Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal Memorial Day weekend spots
For those looking for some last-minute Memorial Day weekend fishing excursion ideas, good news: we’ve begun stocking some bonus fish. And thanks to storms this month, there are no fire restrictions in our national forests (unlike last year at this time.)
Here’s where those bonus stockings are being dropped through June, based on species:
- Lynx Lake (above, 500-800 pounds and more than 1,200 pounds of rainbow trout)
- Dead Horse Ranch State Park lagoons (1,000 pounds)
- City and Santa Fe Reservoirs (500 pounds)
- Frances Short Pond (500 pounds)
- Scotts Reservoir (500 pounds)
- Lower Lake Mary (2,000 pounds)
- Kaibab Lake (Kaibab is tops for camping, and playing in Williams).
- Woodland Reservoir in Pinetop (500 pounds)
- Goldwater Lake in Prescott (1,200 pounds).
Some other recommendations:
- Fool Hollow Lake in Show Low (above) offers a smorgasbord of fishing from trout and walleye to smallmouth bass and largemouth bass. This state park also has some excellent amenities. James K. caught the above 27-inch walleye April 25 from Fool Hollow.
- Big Lake and Reservation Lake in the White Mountains. Big Lake has boat rentals and provides some of the best trout fishing in the state. Reservation Lake, on the White Mountain Apache Reservation, is just down the road from Big Lake and gets relatively minor fishing pressure (especially compared to Big Lake). But don’t expect a lot of amenities, just great fishing. Be sure to get the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s fishing permit.
- Willow Springs, Woods Canyon, Bear Canyon and Knoll lakes along the Mogollon Rim are all worth a visit. For those who love the quietness that comes with remote locations, try Knoll Lake. Bear Canyon, meanwhile, requires walking in down a steep switchback trail, which typically keeps out the hordes of anglers who don’t like walking far. Willow Springs and Woods Canyon are being stocked this week with tiger trout. Note that the boat ramp at Woods Canyon Lake will be closed through the weekend.
- Dogtown and Whitehorse lakes near Williams are very family-friendly. Whitehorse is the spot for kicking back and just enjoying the pines. Any one of the three can be the top producer on any given day.
- Lake Powell, especially the Bullfrog area, is a fishing dream. It takes longer to drive all the way up into Utah to reach the Bullfrog area, but once there, you don’t have to travel far in a boat to catch hordes of smallmouth bass, striped bass, walleye and largemouth bass. For an extended Memorial weekend getaway, it makes a lot of sense. There is even a pretty nice campground. See a Powell fishing report.
- Lake Mead, especially launching at South Cove, can provide some wonderful desert solitude.
- Lees Ferry is experiencing epic midge hatches and rainbow trout fishing is good to great. See a May 17 report.
- Tempe Town Lake is just made for those having to stay in the Valley of the Sun. Fish at first and last light for bass, catfish and/or sunfish.
- Laughlin/Bullhead area on the Colorado River is a great escape for rainbow trout, striped bass and catfish.
- Upper Lake Mary near Flagstaff is a terrific place for bass, northern pike, and walleye. Plus, there are no boat motor restrictions so you can use your bass or ski boat there.
- Kinnikinick Lake just east of Flagstaff (go to Mormon Lake and turn left) is a dandy fishery that is seldom crowded. The camping amenities are pretty basic: they’re pinyon-juniper habitat, and a bumpy dirty road to reach it. But, it’s a great place to fish for rainbows and browns away from the crowds.
- Community Fishing Program waters. All waters scheduled to be stocked this week received channel catfish.
- Roosevelt, Bartlett, Lake Havasu, Lake Pleasant (striped bass), Alamo Lake. Roosevelt, Havasu and Alamo have good camping areas. Anglers should remember that with a remarkably cold winter and spring, the top-water bite has not really turned on as it usual does this time of the year. Water temperature at Bartlett has been in the high-60s and should stay in the high-60s/low-70s for the next week or so. A general key for bass fishing right now in our desert impoundments is using reaction baits during the morning (spinnerbaits and crankbaits) and finesse rigs (Texas, dropshot, Carolina) after the sun rises. A key is switching colors and spots often, covering a lot of water.
Be sure to check our our stocking schedules.
Reminder to campers: The USDA Forest Service, Tonto National Forest, Payson Ranger District have announced overnight camping restrictions along six stretches of streams and rivers located near Payson. Implementation of these restrictions will help allow grass and plants to grow along the stream banks. Read more.
Free Fishing Day is Saturday, June 1
Anglers can fish Arizona waters for free on Saturday, June 1, making this an ideal time to take the family out for some fun and relaxing outdoor recreation.
Arizona’s Free Fishing Day will be celebrated on June 1 this year as part of National Fishing and Boating Week, which runs June 1-9. During that Saturday only, no fishing licenses are required for persons fishing any public waters in Arizona.
Remember that bag limits and other fishing regulations are in full effect and must be observed during Free Fishing Days.
Scheduled events on the June 1 Free Fishing Day (as of Wednesday, May 22):
- Lake Pleasant, 7-10 a.m., Lake Pleasant Access Rd., Peoria. See more information, including directions.
- Goldwater Lake, Prescott, 8 a.m.-noon
- Dead Horse Ranch State Park, 8 .am.-noon Channel catfish will have been stocked just prior to the event. Entrance fees to the state park will be waived for participating fishermen (check in at the front gate).
- Kaibab Lake, Williams, 9 a.m.-noon. Meet near group ramada.
- Lees Ferry. 9 a.m.-noon. Meet at the boat launch. Please be mindful of special regulations in this area: the limit is 2 rainbow trout per day; artificial fly and lure only; barbless hooks only. See pg. 19 of online Fishing Regulations for more details.
Saturday, June 8
- Parker Canyon Lake, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Catch of the Week
Send your fishing reports and photos to BFishing@azgfd.gov —
one will be selected for Catch of the Week
CC Cragin (Blue Ridge) Reservoir
Trevin J. with a 6.70-pound, 24 1/2-inch rainbow trout caught May 18 on PowerBait.
This week’s scheduled stockings
Rainbow trout: West Fork Little Colorado River-Greer; West Fork Little Colorado River-Sheeps Crossing; Lees Ferry; Bear Canyon Lake; Long Tom Tank (Supercatchable); Dogtown Reservoir; East Verde River; Haigler Creek; Christopher Creek; Tonto Creek.
Tiger trout: Willow Springs Lake; Woods Canyon Lake.
Channel catfish: Scheduled Community waters.
Save time, buy online
Grab a license online (that helps conserve all species of wildlife, not to mention provides funding that goes back into fishing opportunities) and go “Fish AZ”.