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Arizona Fishing Report

Courtesy of Arizona Fish & Game
Posted January 18, 2018

See “The Reel Deal” statewide summary


Editor’s note (updated Jan. 18, 2018): Great news for anglers: We’re developing a complete fishing forecast for each season of the year, including primary water bodies by region. It will replace this entire news post and is coming soon. Look for it in the “Fishing” section of our website.

Also, we plan to soon release a new-and-improved Fish and Boat Arizona map! 

For even more up-to-date information, we’ll continue the e-news weekly fishing report and fishing blog. We also suggest calling/visiting a local bait-and-tackle shop, fishing marina or guide service.

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 Jan. 18; Editor Nick Walter, 623-236-7214)

ROOSEVELT LAKE — (2,112 feet, 57-percent full).

Jan. 18 report from Jim Goughnour of Rim Country Custom Rods:

Winter bass fishing conditions continue at Roosevelt Lake. Most anglers are using casting spoons to successfully target bass in 40 foot and deeper water. However, on calm sunny days the shallow water warms enough to allow the fish more movement. Anglers are reporting a better afternoon bite on reaction baits such as the Spider-bait, crankbaits and spinner baits. A Roboworm on a drop-shot technique, a flippin-jig and an imitation crawfish using a Texas-rig are being reported successful options. Anglers are generally fishing between 9 a.m.-3 p.m. to take advantage of the warmest time of the day and the increased bass activity.

Crappie anglers on Roosevelt Lake are calling fishing fair. Crappie schools will follow the baitfish into deeper water during colder months. The result of the recent storm in Rim Country is increased in flow rates into the lake. Most crappie anglers are focusing on areas where fresh water is entering the lake.  With the crappie in deeper water, most crappie anglers are utilizing the trolling technique. A small grub-tail tipped with a minnow was recently reported successful along the shoreline near the Salt River, Tonto Creek and Salome Cove.

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

The lake is scheduled to be stocked next 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.

CANYON LAKE – Lake level is 1,657 feet (95-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 is scheduled to be stocked 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.

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

Bass fishing has been slow to fair. Try vertically-jigging spoons over schools of baitfish in 30-40 feet of water — there can be a good yellow bass bite. Also try nightcrawlers on dropshot rigs. The lake was stocked with rainbow trout Dec. 19.

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 1,765 feet, feet, 57 % full.

Water temperature Tuesday was 53-57 degrees. Lake level has remains steady.

Gary Senft, Bass Pro at the Mesa Bass Pro Shops, said Jan. 17 fishing during sunny days has been best — target afternoons when possible. If anglers find the right bank, crankbaits in shad and crawdad colors can be effective for largemouth bass.The dropshot rig has produced the most consistent bite for bass in 15-30 feet of water. Throwing jigs and Texas-rigged craws has been decent, he said. The crappie bite seems to be decent as well in the yellow cliffs area. Try fishing  in about 25 feet, trolling curly tail jigs. Fish everything slowly, as  should be the case during the winter when fish are lethargic.

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 1,682.2 feet, 78 % full).

A 20-inch striped bass caught on a free-lined shad, and a smaller striper taken on a No. 12 white beadhead streamer, in Castle Creek on Saturday afternoon (Jan. 6), just before sunset.

Threadfin shad is the ticket right now for striped bass. Castle Creek has some active stripers last weekend. The top-water bite was fairly slow on Saturday afternoon, although the weather remains unseasonably warm and some anglers reported some good top-water action. 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. Fish period of warmer weather. Alabama rigs are another good option during the winter. 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.

COMMUNITY FISHING WATERS — By Friday, we’ll have stocked some larger-than-average rainbow trout into all of our “core” Community waters in Phoenix, Maricopa, Tucson and Sahuarita. These fish average about 1 pound.

The only core water that will not be stocked this week is Desert Breeze Lake in Chandler due to golden algae. Those fish will be diverted to Tempe Kiwanis Lake.

Community trout fishing has been excellent. For some anglers,  the water temperature of 49-55 degrees at many community waters, good water quality, and healthy fish, have made for a great rainbow trout bite.

Try PowerBait, small spinners or nightcrawlers.  See the stocking schedule of which waters are getting trout (all waters marked with a ‘T’ during the week of Jan. 8).

HORSESHOE LAKE – Lake elevation is 1,975 feet (12-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 283 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

Jim Goughnour of Rim Country Custom Rods reported: “… the trout streams throughout Rim Country are running crystal clear. Experienced anglers enjoy the challenge of catching wild trout during the winter months. Wild trout survive because they are wary and are always alert for approaching danger. Even the shadow from an angler on a bright day will send wild trout to the safety of cover. Anglers talk about “stalking” the trout and developing the skills to land that nymph fly upstream in hopes of aggressive strike from an unsuspecting wild Arizona trout.”


Mogollon Rim and White Mountains

(Updated Jan. 8; Editor Mike Lopez, 928-532-3692)

Recommended Waters to Fish

Some lakes at the higher elevations are ice covered or partially ice covered, all which should be considered thin ice and unsafe. Highways 273 and 261 are closed for the winter.  Fishing is currently 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 almost 8 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 – The lake is ice covered with thin ice. Highways 273 and 261 are closed for the winter.

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.  Highways 273 and 261 are closed for the winter.

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 lake is ice covered with thin ice.  Highways 273 and 261 are closed for the winter.

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 night crawlers 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 from Alpine 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 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 and anglers are still catching trout that were stocked in early December and an occasional bass. 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 – The stream is covered with ice and Highway 273 is closed for the winter.

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.

KINNIKINICK LAKE — An angler fished Kinnikinick Sunday (Dec. 31).  He and a buddy caught limits of rainbow trout using roostertails.  He said all of the fish were between 17 and 21 inches with the biggest weighing 5 pounds. The fish were eating snails and gammurus.  The angler went back to the lake Monday and it was iced over.

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:

Dead Horse lagoons

Michael W.: Friday, Jan. 12. Largemouth Bass were active At Dead Horse Ranch! In 5 hours, I caught and released one 2 pound largemouth bass… Lost one 6 to 7 pound bass… And had four other bass that started to swim off with my lure, and as I ‘set the hook,’ I came up empty. I was finesse fishing with a shaky head with plastic worm and the Ned Rig. Weather Conditions: Sunny, clear with light winds. Water Conditions: Lightly stained.



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.)

Jan. 10 public notice from the U.S. Army Cops of Engineers:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District (Corps) announces availability of the draft Environmental Assessment for the Alamo Dam Flushing Flow Release. The Corps proposes to release water from Alamo Dam outside of the normal non-flood release schedule in order to facilitate required maintenance activities. The proposed flushing flow release would occur as a flood pulse hydrograph designed to mimic a typical rain event in the downstream watershed released with appropriate seasonal timing. While the exact details of the release are subject to variation based on conditions at the time of release, such as water surface elevation and weather, the release will conform to the following general parameters:

1) Maximum release will not exceed 5,000 cfs. 2) Total release time, including ascending and descending limbs, would not exceed 20 days. 3) Ascending limb of the hydrograph will be moderate. 4) Descending limb of the hydrograph will initially drop steeply, followed by a gradual return to base flow. 5) The peak of the hydrograph will be completed prior to March 15th.

See the full notice.



Fish structure like these sticks at Alamo Lake.

Dec. 27 report 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) –

Our Region 4 IV Fisheries Program conducted an annual electrofishing survey of the backwaters of the Imperial Division of the Colorado River on Nov. 14-16.  These annual surveys are performed to gather data on relative abundance, size, growth of fish, and to detect any large scale changes in the fish population.   A total of 2,323 fish were sampled at 16 survey stations including 242 largemouth bass.   Other species collected included bluegill sunfish, redear sunfish, black crappie, warmouth sunfish, threadfin shad, gizzard shad, blue tilapia, common carp, striped bass, flathead catfish, and channel catfish.  All of the fish were collected, weighed, measured, and released unharmed.

The largemouth bass population in the Imperial Division backwaters appears to be stable and doing well!  The largest bass sampled during the survey was 23.4 inches and 8.2 pounds.

Over 24 percent of the largemouth bass captured during the survey were 15 inches or larger, so there should be plenty of large fish to catch!  We also sampled a large number of young of year largemouth bass for the second year in a row, which may point to a bright future for the bass population of the backwaters of the Imperial Division of the Colorado River. Overall, based on the result of this survey, the Imperial Division of the Colorado River should continue to provide good fishing anglers have experienced the last several years.


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.

Parker Canyon Lake

Angler Report (Jan. 3):

I decided to go to the other side of the back cove (to the left of the marina). There we SO MANY trout. I threw a spinner and caught one on my first cast. As my friend comes back to find me across the lake, he sees that I caught a fish. He grabs all the stuff and runs over to me as I catch, yet another, trout. It was beyond belief. I had worked for 5 hours to catch a fish. In the matter of three minutes (of course in the last 10 minutes I had there), I caught two fish.

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.

Patagonia Lake

The lake was stocked with rainbow trout Dec. 13 and is scheduled to be stocked again next week.

See more lake-specific information

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