Patagonia Lake

Margie Anderson
Phoenix, AZ

Patagonia Lake in southeastern Arizona is one of the best fishing lakes in the state. Largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish and catfish are all good, and rainbow trout are stocked in winter.

Half of the lake is a no-wake zone, which makes things nice for fishermen.

The no-wake area is the poorest for crappie, but it’s great for bass–it is the end where the creek comes in, and is shallow and reedy. Jerkbaits and spinnerbaits work all year in this area.

Floating jerkbaits seem to work better in the spring, and summer and fall call for the suspending models. Clown Rogues are my favorites here. In colder months, a jig and pig or a slow-rolled spinnerbait in front of the reed islands is killer.

There are big flatheads where the creek comes in, and the monsoon season is the prime time to go after them. Try live bluegills or minnows on a Carolina rig.

There are about 100 sunken Christmas trees around the buoys in the center of the lake by the creek–a great spot for small bass. In summer, there is almost always a bass bite in five feet of water or less. Buzzbaits and Ricos in late afternoon and evening are great in the creek bed area.

In winter (November to March), try crankbaits for bass. A Poe’s 300 or a Fat Rap in white and black or silver and black is the ticket. Patagonia is a dynamite place for a spoon in winter, too.

If you prefer fishing for the stocked rainbows, try small spinners in the marina and rock shelf areas. For bass, try a big rogue right after a trout stocking. When winter ends, the bass come down by where the creek comes in and you can catch hundreds of small ones on little spinners like Rooster Tails and Super Dupers.

From April through October try flipping blue fleck Power Worms in the reeds. Stay out a ways and pitch–the water is very clear. Pitch the Power Worm out and move it a couple of times. If you don’t get bit, pitch to a different spot.

They almost always take it on the fall. The wood sticking out of the water in front of the reeds is a good place for spinnerbaits. A white one with double silver willow leaf blades is usually good.

The beach area is buoyed off for swimmers. It’s a good worm area and there is usually a great night time spinnerbait bite there in summer.

If you turn right as you leave the channel where the marina is (on the same side of the lake), there is a shelf that drops off to forty-five feet. This is a dynamite place for a plastic worm or a jig. Purple is the king of worms, and pumpkin or green jigs with a pumpkin twin tail trailer are always good.

Summer is the time for topwater lovers. Try buzzbaits near the spillway and in Ash Canyon. The back of Ash Canyon can be buzzbait heaven all day long in summer. Also, don’t forget about Ricos and buzzbaits all along the reeds in shallow water all over the lake.

Crappie fishing is excellent at Patagonia. Try fishing the submerged cottonwoods with small tube jigs or marabou jigs.

The fish move up and down all day long and it takes some experience to tell the fish from the trees on your depthfinder.

They usually like to stay between twenty-five and fifteen feet deep, coming up shallowest in the afternoon. Yellow seems to be their favorite color. Ash Canyon on the rock side is a good crappie hole, too. At night you can catch crappies on #2 Shad Raps.

Patagonia State Park offers a marina store with boat rentals, rest rooms and showers. There are 95 developed campsites, 10 hook-up sites, and twelve sites that are boat-access only.

They are all available on a first-come, first-served basis. Access to the park is closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Water skiing and jet skiing are prohibited on weekends from May through September. There is a hiking trail to Sonoita Creek (a little over half a mile long), and excellent bird and wildlife watching opportunities everywhere. Last time I was there I saw a group of white tail deer grazing near the creek.

To get to Patagonia Lake State Park, take I-10 east to State Route 83. At Sonoita, get on State Route 82 and head south.

Patagonia is on 82 between the town of Patagonia and Nogales.

The phone number is (520) 287-6965, and you can find the website for the State Park at