Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

Water temperatures across the state have dropped to their winter standards, and snow and ice has slowed or stalled driving in the high country — but no precipitation is predicted for the high country this weekend.

See a slide show of pictures from our Fish AZ blog showing recent lake conditions.

Be sure to check the Arizona Department of Transportation website for the latest road conditions. Also, some new fishing regulations are in effect.

First, anglers can pick species to target, grab a license 24/7 online (if needed) then figure out where you’ll go and how you’ll fish ’em.

Here are some updates and a few popular species to target:

Rainbow trout: some incentive

Trout fishing in Arizona is at its best in the Community Fishing Program waters, where larger-than-average trout are being stocked the week of Jan. 9-14.
Trout fishing in Arizona is at its best in the Community Fishing Program waters, where larger-than-average trout are being stocked the week of Jan. 9-14.

Trout is probably the best winter option for putting dinner on the table or bragging to buddies about high catch rates.. Next week we’re going to stock “incentive” trout into many Community Fishing Program waters — see the “core” waters for the week of Jan. 9-14 for a list where they’re being stocked.

Some will be as heavy as 5 pounds.



Bass fishing can be good during the winter in the lower Salt River.
Bass fishing can be good during the winter in the lower Salt River.

Know your winter tactics — it’s not an easy time to catch bass. With typical wintertime water temperatures (surface temperatures at desert impoundments tend to be in the low-50s this time of year) a largemouth bass becomes lethargic and may feed once at first light and be satisfied for a couple days.

This isn’t to say avoid bass fishing. Just be prepared. And fish slowly.

Some tips:

  • Creep a dropshot-rigged Roboworm (bass are eating a lot of orange and red colors, such as Salt River craw) along the bottom. Wait for a possible, subtle bite as the bait is falling. This is where bite-feeling techniques such as holding or thumbing your line as the bait is falling can be critical to catching a bass.
  • Use better gear such as fluorocarbon line and sensitive rod tips. Check online about the advantages of having tungsten weights.
  • Consider that about 10 percent of largemouth bass in our lakes will be staying shallow, or within the first 10 feet of the bank, throughout the day. As the sun comes up, many will travel deep where they might settle into a comfortable 66 degrees (say, 25 feet down.) This also is where the shad has been. The deeper the water, the more plentiful the bait.
  • Target points, humps, reefs and islands.


Crappie fishing in Arizona can be excellent during the season of freeze.

Crappie are heading deep and grouping into larger schools near large pods of baitfish, as they tend to do during the winter.

See a Fish AZ blog article about how to hook them.

So there you go! See our Fish&Boat Arizona map for directions to our state’s primary fisheries.

Catch of the Week

Send your Angler Reports to –
one will be featured as Catch of the Week


This 16-inch rainbow trout was Allison R.’s only bite of the day — and now it’s Catch of the Week. She caught it Dec. 30 at East Clear Creek.

See all the Angler Reports


Free public 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, Jan. 14 — City of Maricopa Youth Fishing Day, 8 a.m. — noon, Copper Sky Lake (45345 W. Martin Luther Kind Blvd., Maricopa).

See the full schedule

Stocking report

Rainbow trout

Thursday, Dec. 29 — Community waters: Green Valley Lake (No. 1, 2 and 3), Alvord Lake, Desert West Lake, Pioneer Lake, Surprise Lake, Rio Vista Pond, Cortez Lake, Encanto Lake, Steele Indian School, Papago Ponds, Evelyn Hallman Pond, Red Mountain Lake, Chaparral Lake, Riverview Lake, Kiwanis Lake, Desert Breeze Lake, Veterans Oasis Lake, Copper Sky Lake, Lakeside Lake, Sahuarita Lake, Kennedy Lake, Silverbell Lake.

See the full report

Thank you, anglers!

Arizona fishing opportunities wouldn’t be possible without the Sport Fish Restoration Program. It was created through the Dingell-Johnson Act of 1950 (Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act) and the Wallop-Breaux amendments of 1984. Through a federal excise tax paid by manufacturers on fishing gear and motorboat fuels, it provides funds for fishery conservation, boating access, and aquatic education.


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