Southwestern Arizona

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January 31st, 2008
Southwestern Arizona

LAKE HAVASU – The striper action continues to be hit-and-miss as the water temperatures fall. The best time for success is in the predawn hours and again around sunset and dark. Baits that are working well are white Clatter Shads, green tailed Bass Assassins. Live shad is the best live bait for still fishing, and a few nice limits coming on trolled anchovies.

The largemouth and smallmouth bass are feeding extremely slow. The cool water is nearly shutting down the bite. An occasional quality fish can be caught by using a finesse presentation, while working the bait tremendously slow or “dead-sticking” it. It is very important to down size the baits as “smaller is better” applies to winter fishing conditions.

Important notice: Quagga mussels have been found in Lake Havasu so proper cleaning of all watercraft is critical to help prevent the spread of these invaders. Please move to the parking lot, DRAIN your live-wells and bilge where the water does not return to the lake. Drain all the water you can from your engine. Also, INSPECT your watercraft and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see.

PARKER STRIP – Some shore fishing should be available upriver near River Island State Park and other narrower stretches. Fish should be concentrated in the deeper pools. Bass may not be biting but stripers are hitting on live shad and bluegills. This stretch also provides opportunities for channel cats, which hit on most bait (night crawlers, chicken livers, stink baits, etc.) and a few flatheads, who prefer live bait like goldfish and bluegill. This stretch of river is also home to monster redear in the 1- to 1.5-pound size. Mealworms work well for these but expect them to really start biting in March.

ALAMO LAKE – The Alamo Lake Cleanup is set up for Saturday, March 1 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. State Parks will waive camp fees for those that stay in the group use area. For all the details contact Stewart Kohnke, wildlife manager at (928) 684-3763 or (928) 342- 0091. Those who would like to donate items for the raffle should also contact Kohnke.

This report courtesy Mark Knapp, Alamo Lake State Park: Well folks, I’m very happy to report the lake has risen 10 feet since yesterday, and is still on the rise. It’s going to be a great year for bass fishing.

Right now the lake looks like a chocolate milkshake, and it will mess up bass and crappie fishing for the next couple of weeks. Anytime we get an inflow into the lake, it turns the catfishing on. The cats stage right at the entrance to the river and eat anything that moves or looks like food. I talked with a friend of mine, Butch, yesterday who said that he managed to get his boat up in the river channel but there was so much debris floating by that he could not keep his line on the bottom. He did manage to catch one nice sized channel cat though. Now that the river has slowed down a little, I’m sure he’s back up there and doing well. Jack Bolman stated that he caught two bass throwing a spinnerbait in the freshly submerged brush today. That’s a good sign meaning the fish are on the move. If we get a week or two of warm weather the fishing will turn on.

The lake level is at 1,120 and rising. Both ramps work great. Be careful if you go out. There’s all kinds of stuff floating around. No news on the store. That’s it for now.

Outlook:

Alamo Lake:

The outlook for Alamo is excellent, in large part thanks to the recent runoff raising the lake 10 feet in just a few days.

Largemouth bass are present in all sizes and fishing is expected to be excellent to slow down throughout the winter. It looks like most bass will be entering the protected slot some time during the winter. Crappies are also doing OK and should be good. Channel catfish continue to look good and fishing should be good also. There are other fish present such as bluegill, redear sunfish and carp that are a lot of fun to catch this winter. All types of bait should work right now and as the weather cools off a shift to slowly working plastics in deeper water for bass could improve your catch. For channel catfish any of the prepared catfish baits as well as chicken livers and anything else you can think of should work.

Both of the boat ramps are useable at this time but if the lake elevation continues to decline launching may become a problem. The store at the lake is still closed so you need to bring everything with you. If you run short of anything you might be able to pick it up at the Wayside Inn or in Wenden. The certified scale that was located at the store is now located at the Alamo State Park Office and the park office also has live bait for the crappie fishermen.

Lake Havasu & Topock Gorge:

Largemouth bass, as well as smallmouth bass are expected to be fair. The size will range from 13 inches and up with an occasional fish greater than 4 pounds. Striped bass will continue to be excellent for small fish (12-18 inches) with occasional fish over 8 pounds. The lake is also full of smaller striper that will make it challenging to catch the larger fish. Channel catfish as well as bluegill and redear sunfish will be fair to good. Flathead catfish fishing should be fair at the lower end of the lake (Bill Williams River Arm) through the fall. Sizes of flathead catfish can reach as high as 40 pounds. When fishing for them select the interior points in the coves and the areas where artificial structure has been placed.

The cooler weather causes the bite to slow down so it is important to work your lures slower and in deeper water. Put away your topwater lures and switch to plastics, crank baits, spinner baits, jigs, cut fish, live shad, etc.

Colorado River (Parker Strip Area):

Smallmouth bass with fish over two pounds in size are expected to be fair this winter. In addition, redear sunfish should also be fair in the pound plus sizes. Channel and flathead catfish are always fair in this section of the Colorado River. Below the dam, striper fishing should also be fair using live shad or anchovies this winter.

This stretch of the river will be low during the month of January so access will be limited. The good news is that the fish will be concentrated.

Colorado River (between Palo Verde Diversion Dam and Walter’s Camp):

This area should be fair for both smallmouth bass (in the channel) and largemouth bass (in the backwaters) throughout the entire area. Channel and flathead catfish are always fair to good in this section of the Colorado River. Most of the flathead catfish will be in the 2 to 5 pound size range with an occasional fish over 30 pounds. The time for fishing for both species of catfish is in the evening to midnight.

Colorado River (between Walter’s Camp and Picacho State Park):

This section of the Colorado River is relatively remote and can only be accessed by boat from either end. Fishing is expected to be fair to good for flathead catfish with sizes over 40 pounds. The best time for fishing for both species of catfish will be in the evening to midnight. Largemouth bass and bluegill are also present in the various backwaters and slack water areas. Other species available in the main river are smallmouth bass, and striped bass.

Colorado River (between Picacho State Park and Imperial Dam):

This area is expected to be fair to good for largemouth bass, channel catfish, and flathead catfish. Bass and channel catfish in excess of 5 pounds are present along with flathead catfish as large as 40 pounds. Bluegills are also present in the various backwaters and an occasional striped bass will be caught in the main river channel.

Colorado River (between Laguna and Morelos dams):

This area will be fair for largemouth bass and flathead catfish. Bass in excess of 5 pounds is common and flathead catfish over 20 pounds is a good bet. In this area accessibility to the river is dependent on the amount of water being released. Usually shallow draft boats work the best. The lower end has had some dredging work done and the larger boat will be able to get on the river in that area.

With the increase in border issues and illegal activity on the lower end of this area I would away from that area (Pilot Knob to Moreles Dam).


Regional Hot Spots:

Alamo Lake will be the hot spot for largemouth bass, crappie and channel catfish. Since there appears to be more fish in the lake at the present time I recommend keeping as many of the smaller bass as you can legally possess in order to try and reduce the population a little. Next choice would be Lake Havasu for striped bass, Lake Havasu and Parker Strip for smallmouth bass, and the Colorado River below Walter’s Camp for flathead catfish.

If you need any additional information or additional don’t hesitate to contact the Yuma Regional office at (928) 341-4051 and I will be happy to accommodate you.

Yuma Regional office at (928) 341-4051 and I will be happy to accommodate you.

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