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  • Lake Pleasant is a man-made reservoir Northwest of Phoenix, popular for fishing and watersports. Lake Pleasant was formed by the creation of the Waddle Dam in 1927 and filled from the Agua Fria River. The dam was rebuilt in 1994 and water from the CAP (Central Arizona Project) canal filled the lake to three times it's size.

    Lake Pleasant is open all year and has all the amenities of a state park: trailer spaces, potable water, hookups, restrooms, restaurants and campsites. You can rent boats at the lake and there are no engine restrictions at Lake Pleasant. You will need to pay an access fee to enter the park. As of September 2012, it’s about 6 dollars per vehicle and 4 dollars per motorized watercraft. They do sell annual passes if you can’t get enough.

    There are barrier free access points where you can launch from shore, some best reached with a 4x4 vehicle. As far as camping goes, you can find a spot on the shore if you beat the crowd. The developed campsites range from ten to thirty dollars a night depending on how fancy you want to get. You'll generally want to check the game and fish website for a consumption advisory if you plan on cooking a bunch of fish.

    A class A Arizona Fishing license will do. You don’t need any special stamps unless you want to have two poles in the water. The Game and Fish headquarters is on the way out where you can pick one up, just between I17 and Lake Pleasant Rd on Carefree Hwy.
    Flows and Water Level

    The water level at Lake Pleasant is predictable. Every October, Central Arizona Project starts pumping water in from the Colorado River. The reservoir remains full until May when water is pumps out to meet city demands. The Agua Fria River contributes in the winter months.
  • GPS:
    33.846182 -112.266197
    Phone Numbers for more information::
    Available on the Maricopa website: http://www.maricopacountyparks.net/
    Restrictions/Season of Use:
    Open all year
    Road Conditions:
    Paved to the docks. You can take 4x4 roads to the back of the lake.
    Land Ownership:
    Maricopa County
    Entrance Fees/Permits:
    You can pay at the lake. I think it's about 6 dollars a vehicle plus a little more for a boat
    Max Surface Acres:
    River Lake Impounds:
    Agua Fria
    Average Depth:
    80 Ft.
    Fishing Allowed:
    Fly Fishing, Bait Fishing
    Bag Limit:
    Should be posted at the lake
    Boat/Engine Restrictions:
    Boats to Rent:
    Yes. They have designated areas for campers and you can camp in a tent on any dirt road taking you to the shore.
    Barrier free Access:
    Trailer Spaces:
    Launching Area:
    Water Skiing:
    Cleaning Stations:
    There's two Marians Scorpion Bay and Lake Pleasant Harbor
  • You will hear mixed reviews about fishing at Lake Pleasant. Some love it, and can prove it with photos of big fish. Others say, they get “skunked” all the time. It seems to just be one of those lakes where you have to get lucky or really know what you’re doing.

    The Northwest side of the Lake "Castle Creek" is a favorite spot for Largemouth and Striped Bass. The Northeast side or (Agua Fria Arm) is a great spot. Although, it has restricted access due to a Bald Eagle habitat from December until June. You don’t hear too many success stories in the weekly fishing report near the dam.

    Waterdogs seem to be the best live bait for Pleasant. I've seen eight pound Largemouth and ten pound channel cats caught on dogs. Lake Pleasant has monster Flathead catfish, they go for waterdogs and other larger live bait like bluegill and small carp.

    Anchovies work well for Stripers; the channel cats will eat them too. Some do well looking for Striper boils on the surface and throwing top-water lures and spoons. Trolling with larger swim baits also works for striped bass.

    Lake Pleasant has excellent crappie fishing in early spring; minnows seem to work the best.

    Fish of Lake Pleasant
    • Largemouth Bass
    • Smallmouth Bass
    • White and Striped Bass
    • Channel and Flathead Catfish
    • Carp and Bigmouth Buffalo
    • Bluegill
    • Green and Redear Sunfish
    • White and Black Crappie
    • Tiliapia

    Every year in March, there is a big fishing tournament/festival called Bill Luke Bass days than anyone can enter for a fee.
  • To get directions to Lake Pleasant, you can use the interactive map below. Coming from Central Phoenix take I17 to Carefree Hwy (74 East). Go east until you pass Lake Pleasant Parkway. You will see multiple turn-offs on the right. Castle Hot Spring is good scenic drive that wraps around the back of the lake and joins the 60 in Morristown.
  • There is a bar called Wild Horse West just on the corner of Lake Pleasant Rd and Carefree Hwy. They have waterdogs, minnows, anchovies, worms, beer and basic tackle. Pick up a burger too, they’re great.

    The Hook Up Tackle shop is located at Lake Pleasant, they have all the Largemouth gear you need. They also have a guide service with local pros.

Recent User Reports and Reviews

  1. HookedAZ
    "75 percent full"
    Jan 5, 2017
    (Lake elevation 1,680 feet, 76 % full).Fishing for striped bass has been good in northern coves, in 55-80 feet of water, using live shad. Humbug has been particularly good for stripers with anchovies in 60 feet of water depth. Jigging spoons in deep water and using Alabama rigs has been producing decent fish as well. With cooler water temperatures, the best bite might be from noon to sunset -- try Alabama rigs, Skinny Dipper paddle tails, or jig 1- to 1.5-ounce spoons. Live shad and anchovies are effective as well. Try the mouths of Humbug, Castle Creek or Coles Bay

User Comments

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  1. HookedAZ
    I was surprised to read that there are small mouth bass in Lake Pleasant. I read that in the new fishing guide the game and fish department published with Arizona Highways.

    If you get a chance to pick up the book, it also has a lot more detailed information on the two zones to fish at LP including when each species spawns and where.
  2. HookedAZ
    This would be really cool to see if your up at pleasant.

    1-4-2012 Look at how Lake Pleasant fits into the whole Central Arizona Project and the many features connected to this lake's operations. This is a one hour presentation at 3:00 pm at the Lake Pleasant Visitor Center. Cost is 6$.
  3. fisherman21
    how big do the bass need to be to keep and take home
  4. Skip Clark
    When is the best time of year to catch Striped Bass? Thanks
  5. #Frank
    enquiring info on where to fish for Channel & Flathead Cats on the lake?
    1. Joel
      Inquiry**. Also castle creek cove
      Joel, Oct 25, 2016
  6. HookedAZ