The fly fishing community is tight knit and dedicated to their craft. In Arizona, you’ll find no shortage of local fishing holes to hone your skills, and snag that big catch. From tourist hot spots to more secret, local favorites, these five spots are among the best for fly fishing.
Sedona attracts locals and tourists alike. It eschews beauty with gorgeous Red Rocks. But far fewer people explore Sedona’s surrounding land—or water. One of the best-hidden gems in northern Arizona is Oak Creek. It’s a spring-fed creek that lies just outside of Sedona. This little-known creek has become a go to for local fly-fishers. It’s stocked with rainbow trout from the Page Springs Fish Hatchery in as many as 25 sites in the creek. Not a trout fan? Then you can go for other well-populated species like largemouth bass, rock bass, and channel catfish. The creek features a range of fishing opportunities as the creek has both tight and wide sections. It’s also surrounded by red sandstone that radiates Sedona’s beauty. Add it together and it might be the perfect fly-fishing experience.
Black River is a favorite among Valley residents looking to escape the heat. It’s located in the picture perfect White Mountains near Show Low. Open terrain, lush alpine forest, and Arizona wildlife surround the 114-mile long river. If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, consider this: The Lower Black River is one of the best places in Arizona to fish for smallmouth bass. Higher elevations towards the east are home to rainbow and apache trout but are also more crowded. The best spot for fly-fishers is along the West and East Forks, which are both about eight miles long. You’ll also want to take full advantage of the good weather. The upper river is inaccessible April through November.
There are many reasons why Silver Creek is a go-to fly-fishing spot. For one, it’s fully stocked with rainbow and apache trout. It’s also home to larger fish—so get ready to try your hand at angling 20-plus inch beasts. Silver Creek is a set of springs located near Show Low. Its state run and operated, meaning it’s stocked with new fish several times per year. The season runs from April through the end of September. No two experiences are the same, as the fish populations waver between apache and rainbow. The most popular spot for beginners in the creek is the catch-and-release section. It’s a treasure trove of large fish that are easily lured. Take a visit to Silver Creek and try your hand at catching your next trophy fish.
Chevelon Canyon Lake is not for the faint of heart. This reservoir is located in a remote area of the Mogollon Rim. In fact, you can only access it via a step hike. But a trip is well worth the effort. It’s elevated at over 6,000 feet in a stunning part of Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. The remote lake is a favorite among fly fishers because live bait is prohibited. Fly-fishermen are rewarded for their efforts with some of the best rainbow and brown trout in the state. This lake is only recommended for experienced and in-shape fly-fishers. This remote spot is located about 60 miles northeast of Payson.
The Salt River is more than just a tubing destination. It’s also home to some of the best fly-fishing in the state. Located only 40 minutes from downtown Phoenix, it’s a favorite among Valley residents looking for a quick fishing trip. It’s also the only cold-water trout fishery in the desert in the entire country. The Lower Salt River is surrounded by desert beauty including high canyon walls and Arizona wildlife. The fishing isn’t bad either. You’ll find largemouth bass, bluegill, and catfish in the stretch below Saguaro Lake. It’s also stocked with healthy populations of rainbow trout. One huge plus—it’s fishable year-round.