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Fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, black crappie, bluegill and yellow bass at Roosevelt Lake in Arizona.

The largest lake in Central Arizona, Roosevelt Lake, is a bass fisherman's paradise. At nearly 20,000 acres, and loaded with submerged brush and timber, Roosevelt Lake is the place to be for a serious bass fisherman. When timed right, this lake can kick out incredible numbers of largemouth bass, including some giant bass over 10 pounds. This is a great lake to learn a new technique or fishing style, as it offers a little bit of everything. If you are a serious angler looking to spend a full day in one of the country's hottest fisheries, Roosevelt Lake is the place to go.

Roosevelt Lake Fishing
Fishing with Johnny Johnson - Roosevelt Lake, AZ – Swimbaits as Search Tool – April, 2015
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Fishing with Johnny Johnson - Buzzbait Time!
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WWBT 2017 Ep 6 - Lake Roosevelt AZ Team Championship
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License Requirements
  • A valid fishing or combination license is required for resident and non-resident anglers 10 years of age or older fishing any public accessible water in Arizona.

  • Youth under the age of 10 and blind residents do not need to purchase a state fishing license to fish in Arizona.

  • Licenses are valid one year from date of purchase. No license is transferable or refundable.

  • All required licenses must be in possession while engaging in fishing.

  • A member or spouse of a member of the armed forces of the United States who is on active duty and stationed in this state for either permanent or temporary duty, or is a member or spouse of a member of the armed forces of the United States on active duty stationed in another state or country but who lists this state as their home of record at the time of applying for a license, permit, tag, or stamp, may purchase a resident license.

  • A valid fishing or combination license is required for take of frogs, waterdogs, crayfish and softshell turtles. See Commission Orders 41 (Amphibians), 42 (Crustaceans and Mollusks) and 43 (Reptiles) on open and closed areas, methods of take, seasons, and bag and possession limits.


Purchase a license from the Arizona Game and Fish Department for Roosevelt Lake. Click Here:

Fishing Strategy

Bass anglers are reporting very good to excellent fishing conditions on Roosevelt Lake.  These conditions are being driven mostly by the excellent top-water bite. Schooling bass are chasing shad in the early morning onto shallow flats such as Connor’s Ledge and Goose Flats or the backs of coves such as Methodist or Salome’ Coves. A Lily Ninja popping or walking frog bait made by Savage Gear Lures, a Zara Spook and a Rio Rico will produce excellent results.


When fishing top-water baits, the technique is to let the fish take the bait without setting the hook. As the rod loads up with pressure from the fish, lift the rod tip and begin to reel. A quick hook set will nearly always rip the bait away from the fish.  Keep a watchful eye on the deep water too. Schooling bass will sometimes push shad to the surface in the middle of the lake. The most telling sign to watch for is diving birds. Bird will dive on bait-fish as the bass chase them to the surface. Slightly deeper running baits such as a Super Fluke, paddle-tail swim-bait or shallow running crank-baits are recommended for the reaction bite.


As we pass the summer solstice catfish anglers know that the water temperature is perfect for night time cat-fishing. The full moon phase will add to increased enjoyment and success of fishing at night. Most catfish anglers fish from the shorelines on the Salt River end of the lake or near the dam. The best baits are PowerBait or most any scrap of meat, fish or chicken. There are 70+ pound catfish in the Salt River Lakes so a typical rod used by local experts is a saltwater application rod in the 60-80 pound class.

The water level in Roosevelt Lake continues to fall and currently stands at 49% full. During the peak summertime downstream demand periods, Roosevelt Lake will decrease 1% per week. This equates roughly to about one vertical foot per week.  Since June 1st the lake level has dropped just over 3 vertical feet. This draw-down rate is expected to continue for the next few months.

The water clarity is improving and is now slightly stained which would increase the visibility to the fish of lighter colored baits. Quite often, white is the color of choice for clear water impounds in the western US. The temperature of Roosevelt Lake is continuing to increase. Currently the temperature is in the low 80’s in the morning, increasing to the mid 80’s during the warmest time of the day. Ambient temperatures at the lake are exceeding the 100 degree mark. It is extremely important to stay hydrated and protect your skin from the sun while enjoying the water activities on any Arizona lake.

Crappie fishing reports are improving as crappie gather into large schools. Crappie are being reported to be near cover in the 20-foot to 25-foot range. Trolling and vertical fishing techniques are both reported successful, however, most anglers prefer to troll during the summer months. Crappie anglers are reporting much better success in the early morning lasting until about 10 AM. Small baits such as a 2″ curly-tail grub tail or a small crank-bait are the most popular bait choices for summer crappie fishing.

Boating Options

Whether you are staying for a week or just visiting for the day, you can find help with your boating needs.  The Marina on Roosevelt lake has the best options for lake boat rentals. Choose from ski boat or pontoon rentals to enjoy on the lake, or sign a marina slip lease and tie your own boat or jet skis up here. Also available are water toy packages which include wakeboards, kneeboards, water skis and tubes.  They also have small fishing boats for rent.  For more info click here.

Camping Options

There are many different types of camping options at Roosevelt Lake.  Everything from primitive shoreline areas to paid RV and covered canopies.  For more info click here.


There are three routes to the lake depending upon point of origination and the type of scenery you would prefer to enjoy. See the Roosevelt Lake Map below.

Apache Trail Route. This is one of the most scenic drives in Arizona, particularly during the spring months when the desert is in bloom. From Apache Junction, it's about a 50-mile drive, but a slow drive since about half of the route is winding dirt road along the northern edges of the Superstition Mountain Wilderness area. Take Highway 88 (Apache Trail) from Apache Junction which is a Phoenix suburb. You will pass Canyon Lake before entering the Ghost Town of Tortilla Flats. Shortly after the road through hairpin turns alongside sheer cliff dropoffs at Fish Creek Hill as the views of Apache Lake appear. Apache Trail then continues until it reaches Roosevelt Dam and Roosevelt Lake.

From Globe Arizona. Take Highway 188 for about 30 miles north of Globe.

From North Phoenix, Mesa and Scottsdale. Take Beeline Highway (Highway 87) north to Highway 188. Take 188 south for about 40 miles passing through Jake's Corner and Punkin Center to Lake Roosevelt. The route is all paved.


For More Info Contact:

Tonto National Forest 
Tonto Basin Ranger District
(928) 467-3200
(928) 467-2245 (Marina)
(602) 236-5929 (Lake Level Information)


Largemouth Bass

The largemouth bass is the most popular freshwater game fish in the U.S. This is why organizations like the Wild West Bass Trail come to Roosevelt Lake.  These guys are HUGE!


Smallmouth Bass

The smallmouth bass is the second largest member of the sunfish family attaining a weight of almost 12 lb.


Smallmouth Bass

They look like a Largemouth Bass but with an added yellow coloring.  They are very rare and Roosevelt Lake is one of the only places where they have been reported.


Channel Catfish

The channel catfish, like other catfish, has no scales, a single bony spine in each pectoral fin and the dorsal fin, and 8 barbels around the mouth. They have a deeply forked tail and the upper jaw is longer than the lower jaw.


Flathead Catfish

The flathead catfish is a popular food fish has an excellent flavor.


Black Crappie



Bluegill are considered to be some of the best tasting fish in the world. They are found in many lakes and rivers around Arizona. Bluegill are highly adaptable and capable of almost any water temperature. They bit on just about anything.

These species of fish are the most commonly caught fish in Roosevelt Lake.

Fish Species In Roosevelt Lake

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