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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
    Elevation:
    1700
    Max Surface Acres:
    9500
    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:
    None
    Boats to Rent:
    Yes
    Swimming:
    Yes
    Camping:
    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:
    Yes
    Trailer Spaces:
    Yes
    Electricity:
    Yes
    Launching Area:
    Yes.
    Water Skiing:
    Yes
    Cleaning Stations:
    NA
    Marinas:
    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
    Events

    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
    4/5,
    "(Lake elevation 1,698 feet, 96 % full)"
    Date:
    May 19, 2017
    May 5 report from Barry Worman, moderator of the Arizona Striper Fishing Facebook page.

    “Escaping the heat early and fill the cooler with striper”

    Well I know this triple-digit weather can take the wind out of an anglers’ sails but there are still some great opportunities in this late spring season. The striper are in the process of spawning or post spawn — finally — which means they will be more intrigued and aggressive to eat.

    With the air temperatures really heating up there is a small window of time to enjoy catching striper. Anglers want to be on the water 30 minutes before sunrise until about 9 a.m. or from 5 p.m. to 30 minutes after sunset. During these times of day the shad will be found in shallower water still and the gamefish will be out to gorge on them. There have been reports of some top water activity with some anglers catching striper using white color spooks.

    Me and some friends had great success using paddletail ASF swimbaits in 18-35 feet of water in the back of the northern coves. Live shad are still producing great results for anglers, but they more difficult to find since they are beginning to move deeper. Try covering lots of water and be sure to watch that fish-finder. If you located a school, drop a live shad or anchovies on a dropshot rig and it should produce some fish.

    The schools are constantly moving and searching for food so you need to cover water, and take advantage of the moment when you find them. Watch for blue herons, and other bird activity when it comes to feeding on bait fish. This will tell you if you’re in an area that as signs of possible baitfish.

    Great colors for swimbaits right now are white, sexy shad, money shot, and Bone white. Chartreuse green tail with the red eye has been on fire! Night fishing has not taken off yet with anglers reporting below-average catches. Once the water temperature warms up and the fish adjust to the transition, the action should pick up in about 4-6 weeks. Once we get to June, the night fishing will be the ticket and the best method fill the boat with fish.

    Note: The Arizona Catfish Conservation Association, a 501c3 non-profit club based in Arizona, is asking anyone who catches a tagged flathead or channel catfish at Lake Pleasant or Bartlett Lake to note the number of the tag, along with any other information such as weight, length or girth, GPS coordinates (if available) and then visit www.catfishaz.com.

    Angler Report:

    Dick K.: Took a long time friend, Jerry Corell to Lake Pleasant yesterday (May 12). Jerry had never fished for stipers before so we had high hopes the fish would co-operate which they did. We couldn’t find and schooling fish within the first couple hours so we started off trolling live threadfin shad below Off-Shore OR 12 planer boards. Jerry had me at about 8-3 when I passed over a huge school of stripers. Quickly we switched to dropshot rigs and for a couple hours we could hardly keep up! Had a great day with around 35 stripers. Great introduction to striper fishing, Jerry!
  2. Reports
    5/5,
    "Lake elevation 1,697 feet, 94 % full"
    Date:
    Mar 26, 2017
    Water temperature reached 68-69 degrees by Wednesday afternoon. As of Monday, the water was still green and murky and there was large pieces of wood floating in the water.

    That said, striped and largemouth bass fishing might be picking up. There have been some better reports during the past couple days. Live shad seems to be the ticket (and anchovies as usual).

    There will be a new moon on Monday, making using submersible lights at night a great option for stripers.

    Motorized access to the upper arm of the Agua Fria River at Lake Pleasant via Table Mesa Rd. will again be available thanks to a special development project of the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Boating Access Program. Through the cooperative efforts of the Department, the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, this unique boating and fishing opportunity will be available each Friday through Sunday throughout the spring, beginning Friday, March 24. Operating hours are from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and regular park entry fees apply (exact change required).

    Known by its formal name as the Agua Fria Conservation Area, it has historically been a spring time fishing hot spot for white, striped and largemouth bass, but is now also recognized as one of the premier paddlecraft waters in Arizona. With incredible views, calm waters and abundant wildlife, it is truly a must-see destination, and a great reason to get your watercraft back on the water.

    With nights becoming increasingly more comfortable, moon phase consideration becomes important for anglers who want to catch striped bass at night. Pay close attention to a moon phase calendar.

    Fish the darkest nights, like during a new moon. Submersible lights attract the plankton-shad-sport fish combination and anglers will be competing with brighter moons.

    Catfishing can be decent using dead shad fished on the bottom with hot dogs, chicken liver, or anchovies. Some anglers will chum a cove overnight with corn and return to fish the same cove with corn – this can be an effective tactic for catching carp and catfish.
  3. Jeff k
    5/5,
    ""
    Date:
    Mar 9, 2017
    (Lake elevation 1,694 feet, 90 % full).

    With nights becoming increasingly more comfortable, moon phase consideration becomes important for anglers who want to catch striped bass at night. We have a full moon this weekend, but pay attention to a moon phase calendar.

    Fish the darkest nights, like during a new moon. Submersible lights attract the plankton-shad-sport fish combination and anglers will be competing with brighter moons.

    The Arizona Fishing Guides reported, "Lake Pleasant is fishing a little tougher than normal this time of year. The stripers are there along with the largemouth but seem to be in that transition period of coming out of the deep water and moving into the shallower water. These fish can be caught on long points and channel breaks."

    Catfishing can be decent using dead shad fished on the bottom with hot dogs, chicken liver, or anchovies. Some anglers will chum a cove overnight with corn and return to fish the same cove with corn – this can be an effective tactic for catching carp and catfish.

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