Big Channel Catfish From Arizona's Salt River

Buzzard hole on the Salt River in Arizona is famous for its small mouthies. It isn't uncommon to catch 75 fish in 5-6 hours of fishing.

It is 14 miles off the highway on a rough dirt road that doesn't require 4x4 drive unless you want to get out! The hills are steep and covered in lose gravel and rocks and it takes several hours to reach the river unless you want to destroy your truck.

I knew it was monsoon season and that rains in the high country might have made the river muddy, but hope springs eternal and we anticipated a fun filled day of catching small mouth bass and eating them that evening. In my opinion there isn't a fish better than a well-cooked small mouth bass. Yum!

When we were finally able to see the river my heart sank. It looked like chocolate milk. I knew it would be a few degrees cooler than normal and that the bite would be slow. Darn it!

I tied onto a 3" chartreuse power grub with a small splitshot right on top of it (I used to use lead-head jigs but found this method to be just as effective and lots less expensive). It is usually a foolproof method, but it didn't work.

After a while I switched over to a night crawler to see if that would work. Nothing.

After several hours of hard fishing and with only a few small fish that were quickly released I retreated to a rock to take a nap. As I sat down and tried to get comfortable, movement caught my eye. There was a centipede over 10" long coming straight for me.

He was multicolored, red, green, and yellow! What a collector's item he would have been for my childhood insect collection! I chased him away (he got away before I could squish him) and prepared for my nap.

I gobbed the bait on my hook and added several weights to make sure the line would stay in the eddy while I napped, made a perfect cast to the center of the eddy, pulled my hat down over my eyes, place the end of my pole between my legs and quickly drifted off.

About a half hour later there was a mighty pull on my pole that startled me so much I just about fell off of the rock and into the water.

I started reeling and could immediately tell that it was a nice fish. The way it pulled I figured it to be a channel catfish and my hunch was verified as the fish eventually tired out and allowed me to pull it to shore. Turned out to be a beauty!

~Uncle Ashley


  1. Channel cats are a blast to catch, looks like fun.

    1. Me and my family love buzzard hole!! my grandpa has been taking me there for over 15 years now. I gotta say, there is no place like this place to fish!!!! i only wish not so many people knew about it.

  2. I'll bet Uncle Ashley had a great time reeling this beauty in, after recovering from almost falling into the river!

    I wonder if it was good eatin?

  3. Thanks for sharing Uncle Ashley. That's a real brute. Good way to end a nap. :)

  4. Where is buzzard hole? I tried to google it but didn't get any information.

  5. Anonymous,

    Buzzard hole or buzzard roost is on the Salt River 10-12 miles below the confluence of the Black and White rivers (the start of the Salt River). To get there I go west out of of Show Low on highway 60 about 24 miles, turn left on highway 73. I'm not sure how for it is on this road, but it is the right just before the landfill turn off. Turn right by the corrals and drive 14 miles on a dirt road that leads right to the river. The road is steep and rocky in a couple of places. A four wheel drive definitely saves tires on the way out. It's a wonderful place and even though a lot of people go there fish are still plentiful.



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