Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

Feels like fall-time fishing at high country classics such as Big Lake, where elk are bugling and fall leaves are turning a light yellow as trout become a bit more active.

Down in the desert on Thursday, catfish returned to Community fishing waters. One stocking truck started at waters such as Sahuarita Lake:

Community fishing stocking at Sahuarita lake in Arizona.
Community fish stockings in Arizona extend from Payson south to this scenic urban spot — Sahuarita Lake.
Another, on a Phoenix-area run, hit waters such as Rio Vista Pond in Peoria:


The Community catfish stocking route included all “core” waters from Sahuarita to Surprise. Catfish typically are caught on the bottom suing a hook-and-sinker setup using strong-smelling baits such as liver, as well as worms, hot dogs shrimp, cheese, dough balls, and so on.

Fishing clinics are breaking out statewide, seasonal fisheries are opening, and anglers up for a “cast and blast” can rejoice in the opening of fall hunting seasons.

The winter trout stocking schedule is out, too.

Striped bass fishing has been excellent at Lake Pleasant. See some striped bass recipes.

Largemouth and striped bass bites are getting more frequent. As desert temperatures drop a bit, go to fall fishing techniques such as top-water lures at sun-up and sundown as well as jerkbaits and crankbaits. Look for shad popping on the surface as they’re being pursued by hungry bass, and cast beyond the surface boils and reel back into the frenzy.

A recent stringer of stripers caught at Lake Pleasant.
A recent stringer of stripers caught at Lake Pleasant.
Summer trout stockings are coming to an end, but there is some great trout fishing at high elevation lakes such as Kinnikinick Lake (southeast of Flagstaff, where as of Sept. 20 we have stocked about 43,000 rainbow trout and 10,000 brown trout) and Big Lake, where trout having begun to feed on the surface more often.

The weekend also marks the opening of fall small game hunting seasons – quail season begins Friday, Sept. 30. Head to Flagstaff Oct. 1 for a fishing clinic that also will include small game hunting tips.

Good to time renew that fishing license. Get one online, which helps conserve all species of wildlife, and get ready for some fall fishing glory.

Fishing in Arizona hits peak with
Oct. 1 opening at Silver Creek

This opening has become a festival of sorts and the public is invited. This seasonal fishery is catch-and-release only.

Silver Creek is five miles east of Show Low on U.S. Route 60. Turn north off Highway 60 onto Bourdon Ranch Road for five miles to Hatchery Road. Then head east on Hatchery Road 1 mile to the Silver Creek Hatchery, park in the parking lot, and follow the signs to the creek.

Fossil Creek is a great place in AZ to take the kids this weekend.
Fossil Creek is a great place in AZ to take the kids this weekend.

Fossil Creek fishery opens Oct. 1

Calling all kids (and adults). Enjoy a unique fishing experience of catching native roundtail and headwater chub. Camping is no longer allowed. See the Coconino National Forest website for more information.

C.C. Cragin (Blue Ridge Reservoir) closed to fishing

Blue Ridge Res/CC Cragin is closed to fishing due to low water levels. All accessible water is in an area closed for the next phase of the ongoing renovation of boating access facilities. Road is closed at Rock Crossing campground.

Stocking reports

Rainbow trout

Friday, Sept. 16 — Colorado River (Davis Dam); Thursday, Sept. 15 — Tonto Creek; Wednesday, Sept. 14 — Kinnikinick Lake, Rose Canyon Lake; Monday, Sept. 12 — Canyon Creek, Mingus Lake; Friday, Sept. 9 — Willow Springs Lake, Canyon Creek.

Read more.

Upcoming free fishing clinics

Saturday — Verde River Days,   Dead Horse Ranch State Park,  675 Dead Horse Ranch Rd, Cottonwood, Ariz., 8 a.m. – noon.

Saturday, Oct. 1 — Free fishing clinic about fall fishing in northern Arizona, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Kinnikinick Lake.

Saturday, Oct. 1 — Family Fishing Even at Pena Blanca Lake, off SR 289, Nogales, 8 a.m. – noon.

See more details.

Angler Reports

(Send your fishing reports and photos to


Apache Lake

Jake H.: A 7.88-pound largemouth on a jig. 23 inch with 17.5 inch girth.


Steele Indian School Pond

Ryan H. caught these big catfish on Zebco micro rods on Sunday —  days before the return of catfish to Community waters. Read his full story.


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

  1. Fool Hollow Lake at Fool Hollow State Park is 25% vegetation and can not fish without getting snagged. The vegetation has been taking over for at least the last 4 years.The South fishing dock is useless due to the undergrowth.The pH level is so high the trout cannot be stocked.Please advise me what can be done. John Donovan 520-440-9203Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE Device

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