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AKA: San Carlos Reservoir

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

By Rick Seaman

San Carlos Lake, AZ

Located in eastern Arizona it is an easy one-half hour drive on US Highway 70 from Globe, AZ to the San Carlos Lake turnoff, south at State Highway 170. Check water levels before heading to San Carlos. The lake is often at low pool, often with quite muddy-water conditions. At most boat launching options 4-wheel drive is recommended for launching when the lake is low as ramps are out of water.

San Carlos Lake, AZ

San Carlos Lake, AZ Fishing

San Carlos Lake, situated in the arid landscapes of Eastern Arizona, provides a captivating fishing experience with its diverse array of fish species. This expansive reservoir is known for its rugged landscape and varied underwater structures, making it a prime destination for fishing enthusiasts.

Largemouth Bass Fishing

Largemouth bass, the crown jewel of San Carlos Lake, captures the attention of anglers with its size and predatory nature. These elusive bass thrive in the lake's submerged trees, rocky points, and coves. Techniques such as soft plastic worms, jigs, and crankbaits prove effective in enticing strikes from largemouth bass. The thrill of hooking into a trophy-sized bass makes San Carlos Lake a premier destination for bass fishing enthusiasts.

Crappie Fishing

Crappie, a prized panfish species at San Carlos Lake, inhabit the deeper waters of the lake, presenting a different challenge for anglers. Known for their schooling behavior, crappie are often found near underwater brush and drop-offs. Techniques such as jigging and using live minnows prove effective in enticing crappie strikes. The crappie at San Carlos Lake grow to unusually large size and make for a fantastic fish fry.

Bluegill Fishing

San Carlos Lake hosts a variety of other fish species that contribute to its diverse fishery. Bluegill, with their vibrant colors are often found near the shoreline and submerged vegetation. Anglers can enjoy the simplicity of bluegill fishing, using worms, small jigs, or prepared bait to entice these feisty sunfish. The accessibility of bluegill fishing makes it an excellent option for anglers of all skill levels, adding a relaxing and enjoyable dimension to the fishing experience at San Carlos Lake.

Catfish Fishing

For those seeking the thrill of night fishing, San Carlos Lake is home to channel catfish and flathead catfish. These nocturnal predators offer a unique challenge for anglers, with stink baits, cut bait, or live bait being popular choices for enticing catfish strikes. The moonlit waters of San Carlos Lake provide an opportunity for anglers to engage in the excitement of battling with robust catfish after sunset.

San Carlos Lake's diverse habitats, including rocky shorelines, submerged brush, and drop-offs, contribute to a balanced and thriving fishery. Whether casting from the shoreline, navigating these by boat, or trying different techniques to target specific species, San Carlos Lake offers a rewarding fishing adventure.

San Carlos Lake, located in Eastern Arizona, is a hidden paradise for fishing enthusiasts seeking a diverse angling experience. Situated within the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, this reservoir offers excellent fishing opportunities throughout the year. The lake is known for its abundance of fish species, including largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, and sunfish.

Lake Video

Bass fishing is a major draw at San Carlos Lake, providing exciting action for anglers. The lake's structure, such as rocky points, submerged vegetation, and underwater channels, creates ideal habitats for bass to thrive. Anglers can target bass using a variety of techniques, such as casting with jigs, crankbaits, or soft plastics, and enjoy the thrill of reeling in these powerful and aggressive fish.

Bass fishing in San Carlos Lake, Arizona is an exhilarating experience that draws anglers from near and far. San Carlos Lake is known for its healthy population of both largemouth bass, providing ample opportunities for anglers to test their skills and land some impressive catches. The lake's diverse underwater structure, such as rocky areas, submerged vegetation, and drop-offs, creates ideal habitats for bass to thrive. Anglers can employ various techniques, including flipping, pitching, and casting with a variety of lures and baits, to entice these elusive fish. The thrill of hooking into a powerful bass and experiencing its acrobatic leaps and powerful runs is a testament to the excitement that awaits bass anglers in San Carlos, Arizona.

Crappie fishing in San Carlos Lake, Arizona is a popular pursuit among anglers looking to reel in these delicious and sought-after panfish. San Carlos Lake is home to both black crappie and white crappie, offering a diverse fishing experience for crappie enthusiasts. Anglers can find crappie around submerged structures such as brush piles, fallen trees, and rocky areas. The key to a successful crappie fishing trip in San Carlos is to use light tackle, such as ultralight spinning rods, and employ techniques like vertical jigging or casting with small jigs or live minnows. The thrill of hooking into a slab-sized crappie and enjoying their delicate and flavorful meat is a true delight for anglers exploring the waters of San Carlos, Arizona.

When full, San Carlos Lake is a 20,000-acre paradise for bass and crappie anglers.

Primary fish species residing in San Carlos Lake

Click images for fishing tips and details about each species.

Largemouth bass Channel catfish Flathead catfish Black crappie Bluegill

Fishing Boats For Rent In Arizona

San Carlos Lake is famous for big bass and monster black crappie. Bass over 10 pounds are not uncommon, as well as crappie over 3 pounds.

Bass Fishing At San Carlos Lake

In spring and summer this can be a topwater haven, if the water is relatively clear. Big crankbaits, spinnerbaits and large worms work well when the bass are shallow. At higher pool levels there is plenty of brush in the shallows for bass and everything they eat. When the levels drop, rocks are the key to locating bass.

San Carlos crappie fishing

Crappie Fishing

Springtime, and especially during the spawn, is a crappie bonanza at San Carlos. The crappie are shallow and you'll have no trouble finding them. Look for the mass of boats in the river end of the lake. Small crappie jigs or live minnows fished on 6-pound line can deliver plenty of action with lots of 2-pound crappie - and occasionally some approaching 4 pounds. Casting or slow trolling are the preferred methods. Other times of the year, night fishing with crappie lights can deliver exceptional action.

San Carlos Lake Amenities

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

Today's Weather & Forecast

Click here for a Arizona Fishing License.

Boating is a popular activity on San Carlos Lake, offering anglers and outdoor enthusiasts the opportunity to explore the expansive waters and access prime fishing locations. Whether you bring your own boat or rent one from the marina, the lake provides ample space for boating, water sports, and leisurely cruising. The calm waters and scenic surroundings make for a relaxing and enjoyable boating experience.

Camping facilities are available near San Carlos Lake, allowing anglers to extend their stay and fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the area. The reservation offers several campgrounds with amenities such as RV hookups, tent sites, picnic areas, and restrooms. Camping near San Carlos Lake provides anglers with the convenience of being close to the water, allowing for early morning and late evening fishing sessions.

Campgrounds & RV Parks Nearby

San Carlos Lake Campground - 928 475-2343

Sodacanyon Complex Campground - 928 475-2756

San Carlos Lake AZ Map - Fishing & Camping Areas

Contact Information

San Carlos Lake
San Carlos Apache Nation
P.O. Box 1809
San Carlos, Arizona 85550
928 475-2343

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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