DECEMBER 9, 2015

Top-5 Arizona winter fishing holes keep reels humming during holidays

In Arizona, winter doesn’t have to mean sending boats and rods and reels into hibernation. While outdoor recreation opportunities across many U.S. states shut down during the season of freeze, Arizona rolls on with trout stockings and water temperatures just warm enough to convince fish to bite during the holidays.

Although fishing tends to slow a tad this time of the year, there are some spots that are winter-friendly.

Here, then, are the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s top-5 fishing holes for this winter:

5. Silver Creek: Near Show Low, Silver Creek will have open water all winter. It is a spring creek that comes out of the ground at a constant temperature and does not freeze during the winter. Current regulations are catch-and-release only from Oct. 1 through March 31. No trout may be kept, and it is artificial fly and lure only, single barbless hooks only. Dark colored bunny leaches, semi seals, and buggers, San Juan worms in red, purple and natural colors, midge nymphs, as well as egg patterns have been working well.

4. Patagonia Lake: This 260-acre lake south of Tucson at times can provide some nice winter crappie fishing. The AZGFD also stocks trout in this picturesque lake located in prime Mearns’ quail territory (a pretty good winter birding area as well). A super fishery to experience with its iconic arched footbridge, Patagonia Lake State Park is also in the heart of Arizona’s wine country. There are excellent camping options.

3. Lees Ferry: Winter is traditionally the spawning period for this world-class wild rainbow trout fishery in northern Arizona that provides the awe-inspiring gateway to the Grand Canyon. Catching trout in the rushing Colorado River along the spectacular red sandstone cliffs of the Marble Canyon Gorge is an experience beyond compare.

2. Lower Salt River: Anglers get the unique experience of stream fishing for trout in the desert. And this month, AZGFD will begin bonus stockings of trout that were supposed to be dropped into the Tempe Town Lake. The Lower Salt, just minutes from some of the Valley of the Sun’s population centers, offers good shoreline fishing options as well. A Tonto Pass is required. Try nightcrawlers, small spinners, Kastmasters and flies. You might be able to catch some bass or sunfish in the deeper holes.

1. Lake Havasu: This giant, shallow, solunar bowl in the desert heats up quickly during a warm winter sun and has a large variety for sport-fish. There are also some monster redear sunfish here (and Topock Gorge) to be had. The “West Coast of Arizona” hardly experiences winter.

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