Go fishing in the park at one of the Valley's abundantly stocked urban fishing holes.

Worms Not Included

Written by Austen Browne Category: Lifestyle Issue: November 2016
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Fishing is a classic pastime on the beautiful lakes of Northern Arizona, but the perfect fishing experience this winter could be right in the middle of the big city, hook, line and sinker. Urban fishing has become increasingly popular in the Valley, and with city lakes stocked to the brim with highly catchable fish of all varieties, it’s not hard to see why. For $24, you can get an Arizona Game & Fish Department community fishing license that allows you full access to any of the 25 fishing locations around the state for a whole year. Visit azgfd.com/fishing/community for more information.

Kiwanis Lake
This Tempe gem boasts a lot more than your basic assortment of fish, offering catfish, trout, bass and sunfish, to name a few. For those who want fishing instruction before purchasing a license and other necessities, community fishing specialist Joann Hill says free clinics will be provided in the near future. The “lake” also offers outdoor entertainment for non-fishers, including seasonal paddleboat rentals, and  sits on a large park complete with a recreation center and indoor wave pool.
5500 S. Mill Ave., Tempe
480-350-5200, tempe.gov

Encanto Lake
With 7.5 acres of lagoon at Encanto Park, including many canals and hidden casting spots, you’ll never have to fish in the same spot twice. If you listen closely while waiting for a bite, you can hear the wild peach-faced lovebirds chirping in the trees. Looking for some excitement after so much  serenity? The Enchanted Island Amusement Park sports some exciting rides and a miniature train that choo-choos around the perimeter. With so many different activities to choose from, a couple hours of casting can quickly turn into an all-day fun-fest.
2605 N. 15th Ave., Phoenix
602-261-8991, phoenix.gov/parks

Chaparral Lake
As one of the few urban lakes in the Valley that allows boats, Chaparral attracts more hardcore fishermen, especially experienced bass anglers. Boaters and amateur fishermen are also welcome, and with all areas of the lake – not just the shore – open for casting lines, a great time can be had no matter your skill level. Dogs are also allowed, and can run around the dog park in the surrounding Chaparral Park, while humans can run around the exercise course surrounding the lake.
5401 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale
480-312-2353, scottsdale.gov/parks

Rio Vista Pond
What it lacks in area, 2.7-acre Rio Vista Pond more than makes up for in the size (and quantities) of its fish; catching very large carp is par for the course. The park itself provides plenty of other activities and amenities, including a splash park, skate park, recreation center and batting cages. The abundance of options makes it a good choice for novice fishers who want to dip their toes into the pastime without committing to a whole day of baiting and line-throwing.
8866-D W. Thunderbird Rd., Peoria
623-773-7137, peoriaaz.gov