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Arizona Fishing Report

Courtesy of Arizona Fish & Game
Posted December 28, 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.

The National Fish Habitat Partnership has unveiled its list of seven U.S. “Waters to Watch” for 2017. One of them is our very own Tonto National Forest gem, Roosevelt Lake.

Central Waters

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

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

Dec. 28 report from Jim Goughnour of Rim Country Custom Rods:

The water temperature at Roosevelt Lake is in the mid-to-high 50s on sunny days. The colder water impacts the habits of cold-blooded fish including bass. During colder periods, bass will move to deeper water and become less active. The metabolism of cold-blooded fish slows, resulting in shorter feeding activities and shorter chases for food.  In addition, the cold fronts moving through Rim Country cause the lake conditions to change almost daily. With bass activity slowing, anglers are reporting slow presentation techniques or a casting spoon which imitates a dying bait fish falling to the bottom. A slow moving bait on the bottom allows the bass to consume it without expending much energy. That is the key to winter fishing our lakes.

Crappie fishing on Roosevelt and Apache lakes was called sporadic recently by experienced anglers. Crappie are staging in deeper water where a trolling fishing technique will be more effective than a vertical technique. A small grub-tail bait in a motor-oil and chartreuse color was reported successful.

The lake remains at 57% full. The amount of water coming into the lake from the Salt River slowed slightly and is now at 50% of the normal flow rate for this time of year. The Tonto Creek is flowing at about 35% of its normal flow rate. The lake water is clear throughout the lake.


APACHE LAKE – Lake elevation is 1,908 feet (94-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 (97-percent full.)

Angler Report:

Paul P.: Dec. 9, caught a 9.5-pound largemouth bass on second cast of day , 8:30 in morning using spinnerbait. My two buddies got a 6 and 3. Only 3 bites we got! But that was enough for me! Windy and cold!

AZGFD report:

The water system at Tortilla campground once again is operational, resulting in the Forest Service’s decision to reopen the campground on Tuesday, Jan 2, 2018. A list of Tonto campgrounds is available online.

The lake was stocked with rainbow trout Dec. 14. Next stocking is the week of Jan. 15. 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 1,526 feet (95-percent full).

The lake was stocked with rainbow trout Dec. 19. 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.

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. Lake level has remains steady.

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 hava 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 1,680 feet, 75 % full).

Fishing can be good if you can find some active stripers, white bass or largemouth bass. Hit the northern coves such as Castle Creek, Coles or Humbug and remember the closure for nesting bald eagles is in effect in the Agua Fria arm. The ticket has been fishing live shad deep if you can get them. Don’t forget that a portion of the Agua Fria arm of the lake is closed for nesting bald eagles. The closure is marked with buoys.

Angler Reports:


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 — This week we’re scheduled to stock the Phoenix/Maricopa and Tucson/Sahuarita-area core 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 1,972 feet (9-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 is scheduled to be stocked this 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. 27; Editor Mike Lopez, 928-532-3692)

Recommended Waters to Fish

Some lakes at the higher elevations are ice covered or partially covered.  However, the weather has still been unseasonably warm and the ice is thin and unsafe.  Fishing is good at Patterson Ponds, Show Low Creek meadows, and Silver Creek.


BEAR CANYON LAKE – Fishing is fair.  Roads are still open and the lake was entirely ice free when last checked on December 20.

BLACK CANYON LAKE – Fishing is fair.  Roads are still open and the lake is entirely ice free. 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.  Roads are open and the lake is ice free.  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 and the main portion of the lake was ice free when last checked on December 20.  The two arms of the lake were ice covered.

WOODS CANYON LAKE – Fishing is fair for rainbow trout and fair for tiger trout.  Roads are open but the lake was mostly ice covered when last checked on December 20.



FOOL HOLLOW LAKE – Fishing is fair for rainbow trout.  The lake is ice free.

RAINBOW LAKE – Fishing is poor.  The lake is ice free, but 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 is ice free, but 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 rainbow trout.  The lake is ice free.

WOODLAND LAKE – Fishing is poor.  The lake is ice free, but also low and weedy.

PATTERSON PONDS – Fishing is good for trout. Rainbow trout were stocked in early December 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.



BECKER LAKE – Fishing is fair. The lake is ice free.  The water level is a little low but will hopefully be filled through the winter. 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 fair for rainbows and cutthroats. All roads are open. The main portion of the lake is ice free, but Railroad Cove, around the dam, most of South Cove, and the store cove are all ice covered.  All boat ramps are also bound in ice.

CARNERO LAKE – Roads are open but the lake is ice covered with thin ice.

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.  The lake is ice free but the level is low.

CRESCENT LAKE – The lake is ice covered with thin ice.  All roads are still open.

GREER LAKES (River; Tunnel; Bunch) – Fishing is fair at Bunch Reservoir, which is still has open water and almost full. Tunnel is mostly ice covered with thin ice and still very low. River Reservoir was mostly ice covered with thin ice and the water level is still below the boat ramp.

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

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

LUNA LAKE – Fishing is fair.  The lake was partially ice covered.

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

NELSON RESERVOIR – The lake is ice covered with thin ice.



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.  The stream is currently ice free. It was stocked in early December with rainbow trout and anglers are still catching them.  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 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 the 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

Trout stockings resume in March. Lakes are completely or mostly frozen. We consider all ice unsafe.

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

Angler Reports:

Colorado River (Bullhead City)

George T. caught this 42-inch, 31-pound, 15-ounce striped bass on a swimbait Tuesday night from shore on the Colorado River in Bullhead City. He said the fight lasted about 14 minutes. The fish got off the hook near the shore and George went in the water to grab the fish before it swam away. See George’s video.

The fish was weighed and measured at Rusty’s Riviera Marina.

Fain Lake

Michael W.: Another couple of days of awesome fishing at Fain Lake!  On Dec. 22, In 5 hours, I caught & released 61 rainbow trout… ranging from 7-13 inches.  On Dec. 23, In 3 hours, 15 minutes, I caught & released 44 rainbow trout… Ranging from 8-13 inches.  On both days, all fish caught on split-tail grubs, at depth of 2 to 6 feet.  Weather Conditions: Cold & partly cloudy.  Water Conditions: Stained.

Lynx Lake

Michael W.: Catching some nice brown & rainbow trout at Lynx Lake (Dec. 27)!  In 2 hours, I caught & released 17 Brown & Rainbow Trout… Ranging from 13 to 14 inches.  Lost 2 fish that were between 17 & 18 inches… Both thru the jig, as I was trying to land the fish at the bank. The Brown Trout were fun to catch & much better fighters than the Rainbow Trout!  Weather Conditions: Cold morning with clear skies. Water Conditions: Slightly stained with some surface ice in shady areas.

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.)

Fish structure like these sticks at Alamo Lake.

Dec. 27 from Wade from the Arizona Crappie Association: “Not much change in the fishing activity: it seems to be a hit or miss situation. Large crappie are being caught just past the buoy line right at mid lake. Trolling roadrunners tipped with minnows in 35-40 feet of water still seems to bring the best results. Last week an 18-inch crappie was caught but they didn’t bring it in to be weighed. If you get on them, stick with that area and be patient. The bite is sporadic and localized.

Bass has been slow with most fish being caught in the 8-12-inch range with a few larger fish mixed in. No real set pattern to what turns them on.

Catfish has been very slow to nonexistent but warmer temperatures should help that.

Right now the main ramp is closed due to work by the Corp of Engineers but they should be done with this phase in a day or two allowing the ramp to reopen.”

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 — Stripers are early feeders; they move up shallow with the best time for success beginning sometime after midnight.  The use of hard crankbaits such as the large Rat-L-Trap type lipless crankbaits, 6-12 foot diving 128, 100, & 78 Pointers or jerk baits (referred to as stick baits).

Best color for these baits are white, chartreuse shads, bleeding shad with red hooks, and use Table Rock Shad color in the stained water in the southern regions of the lake. For your soft plastic, believers use 4- or 5-inch straight-tailed S&P silver Bass Assassins with chartreuse tails; these could be working much better than the paddle-tail type baits.

The use of live shad is very effective as well. As the sun continues to rise and daylight appears, live shad is predominantly the best producing bait!

The large and smallmouth bass can be tough in the winter.  It is slow and the best time for a successful catch is in the mooring hours just before sunrise.  The top-water bite should be shutting down and these fish are best caught with LV 500s (lipless crankbaits) in the colors of ghost minnow, chartreuse shad. LV 500 Aurora Craw works for largemouth but the best results with it are with the smallmouth bass early in the am up in the shallower rocky shoreline waters in about 5-10 feet.  You can find these shores mostly in the main lake on the California side but there are some nice rocky shorelines in the southern end of the lake on the Arizona side above and below Sand Point Marina too.

When all else fails, drop-shotting or split shotting in the deeper waters in 15-20 feet on rocky points with soft imitation crawdad baits work well when sprayed with craw scent attractants.

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

Patagonia Lake was stocked with rainbow trout Dec. 13 and is scheduled to be stocked again the week of Jan. 8.

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.

Patagonia Lake

The lake was stocked with rainbow trout Dec. 13.

See more lake-specific information

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