10 Best Fishing Spots in Mesa (And Nearby)

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This article drills down on the best fishing spots near Mesa and the eastern side of the greater Phoenix area.

We have a longer article that covers the entire Valley of the Sun, including all of Maricopa and Pinal counties. (We’ll link to that below.)

Still, we realize Mesa residents might want to just focus on what’s close to the second-largest city in the metro area. So that’s what we’ve done here.

First up, let’s look at the best fishing spots right in the city.

Fishing Lakes in Mesa

Sunrise over the pond in Greenfield Park in Mesa, Arizona near Phoenix
Photo by brent_1 (Depositphotos)

The following handful of small lakes and ponds offer good seasonal fishing right in the city of Mesa.

These fishing holes are located in public parks and the Arizona Game & Fish Department (AZGFD) stocks them as part of their Community Fishing Program. The species most often stocked are trout and catfish.

Eastmark Great Park Pond

This is a newer addition to the Community Fishing Waters program located in the southwestern corner of the city.

This one is considered an expansion water, which means it may not be stocked as often as ponds at Red Mountain and Riverview listed below, but it should see some stocked trout or catfish as conditions and hatchery supplies allow.

Eastmark Great Park is located about a mile east of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport on E. Ray Road, between Inspirian and Eastmark parkways.

The park offers a variety of other amenities, from a pool and splash pad to an outdoor stage, along with various sports attractions.

Greenfield Park Pond

Located near the center of town, this small pond often gets stocked several times each year with catchable fish. Expect trout plantings to occur in the winter, when the water is at its coldest. Catfish are likely to go in during the spring and fall.

Reach Greenfield Park off S. Greenfield Road and E. Pueblo Avenue.

Shore fishing access is very good, with paved trails and grass along the banks. Some trees offer shade.

Red Mountain Lake

Look for regular stockings of hatchery rainbow trout or channel catfish, depending on the season, at this relatively new park near Red Mountain High School.

Catfish tend to be stocked in the spring and fall, when the water is cooler than its summertime highs but not cold.

Trout can only survive here long enough to be caught when the water temperature is at its seasonal lowest, so expect plantings of rainbows during the winter.

While fishing for stocked fish, especially trout, can taper off within a week or two, AZGFD also notes the possible presence of bass and bluegill in the lake. Those warmwater species may offer some fishing opportunities even when the trout and catfish aren’t biting.

Red Mountain Park offers a variety of recreational sports and activities.

Find parking areas from E. Brown Road, E. Adobe Street, and N. Sunvalley Blvd.

Riverview Lake

This pond in a sports-oriented park on the western edge of Mesa is regularly stocked with fish.

As with other local waters, expect catfish to be planted in the spring and fall while rainbow trout will be reserved for the coolest months of the year.

At just 3 acres, I’d expect these newly planted, eager-biting fish to not last very long before anglers catch them. Try to plan your trip soon after a planned stocking.

This park is located at the southeastern corner of the big interchange of State Routes 101 and 202 (the latter is the Red Mountain Highway).

For more information

City of Mesa Community Fishing Program

Fishing Lakes Near Mesa

The following reservoirs are major fishing lakes within 90 minutes or so of Mesa.

Bartlett Lake

A dam used to form Bartlett Lake, one of the top fishing spots in Central Arizona.
Photo by adogslifephoto (Depositphotos)

This Verde River reservoir due north of Mesa is an excellent fishing lake, among the best in Arizona when it comes to fishing for largemouth bass, channel and flathead catfish and black crappie.

Other fish you might catch include smallmouth bass and sunfish, as well as carp.

This Tonto National Forest reservoir is worth visiting as a day trip or an multi-day camping adventure. You’re likely to see some interesting wildlife along with catching a variety of fish.

More: Complete Guide to Bartlett Lake Fishing

Canyon Lake

Ripples across Canyon Lake with steep rock formations and a few fishing boats in the background.
Photo by cjh_11 (Depositphotos)

This relatively smaller reservoir in the chain of Salt River impoundments is known for lunker largemouth bass and the opportunity to catch walleye.

Crappie, catfish and sunfish round out the most commonly targeted gamefish at Canyon Lake, which is about an hour east of Mesa.

In addition to several public recreation sites, there’s Canyon Lake Marina and Campground if you want to get on the water or stay overnight.

Horseshoe Lake

The shoreline of Horseshoe Lake lined with cattails with rugged mountains rising up in the distance.
Photo by nflane (Depositphotos)

This Verde River spot (a.k.a. Horseshoe Reservoir) north of Bartlett Lake has similar fishing opportunities, including largemouth bass and channel catfish.

Horseshoe Lake tends to be among the bodies of water more prone to suffering during drought conditions, and it flies under the radar with more consistent lakes around, but can come alive when more water arrives.

You might also catch smallmouth bass, flathead catfish, bluegill and other species.

Lake Pleasant

Easily one of the region’s (and entire state’s) most popular fishing and recreation lakes, Lake Pleasant has something for everyone.

For starters, this reservoir northeast of Mesa is probably the best spot that’s NOT directly on the Colorado River to catch a striped bass.

But it doesn’t end there because anglers come here to find some of the best catfish and crappie fishing in Arizona, plus some very good angling for largemouth bass, white bass, sunfish and other species.

Just read our full angler’s guide for more information.

More: Complete Guide to Lake Pleasant Fishing

Saguaro Lake

A boat streaks across Saguaro Lake with a huge rock formation in the background.
Photo courtesy of Depositphotos

The lowest of the Salt River impoundments is really just 40 minutes up the road from Mesa, and like the reservoirs upriver, bass fishing is popular here.

You’re likely to catch a majority of largemouths, but smallmouths and yellow bass also inhabit this and other Salt River reservoirs.

Saguaro Lake also is probably your best bet if you want to catch walleye close to home, and crappie, catfish and other species round out the popular gamefish here. Additionally, record-setting tilapia have been caught here.

More Fishing Near Mesa

Salt River

Empty chair sitting on bank of the Salt River, a popular fishing stream near Mesa, Arizona.
Photo by adogslifephoto (Depositphotos)

The Lower Salt River flows cool out of Saguaro Lake … cool enough that it can be stocked with trout for much of the year.

While some trout may survive the summer here, the best fishing begins after the stocking begins in the fall (often around October) and will continue as long as the hatchery truck keeps arriving, which might stretch to the end of June.

The Lower Salt River is really the only place you will find within a quick drive from Mesa where there is reliable trout fishing outside of the winter months, and it also ranks as one of Arizona’s overall best trout fishing opportunities.

The AZGFD often stocks fish in the Granite Reef and Phon D. Sutton day-use recreation areas.

The Lower Salt River, including areas a bit farther downstream that warm up more, also can produce catches of bass, catfish and panfish.

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