Walter, 623-236-7214)

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

Dec. 21 report from Jim Goughnour of Rim Country Custom Rods:

Bass fishing on Roosevelt Lake is being reported as slow. The water temperature is in the mid to high 50’s on most days which is forcing the majority of bait fish and the bass to move to deeper water. In addition the cold fonts moving through Rim Country cause the lake conditions to change almost daily. If a technique works one day, there is no guarantee that it will work the next day. Anglers reported using slow presentation techniques such as a dark colored sparkle jig, curly tail grub or a casting spoon.

Crappie activity has slowed greatly was well. The crappie have also moved to deeper water in pursuit of baitfish. Crappie staging in deeper water will dictate a change to anglers from a vertical fishing technique to a trolling technique which allows the bait to be fished at deeper depths. Over the next month, boats will begin to troll in groups which can be an indication that a school of crappie has been located. A slow trolling speed of less than 1 MPH is recommended allowing the bait to fall to 30+ foot depths

The lake remains at 57% full and the lake level recently has slightly increased. 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 40% of its normal flow rate. The increases in flows is due to some recent rainfall within the watershed. We’re still waiting on the first big winter storm in Rim Country.

APACHE LAKE – Lake elevation is 1,909 feet (95-percent full).

The lake was stocked the week of Dec. 4 with trout. Next stocking is scheduled for the week of Jan. 15. 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.

CANYON LAKE – Lake level is 1,658 feet (92-percent full.)

The lake was stocked with rainbow trout last 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.

SAGUARO LAKE – The lake is 1,524 feet (92-percent full).

The lake is scheduled to be stocked with trout this week. 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

BARTLETT LAKE – Lake elevation is 1,768 feet, feet, 60 % full.

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 1,678 feet, 74 % full).

The lake has risen 2 feet during the past week. Water temperatures have dropped to 54-58 degrees.

Angler Jim N. reported largemouth bass (above) hitting spinners, jerkbaits, Slug-Gos and Senkos. Try spooning deep for striped bass or throwing deep-running crankbaits or swim baits in shad colors. There may still be a decent anchovy bite. Top-water bite likely is tailing off.

Angler Dick K. reported fishing Saturday, Dec. 16, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. with regular partner Ron Miller from Peoria and Roy Twining who is a winter visitor from Spokane, WA. They reported boating around 35 stripers this day and kept the 25 largest up to about 4 pounds fishing live shad in 50-65 feet deep between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.


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 Thursday afternoon, there were releases of 8 cfs out of Stewart Mountain and 369 cfs out of Bartlett Lake. The river was stocked last week and is scheduled to be stocked the week of Christmas. 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

On Tuesday, Ashurst Lake was about ¾ frozen at 10:30 a.m. with a big opening by the boat ramp.  Lower Lake Mary was completely frozen and Upper Lake Mary was more than half frozen.  Kaibab Lake was almost completely frozen. We consider all ice unsafe.

With cooling temperatures, the region might be completely frozen by Christmas.


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


“Striper School Strategy”

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. 18 report from Wayne Gustaveson (

LEES FERRY – Latest report from Lees Ferry Anglers:

As 2017 comes to an end and we welcome in a New Year, I would like to discuss where the Lees Ferry fishery has been in the past few years … and where it’s headed.

In the fall of 2013, there was a decline in the trout population due to much lower- than-normal water flows and warmer-than-normal water temperatures from Glen Canyon Dam. The lower water flows were part of the Experimental High Flow Event and the warmer water was a result of Lake Powell water levels being low due to drought. This was the first fishery decline that we had seen since 2007 and the fifth decline witnessed in my 35 years here at Lees Ferry.

The good news is every time we have seen a decline in the fish population, Lees Ferry is back in a boom phase within 3 to 4 years and that’s where we are today.

See the full report.

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 Association reported last week: “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. ”

From AZGFD: 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.

Read more about how reservoir filling seems to have rejuvinated this fishery.

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.

See more lake-specific information

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