Best Fishing in Phoenix: Top Spots and Tips

Laura Williams

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Best Fishing in Phoenix: Top Spots and Tips

Phoenix is a fantastic place for fishing, offering a variety of spots that cater to both beginners and seasoned anglers. From catching largemouth bass at Bartlett Lake to fishing for catfish and trout at Cortez Lake, the Phoenix area provides excellent opportunities for everyone. Whether you’re looking to fish in serene lakes or active community parks, Phoenix has got you covered with its diverse fishing locations.

A tranquil lake surrounded by desert mountains, with a fishing rod casting a line into the calm water, waiting for a bite

Fishing in Phoenix is not only about the catch but also about enjoying the beautiful surroundings. Places like Papago Park and Lake Pleasant Regional Park offer stunning views and activities beyond fishing, making them ideal for family outings and nature lovers.

Phoenix also boasts a variety of fish species, including bass, sunfish, and carp, ensuring that every fishing trip can be a new adventure. For those looking for well-stocked local ponds or expansive lakes, this city’s range of fishing options guarantees a satisfying experience for anyone eager to cast a line.

Key Takeaways

  • Phoenix has diverse fishing spots suited for all anglers.
  • Local parks and lakes offer more than just fishing, with plenty of additional activities.
  • Expect to catch different fish species like bass, sunfish, and carp.

Understanding the Basics of Fishing in Phoenix

A serene lake in Phoenix, with a fishing rod casting into the water. A clear blue sky and mountains in the background

Fishing in Phoenix offers diverse opportunities due to its many lakes and rivers. The key to a successful fishing experience begins with obtaining a fishing license, which is mandatory and can be acquired through the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Fish species commonly caught in the region include:

  • Largemouth Bass
  • Channel Catfish
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Bluegill

Tackle and gear chosen should match the type of fish. For example, light tackle works well for bluegill, while heavier gear may be necessary for largemouth bass and catfish.

Knowing the behavior of fish helps increase the chances of a good catch. Largemouth Bass, for instance, often dwell in areas with lots of cover such as submerged trees.

Fishing techniques differ depending on the fish species. For bass fishing, using plastic worms or crankbaits can be effective. Fly fishing is a popular method for catching trout in the region.

Popular fishing spots in Phoenix include:

  • Bartlett Lake, known for channel catfish and black crappie.
  • Tempe Town Lake, which features stocked trout and bass.
  • Saguaro Lake, where anglers can target bass, catfish, and more.

Many of these spots have facilities like boat ramps and picnic areas, making them convenient for family outings. Additionally, local parks often have smaller, stocked ponds perfect for beginners or a quick fishing trip.

Following local regulations is important. Check the Arizona Game and Fish Department for current rules and limits.

Top Fishing Spots in the Phoenix Area

Phoenix offers a variety of great fishing spots suitable for both experienced anglers and beginners. The following locations provide scenic views, accessible facilities, and diverse fish species.

Lake Pleasant Regional Park

Lake Pleasant Regional Park is a favorite for many anglers. Located northwest of Phoenix, it is known for its large size and varied fishing opportunities. The lake is home to largemouth bass, striped bass, catfish, and crappie. There are multiple boat ramps and a full-service marina. Anglers can enjoy a restaurant by the shore and plenty of parking space.

Saguaro Lake

Saguaro Lake, nestled in the Tonto National Forest, offers stunning views and excellent fishing. This lake is perfect for catching largemouth bass, channel catfish, and bluegill. The Marina at Saguaro Lake provides boat rentals and launching facilities. The clear waters are also great for shoreline fishing.

Roosevelt Lake

Roosevelt Lake is the largest lake in Central Arizona. It supports a healthy fish population, including bass, crappie, bluegill, and catfish. There are several boat ramps and a marina with all necessary amenities. The camping areas around the lake make it an ideal spot for a fishing weekend.

Tempe Town Lake

Located in the heart of Tempe, Tempe Town Lake is an urban fishing haven. It is stocked with bass, catfish, and rainbow trout. The lake boasts easy access, with many parks and recreational facilities nearby. Its proximity to downtown Tempe makes it a convenient choice for a quick fishing trip.

Chaparral Lake

Chaparral Lake, situated in Scottsdale, is a small but popular fishing spot. Stocked regularly with catfish, trout, bass, and sunfish, it is ideal for family outings. The lake features convenient parking, picnic areas, and walking trails. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy a day of fishing.

Cortez Lake

Cortez Lake, located in north Phoenix, offers a peaceful fishing environment. This lake is stocked with catfish, trout, bass, sunfish, and white amur. The park surrounding the lake provides plenty of shade, making it a cool escape during the hot months.

Papago Park

Papago Park is an urban oasis perfect for family-friendly fishing. The lakes here are stocked with catfish, trout, and bass. The picturesque park has picnic spots, hiking trails, and the famous Desert Botanical Garden nearby. It’s easy to spend a whole day enjoying this beautiful park.

Encanto Park

Encanto Park is a well-loved spot in central Phoenix. The park’s lagoon is stocked with catfish, trout, and various sunfish. Boating is a popular activity here, with rentals readily available. The park also features several playgrounds, making it a great option for family fishing days.

Desert Breeze Park

Desert Breeze Park in Chandler offers a serene fishing pond stocked with catfish, trout, and bass. The park features a variety of amenities, including picnic areas, playgrounds, and a small train ride for children. It’s a relaxing and family-friendly spot for fishing.

Kiwanis Park

Kiwanis Park in Tempe is a great fishing location with easy access. The lake is stocked with catfish, trout, and bass. The park includes facilities for picnics, sports, and boating. It’s a perfect place for an all-day outing with family or friends.

Mcqueen Pond

Mcqueen Pond in Chandler is a small but well-stocked fishing area. Anglers can catch catfish, trout, and bass here. The park surrounding the pond offers plenty of grassy areas and picnic spots, making it a comfortable place to fish.

Pioneer Community Park

Pioneer Community Park in Peoria offers a large lake stocked with catfish, trout, and bass. The park includes boat rentals, picnic areas, and playgrounds. It’s a great location for families to enjoy a day of fishing and outdoor activities.

Cesar Chavez Park

Cesar Chavez Park in Laveen features a popular fishing lake. The lake is stocked with catfish, trout, and bass. The park offers ample parking, playgrounds, and sports facilities. It’s an excellent spot for a relaxing fishing trip within the city.

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Alvord Lake

Alvord Lake in Cesar Chavez Park is known for its catfish and bass. The fishing here is good throughout the year. The park provides plenty of amenities and is a peaceful place to spend a day casting lines.

Desert West Park

Desert West Park in west Phoenix features a lake stocked with catfish, trout, and bass. The park is spacious and includes sports fields, picnic areas, and playgrounds. It’s a versatile location for fishing alongside other recreational activities.

Steele Indian School Park

Steele Indian School Park is a centrally located spot with a well-stocked pond. Anglers can catch catfish, trout, and bass. The park also offers walking trails, picnic areas, and plenty of green space. It’s an excellent choice for a relaxed fishing trip in the heart of the city.

Fish Species Unique to Arizona’s Waters

Colorful Arizona fish swimming in clear Phoenix waters, surrounded by desert landscape

Arizona’s waters offer a diverse range of fish species that attract anglers from far and wide. Some of the notable species include largemouth bass, striped bass, channel catfish, and more. The unique combination of habitats, ranging from the Verde River to various lakes and reservoirs, supports a wide range of fish. Below are some details on these key species.

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass are a favorite among anglers in Arizona, known for their impressive size and strength. Found in reservoirs such as Bartlett Lake and the Colorado River, these fish thrive in warmer waters with plenty of vegetation.

The largemouth bass prefers hiding in underwater structures and ambushes prey from these spots. Early morning and late evening are the best times to catch them. Techniques like topwater lures and crankbaits prove effective.

Striped Bass

Striped bass, although not native to Arizona, have been successfully introduced into several reservoirs like Lake Pleasant. These fish are known for their powerful fights and can grow quite large, sometimes exceeding 40 pounds.

They often inhabit deeper waters, especially in warmer months. Anglers use trolling methods with live bait or jigging techniques to catch striped bass. Their presence highlights the adaptability of Arizona’s waterways to support non-native species.

Channel Catfish

Channel catfish are abundant in lakes and rivers across Arizona, including popular spots like Bartlett Lake and the Verde River. These fish are prized for their delicious taste and can grow quite large, with some individuals reaching weights over 20 pounds.

They are bottom dwellers, often found in deeper waters or near structures like submerged trees. Anglers typically use cut bait, chicken liver, or stink bait to lure channel catfish, making night fishing a popular method.


Bluegill are a type of sunfish common in Arizona’s lakes and ponds, such as those in the Sonoran Desert. These fish are ideal for novice anglers due to their abundance and willingness to bite.

Bluegill prefer shallow waters with plenty of cover, like aquatic plants or submerged logs. They are often caught using small worms, insects, or tiny jigs, making them a popular target for families and young anglers.

Black Crappie

Black crappie are another favorite among Arizona anglers, known for their schooling behavior and excellent table fare. They are commonly found in reservoirs like Bartlett Lake and the Colorado River.

These fish prefer clear, calm waters with plenty of structures such as submerged trees or man-made fish attractors. Anglers often use light tackle and small jigs or minnows to catch black crappie, especially during the spring spawning season.

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow trout are a cold-water species stocked in many Arizona lakes and rivers, including the Colorado River. They are known for their vibrant colors and strong fight when hooked.

These fish thrive in cooler waters and are often targeted in the early morning or late evening. Fly fishing, spinning, and bait fishing are popular methods to catch rainbow trout, with flies, worms, and spinners being effective choices.

Yellow Bass

Yellow bass can be found in select Arizona waters, mainly in the Salt River system. These smaller fish are known for their schooling behavior and voracious appetite.

They prefer warm, shallow waters with plenty of cover. Anglers catch yellow bass using small jigs, spinners, and live bait. Despite their smaller size, yellow bass provide a fun and active fishing experience.


Walleye are less common in Arizona but are found in specific areas like Lake Roosevelt and the Colorado River. They are a prized catch for their excellent taste and challenging pursuit.

Walleye prefer cooler, deeper waters and are often most active during low light conditions. Anglers use techniques like trolling with crankbaits or jigging with live bait to catch them, contributing to the diverse fishing experiences in Arizona.

Seasonal Fishing: What to Catch Each Season

A serene lake reflects the changing colors of fall foliage. A fishing rod bends as a large bass leaps from the water, surrounded by the vibrant hues of autumn

Different seasons bring unique opportunities and challenges for anglers in Phoenix. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect throughout the year and the best species to target.

Spring Fishing Opportunities

Spring is a prime season for anglers in Phoenix. As water temperatures rise, many fish species become more active. Bass fishing is particularly rewarding in the spring because they start to spawn and move into shallow waters to nest. Anglers should focus on places like the Salt River where bass are abundant.

Trout are also highly active in the spring, making it an excellent time to fish for them in streams and rivers. For sunfish, head to local lakes in Maricopa County, such as Alamar Park Lake and Papago Park.

Summer Heat and Night Fishing

Phoenix summers can be extremely hot, often making daytime fishing uncomfortable. Instead, night fishing becomes the best strategy. Catfish are particularly active at night and can be found in many local lakes, such as Cortez Lake and Alamar Park Lake.

Largemouth bass also bite well at night, and using topwater lures can yield good results. The Agua Fria River and nearby reservoirs are good spots to try night fishing during these hot months.

Fall Fishing Peaks

Fall offers cooler temperatures and some of the best fishing conditions of the year in Phoenix. This is the time when crappie fishing peaks, especially from September to November. Key spots for crappie include Lake Pleasant, Lake Havasu, and Bartlett Lake.

Bass and sunfish remain active as they feed heavily to prepare for the colder months ahead. Fishing at the Salt River and other nearby waterways continues to be productive.

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Winter Challenges and Strategies

Winter brings colder water temperatures, challenging anglers to change their tactics. Trout fishing can be excellent during this season as they thrive in colder water. Locations like Alamar Park Lake are stocked with trout multiple times during the winter.

Catfish can still be caught but are less active, so slower presentations are needed. Focus on deeper waters and areas with structure. Location-based tips are crucial during these months to find the best spots.

Adapting to the colder weather, anglers must use different strategies and gear to remain successful.

Fishing Amenities and Facilities

A serene lake surrounded by lush greenery, with a wooden dock and fishing gear set up, showcasing the best fishing amenities and facilities in Phoenix

Phoenix offers a wide variety of fishing amenities and facilities that cater to both beginners and seasoned anglers. These include convenient marina and boat launch access, pier fishing points, and well-maintained picnic and family areas. Facilities also emphasize cleanliness and conservation to ensure a pleasant and sustainable environment for everyone.

Boating and Marina Access

Many lakes around Phoenix, such as Bartlett Lake and Canyon Lake, offer convenient boat launch facilities. This makes it easy for anglers to access deeper waters where fish like largemouth bass and catfish are more plentiful. Marinas at these lakes often have rental boats for those who don’t own one, as well as parking areas close to the water. These locations also offer breathtaking views, making the boating experience even more enjoyable for visitors.

Pier Fishing and Accessibility

Piers in the Phoenix area provide accessible fishing spots for those who prefer to stay on land. Lake Pleasant features several piers that are ideal for catching species like crappie and sunfish. These piers are often designed with easy accessibility in mind, ensuring that all anglers, including those with disabilities, can enjoy fishing. Ample parking close to these piers also adds to the convenience of the experience. The ease of access makes pier fishing a popular choice for quick trips and family outings.

Picnic Areas and Family Amenities

Many fishing spots near Phoenix such as Saguaro Lake are equipped with picnic areas and other family-friendly amenities. These areas are furnished with picnic tables and often have views of the water, providing a picturesque setting for a family outing. Some locations even offer playgrounds and swimming areas, making them great spots for a full day of activities. Clean restrooms and convenient parking further enhance the experience, ensuring that families have everything they need for an enjoyable trip.

Scorpion Bay Marina and Recreation

Scorpion Bay Marina at Lake Pleasant is a notable spot for recreation and fishing. The marina offers boat rentals, including pontoons and fishing boats, making it easy to get out on the water even if you don’t own a boat. For those looking to stay on land, the marina has shaded picnic areas, clean facilities, and ample parking. The marina also provides recreational activities like paddleboarding and kayaking, making it a versatile spot for various outdoor activities.

Cleanliness and Conservation Efforts

Phoenix’s fishing spots take cleanliness and conservation seriously. Areas like Bartlett Lake are maintained not only for the enjoyment of visitors but also to protect the natural habitat. Efforts are made to keep these locations free of trash and pollution, and initiatives often include programs to stock lakes with fish like white amur and grass carp to maintain balanced ecosystems. These conservation efforts help ensure that the fishing experience remains enjoyable for future generations. Clean restrooms and regular maintenance make visits pleasant for everyone, ensuring a high standard of cleanliness across many fishing spots in the Phoenix area.

Local Fishing Regulations and Conservation

The sun sets over a serene lake, with a sign displaying local fishing regulations and conservation guidelines. A variety of fish jump in the water, surrounded by lush greenery

Fishing in Phoenix is overseen by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. They set regulations to ensure sustainable fishing practices.


Everyone 10 and older needs a fishing license. Licenses can be purchased online or at various local retailers.

Bag Limits

There are specific limits on how many fish you can catch:

  • Largemouth Bass: 6 per day
  • Channel Catfish: 10 per day
  • Rainbow Trout: 6 per day

Stocking Schedule

Phoenix city parks stock lakes with fish throughout the year. Catfish are stocked in June, September, and October. Trout are stocked in November and December. This ensures there are always plenty of fish available.

Catch and Release Policy

Anglers are encouraged to practice catch and release for species like White Amur and Grass Carp. This helps maintain healthy fish populations and ecosystems.

Ethical Fishing

Adherence to ethical fishing practices is emphasized. These include respecting bag limits and using proper techniques to release fish unharmed.

Urban Fishing Locations

Seven city parks partner with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to provide urban fishing opportunities. Lakes in these parks are stocked regularly.

Please follow all local fishing regulations to contribute to conservation efforts. For detailed regulations and updates, visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department website.

Getting Equipped: Gear and Supplies for Phoenix Anglers

A table displays various fishing gear and supplies for Phoenix anglers. Rods, reels, tackle boxes, and bait are neatly organized for a successful fishing trip

Choosing the right gear is important for a successful fishing trip in Phoenix. Several local tackle shops offer high-quality equipment and expert advice.

Phoenix Fishing Supply: This family-owned shop in central Phoenix has been a go-to spot for anglers since the 1980s. They offer a variety of gear and are known for their knowledgeable staff.

Other popular stores include:

  • The Hook Up Tackle
  • Sportsman’s Warehouse
  • West Marine
  • Bass Pro Shops

For those interested in fly fishing, the AZ Fly Shop on East Cactus Road is highly recommended. They are known as the friendliest fly shop, offering specialized gear and excellent customer service.

Types of Gear:

  1. Rods and Reels: Essential for casting and reeling in fish.
  2. Bait and Tackle: Including live bait, lures, and hooks.
  3. Fishing Line: Various strengths for different types of fish.
  4. Accessories: Tackle boxes, nets, and anglers’ tools.

Local shops often carry unique products tailored to the area’s fishing conditions. Whether one is fly-fishing, bait-fishing, or cast-fishing, having the right gear makes all the difference.

Remember, expert advice from local shops can be invaluable, especially for newcomers.

Connecting with the Community: Local Events and Resources

A bustling farmers market with fresh produce and local artisans, surrounded by serene lakes and rivers teeming with fish in Phoenix

Fishing enthusiasts in Phoenix have numerous ways to engage with the local community. One great way to connect is through fishing groups and events organized by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, which helps stock lakes in Phoenix parks.

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Local Fishing Groups

Joining a fishing group can be a great way to meet people who share a common interest. Platforms like Meetup offer opportunities for anglers to participate in both online and in-person events.

Stocking Schedules

Phoenix Parks and Recreation, in collaboration with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, regularly stocks lakes in several city parks. For specific dates, refer to the city’s stocking schedule.

Popular Events

Various events are frequently held, such as fishing derbies and instructional workshops. These events are perfect for learning new skills and tips from seasoned anglers.

City Parks with Fishing Holes

Here are a few parks where you can enjoy fishing:

Stocked with catfish, trout, and other species, these parks provide fantastic spots for weekend activities.

State Regulations

While participating in local events or simply enjoying a day at one of the city parks, make sure to follow all state regulations. These rules are crucial for maintaining a healthy environment for both fishers and fish populations.

Youth Programs

There are special programs for young anglers, providing them with the chance to learn the basics of fishing. Some events do not require state fishing licenses for children under ten, fostering an inclusive environment for families.

Connecting with the Phoenix fishing community has never been easier, thanks to these local resources and events. Join a group, head to a community park, and cast a line!

Adventures Beyond Fishing: Exploring Phoenix’s Outdoor Activities

A serene lake reflecting the vibrant colors of a sunset, with fishing rods casting lines into the water. Surrounding mountains provide a stunning backdrop for the tranquil scene

Phoenix offers a range of activities beyond fishing that cater to outdoor enthusiasts.


Hiking is a popular pastime in the Phoenix area. Trails like Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak provide stunning views of the desert landscape. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, there’s a trail for every skill level.

Mountain Biking

For those who prefer biking, Phoenix has numerous mountain biking trails. The South Mountain Park and Preserve boasts over 51 miles of trails, perfect for an exhilarating ride.


The city is home to many parks, offering space for various outdoor activities. Papago Park, known for its unique rock formations, is perfect for picnics, walking, and even light climbing.

Boating and Swimming

At Canyon Lake, visitors can enjoy boating, paddling, and swimming. This man-made lake provides a beautiful setting for water activities and is a great spot to cool off during hot days.

Exploring Scottsdale

Exploring Scottsdale in style is another popular activity. Old Town Scottsdale offers a mix of cultural experiences, shopping, and dining. A guided tour, like the stretch limo golf cart tour, adds a fun twist to discovering this part of the metro area.

Paddleboarding and Canoeing

For water sports enthusiasts, Lake Pleasant is an ideal destination. Activities like paddleboarding and canoeing are popular here, making it a great spot to spend a summer day.

These are just a few of the adventures awaiting in Phoenix, giving outdoor lovers plenty of ways to enjoy the region.

Comprehensive Guide to Fishing Licenses in Phoenix

To fish in Phoenix, anyone over the age of 10 needs a valid fishing license. These licenses ensure sustainable fishing practices and fund conservation efforts. Licenses can be acquired from various places including the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Types of Fishing Licenses

  • General Fishing License: Suitable for residents and non-residents. Valid for one year.
  • Youth Combination License: For ages 10-17. Includes hunting and fishing privileges.
  • Short-Term Licenses: Available for 1-day or 5-day periods. Ideal for visitors.

Buying a License

Licenses can be bought:

  • Online: Through the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
  • In Person: At Arizona Game and Fish Department offices, licensed dealers, and some sporting goods stores.

Fishing Regulations

All anglers must follow these guidelines:

  • Bag Limits: Restrictions on the number and size of fish you can keep.
  • Protected Species: Some fish cannot be caught or kept.
  • Seasonal Restrictions: Certain species have open and closed seasons.

Important Considerations

Always carry your fishing license when fishing. Failure to comply with licensing rules can result in fines. For more information or specific queries, visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department website.

Frequently Asked Questions

The sun sets over a serene desert lake, where a lone fisherman casts his line into the calm waters, surrounded by cacti and mountains in the distance

Fishing in Phoenix offers a variety of spots suitable for different experience levels, with diverse fish species and convenient family-friendly locations. Knowing the best baits and lures, obtaining a fishing license, and understanding the fishing calendar enhance the experience.

What are the top-rated fishing spots in Phoenix suitable for all experience levels?

Lake Pleasant is a favorite among anglers of all skill levels. It spans 10,000 acres and is stocked with various fish, including largemouth bass and catfish. Another excellent choice is Bartlett Lake, which is known for its channel catfish, flathead catfish, and black crappie.

Which baits and lures are most effective for fishing in the Phoenix area?

Effective baits and lures vary depending on the targeted fish species. For largemouth bass, plastic worms and spinnerbaits work well. For catfish, chicken liver and stink baits are popular choices. Anglers targeting black crappie may find success with small jigs and minnows.

What are the common fish species found in lakes around Phoenix?

Lakes in Phoenix are home to a variety of fish species. Largemouth bass is prevalent in many local lakes like Canyon Lake. Anglers can also catch channel catfish, flathead catfish, black crappie, smallmouth bass, and sunfish in these waters.

Can you provide a fishing calendar for Phoenix’s urban lakes?

The fishing season in Phoenix’s urban lakes is year-round. However, the best time to fish for bass is during the spring and fall. Catfish are more active in the summer, while crappie tend to bite more in the spring. Regular stocking schedules are maintained to ensure a good catch.

What are some family-friendly fishing locations in Phoenix?

Several lakes in Phoenix offer family-friendly fishing spots. Lake Pleasant is a great option, with fishing piers and boat ramps that make it accessible. Encanto Park Lagoon is another spot known for its clean surroundings and ease of access, making it ideal for family outings.

How does one obtain a fishing license for urban fishing in Phoenix?

Anyone over the age of 10 must have a fishing license to fish in Arizona’s urban lakes. Licenses can be purchased online through the Arizona Game and Fish Department website or at various sporting goods stores. Ensure to have a valid ID and meet any residency requirements for reduced fees.

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