You are currently viewing 25 Crappie Fishing Lakes in Arizona

25 Crappie Fishing Lakes in Arizona

  • Post author:
  • Post category:Info

Patagonia Lake

Patagonia Lake is one of my personal favorites when it comes to crappie fishing in Southern Arizona. I have found that the lake’s moderate size and various submerged structures provide excellent habitats for both black and white crappies. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to fish here, and I recommend using live minnows or small jigs as bait.

I went fishing and had my favorite ultralight rod with me, a 5-foot-6-inch beauty that was perfect for the delicate finesse needed to lure in those clever crappies. The reel was spooled with 4-pound test line, which I believed was the perfect balance between strength and subtlety.

I navigated towards a spot I had heard was a crappie haven, near some submerged structures. I had done my homework, studying the lake’s topography and learning that crappies are structure-oriented fish, often found near submerged logs, weed beds, and other underwater features where they can ambush prey.

As I approached my chosen spot, I cut the engine and let the boat drift silently. I didn’t want to spook the fish with unnecessary noise. I rigged up a small jig, no more than 1/16th of an ounce, tipped with a live minnow. The combination was deadly for crappie, or so I had been told by a seasoned angler I met at the local bait shop.

crappie fishing

With the precision of a surgeon, I cast my line near the submerged structure and let the jig sink slowly, counting in my head to gauge its depth. The water was clear, and I could see the flash of fish scales several feet below the surface. My heart raced with anticipation.

After what felt like an eternity but was likely only a couple of minutes, I felt a gentle tug on the line. I raised the rod tip, feeling the satisfying resistance of a fish on the other end. The fight was on. Crappie may not be the largest fish, but they are scrappy and can put up a decent fight, especially on light tackle.

The fish darted back and forth, trying to shake the hook, but I kept the pressure steady. After a short but spirited battle, I brought a beautiful speckled crappie to the surface. It was a respectable size, about 12 inches long and weighing just over a pound. Its scales shimmered in the sunlight, a mosaic of silver and black patterns that made it one of the most beautiful fish I had ever caught.

Throughout the day, I continued to fish, each catch as thrilling as the last. I learned to read the lake’s subtle cues, the slight changes in the water’s surface, and the shadows that hinted at underwater structures. By the time the sun reached its zenith, I had caught and released several crappies, each one a testament to the lake’s abundance and the skills I was honing.

As the day wound down and the shadows grew long, I sat back in my boat, feeling a deep sense of contentment. Patagonia Lake had lived up to its reputation, and I had a new collection of memories that would last a lifetime. The tranquility of the water, the thrill of the catch, and the connection to nature were the true rewards of the day.

girl caught a crappie

Pena Blanca Lake

Pena Blanca Lake might be relatively small, but don’t let that fool you – it’s packed with crappie fishing opportunities. The lake is known for its crystal clear waters and scenic surroundings, making it enjoyable not just for fishing but for the overall experience. In my experience, casting near submerged trees and along the shoreline has resulted in successful crappie catches.

Arivaca Lake

When it comes to fishing for crappie in Southern Arizona, Arivaca Lake is a can’t-miss location. This lake is relatively shallow, which allows for greater visibility and easier access to crappie hiding spots. Some of my best crappie catches at Arivaca have come from using a slip bobber rig with a live minnow close to underwater structures, such as submerged logs or heavy vegetation.

Parker Canyon Lake

Parker Canyon Lake has never disappointed me when it comes to crappie fishing. One of the top strategies I have found here is to target deep waters near the dam during the colder months, while focusing on shallow areas with structure during the warmer months. I have caught plenty of crappie using both jigs and minnows as bait.

Roper Lake

Last but not least, Roper Lake offers a unique and exciting crappie fishing experience. I have noticed that the crappie population in this lake is predominantly black crappie. The key to success at Roper Lake is to target underwater vegetation and fish around boat docks. Some of my preferred setups for this lake include tube jigs and minnows rigged under a bobber.

small crappie

Lake Powell

In my experience, Lake Powell is a top-notch destination for crappie fishing in Northern Arizona. The lake’s expansive shoreline and numerous canyons offer remarkable fishing conditions. Crappie can usually be found in brushy areas, around submerged trees or near rocky structures. Remember to bring along minnows or small jigs as they make excellent bait for crappie.

Roosevelt Lake

Roosevelt Lake is another fantastic location for crappie fishing. The lake is known for its high-quality, black and white crappie populations. Targeting crappie near submerged vegetation and structures is key; they are particularly fond of the Tonto Creek arm. I’ve found success using live bait, such as minnows, or small artificial lures like curly-tail grubs.

Big Lake

Big Lake, located in the White Mountains, offers a beautiful setting and plentiful opportunity for crappie fishing. This high-elevation lake is stocked with both black and white crappie, and the best time to fish here is from spring through fall. Targeting depths around 15-25 feet can be effective, especially when using minnows under bobbers or small marabou jigs.

Local Tackle ShopsAddress
Big Lake Tackle1 Big Lake Road
Mountain Lakes7653 E White Mountain

Show Low Lake

Another ideal fishing spot in the White Mountains is Show Low Lake. This lake is home to a thriving population of black crappie, and I’ve found that fishing near submerged trees and rocky outcrops can be quite productive. Night fishing during the warmer months is particularly enjoyable, and using lighted bobbers with minnows can help in attracting crappie.

Woodland Lake

Lastly, Woodland Lake is well worth a visit for the avid crappie angler. Although the lake is relatively small, it holds a sizable population of black crappie. The use of minnows or soft plastic lures can help you land a catch. Keep an eye out for submerged vegetation, as these areas are known to hold crappie.

Bartlett Lake

At Bartlett Lake, I always find an abundance of both black and white crappie. Fishing near the rocky structures in coves has given me the best results. Horseshoe Dam, recently renovated, also presents a flourishing habitat for crappie. Utilizing crappie jigs in a variety of colors, such as baby shad and green pumpkinseed, has brought great success.

Canyon Lake

When I visit Canyon Lake, I focus my time around the submerged trees, as the crappie school together using the trees as cover. Here’s a list of my favorite fishing spots on Canyon Lake:

  1. Boulder’s Creek
  2. First Cove East of Palo Verde
  3. Burnt Corral Bay

For catching crappie, I often use small minnows on a light jig, with a slip bobber to ensure the optimal depth.

Saguaro Lake

Saguaro Lake ranks high on my list due to its scenic beauty, with the iconic Four Peaks in the background. I target crappie around the marina area and in the numerous coves on the lake. A useful technique I apply is trolling at a slow speed, using small crankbaits or a single-jig rig with a live minnow.

Lake Pleasant

My favorite spot on Lake Pleasant is Humbug Creek, as it provides an ideal habitat for white crappie. I also recommend the Castle Creek Arm, though accessibility may require a longer boat trip. Utilizing live minnows or 1/16 oz. jigs in colors like black/chartreuse, I’ve successfully landed crappie worth boasting about.

Apache Lake

Lastly, Apache Lake offers an incredible experience with its diverse and picturesque landscape. I’ve found the most effective crappie fishing spots to be Crabtree Wash and Alder Creek. My go-to technique here is using a 2-inch curly-tail grub on a 1/16 oz. jig head, slowly retrieving it along submerged trees and brush piles.

As a proficient crappie angler, these top destinations in Central Arizona never fail to provide me with an exhilarating experience, and I always look forward to my next fishing adventure.


Local Angling Regulations

Seasonal Limitations

When fishing for crappie in Arizona, it’s important to be aware of seasonal limitations that may apply. In general, crappie fishing is open year-round, allowing anglers to enjoy the process without too much restriction. However, there are specific periods when certain lakes or areas may enforce temporary closures to protect the ecosystem and fish populations. I recommend checking with the Arizona Game and Fish Department for any such restrictions before heading out to fish.

Size and Bag Limits

Crappie fishing in Arizona comes with specific size and bag limits, ensuring the sustainability of this popular gamefish. Currently, the statewide daily bag limit for crappie is set at 15 fish per angler. It is important to note, though, that some lakes might have more restrictive bag limits, so always double-check the specific lake regulations.

Regarding size limits, while there is no minimum length requirement for crappie, some exceptions apply:

LakeMinimum LengthNote
Roosevelt Lake9 inchesApplies to both black and white crappie
Alamo Lake10 inchesApplies to black crappie only

When fishing at these lakes, it’s crucial to comply with the size regulations and practice catch-and-release for any undersized crappie.

Permit Requirements

For crappie fishing in Arizona, a proper fishing license is required for all anglers over the age of 10. There are various permit options available, including:

  • Standard Resident Fishing License: A 1-year fishing license, available to Arizona residents 18 years of age and older.
  • Youth Combination Hunt and Fish License: A 1-year license for Arizona residents ages 10-17.
  • Short-Term Fishing Licenses: Available for residents and non-residents, ranging from 1 to 5 days in duration.