Small And Not Too Busy
By Margie Anderson
Looking for a good place to fish from a small boat? Iíve got a
couple great ideas for you, and both of them are right smack in
the middle of the state.
Horsethief Lake is at the top of the Bradshaw Mountains, just
past Crown King. The turn-off from Interstate 17 is only an hour
or so north of Phoenix, but those last 30-some miles from the
freeway to the lake will take you about three hours.
The gravel road is in good shape, and you donít usually need a
4x4, but you do have to take your time as it twists and doubles
back on itself going up the mountain.
Youíll climb about 6,000 feet and end up in a beautiful
Ponderosa Forest. In fact, the Bradshaws have the largest stand of
Ponderosa pines in the country.
The lake itself is small at about three and a half acres, but
there is a very serviceable launch ramp and plenty of vegetation
to fish. You can also walk out onto the dam and drop a line there,
and in fact, that is where we saw a man and his daughters catch
some bass when we were there.
There is a very good path all the way around the lake, giving
you excellent access to fishing anywhere on shore. Electric motors
are allowed on the lake, but I wouldnít attempt to tow a big boat
up that road.
Horsethief has bass, sunfish, and catfish. Remember the
vegetation and bring lures that will go through weeds. Nearby is
Hazlett Hollow Campground with 15 shady sites that have tables,
campfire rings, and even three-sided, roofed shelters with
concrete floors where you can roll out your sleeping bags.
The campground is open May through October. There are two vault
toilets, one handicapped accessible, and drinking water is
available, but there are no hook-ups. The fee is just $6 per
Besides fishing, the campground offers easy access to several
good hikes. There is a store in Crown King in case you run out of
anything or want to buy some souvenirs or maps.
Dead Horse Ranch State Park
Dead Horse Ranch State Park is right next to the Verde River
near Cottonwood. It is open all year Ďround and has three big
lagoons, two of which have fish in them.
In the Ranger Station by the entrance you can see photos of
some of the big bass and sunfish that have been caught there. No
powered boats are allowed, which makes it wonderful for canoes and
There are wide graveled paths all the way around both of the
fishing lagoons, and every now and then, little concrete platforms
jut out past the cattails. These have railings to lean on while
you cast out.
There are lots of cattails and tules around the lagoons, but
there are still plenty of places to fish from shore. If you have a
little boat, you can go out and cast around the island.
The park has tons of campsites, including group-use areas, and
there is electricity, water, picnic tables, grills, and even
shower facilities. RVers will love the fact that there is also a
There are also facilities for horses, and you can even corral
them overnight if you call ahead and make arrangements. Lots of
trails in the area will keep hikers, mountain bikers, and horse
riders happy when they arenít fishing.
For information or to inquire about horse arrangements, call
them at (928) 634-5283. The nearby town of Cottonwood has
absolutely everything you are likely to need, so donít worry if
you forget to pack something.