Enjoy Great Fishing at Patagonia Lake
This 265-acre southern Arizona impoundment holds healthy populations of largemouth bass, channel and flathead catfish, crappie, and sunfish. Rainbow trout are stocked seasonally from November through March and offer southern Arizona anglers a chance to experience fishing for these beautiful, delicious fish in a unique environment. Fishing opportunities abound from both shore, and from a boat, and anglers typically do fairly well in their pursuit of whichever specie they are targeting. We have outlined some tips below to help visitors maximize their time on the lake and to reduce the learning curve while fishing.
Typically, the spring and summer months are the best times of year to fish for largemouth bass. During spring, the bass create beds in the shallow portions of the lake to breed and perpetuate the species. During the “spawn”, bass are easily agitated into striking soft plastic baits that have been strategically placed within their bed. Catch and release is recommended during the spawn so the fish can return to the nest and protect the baby fish. If enough anglers practice catch and release during the spawn, the bass population at Patagonia will continue to grow and thrive for years to come.
As summer begins to heat up the southern Arizona desert, the largemouth bass at Patagonia remain active early and late in the day, and even at night. Try using white spinnerbaits during the day and switching to dark plastics at night. A slow retrieve seems to work best after the sun has gone down, but this technique has produced some outsized Patagonia Lake bass over the years.
During winter months, trout are stocked in Patagonia Lake, and outsized bass go on the prowl for a tasty treat! Large swimbaits that resemble rainbow trout fished strategically around cover, will usually turn up a big fish or two. Crankbaits fished deep, and spoons jigged beneath a boat can also pick up some winter fish under the right conditions.
Both channel and flathead catfish swim the depths of Patagonia Lake, and anglers can just as easily access them from shore as they can a boat. The popularity of catfish fishing is partly because of the laid-back style used to catch them, although their willingness to bite a variety of baits helps keep an anglers interest. Both quantity and quality of both species can be found at Patagonia Lake. On March 24, 2014, Rich Stachel of Tucson caught a 56.2 lbs. Flathead Catfish at Patagonia Lake (see photo). Patagonia Lake has given up several other behemoth specimens over the years, although Stachel’s giant is likely the largest flathead caught ever here.
Because catfish spend a great majority of their lives on, or near the bottom of the lake, it makes sense the bait you offer them is located there too. A slip sinker set-up (like this one) give anglers an edge by allowing slight “nibbles” to be felt more readily which allows them the chance to more closely monitor the situation. You’ll usually know when a catfish has taken the bait, don’t forget to hold on for the ride!
Typical catfish baits like chicken liver, worms, and anchovies work well at Patagonia Lake. Other manufactured baits also work well and can be right at the Patagonia Lake marina store. Although catfish can be caught at any hour of the day, they are most readily caught at dawn, dusk, and at night. Anglers that take advantage of these prime fishing times tyically catch more and larger catfish.
Rainbow trout are stocked seasonally at Patagonia Lake State Park and give anglers a chance at delicious, beautiful fish, within a unique desert environment. The Arizona Game and Fish Department grows and stocks rainbows specifically grown to provide high quality table fare. These beauties can be found in Patagonia Lake Fall through Spring, and readily take a variety of baits and lures. The trout population at Patagonia Lake is managed as a “put and take” fishery, and these fish are healthy, active, and ready. Below we will outline two effective trout fishing methods that will likely increase your catch rate while visiting this beautiful corner of Arizona.
Lures have been fooling trout into biting for centuries. They mimic natural foods that trout may encounter while in the lake, and come in a variety of shapes, styles, and sizes. A time-tested lure type is the in-line spinner. Examples of these are Rooster Tails, Mepps, and Panther Martin, although many more companies produce a similar product. Purchase several different colors before your trip to ensure you have brought what the trout prefer on any given day. Brown, black, white, and yellow are typically good bets! Fish each color at varying depths and speeds until you find the combination the Patagonia Lake trout prefer.
Baits should be fished under a bobber, and just like lures, at varying depths until you figure out at which depth the trout are currently living. Popular bait options include salmon eggs, worms, corn, and Power Bait products. Patience is key with bait fishing, although he beautiful scenery at Patagonia Lake helps anglers sit still while they wait for the next bite.
A valid Arizona fishing license is required for anglers 10 years and older. Licensing information is available online at Arizona Game & Fish, or purchase a fishing license at a local dealer.