Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal


The first catfish stocking of the season took place at Mesa Riverview Lake on Thursday morning.
The first catfish stocking of the season took place at Mesa Riverview Lake on Thursday morning.


Spring is here and we’re kicking off one of the best times of the year to get outdoors with the return of channel catfish to our Community Fishing waters –  they’ll be stocked throughout the summer.

Also, during this full moon, bass and crappie are spawning heavily in our desert lakes, so rig up your favorite bass buster — reaction baits and Texas/dropshot rigs are working. Even nightcrawlers. Just ask Phillip Macdonald of Tucson.

Macdonald caught the catch of the week with this 26-inch, 10.37-pound largemouth bass on March 23 with a nightcrawler at Tucson’s Kennedy Lake.  It’s the Community Fish-of-the-Year leading for bass. Congrats, Phillip!

Back to catfish. The first catfish of the season were stocked Thursday nto all of the “core” community waters — CHANDLER: Desert Breeze, Veterans Oasis; MARICOPA: Copper Sky; MESA: Red Mountain, Riverview; PEORIA: Pioneer, Rio Vista; PHOENIX: Alvord, Cortez, Desert West, Encanto, Papago, Steele Indian School; GILBERT: Water Ranch; SCOTTSDALE: Chaparral; SURPRISE: Surprise; TEMPE: Evelyn Hallman, Kiwanis; TUCSON: Kennedy; Lakeside; Silverbell; SAHUARITA: Sahuarita.

See all of the stocking schedules.

Which leads us to …


Your AZ fish-finder: #AZfishtracker

Follow @NickFishAZ on Twitter and look for occasional real-time updates on the latest fish stockings — when, where and what. Reports will not always be given on all waters — particularly some Community waters that receive high fishing pressure.

As opposed to our stocking schedules, which are just that — schedules that are subject to change due to water quality, weather, etc.  — these tweets will give you some confirmed stockings, and the information will come straight from our employees who stock the waters.

We just want to help you catch fish. Thanks for following!


High country updates

  • The Blue Ridge (C.C. Cragin) Reservoir road opened up on March 18.
  • Forest Road 300, from Highway 260 to Woods Canyon, Bear Canyon, and Chevelon Canyon lakes is closed for the winter. Forest Road 149 to Willow Springs Lake and 300 south to Black Canyon Lake are OPEN.
  • Big Lake is ice free and fishing is good. But the only way to access Big Lake is the 249 road from Alpine, which still has some snow pack. Roads surrounding Big Lake may be snow/ice pack and muddy so use caution. Highways 273 and 261 are still closed with large impassable snow drifts.
  • Woods Canyon Lake is ice free, but Forest Road 300 remains closed. Tony from Woods Canyon Lake Store said the store will open April 1 (when the road is expected to open as well).


Fishing license reminder

Good time to check the date of purchase on your license. If you need it renewed — or are getting one for the first time — you’re in luck. Buying a license is pretty easy these days. Just buy one online  and fish our great state for a year (and help conserve all species of wildlife while doing so). If you didn’t know, they’re good for 365 days from the date of purchase.


Arizona Game & Fish Department Outdoor Expo is April 2-3

The annual Arizona Game and Fish Department Outdoor Expo is coming soon! This event located at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility is free and offers lots of activities for the whole family. There will be two kids fishing tanks, live wildlife exhibits, cowboy shooting competitions, boating exhibits, plus archery and firearms activities.

Admission and parking are free. Concessionaires will be on site if you would like to purchase food and beverages, plus vendors will be on site selling outdoor-related products.

The event runs 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 2 and 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sunday, April 3. The Ben Avery Shooting Facility is located at 4044 W. Black Canyon Blvd in Phoenix, which is about ½ mile west of I-17 on Carefree Hwy.


Angler Reports

(Send reports and pictures to

Bartlett Lake
Doug M.: These are the quality crappie my son and I have been catching at Bartlett. Pictured is my son with a fat female fish — which was released.

Rose Canyon Lake
Robert M.: Took my son up to Rose Canyon over the weekend for a little hike and fishing before the gates open.  Lake is full and beautiful and fishing for holdover trout was quite successful using PowerBait.  Saw a lot more fish than we caught, but he did catch his limit.  Attached a photo of James Dryden and his first rainbow of the season.

Canyon Lake
John A.: March 19th – Alexa A., 8, of Gilbert, posing with her very first largemouth bass. Alexa hooked, fought, and landed the 16-incher all on her own! Caught at Canyon Lake mid-afternoon fishing the shaded areas with live nightcrawlers.

Austin B.: Friday, March 18 — actually catching them on crawfish-colored (Rapala) Fat Raps.

Lake Pleasant
Kevin of Prescott: March 19 —  Fished the Upper Agua Fria Arm of Lake Pleasant via Table Mesa Road on March 19 with the family.  Fishing was great until 9:30 and again after 2:30.  Lots of doubles and triples on stripers.  Caught over 30 and lost several more on shad imitation baits.  The kids had a great time catching their first fish of the 2016 season.  Thanks to the AZGFD and the Maricopa County Parks Department for ensuring continued access to the upper Agua Fria during the Bald Eagle Closure season.

Saguaro Lake
Trace P. of Mesa: First crappie ever caught for me. Caught on a floating nightcrawler 18 inches from the bottom on March 16.



Upcoming free fishing events

What: Youth Fishing Day

When: Saturday, April 16, 8 a.m. – noon

Where: Bonsall Pond 5840 W. Bethany Home Rd., Glendale

Comments: The Arizona Game and Fish will be working with the City of Glendale to provide a day of free, family fishing and fun. Up to 1,000 youth licenses will be given out free on a first-come, first-serve basis. In addition, Game and Fish staff and volunteer instructors will be on hand to provide tips on fishing and answer your angling questions. Bring your own equipment or there will be loaner rods available. During the event, participants who register with Game and Fish will be provided bait and will not need a fishing license.

Contact: For more information please contact the Sport Fishing Education Program at (623) 236-7240



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