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Fishing Apache Lake

AKA: Lake Apache

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By Rick Seaman

Apache Lake Bass On A Spinnerbait

Apache Lake, the second lake in the Salt River Chain Of Lakes, is my personal favorite of all the bass fishing lakes in Arizona. It offers some very fine smallmouth bass fishing as well as great largemouth fishing. It is a flooded river channel with awe-inspiring surroundings which include wildlife refuges. You can catch smallmouth and largemouth on back-to-back casts, and the lake is known for great top-water action during the warm months. Apache lake offers some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the state. At the Apache Lake Marina there are convenient lodging and camping options, plus a restaurant, bar and store.

Apache Lake, AZ

Fish species to fish for...

Guide to fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, black crappie, walleye, rainbow trout, bluegill and yellow bass at Apache Lake in Arizona.

Apache Lake, AZ Fishing

Bass fishing at Apache Lake

There is a healthy population of largemouth bass, but the real attraction are the smallmouth. This lake produces quality smallmouth with 3 and 4-pounders common, and larger smallies not uncommon.

Salt River Section

Apache Lake Bass From Rived Area

Bass in Apache Lake feed on threadfin shad, gizzard shad, small sunfish, and crawfish. In the river section of the lake, from the Roosevelt Lake Dam to the Burnt Coral Campground and boat launch, bass tend to locate on steep, vertical banks. Most of this section is large broken rock with lots of places to hide, and ambush prey. There are resident fish in this area year round. Additionally, in warm months as the shad run up river, other schools of bass migrate into the river with the shad. Crankbaits in crawfish or shad patterns work well when the bass are active. In less active periods, pitching a jig or Texas-style worm around the broken rocks is a good approach. Anglers wishing to fish from the bank can find numerous spots along this 6-mile section of road from the Roosevelt Dam to Burnt Coral. Chunk Beach is convenient as it is only one mile from the dam. Three Mile Wash, when open, makes for a quick way to launch a boat, especially if you plan to fish the river section. It also offers easy access for fishing from the bank.

Main Lake

Apache Lake Across From Burnt Coral

The area from Burnt Coral to Matazal Bay has banks with more slope, and generally smaller rock, gravel and sand. These areas are spotted with clusters of reeds that create good hiding spots for both bass and their prey. Most gravel shorelines are spotted with boulders and chunk rock which are good holding spots for bass. There are also scattered sections of steep banks with big, broken rock. Crawdads, a favorite prey for bass, are commonly found around virtually all types of rocky areas. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, jigs and worms will all catch fish in these areas. In recent years, the Arizona Game & Fish Department organized a fish habitat project to enhance the fish population. Review the list of multiple locations, scattered around the lake. These man-made structures are a magnet to bass, crappie, panfish and baitfish.

Typical Apache Lake Rocky Shoreline

From Matazal Bay to the Apache Lake Resort & Marina, there are a variety of shoreline types to fish. Several coves, numerous points,steep rocky banks, sloping gravel banks, and submerged structure are all available in this area. Finding shad can provide a clue to finding bass. When the sun is up, both largemouth and smallmouth bass look for shade or deep water structure. Reaction baits work well in the mornings and evenings, or on cloudy days. During the bright sunny parts of the day, drop-shot rigs and jigs worked slowly can often entice a strike.

As you proceed west from the Apache Lake Marina toward the Ash Creek area, there are steep walls and boulders on the north side. On the south side of this section there are coves, gravel points, rocky areas and a fairly flat section strewn with boulders - many the size of cars and larger. Topwater, crankbaits, jigs and worms all work the area well.

Apache Lake North Shore Toward Horse Mesa Dam

From Ash Creek to the Horse Mesa Dam which creates Apache Lake, the lake is quite deep with generally steep banks. There is a mixture of steep walls, big rocky structures, rocky points, coves and some gravel banks mixed in. There are several major coves on this end of the lake which play a big part in the spawn each year. The larger ones include Long Canyon, LeGrand Cove, and the cove below Painted Cliffs. This is a vast area. Most of the large-rock banks hold resident fish year round, which move up and down in the water column to find comfortable temperatures and food.

From one end to the other, both largemouth and smallmouth bass can be found in good numbers. They are always looking for something to eat.

Apache Lake Bass Fishing Video

Crappie Fishing

Although there is very little brush in the lake, Apache Lake does maintain a population of black crappie. The fish habitat scattered around the lake is a good place to look for crappie. Additionally, crappie like to hang out on points, especially ones that extend a ways into the lake. Flats with boulders or other cover, also attract crappie especially when schools of bait are in the area.

Walleye Fishing

7lb Walleye

One surprising fish species in Apache Lake is walleye, prized for its firm white flesh and challenging nature. Walleye are often found in deeper, cooler waters near drop-offs and underwater structures. The area between Burnt Coral and Matazal Bay is a popular area to troll for walleye. Successful methods include vertical jigging with minnows, trolling with crankbaits, or casting with nightcrawlers.

Perch Fishing

Another popular species in Apache Lake is yellow perch, known for their tasty fillets and schooling behavior. Yellow perch can be found near submerged structures and rocky areas. Use small jigs, spinners, or live bait to attract these schooling fish. The challenge lies in locating the schools and adjusting the presentation to match the preferences of these feisty yellow perch.

Rainbow Trout Fishing

Apache Lake Rainbow Trout

Although there is not a large population of rainbow trout here, the AZ Game & Fish Dept does make annual stockings. Often, the ones caught are quality fish. Use typical trout-fishing lures and baits

Catfish Fishing

Channel catfish and flathead catfish also inhabit the depths of Apache Lake, offering an exciting night fishing opportunity. Anglers often use stink baits, cut bait, or live bait to attract these nocturnal predators. Night fishing for catfish in Apache Lake provides a unique and serene experience, with the moonlit waters creating a tranquil setting for anglers seeking the thrill of battling with robust catfish.

Panfish Fishing

Big Bluegill Are Being Caught at Apache Lake

Panfish, including bluegill and redear sunfish, are abundant near the lake's shoreline and submerged vegetation. These sunfish provide a family-friendly angling experience, and anglers can use simple techniques like worms, small jigs, or crickets to reel in these colorful and spirited fish.

Apache Lake is renowned for its abundant population of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, crappie, catfish, and sunfish. Anglers can test their skills and try various fishing techniques, whether it's casting from the shore, trolling along the lake's expansive waters, or finding the perfect spot to drop a line. The diverse species present in Apache Lake provide anglers with a great opportunity to catch a variety of fish and have an exciting day on the water.

Take your time, drive slow and enjoy the scenery. This 2,600-acre lake is one of the most scenic lakes in central Arizona, with some of the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets seen in the southwest deserts. Apache Lake makes an excellent destination for fishing.

Primary fish species residing in Apache Lake

Click images for fishing tips and details about each species.

Largemouth bass Smallmouth bass Channel catfish Flathead catfish Black crappie Walleye Rainbow trout Bluegill Yellow Bass

Fishing Boats For Rent In Arizona

Read an article about fishing at Apache Lake.

Apache Lake Amenities

Marina: YES
Boat Rental: YES
Boat Launch Ramp: YES
Campgrounds: YES
RV Hookups: YES
Lodging: YES
Convenience Store: YES
Bait & Tackle: YES
Restaurant: YES

Today's Weather & Forecast

Boating enthusiasts will find Apache Lake to be a haven for power boating, sailing, or kayaking amid the surrounding natural beauty.

Fishing Boat Rentals

Apache Lake Marina & Boat Rental
Rentals: Pontoon boats and kayaks for rent
928 923-6690


Apache Lake Marina & Resort
229.5 Mile Marker
Roosevelt, AZ 85545
928 923-6690

Boat Launch Ramps & Landings

Apache Lake Marina
229.5 Mile Marker
Roosevelt, AZ 85545
Paved ramp, mid-lake on the on the east side of the lake.
928 923-6690

Burnt Coral Boat Launch
Paved ramp, six miles from the Roosevelt Lake dam, on the east side of the lake.

Three-Mile Boat Launch
Dirt ramp, 3 miles from the Roosevelt Lake dam, on the east side of the lake.

Click here for a Arizona Fishing License.

Camping is popular at Apache Lake, with campgrounds for both tent and RV camping nearby the marina, and at Burnt Corral. Other unimproved areas are also available to those who prefer to rough it.

Campgrounds & RV Parks Nearby

Apache Lake Campground - 928 467-2511

Burnt Corral Campground - 602 225-5200

Apache Lake AZ Map - Fishing & Camping Areas

Contact Information

Apache Lake
Apache Lake Marina & Campground
229.5 Mile Marker
Roosevelt, AZ 85545
928 467-2511

Rick Seaman

About Rick Seaman
Fishing enthusiast, retired professional bass angler, writer, editor of, and co-author of the bass fishing book "It's not WHAT you throw, it's WHERE you throw it!"


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