Top 5 AZ fishing holes for this winter

In Arizona, winter doesn’t have to mean sending boats and rods and reels into hibernation. While outdoor recreation opportunities across many U.S. states shut down during the season of freeze, Arizona rolls on with trout stockings and water temperatures just warm enough to convince fish to bite during the holidays.

Although fishing tends to slow a tad this time of the year, there are some spots that are winter-friendly.

Here, then, are the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s top-5 fishing holes for this winter (click on the title to bring up Google-map directions):

5. Alamo Lake

Alamo Lake has high populations of sportfish such as catfish, crappie and largemouth bass.

Alamo is a western Arizona dandy that can heat up quickly during the winter. At any given time from Nov. – Feb., Alamo can have some of the best crappie fishing in the state.


4.  Parker Canyon Lake

Parker Canyon Lake, at 5,400 feet of elevation, is stocked with rainbow November through March.

Not only does  Parker Canyon Lake in southern Arizona have great access with an abundance of shoreline options, its water temperatures remain cold enough to keep trout active throughout the day  — not just during the late evening and early mornings.

Parker Canyon Lake is stocked with trout through the winter.


3. Lees Ferry

Lees Ferry on the Colorado River is cold in the shadow of a canyon, but fishing opportunities remain steady.
Lees Ferry on the Colorado River is cold in the shadow of a canyon, but fishing opportunities remain steady.

Winter is traditionally the spawning period for this world-class wild rainbow trout fishery in northern Arizona that provides the awe-inspiring gateway to the Grand Canyon.

Catching trout in the rushing Colorado River along the spectacular red sandstone cliffs of the Marble Canyon Gorge is an experience beyond compare.


2. Lake Havasu

The world record 5-pound, 12.8-ounce redear sunfish was taken last year from Lake Havasu by Hector Brito.
Lake Havasu has some of the best bass fishing in the nation and water temperatures stay relatively warm during the winter.

This giant, shallow, solunar bowl in the desert heats up quickly during a warm winter sun and has a large variety for sport-fish.

Havasu also contains some monster redear sunfish — the world record 5-pound, 12.8-ounce redear was taken from Havasu in February of 2014.

The “West Coast of Arizona” hardly experiences winter.


1.  Lower Salt River

The lower Salt River is typically stocked with rainbow trout at Granite Reef, Blue Ridge and Phon D. Sutton.


Anglers get the unique experience of stream fishing for trout in the desert. The Lower Salt River, just minutes from some of the Valley of the Sun’s population centers,  is stocked with trout throughout the winter and offers good shoreline fishing options as well. A Tonto Pass is required.

Try nightcrawlers, small spinners, Kastmasters and flies. You might be able to catch some bass or sunfish in the deeper holes.

Tell us your favorite AZ winter fishin’ spots in the comments!

You’ll need a fishing license — purchase them online, 24/7. They’re good for 365 days and help conserve wildlife for future generations.

Not ready to get a license? Prepare for that eventual fishing excursion by signing up for the weekly fishing report.

9 thoughts on “Top 5 AZ fishing holes for this winter”

    1. Hi, Joe! Click on the name of the lake (For example: 1. Alamo Lake) and it will give you Google map direction. Click on “A Tonto Pass” and it will take you to a page with more information where you can get a pass.

  1. Those of us in Sierra Vista often feel shortchanged by the State including Fish and Game. Last year I gave up on Patagonia after it wasn’t stocked and Parker Canyon is stocked only about once every five weeks. I’ve caught trout there but I was shocked to see it ranked number 2. The potential is there.

    1. Hi, John! Sorry you had that experience and heard that those have been the stocking rates. Last year we actually stocked extra trout into Patagonia Lake (due to poor water quality conditions at Pena Blanca Lake), but the fishing at Patagonia just hasn’t been as good as during past years. Parker Canyon is scheduled to be stocked once a month — we’ve ranked it No. 4, so we’ll see. Tight lines!

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