Is Fishing Allowed in the Valley Canals?

Excerpt from Valley 101: A Slightly Skewed Guide to Living in Arizona, a collection of Clay Thompson’s columns for The Arizona Republic. (Originally published August 5, 2001.)

Valley Canal System
Canal System Near Shea & Frank Lloyd Wright in Scottsdale. Photo Credit: Kevin Korycanek

SRP is not exactly thrilled with the idea of you fishing in the canals because of safety issues. And it is illegal to be in or on the water of the canals. However, it is not illegal to fish in the canals.

One thing: The canals are well-stocked, at considerable expense, with white amurs, an Asian fish that eats weeds and thus keeps the canals flowing. It is not legal to keep a white amur you take from the canals. Frankly, we cannot imagine why you would want to do so anyway, unless perhaps you are thinking of starting a rival canal system.

As to the other fish, there are, among other things, carp, bass, catfish and sometimes trout in the canals, and you may keep what you catch.

“There is no problem eating them. It’s just lake water. It would be like fishing at Saguaro Lake,” said Scott Harelson, a spokesman for the Salt River Project.

As a side note, you must have a valid fishing license (not an urban fishing license) to fish in the canals.


  1. SaraD says

    I don’t know if this is still true, but, back in the ’60s, there was some type of crayfish in the canals, too. A boy I knew used to take a bucket up on the bank and come back some time later with a load of irate mudbugs.

    In the ’80s, I saw some people – 2 adults and a few children – seining near the crosscut canal at 64th St. and Indian School. SRP was preparing to dredge the canal in that area and the water level was low. A net was stretched across the canal and the people (probably a family) moved along slowly, catching whatever swam into the net, I suppose. Because it seemed like a risky activity for the children particularly, I called SRP. Their response was, basically: “So what?” and told me to call the police, so I called SPD. SPD told me to call SRP. Sometimes, the buck just doesn’t know where to stop. :p

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