By John Kuells
Arizona may not be the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but that doesn’t mean it’s without great fishing spots. There are some truly unique fishing locales in landlocked Arizona. From bass-filled lakes to trout-filled rivers, these spots are brimming with large fish populations. Grab your pole, grab your bait, and head to one of these local fishing spots to snag your catch of the day.
There’s no shortage of fish species in Alamo Lake. Alamo is a 3,500-acre lake that formed by the Alamo Dam and includes runoff from the Colorado River and Bill Williams River. It’s also one of the best places to fish for bass in the state. Alamo is stocked with all sorts of fish including crappie, sunfish, catfish, and tilapia. It’s located in Alamo State Park in western Arizona and is a secluded spot filled with wildlife and mountain views. Alamo is a good spot for fishing year-round, especially for largemouth bass. It’s home to numerous fishing competitions and was the site of an Arizona fishing record. The largest largemouth bass in Arizona was caught there and weighed in at over 23 pounds. A valid Arizona fishing license is required for anglers 10 years and older.
Parker Canyon Lake may be a lesser-known area, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great fishing spot. This 130-acre lake is located about five miles north of the Mexican border in Southeastern Arizona. It’s an isolated spot, but well worth the drive. It’s home to warm and cold water fish species and is stocked with rainbow trout, catfish, bass, and sunfish. It’s also been the site of three state fishing records. Fishing in Parker Canyon Lake is made easier by the on-site amenities. They have a fishing pier and country store with fishing essentials and even boat rentals. There are also some stellar shoreline areas where you can reel in catfish. Anglers 14 and older are required to have a valid fishing license and trout stamp.
On the opposite side of the state lies Lee’s Ferry. This 120-acre spot is a truly unique area to go fishing. It’s the only place within hundreds of miles where you can drive up to the Colorado River. Located near Page and the Utah-Arizona border, this spot is home to some of the best upstream trout fishing in the state. It’s a hot spot for fly fishers and is managed as a trophy trout fishing hole. You’ll typically find rainbow trout between one to two feet in size. It’s also a diverse spot that has areas ranging from very shallow to very deep. Lee’s Ferry is also renowned for its surrounding beauty. It’s home to towering red sandstone cliffs and beautiful desert scenery. A valid Arizona fishing license is required for anglers 10 years and older.
You don’t have to leave the state for a wilderness retreat. Just go to Big Lake. Big Lake is located in northern Arizona’s White Mountains. The lake is elevated at over 9,000 feet and has the look and feel of a northern United States forest. The 680-acre lake regularly draws fishers from all over the state. It has renowned trout fishing with rainbow, brook, cutthroat, and apache trout filling the waters. It’s regarded as a top fishing lake for its size, fish populations, and amenities. You can grab row and motor boats and all of your bait and tackle needs at their nearby shop. Big Lake is open from mid April to Mid November, depending on the weather. Anglers over 13 need a state fishing license and trout stamp and are limited to six trout for daily bags.
The 200-mile Salt River is a popular spot among Phoenix locals. It has close proximity to the city and is frequently used as a tubing destination. However, it’s oft overlooked as a great fishing hole. In fact, it’s the only cold-water trout fishery in the U.S. that’s located in a desert, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The Lower Salt River is the stretch of the river located below Saguaro Lake. It’s home to rainbow trout, largemouth bass, sunfish, and catfish and is fishable year-round. It’s especially popular in the summertime, when Valley temperatures exceed 100 degrees and the water remains cool and refreshing. A Tonto Pass is required for all fishers.