Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

Fall fishing means crankbaits, top-water lures, buzzbaits and jigs drawing increasingly more bass strikes as water temperatures dip. At Bartlett Lake in the Tonto National Forest, the water temperature Saturday was 76 degrees — down about 10 degrees from 2 weeks ago.

This is the also time for flathead catfish. At Bartlett Lake, in particular, they’ll be roaming the waters looking for meals to add some winter fat.

Community catfish news

  • This week, Patterson Ponds (in St. Johns, pictured above), Stone Dam (Ash Fork), Yuma ponds are scheduled to get catfish for the first time this fall. “Core” waters are to be stocked again next week. See the stocking schedule.

Winter trout stocking schedule

Trout Challenge update; Frye Creek closed to fishing

  • We’re also temporarily suspending the requirement for anglers to catch a Gila trout in order to complete the Wild Trout Challenge. With the closure of Frye Creek t here is no longer a wild population of Gila trout open to fishing. See more information about AZGFD’s trout challenges.
  • We’ve closed Frye Creek in the Pinaleno Mountains, southwest of Safford, to fishing to allow for evaluation and restoration of the Gila trout population. We recently surveyed Frye and Ash creeks and did not find any fish. Read more. 

Catch and release season opens at Silver Creek Sunday

  • On Saturday, the catch-and-release season opens — and that means the upper section also opens to fishing for the first time since early spring. This catch-and-release section of Silver Creek requires trout to be immediately released unharmed, and is artificial flies and lures only with single barbless hooks. This segment of Silver Creek is open for fishing from Oct. 1 through March 31 of each year. See more fishing regulations.

Brown trout fall spawn

Brown trout anglers in AZ target fall as one of the best times of the year for this aggressive-fighting species

Keep in mind that brown trout go into their spawning behavior in the fall. Float tubers who are in good shape may want to hike into Chevelon Lake on the Mogollon Rim for the big browns and plentiful ‘bows.

Already, some anglers are hooking into some big brown close to shore — see the Catch of the Week below.

Stocking reports

By  Saturday, we’re scheduled to have stocked the following this week (sign up for I Support Wildlife for up-to-date and confirmed stocking reports):

Canyon Creek, Willow Springs Lake, Woods Canyon Lake, Tonto Creek, Oak Creek.

Previous stockings

Rainbow trout

Friday, Sept. 22 — Woods Canyon Lake, Canyon Creek. Thursday, Sept. 21 — Tonto Creek. Wednesday, Sept. 20 — “core” Community fishing waters.

Brown trout

Thursday, Sept. 14 — Kinnikinick Lake.

See all the stocking schedules


Catch of the Week

Send your fishing reports and photos to —
one will be selected as Catch of the Week.

Reservation Lake


Cody T. caught this brown trout from Reservation Lake Sept. 22 on an olive-green bunny leech fly around 4 p.m. near the dam. Along with Jason D., the group reported catching a ton on a silver spinners and olive colored flies and releasing all fish.

See previous Angler Reports


Family fishing events

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

Saturday — “Verde River Days” at Dead Horse State Park in Cottonwood, 8 a.m. to noon, Dead Horse Ranch State Park, 675 Dead Horse Ranch Rd.

While the Verde River Days festivities will go from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., the family fishing will occur from 8 a.m. -noon only. For more information please contact the Sport Fishing Education Program at (623) 236-7240 or go to:

See the full events schedule.



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