Why Fish in Arizona?
When you think of Arizona you probably think of golfing in the desert, but the abundance of lakes and rivers throughout the state make this a can’t miss fishing destination! The landscape is truly breathtaking and the opportunities for fishing are endless, and this is a place commonly overlooked but we’re going to lay out how good the fishing can be in the amazing state of Arizona!
Arizona is a great spot for fishing as it offers you pleasant lakes, calm rivers, breath-taking resorts, and excellent weather conditions both in the summer and winter. Fishing in Arizona will give you a lasting memory as there is something truly special about fishing along a river deep in the red rock canyons!
Since Arizona is located in a desert, there are only a few spots you can go Ice fishing such as Lake of the Woods, Devil’s Lake, Lake Michigan, and Chambers Lake. You can catch the following fish while you are out ice fishing: Walleye, Perch, Kokanee salmon, trout, and plenty of other cold-water fish.
The best fishing season in Arizona can be both spring and fall. An important fishing tip is to avoid it during extreme weather conditions. In summer, early mornings are the best time to fish, whereas, in spring and fall, it is preferred to go around dusk.
Best Lakes and Rivers to Fish In Arizona
Arizona has over 120 different lakes and multiple huge rivers that offer a wide range of fishing opportunities and will be sure to never leave you empty-handed. We’ve rounded up the top fishing spots in Arizona so you can easily plan your next fishing trip to Arizona!
1. Alamo Lake Fishing
Alamo Lake is located in the Alamo State Park, on the western edge of Arizona. Alamo Lake is fed by the Colorado River and Bill Williams River and is about 308 miles from the capital of Arizona, Phoenix. You can find a great variety of following fish species in Alamo Lake. It includes Largemouth Bass, Channel Catfish, Flathead Catfish, Black Crappie, Bluegill, Redear Sunfish, and Tilapia.
The weather conditions here are mostly sunny throughout the year. January is the coldest month of the year, with the temperature getting as low as 43°F. July is the hottest month of the year, with the temperature getting as high as 100°F. You can fish this lake year round, and the conditions and views make this some of the best fishing in Arizona!
The big draw to this lake is definitely the largemouth Bass, with a teeming population in the lake it isn’t uncommon to see Bass fishing tournaments going on almost every weekend in the summer. This just tells you how good the fishing really is in Lake Alamo, and the chances of catching a trophy Bass are high!
Fishing for crappie is also very popular, as there are huge schools and you can use bait to get these bad boys on your hook! This is a great choice for beginner anglers as they give quite the fight and you can catch them in huge numbers if you find the right fishing spot!
Alamo Lake Fishing Tips
- For those anglers looking to hook largemouth Bass, Crankbaits, Spinnerbaits, and flip Senkos have been known to have a high chance of success in this lake
- If you’re fishing from a boat for Crappie, roadrunners and minnows while slow trolling in 30ft of water gives you great odds of catching 5+ crappie per day!
- Night fishing is popular at this lake especially for Crappie, and works great with underwater fishing lights!
Types of Fish in Alamo Lake
Largemouth Bass, Channel Catfish, Flathead Catfish, Bluegill, Sunfish, Crappie
2. Marble Canyon Fishing
In the northern region of Arizona you will find a great place to quench your thirst for fishing, Marble Canyon. It is the only place that offers access to the Colorado River on both sides and fishing in this deep canyon is an experience of a lifetime. There are a ton of fish to go after including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, rainbow trout, bluegill, and striped bass. There are a ton of different trout species as well, and this is top of the list for best fishing in Arizona as the landscape of the canyons is truly remarkable! You won’t know whether to pay attention to the water or look around at the jaw dropping scenery!
Weather conditions around Marble Canyon gets really hot in the summers because well, its in the desert. During the summer fishing season, its really your best bet to do the majority of your fishing in early in the mornings or evenings. Winters are surprisingly cold with below-freezing temperatures, and in December and January it can drop down to 0°F. Both early spring and late fall offer some of the best times to go fishing in Marble Canyon on the Colorado River because of the nice and mild temperatures.
Marble Canyon Fishing Tips
- There is no closed season for fishing in Marble Canyon, but anglers are only allowed to keep up to four trout, under 12 inches long
- The best bet for tackle is to bring a combination of black and red jigs
- Wading in this area is the best bet to really take in the scenery while still land a few huge trout fishing in Marble Canyon
Types of Fish in Marble Canyon
Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Channel Catfish, Rainbow Trout, Bluegill, Striped Bass
3. Big Lake Fishing
Big Lake is situated on the northern edge of the White Mountains in Arizona. As far as this mountain range goes, Big Lake is considered one of the best spots to fish in Arizona. You get prolific trout fishing at an astounding 9,000 ft.
In Big Lake, the summers are long and humid, with the temperature getting as high as 70 degrees. Being so high in the mountains, the winters get quite cold with the temperature dropping as low as 6°F. The one positive to this is that Big Lake is one of the top ice fishing spots in Arizona! Summers last for 4-5 months while winters last for 3 months, so its quite a short ice fishing season.
Trout fishing is the particular thing that grasps the attention of anglers from all parts of the United States to come fish at Big Lake. The scenary being surrounded by mountains at over 9,000 ft elevation is something that not many places can offer, and you’ll get to experience some of the best trout fishing in Arizona!
Big Lake Fishing Tips
- Trolling lures in the thermoclines show a lot of success as this lake is quite cold
- Fish in this lake tend to be a bit deeper than your average lake trout, typically 10 ft deep you’ll find bigger trout that are 12-16 inches
- A 9.5′ fly fishing rod with a 9 foot leader will work perfectly to fish the shores around Big Lake
Types of Fish in Big Lake
Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Brook Trout, Brown Trout – It’s Trout Central!
4. Salt River Fishing
Salt River is located in Mesa, Arizona about 19 miles west to the capital Phoenix. Salt River is the largest tributary to the Gila River. Lower Salt River in particular is home to a ton of different fish species including Rainbow Trout, Largemouth Bass, Sunfish Channel catfish. The fishing is at its peak during the summers as the temperature reaches 100°F, and you can often find the fish swimming just below the surface of the water.
Salt river is over 200 miles long and offers some great fishing close to the city in Arizona, and a ton of other recreational activities such as tubing. One of the reasons it is considered some of the best fishing in Arizona is the seemingly infinite amount of shoreline you can fly fish from. There are endless opportunities to catch trout just standing on the shore or even wading in some spots.
Salt River Fishing Tips
- Fishing with bait is your best bet in this stocked river, worms are the best but you can use corn to try and get a few carp on the hook as well
- The green pumpkin color is a popular choice and the majority of fisherman have the best luck using this in Salt River
Types of Fish in Salt River
Largemouth Bass, Roundtail Chub, Rainbow Trout, Sunfish, Catfish
5. Parker Canyon Lake Fishing
On the southeastern edge of Arizona, you will find the Parker Canyon Lake which is a tributary to the Santa Cruz River. Parker Canyon Lake is 28 miles to the southwest of Sierra Vista, which is a city in Cochise County, Arizona. One thing that makes this lake unique for Arizona is the
Parker Canyon Lake is filled with largemouth bass, rainbow trout, green sunfish, bluegill, black bullhead, yellow bullhead, black bullhead, and mosquito fish. Another fish, the Northern Pike, was in abundance here but in the past couple of years the Pike has literally vanished.
Parker Canyon Lake Fishing Tips
- If you’re fishing for Kokanee salmon, the best tactic to land these beauties is trolling from a boat with a down-rigger, and testing out colorful lures
- Lake trout can be caught in abundance with a number of methods, casting from shore or trolling the deep parts of the lakes all give you a great shot at landing a big lake trout
- If you’re looking to do some fly fishing at Blue Mesa reservoir, the Gunnison river gives you a great shot at landing rainbow or brown trout
Types of Fish in Parker Canyon Lake
Rainbow Trout, Bass Sunfish, Catfish
Best Cities for Fishing in Arizona
Arizona has a ton of cities that serve as a great jumping point to hit a ton of different fishing locations in Arizona! All the cities we’re going to talk about will be perfect for a family fishing trip or a trip with a group of hardcore anglers looking for some of the best fishing in Arizona.
1. Phoenix, Arizona Fishing
Phoenix is the capital city of the state of Arizona and is located on the southwestern edge of Arizona. It is the largest city in the state and offers a ton of activities that don’t involve fishing such as professional sports, museums, and hiking. There is also a booming food and fine arts culture in Phoenix with world class restaurants and performances.
The great place about staying in Phoenix for your next fishing trip is the access to Tonto National forest, its to the North of the city so it offers an advantage over places like Scottsdale or Mesa. This is a must visit fishing spot in Arizona, as it has some breathtaking scenary as well as a ton of fishing lakes that have a huge variety of fish to chase! Everything from small / large mouth bass, trout, catfish, crappie, and even more! The city of Phoenix itself doesn’t come up often as a fishing spot, but with its access to ton of fishing locations and excellent amenities its a perfect spot for a few day fishing trips in Arizona!
Fishing Spots near Phoenix, Arizona
- Apache Lake
- Encanto River
- Saguaro Lake
- Horseshoe Lake
2. Tuscon, Arizona Fishing
Tucson is another famous city in the state of Arizona, located just over 100 miles south of Phoenix and second in the state with a population of 520,116. Tucson is the second most populated city in the state and offers a diverse amount of fishing opportunities in and around the city. You probably don’t think about Tucson being a spot for fishing, but it has great access to a ton of amazing rivers, lakes, and canyons that are perfect for an Arizona fishing trip!
Tucson has also done a great job of setting up urban fishing lakes and parks that are perfect for getting the kids into fishing! There are many places around Tucson where you can camp out and fish for a whole weekend, or just pack a picnic and hit up one of the many city parks that offer fishing for the day! This is a place you don’t want to leave off the list when considering your next fishing trip to Arizona!
Fishing Spots near Tucson, Arizona
- Parker Canyon Lake
- Silverbell Lake
- Rose Canyon Lake
- East Verde River
- Pena Blanca Lake
Mesa is south of Phoenix and Scottsdale, and is essentially considered a suburb of Phoenix but offers some better access to some of the best fishing spots in Arizona just to the south! There is also a plethora of lakes and fishing areas within the city itself, which is a truly progressive move that more Arizona cities are starting to follow. This really opens up fishing as a family friendly activity, since you don’t have to drives hours if you’re just looking for a day activity.
For the hardcore anglers looking to do some serious fishing, there are a ton of different rivers and lakes that offer some epic fishing opportunities in Arizona! There are some great opportunities to fly fish in the Salt River or if you’re looking to get on a boat and do some trolling, Roosevelt lake is a perfect place to launch a boat and go for some trophy bass or catfish!
Fishing Spots near Mesa, Arizona
- Salt River
- Canyon Lake
- Granite Reef
- Dobson Ranch Park
- Roosevelt Lake
Page is located in Coconino County and is basically on the shoreline of Glen Canyon Lake. This isn’t a huge city by any means, but offers some of the best fishing in Arizona with fast access to Glen Canyon National Park. If you’re looking to do some serious fly fishing, there are a ton of spots along the Colorado River that are only minutes drive from Page. This is one of the premier rivers to fish in the United States, so its not a surprise this is one of the top cities to visit for your fishing trip in Arizona!
The city of Page is also right beside Powell Lake, which offers ton of boating recreational activities and beaches for the whole family! Fishing Lake Powell gives you some of the top trout fishing in the state and has enough shoreline to keep any fly fisherman busy for weeks. This is a great city for fishing as there are a ton of different fishing guide services and excursions that basically guarantee you’ll be landing fish all day long.
5. Scottsdale, Arizona Fishing
Scottsdale is a city in Arizona just on the east of Phoenix and is known as the desert city of Arizona. Scottsdale stretches to about 31 miles long and one of the top fishing spots in Arizona, the Salt River basically runs right through Scottsdale. It’s safe to say the there are a ton of different fishing opportunities near Scottsdale, and the nightlight and culture are a great reason to set up camp here for your fishing trip in Arizona!
One thing that makes it super easy to fish in Scottsdale, there are an endless list of fishing tours that are based out of Scottsdale so you don’t even have to drive to get the best fishing in Arizona, they’ll do all the work for you! You can also do overnight trips and camp to really get your fill of fishing! You may be thinking that Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Mesa are all in such close proximity to each other what difference does it make where you stay for a better fishing trip? The only real answer is that it can save you driving time depending on where you’re planning to fish, so picking the fishing spots is key on deciding where you want to stay!
Fishing Spots near Scottsdale, Arizona
- Lake Pleasant
- Chaparral Lake
- Eldorado North Lake
- Lake Pleasant
Wrapping Up The Best Fishing in Arizona
The first word the pops in our mind on hearing the state of Arizona is Fishing! It will never let you down by offering a wide span of fishing opportunities and amenities to its visitors. If you feel messed up by your daily grind, you can come here and blow off some steam. It not only offers exotic fishing locations but swimming, sports, and all types of fun that you are looking for under one roof.
For all types of Bass, be sure to visit Alamo Lake! For the fondness of Fish trout, visit Lee’s Ferry at Grand Canyon, have a glance at Big Lake for Rainbow and Apache trout, for the love of Catfish and Sunfish don’t forget to visit Salt River and be sure to go to Parker Canyon Lake for yellow perch and bluegill.