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Popular Ice Fishing Lakes In Arizona

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Guide to favorite fish species at top ice fishing lakes in the state.

By Rick Seaman

Ice fishing

The purpose of this page is to share basic information about the best ice fishing lakes in the state, plus the species found in each lake.

The best ice fishing lakes in AZ include Show Low Lake, Sunrise Lake and Rainbow Lake. The most popular species are rainbow trout, brook trout and bluegill. See a list of lakes and species below.

Ice fishing is as basic as fishing gets. During winter, it is popular here in the state. Aside from the tools one uses to create a hole in the ice, all other gear is very basic. A simple rod, reel, line and hook or lure is all you need. Lures, live bait and prepared bait are options, depending on the fish species in the lake or pond.

Ice fishing might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Arizona, but the state offers unique opportunities for this winter activity. Arizona's high-elevation lakes, such as Lake Mary, Bear Canyon Lake, and Sunrise Lake, freeze over during the colder months, creating a rare chance for ice fishing enthusiasts. Several fish species can be targeted while ice fishing in Arizona, including trout, yellow perch, and sunfish.

Ice Fishing Tips & Techniques Video

Ice fishing methods in Arizona are similar to those used in colder regions. Anglers drill holes through the ice and use various techniques to entice fish. Jigging with small lures or bait, such as waxworms or mealworms, is a popular method for catching trout and other species. Setting up tip-ups or tip-downs with live or dead bait can also be effective for targeting larger fish.

Safety is crucial when venturing out onto the ice in Arizona. It's essential to check ice thickness regularly and ensure it is safe for fishing. Ice should be at least four inches thick for walking and at least six inches for ice fishing. It's also crucial to have proper safety equipment, including ice picks, a throwable floatation device, and warm clothing. Always fish with a buddy and inform someone about your plans before heading out onto the ice.

Arizona's ice fishing season is relatively short and weather-dependent, so it's essential to stay updated on ice conditions and regulations. Additionally, fishing licenses are required for ice fishing in Arizona, just like any other fishing activity in the state. By adhering to safety guidelines and regulations, ice fishing enthusiasts can enjoy a unique and memorable experience in Arizona's winter wonderland.

Top Ice Fishing Lakes & Species

There are numerous places to go ice fishing in the state. Here are a list of some of the proven, best destinations.

A-1 Lake

Rainbow Trout Brook Trout

Big Lake

Rainbow Trout Cutthroat Trout Brook Trout Brown trout

Luna Lake

Rainbow Trout Cutthroat Trout Brook Trout

Nelson Reservoir

Black crappie Rainbow Trout Sunfish

Rainbow Lake

Rainbow Trout Bluegill Northern Pike

Show Low Lake

Walleye Rainbow Trout Bluegill Sunfish

Sunrise Lake

Rainbow Trout Brook Trout

Woodland Lake

Largemouth bass Bluegill Rainbow Trout

Click the images for species details.

This is a great way to get the kids to go outdoors in winter, connect with nature and learn to fish. The first consideration when attempting to go ice fishing, is safety. Make sure the ice is safe, and that you are prepared should an accident occur. Dress to stay warm - it's better to remove extra jackets than be cold and miserable. Be aware that the ice can be slippery, and falls can be dangerous.

Click here for ice fishing basics, including details on finding the best place to fish, tips for cutting a hole, basic tackle, bait, lures, depths to fish, safety, shanty's, tents and huts.

Ice Fishing Tips

Best ice fishing method for crappie, bluegill, perch and sunfish

Horizontal jigs and spoon-type baits are the go-to baits for crappie, either tipped with a minnow, wax worm or prepared baits often triggers more bites. Jigs work better close to the bottom, spoons tend to work better higher in the water column. If options allow, 15 to 30 feet is the most common depth. Adjust as necessary. See additional info on ice fishing for crappie, perch and sunfish.

Best ice fishing method for trout

Trout focus on small forage fish in winter, so baits that flash silver - jigs or spoons, do well in attracting trout. Dual rods, where legal, are very effective. One rod with a jig/live bait set up on a tip-up, the second with a spoon fished up and down pretty aggressively. See more detail about ice fishing for trout.

Best ice fishing method for bass

Bass are often found closer to the shoreline than schooling fish. Fish the same as other species, using a bit larger baits and slightly heavier line. Be prepared to battle using your drag if you hook a big one. Additional information about ice fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass.

Best ice fishing method for pike and musky

Live bait, shiners and sunfish, are a great way to attract these big fellahs, assuming local law allows their use. Heavier line, steel leaders, bigger hooks and stronger tip-ups are in order. See more information on ice fishing for pike and musky.

Click here for a Arizona Fishing License.

Arizona Map


States with notable ice fishing.

AZ Ice Fishing CA Ice Fishing CO Ice Fishing CT Ice Fishing IA Ice Fishing ID Ice Fishing IL Ice Fishing IN Ice Fishing
KS Ice Fishing MA Ice Fishing MD Ice Fishing ME Ice Fishing MI Ice Fishing MN Ice Fishing MT Ice Fishing ND Ice Fishing
NE Ice Fishing NH Ice Fishing NJ Ice Fishing NM Ice Fishing NV Ice Fishing NY Ice Fishing OH Ice Fishing OR Ice Fishing
PA Ice Fishing RI Ice Fishing SD Ice Fishing UT Ice Fishing VT Ice Fishing WA Ice Fishing WI Ice Fishing WY Ice Fishing