The Best Fishing In Arizona (Lakes & Rivers)

Arizona is in the southwestern United States and is most famous for its incredible scenery and the Grand Canyon, a huge gorge carved out by the Colorado River. That’s not the only reason to visit Arizona though, it has some amazing rivers, lakes, and reservoirs that offer some amazing fishing. You can fish all year round and there is a huge diversity of species on offer.

There are a lot of fishing opportunities for both beginners and experts. So if you fancy a quick bass trip or you are a fly fishing fanatic chasing the Apache trout, Arizona has the fishing for you. There are 27 species that all call Arizona home and the state manages 1,500 miles of streams and 101 lakes, but where is the best place to start? Here is a line up of some of the best fishing in Arizona.

If you are aged ten years or over, you will need a fishing license before you get going. These are easily purchased here. Most of the fishing sites don’t have an office to buy them from so it’s best to sort it out online before you get started.

Patagonia Lake

Patagonia Lake is 265 acres and is found inside Patagonia Lake State Park, a short drive from Tucson. It’s a lovely place to pitch a tent or take in an RV if you want to spend a night or two.  There is a lot to do in the park, there are great nature tours and the lake has stunning beaches to relax on. It’s a good place to fish from the shore or by boat and the lake has been carefully managed to ensure healthy populations of a variety of fish. The waters are home to bass, crappie, bluegill, flathead catfish, channel catfish, and rainbow trout. There is a lot of water vegetation and shoreline cover for the bass to hide in and it’s great fishing when it goes right.

Roosevelt Lake

Roosevelt Lake is found in the Tonto National Forest and is a hot spot for bass fishing but that’s not all you might encounter. There is often wildlife on and around the lake, you can see ospreys, white-tailed deer, bobcats and mountain lions. The lake is also well equipped for camping if you want to spend a few days there, and there is a visitor center with all the information you need.

The lake covers an area of 20,000 acres and its waters are warm. Striped bass, largemouth bass, white bass, catfish and carp are abundant in the lake and its shoreline is covered with submerged brush and trees that give cover which bass love to hide in. Sone of the best spot to fish from on the shore are Salome Cover, Salt Arm, and Tonto Arm. Here you will find nice drop-offs and craggy rocks where the fish like to hang out. Another good spot is where the creek enters the lake, this feeds a lot of nutrients into the system and fish will wait there looking for a meal. Bass Island is a good place for bass, funnily enough, the waters are deep and the bass will hide there, near to the dam.

The Best Fishing In Arizona bass fishing

Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu is 25 miles long and has a huge 450 miles of shoreline to fish, that’s a lot of areas to cover. The lake is inside Lake Havasu State Park, just near to Lake Havasu City. It’s a great place to fish if you want a bit of comfort as there are a lot of hotels and restaurants nearby and you can also camp if you want to. The area does get busy but the lake is big enough for you to find your own secluded spot.

The lake is a famous bass fishery and is known for its huge largemouth bass while being one of the best smallmouth lakes in the US. Largemouth of five pounds are a standard catch here, so get excited if you’re heading over there. The lake is lined with brush piles along the shoreline as well as around the middle of the lake, making the perfect bass habitat. It also has striped bass, catfish, and sunfish in it.

Big Lake

Big Lake sits in the White Mountains of northeastern Arizona a couple of miles south of Greer.  The lake is known as Arizona’s best kept secret thanks to the amazing trout fishing, and it’s been said that it’s some of the best in the world. Rainbow, brook, cutthroat, apache and a few brown trout call the lake home. It’s a stunning lake and great to fish from the shore or by boat.

The lake offers camping and lodging and is open from April to November, weather permitting, as it is snowed in, in the winter. Remember you are in the mountains and it gets cold, so take some warm layers and a good sleeping bag.

There is an onsite shop where you can rent boats, kayaks, but fishing licenses, bait, tackle and more.

The Best Fishing In Arizona trout fishing

Riggs Flat Lake

In the stunning Pinaleño Mountains lies Riggs Flat Lake, 40 odd miles southwest of Safford and at the end of the Swift Trail. This is one of the harder to reach lakes in Arizona and if you’re looking for an empty peaceful place to fish, this is it. Riggs Flat Lake is surrounded by stunning views, meadows and alpine forest.

The lake is quite small and only 11 acres in size, making shore fishing the go-to, but small boats are also allowed. The waters are home to rainbow, brown and brook trout and on a good summer evening, they go wild for dry flies. It’s the perfect place to fish in solitude and enjoy the calm and serenity of the area.

You can camp around the lake and only RV’s less than 22 feet are allowed in. There is no fresh drinking water at the lake so be sure to bring your own.

The Best Fishing In Arizona lees ferry

Lees Ferry

Lees Ferry is a 13-mile section of the Colorado River and is a must fish for any fly fisherman thanks to its big rainbow trout population. It sits inside the Marble Canyon, just outside of Page and there is a campground will all the facilities you’ll need, from drinking water and fire pits to flush toilets and bathrooms sinks.

The best time to fish is during spring while the runoff is happening but the fishing is good all year round. The fishing is stunning as you walk through the red, orange and pink canyons, the water is gin-clear and you can get a rainbow of up to 22 inches, what’s not to love. The best time to fish is early morning and late evening, when the temperatures are cooler. Guides are also available if you like to fish some parts that aren’t easily accessed on foot.

Remember to take your suncream with you as there is no natural shade in the area and the days can get really hot.

Oak Creek Canyon

Another awesome place for fly fishing is on the Oak Creek River in Oak Creek Canyon, on the outskirts of Sedona. It is particularly good in both July and August. The river is well looked after and is well stocked with rainbow and brown trout, bass, bluegill, and walleye. It’s a great spot for pros and for beginners to learn on. Getting a guide is recommended, this will help you fish the right spots with the right flies.

The area is beautiful and the drive takes you through oak and pine forests with some amazing views.

The Best Fishing In Arizona

Dogtown Lake

Dogtown Lake sits just southeast of Williams and is a great spot for a family getaway. The lake itself is medium in size, quiet, peaceful and uncrowded. It’s an excellent trout fishery and is best fished in the fall, but is good all year round. There are also crappie and channel catfish to be caught here, it’s not just a place for trout fisherman and you can fish from the shore, by kayak and canoe or by boat, however, only single engines under one horsepower are allowed.

There are around 50 campsites in the area, all with good facilities and RV access. As well as fishing, you can go hiking, mountain biking, and kayaking to enjoy the beautiful natural scenery in the area, and it’s a hop skip and a jump from the Grand Canyon.

The Best Fishing In Arizona lake mohave

Lake Mead

Lake Mead sits between Nevada and Arizona and is part of Lake Mead National Recreational area. The lake is huge with 290 square miles and 700 miles of shoreline to discover. It’s the largest reservoir in the US and you won’t find it hard to get a little quiet spot of your own.

The lake is home to largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappie, bluegill, and striped bass. Katherine and Cottonwood cove are excellent bass spots and a lot of trophy fish have been caught from them. You’ll have the option to fish from a boat, the shoreline or one of the numerous piers around the lake.

Lake Mohave is just down the road and it’s a good rainbow trout fishery with some huge specimens, well worth a visit if you like fly fishing.

Summing Up

Arizona has an abundance of beautiful fishing locations intermingled with stunning scenery. It’s the perfect place for a comfortable but active fishing and hiking holiday with the family.


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