Arizona is world-famous for its desert climate and incredibly diverse landscape full of natural wonders. The Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, and the red rocks of Sedona are just some of the iconic sites found here.
Although Arizona certainly isn’t known for its bodies of water, you’ll find plenty of rivers, lakes, and reservoirs scattered among all the stunning scenery, providing truly unique and memorable opportunities for fishing. One of the best things about fishing in Arizona is that the mild climate allows you to fish literally all year.
Whether you’re a rookie fisherman or a seasoned angler, fishing spots in Arizona are abundant and diverse.
Big Lake is just south of Greer in Arizona’s White Mountains, nestled close to the New Mexico border and sitting at an elevation of 9,200 feet. It has a reputation as having the best trout fishing in Arizona and is one of the state’s best-kept secrets, as it’s not nearly as well-known as some others on this list.
Once each spring, the lake is stocked with 40,000 trout, primarily rainbow but also cutthroat, brook, brown, and native Apaches. Boating is allowed, but motors must be 10 horsepower or less. There are boat rentals available at Big Lake, as well as a family-owned store with licenses, tackle, bait, gas, snacks, and more.
One of the only Arizona fishing lakes that closes seasonally due to snow, Big Lake is open each year from April to November.
Although it’s smaller, Patagonia Lake is a haven for bass fishing in Arizona. The 265-acre man-made lake is just over an hour south of Tucson. During the spring and summer, Patagonia Lake is excellent for fishing largemouth bass.
There’s plenty of vegetation in the lake and numerous Christmas tree bundles have been strategically placed to create additional cover. You’ll find rainbow trout in the winter months, as they’re stocked every three weeks from October through March.
There are also bluegill, channel and flathead catfish, and crappie in Patagonia Lake. Patagonia Lake has several great beach areas to comfortably fish from the shore and while boating is allowed, half the lake is a no-wake zone.
Located just outside stunningly beautiful Sedona, Oak Creek is perhaps one of the most scenic fly fishing spots in Arizona. The Arizona Game and Fish Department stock rainbow and brown trout upstream of Oak Creek every couple of weeks from April through September, and you can also fish bluegill and walleye.
While the summer months are the most popular for trout fishing, be aware that this part of the state gets very hot. Oak Creek is a wildly popular tourist spot, so many of the best fishing spots require short hikes to get away from the crowds.
Best known for its idyllic, iconic scenery, Lake Powell is actually one of the best fishing spots in Arizona. It’s technically in both Arizona and Utah and it’s massive – it covers more than 250 square miles and has over 1,800 miles of shoreline. That’s more than the combined total of all three states on the Pacific coast!
Because of its size, you’ll often feel like you have the whole lake to yourself as you fish for large- and smallmouth bass, channel catfish, striped bass, walleye, and bluegill. You’ll need a boat to maneuver Lake Powell, but there are countless coves, canyons, and beaches where you can park and fish from the shore.
This 13-mile stretch of the mighty Colorado River in Marble Canyon just outside Page and near Lake Powell is best known for rainbow trout fishing. Lees Ferry is accessible and offers great fly fishing year-round, with an estimated 20,000 trout per mile.
Spring runoff is considered the best time to fish, but be aware that it can be extremely hot even in those months and there is minimal or no shade. There are several excellent fishing spots that aren’t easily accessible, so consider hiring a guide.
You can boat up to the Glen Canyon Dam, which dams Lake Powell, and there are several designated campsites along the way.
Well-known for excellent bass fishing in Arizona, Lake Pleasant is located on the extreme west side of the Phoenix metro area. It’s the largest lake in Phoenix, technically a 10,000-acre reservoir covering about 12 square miles and with 116 miles of shoreline.
Lake Pleasant is wildly popular for powerboating and watersports, and it can easily be fished aboard a boat or from the shore. Its waters are deep and notorious for producing big largemouth bass, as well as striped bass, tilapia, channel catfish, and the state’s only population of white bass.
Facilities are excellent at Lake Pleasant with a marina, restaurant, and store, as well as boat and gear rentals and guided fishing trips.