Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

Free Fishing Day in Arizona is perfect for families.

It’s time to get ready for Arizona’s Free Fishing Day. You can fish Arizona waters for free on Saturday, June 4, making this an ideal time to take the family out for some fun and relaxing outdoor recreation.

This day will be celebrated as part of National Fishing and Boating Week. On that Saturday, no fishing licenses are required for persons fishing any public waters in Arizona.

See our full schedule of fishing events.

Hulsey Lake opens and is stocked with trout

On Saturday, April 30, the Alpine Alliance, the U.S. Forest Service Alpine Ranger District and Arizona Game and Fish Department hosted a grand opening at Hulsey Lake, located near Alpine.

Hulsey Lake was drained following the Wallow Fire in 2011 to prevent downstream flooding. Before the Wallow Fire, Hulsey Lake was experiencing excessive aquatic vegetation and algae blooms which were contributing to high pH and low dissolved oxygen levels, which negatively impacted the trout fishing.


White Mountain hot (cool) spots

  • Big Lake. Cutthroat trout fishing is excellent. Z-Rays are back in production in Arizona, and are excellent trout fishing lures at Big Lake and Woods Canyon.
  • Woodland Lake. The lake will be stocked this week with large “supercatchable” trout.
  • Woods Canyon Lake. Always a summer classic, Woods Canyon Lake will be receiving tiger trout in a couple weeks. Z-Rays are available at the Woods Canyon Lake store.

See our Fish & Boat Arizona map for directions to each.

Catch of the week

Here’s what’s new with your fellow adventurers!

Photo by: @TitanAZ
Photo by: @TitanAZ

Use #ADVENTURERENEWED for your chance to get featured on the Catch of the Week.

Take the trout Challenge

Headed to the high country?  Complete one of our trout challenges. Any angler completing the Challenge will receive a certificate featuring the species caught along with dates and locations. The first group of anglers to complete the Challenge will receive Trout Challenge “schwag” that could include a sweatshirt, hat and/or water bottle.

See more information.

Angler Reports

(Send reports and pictures to

Lake Havasu

Don M.: Thought I would share a couple of photos with you. My friend Bill Schleeter and I went to Havasu yesterday (Wednesday, May 4) for a half day. Didn’t get on the water until about 7:45 a.m. and was off by 1 p.m.

We got 12 fish total: Bill got 7 and I got 5. Mixture of smallmouth and largemouth.

We caught on Yum Dingers (watermelon with red flake) and a purple paddle tail stick bait.

I got my best ever largemouth out of Havasu. A real chunk that weighed about 4  pounds.

Saguaro Lake
Jim F.: My son’s friend and I went to Saguaro on Tuesday, May 10. The water was calm and crystal clear and the fishing was tough. There were bass smashing shad on the surface everywhere, but no matter what bait or technique we used we couldn’t get a single bite — even if we were able to get a lure into one of these active boils.

We saw lots of beds in the backs of coves, but very few fish were actively guarding the beds. We stopped at Bagley Flats to use the restroom around 10 and as we left we decided to fish the area nearby.

On a lark I threw a shad-style crankbait near one of the no-wake markers and ended up catching the bass of a lifetime — a fat 9.65-pound hog that was more than 24 inches long. I was using a medium spinning rig with 8-pound mono so I felt fortunate to boat the thing.

East Fork of the Black River
Charlie P.: I am an AZ Fly Fishing Guide and guide on the East Fork of the Black River. 

On May 7-8 the fishing was good for stocked rainbow trout along FR 276 and also good for wild brown trout in the same area.

Simi Seal Leaches worked the best along with Parachute Adams size 16 and BWO size 16-18.

Woodland Lake
We caught these beauties at Woodland lake!

Bartlett Lake
Chris J. of Buckeye:  Did some night fishing May 7 at the Yellow Cliffs, in about 25 feet of water. Caught a bunch of crappie, all good size, with the largest being 17 inches.

Chevelon Canyon Lake
On Saturday May 8, three of us anglers went to Chevelon Lake to fish for trout. I had a friend and his dad up the day before with minimal results. One fish between the two of them.

On Saturday we all went down and caught six between the three of us. The largest being a 17-inch rainbow and 16-inch brown trout. Inline spinners were what they hit on when they decided to strike. A rough cold front probably affected the catch rate but still did OK considering. On Sunday we all went to Woods Canyon Lake and caught two in the afternoon. One on an inline spinner and one on PowerBait. Thanks for the time.

Licenses support wildlife conservation

If you need to purchase – or renew – your license, we want you to know that the proceeds go back into things like conservation, Community fishing stockings, and wildlife conservation and protection of resources.

So thanks for being a conservation pioneer!  If you didn’t know, the licenses are good for 365 days from the date of purchase.

Upcoming free fishing events

What: Wildlife Fair at Green Valley Park
When: Saturday, May 14
Where: Green Valley Park, Payson
Comments: There will be lots of vendors, free fishing, loaner fishing equipment and courtesy of the Mogollon Sporting Association, 1,000 additional rainbow trout added to the lake in addition to the last Community Fishing Program stocking. This is always an exciting family event, so we hope to see you there.
See the entire schedule.


2 thoughts on “Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal”

  1. Was at apache lake on 5/29/2016 caught 1 yellow bass 1 large mouth it was 19 inches long catch and release. And about 8 stripes on a worm off the bottom at about 25 feet deep . Don’t know how to post a pic

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