Oak Creek in Arizona in the winter

Arizona December Fishing Report

As we turn the corner from late fall into early winter, here’s the latest fishing report for our Arizona waters.

Lee’s Ferry - Excellent

Low flows continue at the Ferry, making this a great time of year to fish from a boat or wade. Continue to target this tailwater with small midges and scuds. Fish will be holding in faster-moving riffles and shallower water. Try throwing small dry flies in softer pockets of water.


Best Bets:

#18 Tungsten Zebra Midge

#14 Gray Scud

#14 Gummy Worm

#8 Sculpzilla


Rim Creeks - Good

Less than 2 hours from the Phoenix metro, the Mogollon Rim boasts some of the best cold water in the state. This time of year, the water can be crystal clear on Rim creeks, making stealth and presentation more important than anything. Make a plan before casting. When the sun hits the water, be ready to throw dry flies, even in December.

When fishing the deeper pools, try stripping or swinging woolly buggers, leeches, and small streamers. There is a lot of excellent blue-lining up on the Rim! Stop in the shop today to plan your next adventure!


Best Bets:

#16 caddis larva

#14 Bead Head Simi Seal Leech

#16 Green Back Pheasant Tail

#16 Faulkin Caddis


Oak Creek - Excellent

Colder months can be a great time of year to fish Oak Creek. There are ample opportunities to fish deeper pools with streamers. Try swinging and stripping darker streamer patters through pools. Using a sink-tip leader to make sure your flies are staying in the strike zone. We like the Scientific Anglers Sonar Line

Oak Creek Canyon sees little sunlight and can get quite cold in the winter. Snow will be on the way soon! Stay warm and dry with the Orvis Ultralight Storm Jacket.


Best Bets:

#4 Sculpzilla

#6 Beldar Bugger

#18 Bead Head Hare's Ear


Silver Creek - Good

Looking to catch a rainbow trout capable of pushing the scales to double digits? Silver Creek is your best bet in Arizona. The fish are usually a bit more aggressive earlier in the season, so now is the time to hit Silver Creek. Use indicator rigs with small flies that have a bit of color. San Juan worms, squirmy worms, eggs, and leeches are all a good choice. Don’t forget a quality net!

Be sure to read regulations carefully. Fishing is catch and release only on Silver Creek from October 1 to March 31. Single barbless hooks are required. 


Best Bets:

#18 Stalcup Midge Larva

#16 Chironomid 

#20 Parachute Midge


Verde River - Good

Rainbow trout stocking is underway below Dead Horse Ranch. Trout will be re-stocked during the second and fourth weeks of December. Refer to the Arizona Game and Fish stocking schedule for updates on stocking throughout the state.  One of only two Wild and Scenic Rivers in Arizona, the Verde can be an excellent fishery. Try fishing wooly buggers in different colors and hanging euro nymphs under an indicator. This overlooked stretch of river is only a short drive from Phoenix and offers quality trout and bass fishing opportunities. 


Best Bets:

#10 Bead Head Pop's Bugger

#18 Tungsten Jig Perdigon


San Juan - Good

Only a half-day drive from Phoenix, New Mexico’s San Juan River is one of the best tailwater fisheries in the country. If fishing under an indicator, use small midge larvae, pupa, and emergers in sizes 20-24. Make sure you have enough weight to get these tiny flies into the strike zone. Don’t be afraid to swing streamers through the riffles and runs. Remember: barbless and single hooks are required. 

The San Juan is big, cold water. Make sure you're wading safely with a solid pair of boots. We love the Simms Flyweight Access Boots.


Best Bets:

#22 Tungsten Midge

#20 Stalcup Hatching Midge

#18 Cluster Midge

#10 Squirrel Leech


Salt River - Average

Low winter flows have returned to the Salt and water levels have receded from their summer high. Rainbow trout stocking is up and running on the Salt. Check here for the stocking schedule. Try stripping woolly buggers through the larger pools and drifting scuds and hare’s ears through runs. Keep an eye out for a BWO hatch in the early mornings. Besides trout, the lower Salt has a good largemouth bass population. Bass will hit woolly buggers as well and will often rise for small poppers in the mornings and evenings. 

Now that water levels have dropped, anglers can sight fish for carp and suckers. Looks for these fish in the deeper pools by cliff faces and larger boulders.  The Salt is a great place to practice your fly casting.


Best Bets:

#12 Bead Head Simi Seal Leech

#16 Tungsten Midge 

#16 Bead Head Hare's Ear


Dead Horse Ranch- Average

This state park has great access and is an awesome spot to learn how to fly fish or hone your casting skills. Anglers can enjoy catching multiple species, including rainbow trout, channel catfish, largemouth bass, and bluegill. Slowly stripping wooly buggers and leeches is a great technique to hook up with multiple types of fish. Colorful egg patterns and mop flies will catch fish as well. 


Best Bets:

#12 Bead Head Mini Bugger

#10 Bead Head Hale Bopp Leech


White Mountains Lakes - Excellent

Now is a great time to catch a ton of rainbows and perhaps a late season trophy brown. Focus on fishing shallow bays and transition areas around drop-offs. Indicator rigs with leeches and eggs are producing fish. Try stripping streamers with a sink tip line during low light hours.


Best Bets:

#14 Glo Bug

#12 Bead Head Simi Seal Leech

#10 Squirrel Leech


Black River - Good

Hidden in the White Mountains, the Black River is an excellent spot to chase wild trout. It's still the season to throw larger streamers in dark colors (olive, tan, gray). Fishing weighted stonefly nymphs is a productive technique, especially when water levels are high. Target smallmouth bass with crayfish patterns and darker streamers. 


Best Bets:

#1/0 Jawbreaker

#6 Chickabou


Canals - Good

Clear water is here on our urban canals. When targeting carp, bright-colored egg patterns work well. If actively feeding on the surface, fish will often take a dry fly like a hopper or stimulator. Leech patterns are excellent as well and can be swung in the current when the water clarity drops. Remember: keep your distance and cast well in front of feeding fish. Targeting carp on the fly can be quite thrilling and is often only steps away from your front door! Pro tip: hop on a bike to maximize the amount of water you cover. 


Best Bets:

#10 Glo Bug

#12 Gummy Worm

#8 Carpilicious

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