Arizona is a large and beautiful state located in the southwestern United States. It is the 6th largest state in the country and the 15th most populous. Arizona is famous for its beautiful desert views, and for the world-renowned Grand Canyon. While any trip to AZ should include a trip to the Grand Canyon, there are many other outdoor activities offered by this great state.
When you think of desert, you don’t generally think about water – that’s kinda the point of the desert. But in Arizona, you will find many scenic lakes and rivers to enjoy all year long, thanks to AZ’s warm climate. For kayakers, the state offers a lot of options, from whitewater rapids to pristine and scenic lakes.
But you’re here to get your fishin’ on, so let’s dive right in! Arizona is a great place to fish, just make sure to bring your trusty kayak fish finder . It’s home to a wide variety of freshwater species, and has relatively loose regulations compared to many other states. You will still need a fishing license in AZ, but they’re easy to get and very affordable. We recommend learning about Arizona fishing rules before planning your trip!
Whether you’re a fly fisher, angler, or kayak fisher, you’ll find what you’re looking for in AZ. Given the title of this article, I’m gonna go ahead and assume you’re into kayak fishing (and you already have an Angler geared kayak). The places listed below are what me and my girl consider to be the best kayak fishing destinations in Arizona.
Keep in mind that the list is far from complete – there are plenty of options out there! Also, remember that just because we recommend these places for kayak fishing doesn’t mean they’re not good destinations for fly fishing, trolling, etc. Generally if the fishin’s good, the fishin’s good!
The North Central Region of Arizona offers some of the most diverse fishing opportunities in the state. It’s also close to the metropolitan of Phoenix, so it’s easy to get around. Freshwater lakes and rivers dot the region and provide kayak fishers, from beginner to seasoned pro, with a huge array of options. The Verde River, one of our personal favorites in the area, has catfish (both flathead and channel), roundtail chub, and smallmouth bass. I’ve had some epic days on the Verde where I ended up having to catch and release almost all day to stay under limits! When you find a sweet spot on the Verde, boy is it sweet…
For inexperienced fishermen and those fishing with families (I got some tips for you), we recommend the lakes around Flagstaff and Williams. Many of these lakes are stocked on a regular basis with trout. Also, the nearby Oak Creek has the best wild population of brown trout in the area. The lakes in North Central AZ are quite beautiful and offer a variety of activities besides fishing. So, if you’re forced to drag the wife and kids along with you, everyone will be able to have a good time!
The Colorado River snakes through much of Arizona, but the best section for fishing is the Northwest section, from Lake Havasu to Lake Powell. It’s also the section that approaches the Grand Canyon. You will find striped bass, largemouth bass, catfish, trout, and more in these waters, so you better brush up on your bass catching skills. Some areas of the Colorado are a bit too rapid for kayak fishing, but others are ideal. It’s also a great place for whitewater kayaking at certain times of the year.
This area is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful in AZ, but also the most hostile in terms of weather. It’s in the middle of the desert, with very few signs of life around. For this reason, it’s important to be careful in this environment. Carry plenty of water, extra gas for your car, and plenty of provisions. Also, never travel alone in this area in case of injury. It may sound daunting to fish here, but because of the danger involved it’s often deserted and can be an incredible place to visit.
The lakes in Central Arizona are the most popular destinations for fishing in the state. Because of that, they can get crowded. However, they are popular for a reason – they are stocked regularly by the AZ department of fish and game. So, if you’re a beginner, traveling with a family, or you just like easy fishing, Central AZ is a great choice.
For those of us who enjoy pristine and secluded fishing holes, Southwestern Arizona has a lot to offer. This remote and beautiful area includes a large section of the Colorado River, as well as a number of small to medium sized lakes. We love this stretch of the Colorado because traveling down it is like going back in time. There are very few buildings or signs of life near the river, so you can really just relax and enjoy nature. Plus, this stretch of river offers, in my opinion, the best flathead catfish spots in the state. The flathead season generally runs from April through October, during which time temperatures in the area are generally over 100 degrees, so come prepared!
Oh, and if you’re in the Southwest region of AZ, be sure to check out the Alamo Reservoir, located on the Bill Williams River located east of the town of Parker. It’s widely considered to have the best largemouth bass fishing in the area, and it’s one of our personal favorite spots in Arizona!
These are some of our favorite regions and locations to fish in Arizona. But of course, it’s a big state with a huge variety of fishing opportunities. We hope you’ll check out some of these spots soon! And be sure to let us know how your trip went. If you have any secret spots in AZ that you don’t mind sharing, we’d love to hear about them!