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Fishing Bartlett Lake

AKA: Lake Bartlett, Bartlett Reservoir

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By Rick Seaman

Bartlet Lake Fishing Area

Popular Fish Species Bartlett Lake, AZ

Bartlett Lake Popular Fish - Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass Fishing

Bartlett Lake continues to deliver great catches of largemouth bass, as it has for several years now. Thorough fisheries management by the Arizona Game & Fish Department has maintained a quality bass fishery providing both quantity and quality for anglers. Smallmouth bass also reside here in fewer numbers. Recent results by locals, and bass fishing tournament participants, attest to the fact that fishing for largemouth bass has been quite rewarding lately. A significant number of larger bass also roam these waters, so there is always the potential for catching a lunker. Bass often move shallow and become fairly aggressive when they are in a feeding mood. If you find them shallow, and they seem disinterested in your presentations, try slowing down and use smaller, lighter baits. Use shallow crankbaits around rip rap. Around grass use worms, jigs, topwater and spinnerbaits. In deeper water, big worms, jigs and spoons are three good options. In winter, spend your time fishing Bartlett Lake on deeper structure where the bass spend much of their time. Fishing for largemouth bass can range from fair to very good here, year round.

Bartlett Lake Popular Fish - Channel Catfish

Channel Catfish Fishing

Most any rod and reel will work for catching channel catfish at Bartlett Lake, as long as the line is strong enough. However, using the right equipment enhances success, especially when you hook one of the big boys. A medium action, to medium-heavy action rod is ideal, in the 6' to 7' range. Use a slip sinker or Carolina rig with popular catfish baits on at least 10-pound line. Use sharp hooks with bait holders on the shank, or circle hooks for live bait. The state record channel catfish is over 33 pounds, and Bartlett Lake holds some pretty big ones. Flathead catfish also reside in the lake and grow to monster sizes. Night fishing for catfish often delivers better results than daytime fishing. Fishing for channel catfish is often most productive around any kind of structure in the area. In Spring channel catfish migrate toward incoming water, so stay up river away from the main lake. In early summer look for rocky banks, the bigger the rocks the better. In summer and winter deeper structure is where to look. The river end of the lake is often the area where the bigger catfish are caught. Road beds, creek channels and rocky points are all good places to begin.

Bartlett Lake Popular Fish - Flathead Catfish

Flathead Catfish Fishing

For many years now, good populations of big flathead catfish can be found in Bartlett Lake, especially up in the Verde River end of the lake. The state record flathead catfish, over 75 pounds, was caught out of this lake. Fishing for flathead catfish is most often productive in the river end of the lake around any kind of structure. Road beds, creek channels and rocky points are all good places to begin. Use a slip sinker or Carolina rig with popular catfish baits. Other catfish in the lake include channel and blue catfish.

Fish species to fish for...

Guide to fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, black crappie and bluegill at Bartlett Lake in Arizona.

Bartlett Lake Fishing Video

Located on the Verde River in central Arizona, Bartlett Lake is an easy 45-minute drive northeast of Carefree AZ. Head northeast from Carefree on the Cave Creek road to the Bartlett Dam Road turnoff. Amenities at this 2,800-acre lake include a marina and store, boat slips and boat rentals, paved boat launch and a sheriff station.

Bartlett Lake, AZ

Bartlett Lake, AZ Fishing

Bass Fishing At Bartlett Lake

Bartlett Lake in Arizona offers anglers a unique fishing experience amidst the picturesque desert surroundings. Largemouth bass, the apex predator of the lake, presents an exciting challenge for anglers seeking thrilling battles and impressive catches. Fishing the steep rocky bank near the dam is a popular spot for quality largemouths. Bartlett Lake's underwater structures, including submerged boulders and rocky points, create ideal habitats for largemouth bass. Techniques such as pitching jigs around rocky banks, working soft plastic creature baits, and using crankbaits near the shoreline are effective for catching more bass. In summer and winter, when the bass move deeper, fishing underwater structure with spoons and jigs can be very productive.

Catfish Fishing

Catfish enthusiasts will find Bartlett Lake to be a rewarding destination, with both channel catfish and flathead catfish thriving in its waters. Known for monster flatheads in the river end of the lake make night fishing excursions for catfish very popular. Anglers can use stink baits, cut bait, or live bait to attract these nocturnal predators. Moonlit nights on Bartlett Lake provide a tranquil atmosphere for anglers seeking the thrill of battling with big catfish.

Panfish Fishing

Panfish, including bluegill and crappie, are abundant near the lake's shoreline and submerged structure. Crappie and sunfish provide a relaxed angling experience, making Bartlett Lake an ideal destination for families or those looking to enjoy a leisurely day by the water. Using live worms, small jigs, or minnows can lead to a rewarding day of reeling in these panfish, especially black crappie.

Fishing From The Bank

There are multiple areas for fishing from shore, including nearby the Jojoba Boat Launch, Rattlesnake Cove, Bartlett Lake Flats and the Bartlett Lake Recreation Area near SB Cove. With its diverse fishery and varied underwater terrain, Bartlett Lake accommodates anglers with different preferences and skill levels. Whether casting from shore or fishing from a boat, Bartlett Lake ensures a fun day of fishing in the heart of Arizona's desert landscapes. The combination of exciting bass fishing, the challenge of catfish, and the serene pursuit of panfish makes Bartlett Lake a sought-after destination for anglers seeking both adventure and tranquility on the water.

There are numerous camping areas located around the lake which are accessible by road, other camping ares are accessible only by boat.

Primary fish species residing in Bartlett Lake

Click images for fishing tips and details about each species.

Largemouth bass Smallmouth bass Channel catfish Flathead catfish Black crappie Bluegill

Fishing Boats For Rent In Arizona

Bass Fishing at Bartlett Lake.

Bass are the primary target of anglers heading to Bartlett Lake. This desert lake offers a variety of structure and cover. Much of the lake is comprised of flooded areas of de-composed granite. Other sections are strewn with giant boulders. The upper reaches of the river end of the lake offer brush and vegetation for bass and other species. The main food source for bass in Bartlett Lake are threadfin shad. Their secondary food source is crawfish (or crawdads). The water in the lake remains fairly clear unless water levels drop significantly, at which time the water gets murky from mud and silt on the lake bottom.

Bartlett Lake Largemouth Bass

Once the water temperature rises around 60 degrees, the bass can be coaxed into taking topwater lures. Jigs, spoons and worms work year round - shallow in mild weather and deeper when the water gets very warm or very cold. When the bass are shallow, crankbaits and spinnerbaits catch a lot of bass.

Other fishing in Bartlett Lake

Crappie, bluegills and other panfish populate these waters and make fun fishing for kids and other anglers new to the sport. The lake also contains channel catfish throughout the lake, and monster flathead catfish are prevalent in the river end of the lake especially in the river entering the lake from Horseshoe Lake.

Bartlett Lake Amenities

Marina: YES
Boat Rental: YES
Boat Launch Ramp: YES
Campgrounds: YES (Primitive)
RV Hookups: NO
Lodging: NO
Convenience Store: YES
Bait & Tackle: YES
Restaurant: YES

Today's Weather & Forecast

In addition to fishing, Bartlett Lake is also a haven for boating enthusiasts. With its expansive size and calm waters, the lake is perfect for all types of watercraft. Boaters can enjoy leisurely cruises, water skiing, tubing, or simply relaxing and taking in the beautiful surroundings. The surrounding desert landscape and the views of the iconic saguaro cacti make boating at Bartlett Lake a truly unique experience.

Fishing Boat Rentals

Bartlett Lake Marina
Rentals: Offering pontoon boats and fishing boats for rent
480 221-0503


Bartlett Lake Marina
20808 E Bartlett Dam Rd
Rio Verde, AZ 85263
480 221-0503

Boat Launch Ramps & Landings

Bartlett Lake Marina
20808 E Bartlett Dam Rd
Rio Verde, AZ 85263
Paved ramp, mid-lake at the marina.
480 221-0503

Rattlesnake Cove Boat launch
Dirt ramp, mid-lake on the west side of the lake, with a dock.

Addition Launching Options
There are numerous places along the west side of the lake, from Rattlesnake Cove to Bartlett Lake Flats, with primitive launch areas.

Fishing Guides On Bartlett Lake

Professional Arizona Fishing Guides - bass, crappie, catfish

If you offer fishing guide services on this lake, please contact us for a free listing, to be posted here.

Fishing License

Click here for a Arizona Fishing License.

Bartlett Lake in Arizona is a paradise for fishing enthusiasts, with its diverse fish species and serene waters. Boating enthusiasts can enjoy the lake's vast expanse and scenic beauty, while campers can immerse themselves in the natural surroundings and create lasting memories. Whether you're an angler, a boater, or a camper, Bartlett Lake offers something for everyone who loves the outdoors.

Campgrounds & RV Parks Nearby

Primitive campsites located along the west side of the lake. Other primitive places to camp are located in areas accessible via boat.

Bartlett Lake AZ Map - Fishing & Camping Areas

Bartlett Lake, located in Arizona, is a beloved destination for fishing enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers. With its serene waters and scenic desert landscape, Bartlett Lake offers a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy. Fishing is a major attraction at the lake, as it is home to a diverse range of fish species. Anglers can target popular game fish such as largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, catfish, crappie, and sunfish. Whether you're casting from the shoreline or fishing from a boat, Bartlett Lake provides ample opportunities to reel in a prized catch.

Known for its healthy bass population, the lake offers ample opportunities to reel in largemouth and smallmouth bass. With its diverse underwater structure, including rocky points, submerged vegetation, and drop-offs, Bartlett Lake provides the perfect habitat for bass to thrive. Anglers can employ a variety of techniques, such as using topwater lures in the early morning, working Texas-rigged plastic worms along the bottom, or employing crankbaits and spinnerbaits to entice strikes. The challenge of outsmarting these powerful and elusive bass, combined with the picturesque desert scenery surrounding the lake, makes bass fishing at Bartlett Lake a truly memorable adventure.

Contact Information

Bartlett Lake
Bartlett Lake Marina
20808 Bartlett Dam Rd
Rio Verde, AZ 85263
480 221-0503

Bass Fishing Book By Rick Seaman & Dan Westfall

Rick Seaman is a bass fishing enthusiast with over five decades of bass fishing experience, a retired bass tournament fisherman and co-author of the book "Bass Fishing. It's not WHAT you throw, It's WHERE you throw it" .


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