Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

Get “out like trout” for maybe your final chance to fish most high country waters. There have been reports of thin ice forming on lakes such as Woods Canyon Lake. Be careful — we consider all ice on Arizona lakes unsafe.

Winter weather can of course be detrimental to travel. Motorists traveling in Arizona’s high country need to be aware of some annual closings. Be sure to check the Arizona Department of Transportation website for the latest road closures. Other highlights (or frozen notes):

  • Big Lake is 50-percent ice-covered and there is minimal fishing from shore — boats are not able to be launched.
  • FR 105 to Woods Canyon Lake is closed and so boats cannot be launched. But anglers can still walk in and fish Woods Canyon.
  • The stores at Woods Canyon and Big Lake are closed for the winter.

Submit your tiger trout state record


Nicholas Tochko caught this catch-and-keep state record tiger trout, an 8-incher taken in May from Carnero Lake.

The average size of tiger trout at Woods Canyon and Willow Springs lakes? 10 inches. Go catch a tiger and submit your record before tiger trout-stocked lakes (Woods Canyon, Willow Springs and Becker — Carnero is ice-covered) become completely iced over. We’ve received just three applications for state record tigers.

See the “White Mountains” section in the full report for details of ice cover and fishing tips. Once again, we consider all ice on lakes unsafe.

Finally, see a video about catching tiger trout at Willow Springs Lake.

AZ crappie report

Consider targeting sporting crappie populations at Alamo, Bartlett and Roosevelt. Might not be banner crappie-fishing conditions just yet — but it’s worth a shot. As the water temperatures lower, the crappie will congregate into large schools in open water that can be up to 50 feet deep or so. The crappie formations, or schools, look like inverted pyramids (or Christmas trees … ), with the most active fish at the top, around 15 or 20 feet deep.

Catch a window of stable weather for crappie fishing.

The two primary strategies for catching these crappie are to use your fish finder, locate a school, sit over it, and slowly jig a 1/16- or even a 1/32-ounce jighead with curly tail or other small grub, Roadrunner or maybe a marabou jig. The other is slow trolling (1.5 mph) crappie jigs or even small crankbaits. Or combine the two — trolling until you get a bite, then vertically jig.

Be sure to check the stocking schedules.  Community Fishing Program lakes and ponds continue to get frequent trout stockings – see some tips.

Licensed to fish

Buy a license online, 24/7, and help conserve wildlife for future generations.

Catch of the Week

(Send your Angler Reports to — one will be selected as Catch of the Week)


Joe B. caught this walleye in Lake Mead near mile marker 43 on Nov. 23. He said he’d been fishing Lake Mead for 20-plus years without catching a walleye.

See all the Angler Reports


Upcoming free fishing events

Free fishing clinics, loaner rods are provided, bait is free, and no license is required to those who register during event hours.

Saturday —
Town of Gilbert’s Youth Fishing Day, 8 a.m. — noon, Freestone Pond (1045 E. Juniper Ave., Gilbert). Sponsored by AZGFD and town of Gilbert. Loaner rods provided to first 100 participants. Bait and fishing information available.  Contact Jennifer Lauria, Gilbert Parks & Rec., 480-503-6234 or the AZGFD Sport Fishing Education Program at (623) 236-7240.

See the full schedule.

Stocking report

These are confirmed stockings from last week. See the stocking schedules.

Rainbow trout

Friday, Nov. 25 — Luna Lake.

Friday, Nov. 18 — Community waters: Desert Breeze, Veterans Oasis, Copper Sky, Red Mountain, Riverview, Rio Vista, Alvord, Cortez, Desert West, Encanto, Papago Ponds, Steele Indian School, Chaparral, Surprise, Evelyn Hallman, Tempe Kiwanis, Kennedy, Lakeside, Silverbell, Sahuarita, Water Ranch Lake. ** Pioneer Lake and Green Valley lakes did not get stocked due to water quality issues (both are expected to be stocked the week of Nov. 28).

See the full schedule.


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