More than 50 lakes, streams, and small rivers, water enthusiasts daydream about Pinetop-Lakeside and the White Mountains of Arizona.

Fishing, Boating, & Watersports

The beautifully still, cool waters of Woodland Lake, Pinetop-Lakeside, Arizona.
Photographer: Judi Bassett

Fishing, Boating, & Paddling

If water sports are your bliss, the White Mountains will be your new favorite vacation destination. With more than 50 lakes and dozens of streams and small rivers, the area is ideal for both motorized and non-motorized water sports and activities, including fishing, ice fishing, boating, paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking, knee-boarding, picigin, rafting, rowing, sailing, sailboarding, stand-up paddle surfing, tubing, and windsurfing.

Temperatures in the Arizona White Mountains average 25 to 30 degrees lower than those found in the Phoenix and Tucson desert areas, making for a cool escape, and close enough to get away—if only for the weekend.

Coming to fish? You’re in the right place! Most lakes and streams have trout species including rainbow, brown, and brook, but there are other species as well. Many of the lake areas have campgrounds, well-maintained picnic facilities, hiking trails, small convenience stores, equipment rental, and docks or shorelines for launching kayaks, paddleboards, or canoes. Many of the White Mountains lakes impose a 10 HP limit for boat gas-driven motors and most prohibit swimming, though there are exceptions. Be sure to check the lakes before launching a motorized boat, or diving in for a few laps around the perimeter.

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Fly Fishing

Does fly fishing get your motor revving? If so, put a weekend trip on the calendar to the White Mountains. Year-round, this is the destination for putting your casting techniques to the test—but come with your best game. The White Mountains boasts several state fishing records set in our pristine freshwater lakes and streams.

Anglers of every skill level will surely find a stream perfectly suited for a day in the water. With a little luck, you can snag a brown, rainbow, or book trout—or go all out and set your sights on a large- or small-mouth bass, catfish, or sunfish.

No matter what you hook, you’ll be hard pressed to surpass the beauty of a day in our pines with just you and your line. At an average of 25 to 30 degrees cooler than the desert floor, your White Mountains vacation will leave you feeling cool and refreshed—with bragging rights whether or not you caught a fish.

Don’t forget the permit! To fish in the White Mountains, you must have a valid Arizona fishing license. These are issued by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and can be purchased online or from an approved dealer.

If you plan to fish on the White Mountain Apache reservation, they have licenses available online or at area merchants.

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White Mountains Arizona Lakes and Streams map (image)
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