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The Best Lakes To Fish In Arizona

Scattered across the state, anglers will find cold-water fisheries offering trout fishing. Warm-water bodies of water offer fishing for bass, catfish, crappie, stripers and a variety of sunfish. Several lakes in the state have a mix of cold and warm-water species.

Top 5 Fishing Lakes

#1 - Roosevelt Lake

Roosevelt Lake in Central AZ

Considered by most to be the best fishing lake in the state, this 22,000-acre fishery is just a few hours from Metro Phoenix. All species residing here thrive and provide a great place to fishing for anglers of all ages and experience levels. Bass, crappie, catfish and sunfish are caught in healthy size and numbers.

Fishing Roosevelt Lake:
Plenty of areas for bank fishing.
Seven primary boat launch ramp.
Campgrounds and RV hookups.
Marina, boat rentals and restaurant.

Primary fish species:
largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, black crappie, bluegill and yellow bass.


#2 - Lake Pleasant

Lake Pleasant in Central AZ

A popular recreation destination for camping, boating, water sports and fishing, this 10,000-acre lake is just an hour north of Phoenix. White bass have been a draw here for decades, but monster largemouth get a lot of attention as well. Access is open to most of the west side of the lake, with numerous places to park, picnic and camp.

Fishing Lake Pleasant:
Plenty of areas for bank fishing.
Two excellent boat launch ramps.
Numerous areas for primitive launching.
Campgrounds and RV hookups.
Two marinas with restaurant.

Primary fish species:
largemouth bass, channel catfish, black crappie, white crappie, white bass and striped bass.


#3 - Lake Mary

Lake Mary in Eastern AZ

Both warm and cold-water species thrive here giving anglers many choices. Much of the shore is accessible for fishing from the bank. This is the most popular summer lake in northern Arizona.

Fishing Lake Mary:
Upper and lower lakes.
Plenty of areas for bank fishing.
Four boat launch ramps.
Campgrounds and RV hookups.
Fishing tackle and convenience store.

Primary fish species:
largemouth bass, channel catfish, black crappie, walleye, rainbow trout, sunfish and northern pike.


#4 - Bartlett Lake

Alamo Lake in Western AZ

This is the pride of the Verde River, which is home to monster flathead catfish and plentiful largemouth bass. Live bluegill and heavy tackle are the ticket for big catfish here, especially in the river leading into the lake. Rocky shorelines, ledges and points are plentiful, and most hold bass. Top water lures are very effective in summer at dawn and dusk.

Fishing Bartlett Lake:
Plenty of areas for bank fishing.
One primary boat launch ramp.
Numerous areas for primitive launching.
Loads of primitive camping.
Marina and restaurant.

Primary fish species:
largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, black crappie, channel catfish, flathead catfish and bluegill.


#5 - Lees Ferry

Lees Ferry in northern AZ

This cold-water fishery is a 15-mile section of the Colorado River, just below Glenn Canyon Dam which creates Lake Powell. Rainbow trout are legendary here, it's the place to land a trophy. Other species thrive here but big rainbows are the main headliners. Guided trips are a good investment here.

Fishing Lees Ferry:
Limited areas for bank fishing.
One primary boat launch ramp.
Plenty of parking and camping.
Boat rentals.
Guide services available.

Primary fish species:
rainbow trout, bluegill, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish and striped bass.


Other great places to fish in Arizona

Alamo Lake

Alamo Lake in Western AZ

Located in west central AZ, this 2,700-acre reservoir has delivered trophy bass, giant catfish and fat crappie for several decades. Plenty of coves, points and structure await anglers who like to probe for their favorite fish species. Plenty of trees, brush, weeds and rocky shorelines create ideal habitat for healthy populations of fish.

Fishing Alamo Lake:
Plenty of areas for bank fishing.
Several boat launch ramps.
Campgrounds and RV hookups.
Primitive camping.

Primary fish species:
largemouth bass, black crappie, channel catfish, flathead catfish and bluegill.


Apache Lake

Alamo Lake in Western AZ

Smallmouth bass are a feature in this central AZ reservoir. There are 2,600 surface acres to explore in search of both smallies and largemouth. A few walleye and rainbow trout are caught occasionally. If you don't mind the dirt road to get there, the fishing can be quite good at times.

Fishing Apache Lake:
Plenty of areas for bank fishing.
Three primary boat launch ramps.
Campgrounds and RV hookups.
Primitive camping.
Marina, lodging and restaurant.

Primary fish species:
largemouth and smallmouth bass, black crappie, channel and flathead catfish, walleye, rainbow trout and sunfish.


Big Lake

Big Lake in Eastern AZ

Great trout fishing in the scenic White Mountains. This 450-acre lake is home to five species of trout, including native Apache Trout. Access to the shore for fishing is available all around the lake. Rental boats are available at the bait, tackle and convenience store.

Fishing Big Lake:
Plenty of areas for bank fishing.
Three boat launch ramps.
Canoe and kayak portage options.
Campgrounds with RV hookups.
Tackle store, bait and boat rentals.

Primary fish species:
rainbow, brook, brown, cutthroat and native Apache trout.


Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake in Central AZ

Home to the state record largemouth bass (over 16 pounds), Canyon Lake is an easy get-away from the Phoenix metro area. Anglers will find a nice variety of fish in this deep-canyon reservoir. Bass and stocked rainbow trout are the most popular species.

Fishing Canyon Lake:
Limited areas for bank fishing.
Three boat launch ramps.
Several options for camping.
Marina and restaurant.
Lake tours available.

Primary fish species:
largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, black crappie, channel catfish, flathead catfish and bluegill.


Fool Hollow Lake

Fool Hollow Lake in Eastern AZ

Located northeast of Show Low, this 150-acre lake is home to both warm-water and cold-water species. Bass, walleye, trout and crappie all thrive here and provide nice fishing options. Boats are limited to a maximum of 10 horsepower, helping to keep this a serene setting.

Fishing Fool Hollow Lake:
Plenty of areas for bank fishing.
Two primary boat launch ramps.
Numerous areas for portage launching.
Campgrounds and RV hookups.
Restrooms and Showers.

Primary fish species:
largemouth bass, black crappie, rainbow trout and walleye.


Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu in Eastern AZ

Considered one of the top smallmouth bass fisheries in the southwest, this Colorado River reservoir offers great fishing, camping and water sports. There are 20,000 surface acres and plenty of rocky shoreline. There are multiple access points from both California and Arizona.

Fishing Lake Havasu:
Limited areas for bank fishing.
Numerous boat launch ramps.
Campgrounds and RV hookups.
Home of the London Bridge.
Marinas, restaurants and lodging.

Primary fish species:
largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, black crappie, channel catfish, flathead catfish, rainbow trout and striped bass.


Lake Powell

Lake Powell in northern AZ

While the prime access to this water wonderland is located in Arizona, most of the body of water resides in Utah. Wahweap Marina is headquarters for your trip and offers, boat and houseboat rentals, lodging, dining and complete marina services. There are nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline and every inch begs you to make a cast.

Fishing Lake Powell:
Limited areas for bank fishing.
Numerous boat launch ramps.
Campgrounds and RV hookups.
Marinas, lodging and restaurants.

Primary fish species:
largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, black crappie, walleye, rainbow trout, bluegill and striped bass.


Martinez Lake

Martinez Lake in southern AZ

This 600-acre backwater off the Colorado River, near Yuma AZ, is loaded with vegetation, baitfish and fish. Bass, catfish, crappie and stripers are popular targets of locals. The lake is also a takeoff point for fishing in the river.

Fishing Martinez Lake:
Very limited bank fishing.
Three boat launch ramps.
Campgrounds and RV hookups.
Boat shop and area restaurants.

Primary fish species:
largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, black crappie, bluegill and striped bass


Reservation Lake

Reservation Lake in the White Mountains AZ

This 280-acre lake is managed by the White Mountain Apache Tribe, and fees are required for fishing and camping. The lake sports four kinds of trout, and the fishing is generally good to great during the season which runs April through November.

Fishing Reservation Lake:
Plenty of areas for bank fishing.
One primary boat launch ramp.
Canoe and kayak portage options.
Campgrounds.

Primary fish species:
rainbow trout, brook trout, brown trout and Apache trout


San Carlos Lake

San Carlos in Eastern AZ

This is a 20,000-acre fish factory when full. History has shown significant fluctuation in water levels, often hindered fishing. When it is good, it can be very, very good. Both bass and crappie grow to lunker sizes, in good numbers when conditions are right. The San Carlos Indian Tribe is responsible for water levels and fish management.

Fishing San Carlos Lake:
Plenty of areas for bank fishing.
One primary boat launch ramp.
Numerous primitive boat launch areas.
Campgrounds and parking.

Primary fish species:
largemouth bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, black crappie and bluegill.


Show Low Lake

Show Low Lake in East-Central AZ

This is the best place to go fishing for walleye in the state of Arizona. This 100-acre lake which was home to the state record walleye, also has nice populations of bass, catfish, trout and sunfish. You can take the kids fishing for sunfish or go lunker hunting, and it's on the outskirts of town.

Fishing Show Low Lake:
Plenty of areas for bank fishing.
One primary boat launch ramp.
Campgrounds and RV hookups.
Marina and restaurant.

Primary fish species:
walleye, rainbow trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill and green sunfish.


Willow Springs Lake

Willow Springs Lake in Eastern AZ

Enjoy fishing for trout, bass and bluegill at this 160-acre lake, located on the Mogollon Rim east of Payson. There are many access points around the lake, many of which require a bit of fairly easy hiking.

Fishing Willow Springs Lake:
Plenty of areas for bank fishing.
One primary boat launch ramp.
Campgrounds and day use.
Canoe and kayak portage options.

Primary fish species:
rainbow trout, brown trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and bluegill.


Woods Canyon Lake

Woods Canyon Lake in Eastern AZ

This 52-acre lake is the crown jewel of the Mogollon Rim get-away options. It's only a couple hours from the desert heat in the Phoenix Metro area and is a nice destination for a family outing. Plentiful trout and bluegill make fishing fun for the whole family. Bring a boat, rent one at the lake or fish from the bank.

Fishing Woods Canyon Lake:
Plenty of areas for bank fishing.
One primary boat launch ramp.
Campgrounds and RV hookups.
Store and boat rentals.

Primary fish species:
rainbow trout, brown trout and bluegill


Enjoy the top fishing lakes in Arizona