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
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
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
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