Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

For those planning Memorial Day weekend fishing excursions, here are some recommendations:

  • Big Lake and Reservation Lake in the White Mountains. Big Lake has boat rentals and provides some of the best trout fishing in the state. Reservation Lake, on the White Mountain Apache Reservation, is just down the road from Big Lake and gets relatively minor fishing pressure (especially compared to Big Lake). But don’t expect a lot of amenities, just great fishing. Be sure to get the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s fishing permit.
  • Willow Springs, Woods Canyon, Bear Canyon and Knoll lakes along the Mogollon Rim are all worth a visit. Tiger trout will be in Willow Springs and Woods Canyon just in time for Memorial Day! For those who love the quietness that comes with remote locations, try Knoll Lake. Bear Canyon, meanwhile, requires walking in down a steep switchback trail, which typically keeps out the hordes of anglers who don’t like walking far.
  • Dogtown lake near Williams is very family-friendly. Dogtown recently has had some of the best fishing in the state.
  • Lake Powell, especially the Bullfrog area, is a fishing dream. It takes longer to drive all the way up into Utah to reach the Bullfrog area, but once there, you don’t have to travel far in a boat to catch hordes of smallmouth bass, striped bass, walleye and largemouth bass. For an extended Memorial weekend getaway, it makes a lot of sense. There is even a pretty nice campground.
  • Lake Mead, especially launching at South Cove, can provide some wonderful desert solitude.
  • Roosevelt Lake is a good fishing bet, and with all the campgrounds there, it takes a lot to fill them up.
  • Tempe Town Lake is open again and is just made for those having to stay in the Valley of the Sun. Fish at first and last light for bass, catfish and/or sunfish.
  • Laughlin/Bullhead area on the Colorado River is a great escape for rainbow trout, striped bass and catfish.
  • Upper Lake Mary near Flagstaff is a terrific place for bass, northern pike, walleye, and yellow perch. Plus, there are no boat motor restrictions so you can use your bass or ski boat there.
  • Kinnikinick Lake just east of Flagstaff (go to Mormon Lake and turn left) is a dandy fishery that is seldom crowded. The camping amenities are pretty basic: they’re pinyon-juniper habitat, and a bumpy dirty road to reach it. But, it’s a great place to fish for rainbows and browns away from the crowds.
  • Fool Hollow Lake in Show Low offers a smorgasbord of fishing from trout and walleye to smallmouth bass and largemouth bass. This state park also has some excellent amenities.

Be sure to check out our summer trout stocking schedule.

AZGFD is adjusting some trout stockings due to a few of Arizona’s state and federal fish hatcheries having tested positive for Bacteria Kidney Disease. Read more.

And for Google map directions to all of the above fishing waters and more, visit our Fish&Boat Arizona map.

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.

Catch of the week


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

Photo by: @rockgypsyme
Photo by: @rockgypsyme

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

Angler Reports

(Send reports and pictures to

Lower Salt River
Took my 3-year-old down to the Salt for his first fishing trip.  He hooked onto this rainbow almost right away.  Nightcrawler on a No. 10 with enough weight to keep it in place.  Best fishing experienceI’ve ever had.  Take your kids fishing folks.

Marvin F.: Myself and a group of buddies, all kayak anglers, decided to float the Lower Salt River last weekend. The weather was perfect, a rare cool day in May. I ended up catching three largemouth, including this 19-inch 4-pound beauty on a senko, a real hawg for the Lower Salt. Awesome, Gorgeous trip.

Patagonia Lake
Derrick H.: I caught this crappie on Friday, May 13, 2016, about 4 p.m. at Patagonia.  I was using a Berkley Gulp Alive minnow on a 1/32-ounce jig head.  Crappie fishing was good that day.

Bartlett Lake
Alex A.: Took my Dad to Bartlett Lake Saturday for his birthday and had some great success with both of us catching fish on plastics, including his monster bass in the left picture. Happy Birthday Dad!

Tempe Town Lake
Donald C.: I caught it Monday afternoon around 6:45. I was throwing a football head jig. I had fished for about an hour and caught a couple of nice fish. I was fishing under the bridges. I was packing up and decided to throw five more casts and on my fourth of five casts I hooked this fish. I was working it slow and he just hammered it. A 15 min fight and four attempts to net him I got him on shore. He weighed 11.2-pound, 23 inches long, girth 17 inches.

Kinnikinick Lake
Todd O.: Figured I’d drop you a line and let you know my wife and I attempted to fish this past Sunday at Kinnikinick Lake. The drive in was sloppy as it rained all day Saturday up there.  When we got there the wind was blowing ridiculously from west to east. I still managed to ride the white caps and troll a few times with great success. Exactly where the fishing left off last fall. Fish appear to be healthier looking this year as well. All four fish were 12 inches plus. Great fishing lake, just usually have to fight the elements.

Upcoming fishing events

When: Saturday, May 21, 8 a.m. – noon

Where: Woodland Lake, Pinetop/Lakeside

Comments: Come out and enjoy some family fun with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Staff and volunteer instructors will be providing free fishing for everyone who signs in at the Game and Fish booth during event hours. Bait will be provided and a limited amount of loaner equipment will be available.

Contact: For more information please contact the Pinetop Regional Office at 928-532-3680.

See the full schedule.


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