Is the CAP canal open to fishing?

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A carp mills around the CAP canal

If you’re planning that weekend trip to hook a memory, don’t add the CAP canal to your list of hot spots to hit.

The 336 miles of canal that curls across the state from Lake Havasu to Tucson has a variety of fish, so it’s not surprising that CAP might be seen as a potential hook-and-line adventure.

Beware: the canal within the security fence is not open to any form of recreation such as fishing or swimming.


  • The CAP canal is fenced along its entire length, and is not open for fishing or swimming to ensure maximum safety and security for people and wildlife. Fencing the canal is also necessary due to the speed and depth of the water flow, which is not obvious to the casual observer.
  • The CAP canal is federal property and must be fenced off for security purposes.
  • The system includes features such as siphons, overchutes and check structures that present other safety concerns.
  • It is illegal to trespass upon any CAP property and could subject someone to a felony charge. The canal is monitored continuously by law enforcement.

On the other hand, there are other recreational opportunities that are part of the CAP system outside the security fence, including:

  • The CAP Trail. Outdoor hiking enthusiasts can explore stretches of public trail alongside certain areas of the CAP canal that are open to multiple non-motorized recreational uses. Learn more.
  • Lake Pleasant. In addition to being a hub for water sports, CAP pumps water into Lake Pleasant for storage during low demand periods in the winter season, and releases it to approximately 60 municipal, industrial and tribal water users during the summer, when water demand is higher. See the current water levels.
  • Lake Havasu. This western Arizona impoundment is known for exceptional water-sport possibilities — including fishing. CAP diverts water from Lake Havasu, pumping it 810 vertical feet into the seven-mile Buckskin Mountain Tunnel where it then flows by gravity into the open canal.

Although the CAP canal might seem like the ultimate shoreline fishing destination, please remember that the entire canal is off limits for fishing and swimming.