From avid anglers to those who want to try their hand at the pastime hobby, Arizona’s White Mountains offer some incredible and jaw-dropping locations for fishing. Fishing enthusiasts often travel to high-elevation areas in Arizona for the state’s trout. In fact, Arizona’s White Mountains are the only place to find the once-endangered Apache trout. With hundreds of miles of rivers and no shortage of creeks, there’s an ideal location in Arizona for any type of fishing outing.
In no particular order, here are the 10 best spots for fishing in Arizona’s White Mountains.
1. Canyon CreekIdeal for: trout.
Located in the Mogollon Rim of Arizona lies one of Arizona’s best locations for rainbow trout. Popular for fly fishing, the Canyon Creek suffered a severe fire in 2002 that ravaged the area, and the resulting ash and debris devastated the trout population. We’re pleased to say that the area has since made a full recovery and is again one of the best spots in the state for rainbow trout.
2. Salt RiverIdeal for: smallmouth bass, catfish, rainbow trout, brown trout, sunfish.
Flowing through the Tonto National Forest is Arizona’s Salt River, a 200 mile long tributary of the Gila River. With its wild horses, canyons, and abundant wildlife, the Salt River is the perfect place to visit. As its name suggests, the Salt River flows over salt deposits (located in restricted areas nearby). Perfect for tubing and rafting, the Salt River makes for an excellent choice for a family outing.
3. Boneyard CreekIdeal for: rainbow trout, brook trout.
If you’re after a small creek that can promise a decent catch, try Boneyard Creek. The area tends to be peaceful and serene, making it perfect for a quiet trip out of town. Camping is permitted, but if that’s not your cup of tea, try the nearby lodging.
4. Blue RiverIdeal for: rainbow trout, brown trout, catfish.
Arizona’s Blue River spans a stretch of 51 miles. Though it is ideal for rainbow trout and brown trout, anglers can try their luck with catfish, depending on the area of the river. Like many rivers in this region, the Blue River’s flow can depend on the snowpack, and it is susceptible to warm weather temperatures in the summer. Plan ahead before fishing on this location, taking note of the weather conditions. The Blue River offers what is arguably some of the best views of Arizona. And like much of the region, there’s plenty of wildlife to be seen, such as white-tailed deer, coyotes, and gray foxes.*
5. Grant CreekIdeal for: rainbow trout
A tributary of the Blue River, Grant Creek is a quaint spot for fishing rainbow trout. If you also enjoy a good hike, Grant Creek offers some challenging trails with impressive views. The creek is situated in the Coronado National Forest. Deer and bears are plentiful in this area, though they are shy and tend to stay out of sight.
6. Black RiverIdeal for: rainbow trout, brown trout, native trout, brook trout, smallmouth bass.
If you want to see nature and all it’s got to offer, Black River is the spot for you. With a whopping 114 miles of river, Arizona’s Black River covers a lot of ground. Hailed as “some of the finest flywaters in the state of Arizona,” the Black River is ideal for catching rainbow, brown, native, and brook trout and smallmouth bass—in pools, there’s an off chance for lunker browns. If you’ll be making the trip out between May and July, you’re in at the perfect time for bass. While you’re there, you might be able to spot some wild horse, elk, turkey, beavers, osprey, and even bears.*
7. Silver CreekIdeal for: rainbow trout, brown trout, sunfish, catfish
If you want to catch big trout, this is your spot. Hailed by some as one of the best places to fish in Arizona, Silver Creek is stocked with rainbow trout every spring. The biggest challenge at Silver Creek is beating the crowds. But consider yourself warned, by summertime it gets quite warm, making fishing conditions less than ideal. A little known fact: Silver Creek was once the site of an active supervolcano that erupted millions of years ago.
8. Little Colorado RiverIdeal for: rainbow trout, brown trout, native trout, brook trout.
A tributary of the Colorado River, Little Colorado River makes for an incredibly unique sight with its striking turquoise-blue waters that have carved a deep canyon. The bright blue color of the river is caused by the travertine and limestone in the water. The Little Colorado River is easily accessible and has plenty of nearby amenities, so consider spending more than one day here. The area has hiking trails, campgrounds, a nearby cabin resort, and plenty of nearby lodging and restaurants. Note that designated areas of the river are catch and release only. Fun fact: the Little Colorado River was once called the Flax River by early Spanish settlers, as it had an abundance of wild flax growing.*
9. Reservation CreekIdeal for: rainbow trout, brown trout.
A distinctively alpine region, the high elevation of Reservation Creek makes it ideal for wild trout. In fact, it’s a prime trout spawning location. The cold water makes it perfect for trout year-round. In addition to fishing, the creek is also great for camping and kayaking.
10. KP CreekIdeal for: rainbow trout.
Like Reservation Creek, KP Creek is high in elevation making it the perfect location for catching rainbow trout. It’s got an entire fishable location of 13 miles. If you’re also an experienced hiker, try the KP Creek trail, a challenging loop trail that rewards with a stunning waterfall view.
Wherever you choose to go fishing, be sure to check for what permits are needed, and what the rules are in each location, such as which areas are fishable and what types of bait are allowed. As you can see, there’s no shortage of beautiful fishing spots where you can find a quiet place to fish. And if you’re lucky, you might even snag a massive catch!
*If you're looking for lodging near the Black, Blue, or Little Colorado Rivers, Hannagan Meadow Lodge provides a place to hang your hat near the headwaters of those three watersheds. We can also provide a fishing guide if needed.