A National Conservation Leader

See how we became a national conservation leader and Arizona’s most trusted source for wildlife conservation information and products. The Arizona Game and Fish Department strives to be a national conservation leader and Arizona’s most trusted source for wildlife conservation information and products.

AZGFD furthered this vision in 2013 by embarking on a novel planning process that culminated in a multi-species fisheries management plan for the Verde River Watershed. This planning approach shifted away from a single species focus to interactions between sport fish and native aquatic species, reflecting AZGFD’s mission to conserve Arizona’s diverse wildlife resources.

Watershed Management Plans

For two of the major watersheds in Arizona, AZGFD developed an interactive web map for the watershed management plans, which is a visual way to easily explore management information outlined in the plan.

The two web maps can be found here:

Verde River Watershed

Santa Cruz Watershed

The following plans are completed, but they do not have a web map component. Contact the Department for access to the plans at fisheriesmgmt@azgfd.gov

  • Little Colorado River
  • Upper Gila River
  • Salt River
  • Bill Williams River
  • Agua Fria River
  • San Pedro River
  • Lower/middle Gila River
  • Lower Colorado River-Lake Mead
  • Lower Colorado River

Watershed Management is shared with many partners

The Watershed-based Fish Management Process incorporates data collection and analysis, consideration of management emphasis, analysis of potential conflicts and mitigation, and stakeholder and public input. Ultimately the plan will guide management prescriptions while allowing for adaptive management as new information becomes available. The Statewide Fish Management Team report (AGFD 2009) details this decision-making process.

Species considered during the planning process include sport fish, native fish, amphibians [add links here] and reptiles associated with riparian habitats (Northern Mexican Gartersnake, Narrow-headed Gartersnake and others).

The multi-species planning approach incorporates many elements from AZGFD’s Wildlife 20/20 Strategic Plan including:

  • Balancing public demand for sport fish recreation with conservation of native aquatic resources;
  • Managing rare species to maintain biological diversity and reduce federal regulatory burden;
  • Maintaining and restore native species diversity, population numbers, and habitats; and
  • Ensuring seamless integration of sport and native fish programs.

Questions/ Comments? Send an email to fisheriesmgmt@azgfd.gov

Fisheries Management – Sport Fish Stocking Environmental Compliance

Fisheries management details

The AZGFD is the principal state agency responsible for the management and protection of wildlife resources and their habitats in Arizona (outside of tribal lands), including fisheries. For many years, the AZGFD and other federal and tribal agencies have provided recreational angling opportunities to the public by stocking state waters with sport fish species and operating and maintaining fish hatcheries. A significant portion of AZGFD’s stocking and hatchery operations programs is funded through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Act (SFRA) grant. Using SFRA funding, the AZGFD can continue its Sport Fish Stocking Program for a 10-year period (September 1, 2021 to August 31, 2031) by continuing to operate AZGFD hatcheries and stock sport fish in selected rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, ponds, and livestock watering tanks in the state. The pertinent documents that are relevant to the current stocking program are below:

Finding of no Significant Impact (FONSI)
Sport Fishing Stocking Program Final Environmental Assessment (EA)

Recreational angling in Arizona created a statewide economic impact of more than $1.4 billion in 2013, according to the 2013 Economic Impact of Fishing in Arizona by Responsive Management (the last year such a survey was done). In fiscal year 2020, AZGFD sold 273,902 fishing licenses, generating revenue of nearly $14 million. During the last six years, AZGFD has stocked approximately 3 million fish per year. The majority of stockings were cold water species, such as Rainbow, Apache, Brook, Cutthroat, and Brown Trout. The AZGFD also stocked warm water species including Channel Catfish, Largemouth Bass, Black Crappie, Redear Sunfish, and Bluegill.

In 2013, there were 5,979,637 angler days of fishing in Arizona. Sport Fish Restoration funding will make it possible for AZGFD to continue to meet part of this demand for public recreational angling opportunities on Arizona’s waters.

Want to Go Fishing around the State?

Find ways to experience fishing all over the state, including community waters.

buy your fishing license

If you need a fishing license, a combo hunt & fish license, or a short-term license, read about them here.

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find a community lake to fish

There are 50+ community lakes in Arizona. Make a memory fishing with the family!

lake locations

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