The Phoenix Fishery - Seven Lakes
Phoenix Arizona is an unusual Bass fishery. The fishery is the seven lakes that surround Phoenix and are very short distance out of town. In some instances, less than one hour. These are reservoir lakes for the water supply for the Phoenix
Valley. Some might think of each Lake as an individual Fishery but for our purposes as a destination and based on the geography and ease of access, we have consolidated it as one Fishery. And while there is the common nature of the lakes, each does have its own charm and personality.
The Lakes are Pleasant, Bartlett, Horseshoe, Saguaro, Canyon, Apache, and Roosevelt. All lie a short distance to the North of Phoenix. Roosevelt is the farthest at 52 air miles while Saguaro is the closest at 30 air miles. Depending on the season, they all offer good Bass fishing and good fishing for other species as well such as Walleye or Crappies and Sunfish. However, in drought conditions, Horseshoe is often emptied.
GPS Co-ordinates are as follows:
Lake Pleasant 33.852946, -112.256840
Horseshoe 33.986289, -111.720577
Bartlett 33.839368, -111.638369
Roosevelt 33.667818, -111.134745
Apache 33.576682, -111.254608
Canyon 33.537282, -111.429037
Saguaro Lake 33.576199, -111.534049
The seven lakes of the Phoenix Fishery are all different sizes but share a great commonality as to geography, climate, species, and fishing seasons. They all look very similar in that they are in desert settings surrounded by mountains. What can be said of one can usually be said of another except on a given day, the catch may be better at one than another. The great thing is that they are so easy to get to and a few days spent in the area gives you an opportunity to see some variety in where you fish while staying in the same hotel. Or, if you would like, each lake has camping facilities.
The lakes are fishing Meccas most of the year and especially for Largemouth Bass. Roosevelt and Lake Pleasant each boast of serious tournaments during the year. The fishing is challenging but rewarding with good size fish that take some effort to track down and catch. This is the real fishing stuff that anglers thrive on.
The lake the farthest out is Roosevelt at 52 air miles measuring from downtown Phoenix. The closest is Saguaro at 30 air miles. The quickest to get to is Lake Pleasant at 34 air miles because of the road system. It is about a 45 minute drive while Roosevelt or Horseshoe could take up to 1½ hours. Pleasant is fed from the Agua Fria River and CAP recharge while Bartlett and Horseshoe are on the Verde River. The rest are on the Salt River system. See below for driving distances.
Driving through the desert, cresting a rise or coming around a bend and seeing these gem lakes in the desert is a breathtaking experience. You can hardly wait to get on the water and get your line in. These are first water supply lakes and then recreation lakes. They get lots of use by boaters, skiers and fishermen. Lots of areas are inviting to the fisherman only and you will find peaceful settings in which to fish away from the general recreationists. Boats of all sizes work on these waters.
The Phoenix area offers of host of activities including golf, hiking, horseback riding, museums and a dozen more things for the family to enjoy.
The fllowing information shows what types of fish generally occupy which lakes.
Bass_Largemouth All lakes;
Bass_Yellow Saguaro, Canyon
BlueGill All lakes
Catfish_Channel All lakes
Crappie All lakes
Crappie_Black Canyon, Apache
Sunfish All lakes
Trout_Brown Saguaro, Canyon
Trout_Rainbow Saguaro, Canyon
Walleye Saguaro, Canyon, Apache, Roosevelt
The areas are based on the lakes being full. In drought times or seasonal lows, they can be much lower. Check with the Arizona Game and Fish Department or the Salt River Project organization.
Lake Surface Distance from dntwn Phoenix
Pleasant 9000 Acres 45 road miles
Horseshoe 1060 Acres 51 road miles
Bartlett 2015 Acres 41 road miles
Roosevelt 22,000 Acres 80 road miles
Apache 2656 Acres 65 road miles
Canyon 950 Acres 55 road miles
Saguaro 1280 Acres 41 road miles
Depths run to about 100 feet more or less when filled and in a few spots, much deeper.
Central Arizona is a winter paradise most of the time. It can get cold and it can rain but those days are the exceptions. When the snow is piling up in the Mid-West and East, going fishing in Arizona is a great break. Most of the time the weather is mild. Spring is nice but temperatures do start to get into the 80s and 90s. Autumn which is the late October time frame is about the same. Summer gets into 100 degree plus days on a regular basis and 108 to 110 is routine. Plan clothing needs to match the temperatures and bring sun tan lotion.
This water is good for boats and shore fishing alike. Boats however, dominate the fishing. The tackle choice far and away is gear rigs whether level casters, spin casters, or spinning reels. The target fish of choice is bass and most of the time they can run deep.
Here is a place it all works at one time or another, live bait, plastics, slash baits, divers, and buzz baits. Have a good selection on hand as it is hard to tell ahead of time what is going to pick them up. Since Central Arizona is a very hot place in the summer, the fish move deeper with the advancing summer. In the months of June, July and August, get out very early or fish in the evening and into the night.