Formerly the Hunt Hatcheries, this Depression-era Works Progress Administration took on new life after mid-century.

During the twentieth century, jobs,  mild winters, sunshine, and outdoor recreation attracted millions of people from all over the United States to Arizona. Boating and sport fishing on Arizona's many reservoirs lured newcomers from states like Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and even New York. By the 1980s, Arizona Highways -- a long running journal published by the State of Arizona-- routinely touted Arizona as one of the best sport fishing locations in the nation despite the fact that it has the second least amount of surface water in the country. 

Arizona’s urban fishing program began in 1983. The main goal of the program was to provide more convenient fishing opportunities for people living in the city. It was an alternative to long-distance drives to different states. This made more people want to move to Arizona in hopes of a better life. The Game and Fish Department, along with the Parks department of Chandler, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Tucson made this possible for Arizona. There are about 27 different species of fish commonly caught by the Arizona urban fisherman. Of the 27 species of fish found in Arizona, there are 160 stream management systems along with 80 lakes of impounded water. Of all the bodies of water in Arizona, one stands out when living in Phoenix: the Papago Ponds.

The Papago Ponds are located in east Phoenix right next to the Phoenix Zoo in Papago Park. Three ponds cover 6 acres and range from 7 to 11 feet deep. They are home to channel catfish, rainbow trout, largemouth bass, bluegill, red dear sunfish, crappie, tilapia, and carp, stocked by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Water for the ponds comes from the Valley's extensive canal system which transports water from the Salt, Verde and Colorado rivers and groundwater. 

Today, fishing and hunting bring hundreds of millions of dollars into Arizona's economy. With Salaries and wages totaling to $708 million, the hunting and fishing industries were responsible for 21,000 jobs. These fishermen and hunters generated $155 million in federal taxes along with $123 million in state taxes. The dry desert state is blessed with abundant opportunities for fishermen and outdoorsmen alike.


Lake in Papago Park
Lake in Papago Park The ponds at Papago Park are stocked with a variety of fish. Source: Lake @ Papago Park, Flickr <> accessed December 1, 2016. Creator: Kelley Diwan Date: December 29, 2011
Fishing the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam
Fishing the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam Phoenix's urban fishing program exists within a broader sport fishing industry and community within Arizona. By the 1960s Arizona boosters boasted that Arizona was one of the U.S.'s top sport-fishing destinations despite its arid desert climate. In Northern Arizona, Glen Canyon Dam, completed in 1956, helped transform the states rivers. It changed the ecosystem of the Colorado River from a warm and silty habitat for native fish to a cold and clear habitat for sport fish like trout. Source: Arizona Historical Society, Warren Krause Collection Box 7, folder 3. Date: n.d.
Arizona Fishing Regulations
Arizona Fishing Regulations A photo of a fisherman holding his catch graces the cover of an early set of statewide fishing regulations. Source: Arizona Historical Society, Warren Krause Collection, Box 7, folder3. Date: 1995
Fishing Arizona
Fishing Arizona Although Arizona is the second driest state in the country, the state promoted fishing heavily reflecting the recreational tastes of the millions of "in-migrants" that moved to Arizona after World War II from wetter parts of the country where fishing was part of life. Source: Arizona Historical Society, Warren Krause Box 7, Folder 3. Date: 1965



Tyler Delgado and Cody Ferguson, “Papago Ponds Fishing,” Salt River Stories, accessed May 19, 2024,