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Best Fishing Lakes in Arizona

These 14 lakes are the best place to fish in Arizona. Each lake provides bountiful fish paired with picturesque scenery. This guide will assist in ensuring a guaranteed catch.

a fishing lake in arizona

Arizona is a state often associated with the desert. It has an arid climate, high temperatures, and little rain.

There are mountains, deep canyons, and National Parks. Arizona is not dry but is a year-round outdoor haven.

Outdoor activities are a staple of the state. People visit from all around the country just to take in the beauties of the environment and indulge in outdoor activities. Fishing is a popular activity that can be done in any season. 

man fishing in a lake in arizona

The state has 128 lakes, so it is hard to narrow down the best fishing lakes in Arizona.

Arizona has a healthy population of flathead catfish, rainbow trout, and largemouth bass. The best places to fish in Arizona all provide catchable fish and breathtaking views.

Top 14 Arizona Fishing Lakes

  1. Roosevelt Lake
  2. Saguaro Lake
  3. Big Lake
  4. Lake Havasu
  5. Lake Pleasant
  6. Alamo Lake
  7. Apache Lake
  8. Canyon Lake
  9. Lake Mead
  10. Lake Powell
  11. Lees Ferry
  12. Martinez Lake
  13. Patagonia Lake
  14. Woods Canyon Lake

Roosevelt Lake

Roosevelt Lake is a reservoir situated 80 miles northeast of Phoenix. It is the largest lake in Arizona with 128 miles of shore length, 369-foot max depth, and covers over 21,000 acres.

Roosevelt Lake

Roosevelt Lake was formed by the nearby Theodore Roosevelt Dam on the Salt River. The lake is three miles from the Tonto National Monument in the Tonto National Forest.

Bass are the most popular fish in Roosevelt Lake. White, striped, smallmouth, and largemouth bass are found in spades.

Anglers can also find carp, sunfish, and two types of catfish—channel and flathead. Small baitfish are a common choice for luring these fish. Shad and shiners are excellent live bait for both bass and catfish.


Saguaro Lake

Saguaro Lake is another lake located in central Arizona. It is just 27 miles east of Mesa. The lake covers 1,200 acres with 110 feet max depth.

Saguaro Lake

Saguaro Lake has more than 22 miles of shoreline. The lake has a prime location with attractions nearby, such as a narrated cruise and horseback tours.

Two thousand two hundred fish habitats were put in the lake to increase fishing. As a result, Saguaro Lake has a bounty of bass.

The biggest are caught in the fall and spring. Carp is the second most popular type of fish, usually found in the deepest sections of the lake. Small live bait will bring you much success at Saguaro lake.


Big Lake

Big Lake in Apache County is a 450-acre fishing lake. Big Lake sits at 9,000 feet of elevation in the White Mountains.

Big Lake

The lake has an average depth of 16 feet. Big Lake is sandwiched between two mountain peaks—Escuddila and Mt. Baldy. 

Big Lake has some of the best trout fishing in Arizona. The lake is mainly inhabited by rainbow trout. However, anglers can also catch brook and cutthroat trout.

If you are lucky, you can find brown trout. Popular bait used to lure the trout are Berkley Powerbait and Mice Tails.


Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu in Lake Havasu City is a large reservoir directly on the Arizona/California border.

Lake Havasu

The lake has a surface area of 19,300 acres and a maximum depth of 90 feet. Lake Havasu has a rich history with plenty of historical attractions nearby, like lighthouse replicas and London Bridge. 

Lake Havasu has a variety of fish species, the bass being the most popular. Apart from bass, anglers can reel in yellow bullhead, channel, and flathead catfish.

Both fish can be reeled in with meaty baits like nightcrawlers. 


Lake Pleasant

Lake Pleasant is a popular fishing reservoir 30 miles from Phoenix. The waters cover 10,000 acres with 116 miles of shoreline. Its deepest point reaches 260 feet.

Lake Pleasant

Carl Pleasant dam created the lake. Lake Pleasant is the crown jewel of Lake Pleasant Regional Park.

Lake Pleasant is home to the most diverse species in the state. The species of fish that live in Lake Pleasant include; bass, bluegill, crappie, buffalo fish, catfish, and all kinds of sunfish.

Due to its proximity to Phoenix, Lake Pleasant is the most popular fishing lake for Arizona residents.


Alamo Lake

Alamo Lake is a reservoir 38 miles north of Wendon. The lake sits in the center of Alamo Lake State Park.

Alamo Lake

The lake itself covers 3,500 acres with a maximum depth of 80 ft. Alamo Lake State Park offers several campgrounds and hiking trails right next to the lake.

Alamo Lake is the best largemouth bass fishing lake in Arizona. In the summer, the bass gets active in shallow water, so buzz baits, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits are popular.

Alamo Lake also hosts a healthy population of crappies. Crappie tubes, spoons, and jigs are often used to entice crappies. 


Apache Lake

Apache Lake is another reservoir built along the Salt River. Metropolitan Phoenix is only 65 miles southwest. Apache Lake is five miles downstream from Roosevelt Lake.

Apache Lake

The lake’s surface area is just over 2,500 acres, with a maximum depth of 200 feet. Apache Lake sits along the historic Apache Trail. 

Fishing in Apache Lake will yield many of the classic Arizona dwelling fish. However, bass is the target fish like many other lakes along the Salt River.

There is plenty of largemouth bass, but Apache has a more significant number of smallmouth bass than other lakes. 


Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake is the smallest reservoir of the four along the Salt River, with a surface area of 950 acres.

Canyon Lake

The lake has 28 miles of shoreline along with red rock formations. Canyon Lake is quite deep. When the lake is full, the maximum depth is 141 feet. The Superstition Wilderness is the view around the lake. 

Canyon Lake has a variety of fish swimming in its waters but is best known for largemouth bass, yellow bass, and catfish.

The different bass is bountiful in the spring and can be caught with plastic baits. The catfish season goes from spring to summer and gets baited by small meat.


Lake Mead

Lake Mead is an enormous reservoir that stretches from Arizona to Nevada. It is the largest lake in the United States in terms of water capacity, with the deepest point of 532 feet.

Lake Mead

Leak Mead has over 759 miles of shoreline with 229 square miles of surface area. The lake was created by the legendary Hoover Dam at the Arizona/Nevada border.

Striped bass is the coveted fish at Lake Mead. Some of them come in at over 40 pounds.

Popular bait includes anchovies and shad. Lake Mead also has other types of bass, catfish, and rainbow trout.


Lake Powell

Lake Powell is the second-largest manmade reservoir in the U.S. The lake extends over Arizona and Utah.

Lake Powell

Lake Powell is currently in a threatening drought, with water levels quickly lowering. At its peak, the maximum depth was 538 feet with over 1,900 miles of shoreline.

Lake Powell is in Glen Canyon Recreational Area, attracting millions of tourists a year.

Similar to Lake Mead, striped bass is the most popular fish. Lake Powell also has largemouth and smallmouth bass.

Crappies, green sunfish, bluegills, and walleyes can also be caught, all of which are common in the spring and summer.


Lees Ferry

Lees Ferry

Lees Ferry is a site on the Colorado River in Northeast Arizona. Lees Ferry is a historic site that provides easy access to both sides of the Colorado River.

Now, it is the start of the Grand Canyon National Park and operates as a recreational area. Thousands of people gravitate towards Lees Ferry for fishing and river rafting.

Lees Ferry is home to massive trout. It is considered the best place to fish in Arizona for trophy trout.

Rainbow trout larger than 22 inches can be caught in these waters. Rubber worms will be an effective bait for catching these famous trout, just make sure you’ve got the right rod!


Martinez Lake

Martinez Lake was created for fishing. It is located 35 miles north of Yuma and covers a modest 640 acres.

Martinez Lake

It has an average depth of ten feet. Martinez Lake is now a resort area with plenty of relaxation activities that include boating and fishing.

The most popular fish at Martinez Lake is the largemouth bass. Channel and flathead catfish are also common in the lake.

The shallow waters of Martinez Lake make catching bass with plastic baits like spinnerbaits a breeze. Break out live baits to catch either type of catfish. 


Patagonia Lake

Patagonia Lake in southern Arizona is not just for birding. This small 250-acre lake is seven miles south of Patagonia and just over 17 miles from the Mexican border.

Patagonia Lake

The lake has a maximum depth of 120 feet. Patagonia Lake sits in Patagonia Lake State Park, attracting tourists with camping and hiking.

Bass are bountiful in Patagonia Lake, usually on the smaller side. Giant catfish have been caught in Patagonia Lake.

The big catfish are typically caught at night in deeper water. Every winter, rainbow trout are stocked into Patagonia Lake. Plenty of smaller fish can be snagged in Sonoita Creek.


Woods Canyon Lake

Woods Canyon Lake is a small lake located in Northern Arizona. It is one of the Rim Lakes located on the Mogollon Rim.

Woods Canyon Lake

Woods Canyon Lake is only 55 acres but has a maximum depth of 40 feet. The lake is situated in Woods Canyon Recreational Area, providing several campgrounds and hiking trails.

Woods Canyon Lake is notable for being one of the few lakes in Arizona with tiger trout. The lake is stocked with both tiger and rainbow trout. If lucky, you can reel one of the elusive brown trout living in Woods Canyon Lake.

The classic worm is a common bait that should yield positive results for trout fishing.


Final Thoughts

Fishing in Arizona is easy and accessible for all residents and visitors. Many of the lakes are near Phoenix and the surrounding area.

Some are giant, so there should be no problem finding a quiet place to fish. The smaller lakes are less popular and will provide a unique fishing experience. Every lake in Arizona is close to a variety of outdoor attractions.

The lakes listed are some of Arizona’s best places for fishing, but it’s not the only state where you can haul in some big ones!

Rocco Smith

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