Tag Archives: big fish in az

Where will the next AZ state record come from?

This winter has already been a mixed bag: record snow levels in some places followed by some warmer weather. That’s Arizona!

While it’s next to impossible to predict what the rest of winter has in store for us and what water levels might turn out to be, it’s always kind of fun to think about where that next state record fish might come from.

Plus, winter is a great time to think about upcoming fishing trips and where to prioritize your efforts.

This is just one biologist’s opinion, but here are some thoughts of where a few of our most popular game fish might be caught:

Largemouth bass

Inland waters, hook-and-line record: 16 pounds, 7.68 ounces, Canyon Lake, 1997

Saguaro Lake is known for its potential record bass.
Saguaro Lake is known for its potential record bass.
  • Saguaro Lake: No surprise for those who have been fishing this scenic lake — there have been great numbers of bass of larger than 10 pounds being caught lately. And there are no signs of that slowing down.
  • Canyon Lake: Always a perennial favorite to foster the next state record largemouth.  After all, it’s where the current record (16 pounds, 7.68 ounces) was caught, and its population has the highest levels of Florida-strain genetic influence (bigger bass) of any water in Arizona.
  • Colorado River waters: If you like to fish the big river on the west end of the state, the Imperial Division and Cibola Division are great bets to catch a largemouth that weighs in the “teens.” Mittry Lake also has big largemouth that rivals Canyon Lake in Florida-strain influence.

Flathead catfish

Inland waters, hook-and-line record: 76 pounds, 8.64 ounces, Bartlett Lake, 2013

The state record flathead catfish taken in April of 2013 by Eddie “Flathead Ed” Wilcoxson from Bartlett Lake.
  • Bartlett Lake: Hard to argue this one: it boasts the current record.
  • Lake Pleasant and Roosevelt Lake: Both are dark horses to take the record away from Bartlett.  Flatheads of more than 50 pounds are routinely being caught at both of these reservoirs, with reports of 60-plus pounders somewhat common.

Channel catfish

Inland waters, hook-and-line record: 32 pounds, 4 ounces, Parker Canyon Lake, 1987

Large channel catfish caught during surveys at Parker Canyon Lake.
Large channel catfish caught during surveys at Parker Canyon Lake.

This one is a little trickier as there is no clear-cut place to catch trophy-sized channel cats (if there is, please let me know).

That said:

  • Parker Canyon Lake:The current record (32 pounds, 4 ounces) came from this lake down on the border.  Parker Canyon could still have another record lurking.
  • Topock March, Lake Havasu, Alamo Lake, Apache Lake, Saguaro Lake: Your odds are probably equal at these lakes. The Colorado River record was from Topock Marsh: 35 pounds, 4 ounces.

Rainbow trout

Inland waters, hook-and-line record: 15 pounds, 9.12 ounces, Willow Springs Lake, 2006

Don't sleep on Dogtown -- potential record trout lurk here.
Don’t forget about Dogtown Lake near Williams — potential record trout lurk here.
  • Becker, Carnero or Luna lakes in the White Mountains: These lakes grow trout fast, but are susceptible to winter and summer kills (mostly because of low oxygen).  If all goes well this winter, there could be some really big trout that come out of those lakes.
  • Dogtown Lake: This is a sleeper lake near Williams. The addition of woody habitat during the past few years has really contributed to high growth rates for trout.

Tiger trout

Inland waters, hook-and-line record: 0 pounds, 9.23 ounces, Willow Springs Lake, 2016

Tiger Trout raised at the Tonto Creek Hatchery

A newcomer to the state last year, the tiger trout’s maximum potential size in Arizona waters is unknown. But one thing is for sure: the current record of less than a pound from Willow Springs Lake will fall.

  •  Willow Springs, Woods Canyon, Carnero and Becker lakes:  These lakes are stocked with tigers. Trout grow quickly at Special Regulations waters Carnero and Becker, so try these lakes for tigers weighing more than 5 pounds.

Arizona state fish records

For a complete list of Arizona State Fish Records, see pg. 40 of the 2017-18 Fishing Regulations. While you’re at it, check out all our fishing resources.

Got a license? Get ’em online, 24/7 — this helps us conserve wildlife for future generations.

Which record are you going to set this year?

Andy Clark is the AZGFD statewide sportfish management program supervisor