When you think of Arizona, towering cacti and sun-baked deserts might come to mind. But beneath the surface of its shimmering lakes and rivers, the state harbors a secret world of aquatic giants.
In this article, we dive into the fascinating realm of the ten biggest fish species that call Arizona’s waters home.
1. Flathead Catfish
This colossal freshwater species, recognized by its unique flat head and substantial size, is a frequent star of angler stories and myths. The Flathead Catfish, capable of growing up to an impressive 5 feet and weighing as much as 120 pounds, is a prized catch in Arizona’s waters.
The state record is held by a 76-pound giant caught in Lake Pleasant, a benchmark that continues to inspire anglers.
2. Striped Bass
Frequently spotted in the Colorado River, Lake Havasu, and Lake Powell, the Striped Bass is a renowned game fish that offers a thrilling challenge to anglers.
This species can grow up to 4 feet and weigh approximately 60 pounds. A formidable 48-pound specimen, caught in Lake Mohave, has reinforced Arizona’s status as a hotspot for big game fishing.
3. Channel Catfish
The Channel Catfish is a freshwater wonder celebrated not just for its size, but also for its culinary value. It’s a dream catch for anglers who enjoy a delicious meal after a day of fishing.
This impressive creature can reach up to 4 feet in length and weigh around 58 pounds. The heaviest Channel Catfish caught in Arizona was a substantial 34-pounder from Roosevelt Lake.
While the above-mentioned species are the titans of this state’s waters, there are other species that add an unexpected twist to any fishing trip. They include Carp, Green Sunfish, Largemouth Bass, Blue Catfish, Smallmouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, and Walleye.
Often overlooked by seasoned anglers, the Carp is an interesting species that can grow quite large, adding an unexpected element to any fishing expedition.
This abundant species can reach up to 4 feet and weigh a significant 50 pounds. A record-breaking 52-pound Carp was once caught in Bartlett Lake, adding an unexpected highlight to an angler’s story.
5. Green Sunfish
Despite being smaller than other species on this list, the Green Sunfish offers an entertaining challenge for anglers. This small but spirited species adds a delightful variety to Arizona’s aquatic life. Green Sunfish can grow up to 10 inches in length and weigh around a pound.
The largest Green Sunfish caught in Arizona was a 1-pound specimen, proving that even the smallest catch can bring satisfaction.
6. Largemouth Bass
This species, known for its combative nature, is a favored catch among anglers and has found a thriving habitat in many of Arizona’s water bodies. The Largemouth Bass can attain a length of up to 2 feet and a weight of around 22 pounds.
The record for the heaviest Largemouth Bass caught in Arizona is held by a significant 16.5-pound specimen from Canyon Lake.
7. Blue Catfish
The Blue Catfish, famous for its daunting size, is a top choice for those seeking to pit themselves against the giants of Arizona’s waters.
These fish can grow up to 5 feet in length and tip the scales at a massive 150 pounds. The record for the heaviest Blue Catfish in Arizona is a 76-pound behemoth from Lake Havasu.
8. Smallmouth Bass
This species, primarily found in Arizona’s lively rivers and streams, is renowned for their spirited fight when hooked on light tackle.
These energetic fish can grow up to 2 feet in length and weigh up to 10 pounds. The record for the largest Smallmouth Bass in Arizona is held by a 7.6-pound specimen caught in Lake Powell.
9. Rainbow Trout
The Rainbow Trout, celebrated for its striking colors and culinary value, is a popular choice among fly-fishing enthusiasts. Rainbow Trout can grow up to 2 feet in length and weigh up to 20 pounds.
The record for the largest Rainbow Trout caught in Arizona is a sizable 15-pound specimen from Lake Mohave.
The elusive Walleye is as much appreciated for the challenge it presents to anglers as it is for its taste. Walleyes can grow to 3 feet in length and weigh as much as 20 pounds.
The record for the largest Walleye caught in Arizona is a memorable 16-pound catch from Roosevelt Lake.
While you’re on the hunt for the largest fish species in Arizona, you might also want to check out some incredible places to set up camp. Discover them here.
|Fish Species||Maximum Length||Maximum Weight||Record Catch in Arizona|
|Flathead Catfish||5 feet||120 pounds||76 pounds|
|Striped Bass||4 feet||60 pounds||48 pounds|
|Channel Catfish||4 feet||58 pounds||34 pounds|
|Carp||4 feet||50 pounds||52 pounds|
|Green Sunfish||10 inches||1 pound||1 pound|
|Largemouth Bass||2 feet||22 pounds||16.5 pounds|
|Blue Catfish||5 feet||150 pounds||76 pounds|
|Smallmouth Bass||2 feet||10 pounds||7.6 pounds|
|Rainbow Trout||2 feet||20 pounds||15 pounds|
|Walleye||3 feet||20 pounds||16 pounds|
Can I fish in any body of water in Arizona?
While Arizona has many lakes, rivers, and reservoirs where fishing is allowed, not all bodies of water are open to the public for fishing. Some are private property, while others are protected areas where fishing is not allowed. Always check the regulations for the specific body of water where you plan to fish.
What are the penalties for fishing without a license in Arizona?
Fishing without a license in Arizona is considered a class 2 misdemeanor. Penalties can include fines, community service, and even jail time. Additionally, any fish caught while fishing without a license must be immediately returned to the water.
What is the catch-and-release policy in Arizona?
Catch-and-release is encouraged for certain species in Arizona to help maintain healthy fish populations. In some waters, catch and release is mandatory for all fish or for certain species. That is why checking the specific regulations for the body of water where you’re fishing is crucial.
From the desert rises an angler’s haven. With its diverse range of fish species, the state offers a unique blend of challenges and delights, and fishing enthusiasts of all skill levels are welcome to try their luck!
Arizona showcases the beauty and diversity of freshwater fishing, offering impressive specimens just waiting to be discovered. So why wait? Grab your tackle, embrace the adventure, and dive into the experience of fishing in this state.