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Arizona’s Best Trout Lakes: A Haven for Anglers, Small Boaters, and Wildlife Enthusiasts

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Wednesday, 2nd August 2023

Arizona, often celebrated for its desert landscapes, is also home to some of the most beautiful lakes in the United States. While known for its sun-soaked plains, it may surprise many that Arizona also offers some of the best trout fishing in the country. These lakes not only serve as incredible angling destinations but are also perfect for small boating and wildlife observation. Here’s a look at some of the best trout lakes in the state that offer these opportunities.

1. Big Lake

Situated at over 9,000 feet, Big Lake is renowned for its trout fishing. The lake is stocked with rainbow, brook, and cutthroat trout, ensuring that anglers have the opportunity to catch a variety of species.

Best Time to Visit: May to September
Average Temperature: 50-70°F in summer; can be cooler in the evenings.

2. Lees Ferry

Lees Ferry is a part of the Colorado River system, and its clear and cold waters are perfect for trout. It’s an excellent destination for fly fishing and provides breathtaking views of the surrounding cliffs.

Best Time to Visit: March to November
Average Temperature: 60-85°F; cooler temperatures in spring and fall.

3. Woods Canyon Lake

Located on the Mogollon Rim, Woods Canyon Lake offers fantastic opportunities for catching rainbow trout. Its tranquil waters are ideal for small boating, and visitors often spot eagles and other wildlife.

Best Time to Visit: Late spring to early fall
Average Temperature: 55-75°F

4. Willow Springs Lake

Most people only get this far ’cause it’s next to the parking lot

Another gem on the Mogollon Rim, Willow Springs Lake, offers abundant brown and rainbow trout. The lake is surrounded by thick pine forests, and the wildlife includes not only eagles but also deer, elk, and various bird species.

Best Time to Visit: May to October
Average Temperature: 58-78°F

5. Bear Canyon Lake

Bear Canyon Lake, surrounded by beautiful forest, offers a more secluded experience. It’s a favorite spot for catching rainbow and brook trout and is perfect for those looking for a peaceful boating experience.

Best Time to Visit: June to September
Average Temperature: 60-70°F

Wildlife and Sightseeing Opportunities

In addition to world-class trout fishing, these lakes offer spectacular opportunities for observing wildlife. Eagles are commonly sighted at Woods Canyon Lake and Willow Springs Lake. Other wildlife includes foxes, deer, raccoons, and various species of birds, offering a rich and rewarding experience for nature enthusiasts.

Small Boating

The calm and scenic waters of these lakes are excellent for small boating. Whether it’s kayaking, canoeing, or using a small motorboat, visitors can explore the breathtaking landscapes at their leisure.


Arizona’s trout lakes are a treasure trove for anglers, wildlife lovers, and boating enthusiasts alike. With a range of opportunities across various lakes and temperatures that accommodate comfortable outdoor activities, Arizona’s lakes offer something unique for everyone. So pack your fishing gear, binoculars, or a paddle and set out for a memorable experience in the Grand Canyon State.

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