Southwestern Arizona

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September 3rd, 2009

LAKE HAVASU – The following report was provided by John Galbraith of Anglers Pro Shop Lake Havasu City: Striped bass bite improving during the morning hours using blue/white 3/8 to 3/4 Stump jumpers with 4″ hyper tails cast or trolled in the early twilight hours. After sunup switch to trolled anchovies with fish seekers or 2 oz. banana sinkers. Still fishing cut sardines or anchovies producing numbers of small limits throughout the Windsor Basin south to Black Rock.

Smallmouth bass hitting red 8 to 14 feet diving crankbaits, wacky-rigged finesse worms in oxblood, June bug or red craw colors with a ¼-ounce drop sinker fished near rocky or gravel bottomed shorelines where bass are preparing to spawn in 4 to 15 ft of water.

Fishing Outlook: Fishing for largemouth bass, as well as smallmouth bass, is expected to be good to excellent this spring. The size will range from 13 inches and up, with an occasional fish greater than 5 pounds.  Striped bass fishing has been problematic this year, with catch rates far below what has been experienced the past couple of years.

Striper fishermen report that they can see schools of striped bass on their fish-finders, but have had poor success getting them to strike, and have not been seeing the boils on shad that they are used to seeing.  Shad numbers are probably lower this year, which affects the striper fishing, as striped bass tend to concentrate mainly on shad.

Remember, shad schools move around, and populations tend to fluctuate, so spots that have been “hot” in the past may no longer be so if the shad have moved elsewhere, or are in lower numbers.  The majority of striped bass in Lake Havasu tend to be smaller fish of 1 to 2 pounds, but the occasional 20-30 pound fish is caught.  Channel catfish as well as bluegill and redear sunfish will be good to excellent.

Lake Havasu is well known for large (2-3 pound) redear sunfish, and with the proliferation of the quagga mussel in the lake, we may see larger numbers of large redears.  Redear sunfish are also known as “shellcrackers,” due to their preference for eating clams and mussels, so they may actually benefit from the presence of the invasive quagga mussel.

There have also been reports of crappie fishing picking up, a species that used to be sought after in the lake, but has declined in recent years.  Flathead catfish fishing should be fair at the lower end of the lake (Bill Williams River Arm) through the spring, although surveys in the fall indicated that they are taking up residence farther north in the lake than in the past. Flathead catfish can reach as high as 40 pounds or better in Lake Havasu. When fishing for them, select the interior points in the coves and the areas where artificial structure has been placed.

The warmer weather causes the bite to increase making crankbaits and topwater lures a good choice.  Also, spinner baits, jigs, cut fish, live shad, etc. should work depending on the species you are looking for.

Take precautions to make sure your boat and equipment is clean before leaving the water to make sure you don’t spread quagga mussels to other waters by accident.  This invasive species certainly has profound effects on water delivery and control structures, boat engines, and likely on fish populations.  Quaggas are abundant and widely distributed in Lake Havasu, but are absent from many of our interior lakes.  Help keep those lakes quagga-free.  Make sure your boat and trailer are free of the mussels, drain all bilge and livewells before leaving the area, and most importantly, let your boat bake in the sun for 3-5 days in the sun before you launch it at another lake.
ALAMO LAKE – Report courtesy Mark Knapp, Alamo Lake State Park. Well folks, this is going to be short and sweet.  I want to get some information out to you before I’m off to Havasu for the weekend.  I’m happy to say the boil action has finally turned on.  Your best bet is to get out early in the morning.  The lake has been like glass and boils are all over the place.  By noonish the winds pick up and turns everything off.  I have no reports on crappie fishing.

Catfishing is good. Anglers are catching cats all over the lake using anchoives and shrimp. The bluegills are biting like crazy.  I’ve been catching them throwing plastics so a chunk of night crawler and a bobber should work also.   The lake level is at 1118.  Both ramps are still in operation at this time.   I’ll try to have a better detailed report next week.  That’s it for now.  Mark

Please note that the gas station (Grower’s Oil) in Wenden (nearest town to Alamo Lake) is now an AZGFD license dealer. Their normal hours of operation are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., 7 days a week. Because of the melon picking season, they are currently open even earlier. They carry a small assortment of basic fishing gear. They are talking about carrying worms and catfish bait, but are not set up for it yet.
Note: No recent angler reports for the lower Colorado River; however, a very good link for current fishing and discussions on fishing in the Yuma area can be found at http://www.yumabassman.com
OUTLOOK:
Alamo Lake:
The lake elevation continues to be good, presently at about 1,121.5 feet. Largemouth bass surveys conducted by AGFD in April indicate that bass are very abundant, although a large proportion of the population remains in the protected slot.  Fish are still in poorer condition than they were a year ago, which may be a result of low shad numbers. Fishing is expected to be good throughout the summer.

Channel catfish should be good to excellent throughout the summer. Alamo Lake is loaded with small channel catfish, especially at the upper end of the lake, but larger fish are present.  During the spring surveys, AGFD encountered far more channel catfish than usual, the majority in the 2-6 lb range, and they were in very good condition.  A hoop-netting survey specifically targeting channel catfish was conducted in early June, with abundant catfish captured, up to 7 pounds.  Based on the sampling, the most productive area appears to be on the western side of the lake, especially the middle third of the lake shoreline.

There are other fish present such as bluegill, redear sunfish and carp that are a lot of fun to catch.  All types of bait should work.  Large tilapia in the 5-6 pound range are abundant, and are an unexploited resource.  As the weather warms, shift from slowly working plastics in deeper water to crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and top-water lures for bass.  For channel catfish, any of the prepared catfish baits, as well as chicken livers and shrimp will work.  Occasionally channel catfish are even caught on bass lures.

Both of the boat ramps are useable at this time.  The store at the lake is now open, although fuel is not available.  The certified scale that was previously located at the Park office is now located in the store.  At the store you can get ice, snacks, fishing tackle and bait, as well as information on the fishing bring everything with you. If you run short of supplies, you might be able to pick it up at the Wayside Inn in Wayside, or in Wenden.

Lake Havasu & Topock Gorge:
Fishing for largemouth bass, as well as smallmouth bass, is expected to remain good through the summer. The size will range from 13 inches and up (remember, there is a 13-inch minimum size limit on the lower Colorado River), with an occasional fish greater than 5 pounds.
Striped bass fishing continues to be somewhat problematic this year, with catch rates far below what has been experienced the past couple of years.  Shad numbers are lower this year, which affects the striper fishing, as striped bass tend to concentrate mainly on shad.  Remember, shad schools move around, and populations tend to fluctuate, so spots that have been “hot” in the past may no longer be so if the shad have moved elsewhere, or are in lower numbers.  The majority of striped bass in Lake Havasu tend to be smaller fish of 1 to 2 pounds, but the occasional 20-30 pound fish is caught.
Channel catfish as well as bluegill and redear sunfish will be good to excellent.  Lake Havasu is well known for large (2-3 pound) redear sunfish, and with the proliferation of the quagga mussel in the lake, we may see larger numbers of large redears.  Redear sunfish are also known as “shellcrackers,” due to their preference for eating clams and mussels, so they may actually benefit from the presence of the invasive quagga mussel.  There have also been reports of crappie fishing picking up, a species that used to be sought after in the lake, but has declined in recent years.  Flathead catfish fishing should be fair at the lower end of the lake (Bill Williams River Arm) through the spring, although surveys in the fall indicated that they are taking up residence farther north in the lake than in the past. Flathead catfish can reach as high as 40 pounds or better in Lake Havasu. When fishing for them, select the interior points in the coves and the areas where artificial structure has been placed.

Carp fishing is likely to be poor, for some time into the future, depending on the final result of the Koi Herpes Virus outbreak currently affecting the carp in Lake Havasu.
Take precautions to make sure your boat and equipment is clean before leaving the water to make sure you don’t spread quagga mussels to other waters by accident.  This invasive species certainly has profound effects on water delivery and control structures, boat engines, and likely on fish populations.  Quaggas are abundant and widely distributed in Lake Havasu, but are absent from many of our interior lakes.  Help keep those lakes quagga-free.  Make sure your boat and trailer are free of the mussels, drain all bilge and livewells before leaving the area, and most importantly, let your boat bake in the sun for 3-5 days in the sun before you launch it at another lake.

Colorado River (Parker Strip Area, between Parker Dam and Headgate Rock):
Fishing is expected to be good to excellent for smallmouth bass, with fish over two pounds in size common. The best smallmouth bass fishing can be found in the upper half of the Parker Strip, while largemouth bass are more numerous in the lower half, in very respectable numbers. In addition, redear sunfish should also be good to excellent in the pound-plus sizes. AZGFD’s most recent surveys turned up good numbers of redear sunfish in the two-pound range. That is dinner-plate sized, folks! Channel and flathead catfish are always fair to good in this section of the Colorado River.

Take precautions to make sure your boat and equipment is clean before leaving the water to make sure you don’t spread quagga mussels to other waters by accident.
Colorado River (between Palo Verde Diversion Dam and Walter’s Camp):
This area should be fair for both smallmouth bass (in the channel) up river from the I-10 Bridge 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 smaller ones, in the 2 to 5 pound size range, with an occasional fish over 20 pounds. Annual fisheries surveys this spring turned up several fish in the 40 to 50 pound range, so trophy flatheads are always a possibility. Look for large deep pools formed at eddies for the larger fish. The best time for fishing for both species of catfish will be all summer and on into the fall months. Generally, the hotter the weather is, the better the cat-fishing.  Nighttime is the best time to go after both species of catfish.

This section of the Colorado River, all the way down to Yuma, is where the invasive vegetative species known as Giant Salvinia is located.  Quagga mussels are also found here.  If using a boat, make sure that boats, live wells, engines, and trailers are clean before leaving the area.  The last thing that we want to have happen is the movement of invasive species to other waters.

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 good to excellent for flathead catfish with sizes reaching over 40 pounds. The best time will be summer and on into the fall months. The hotter the temperature the better the fishing is. The various backwaters will be good for largemouth bass and other sunfish (bluegill and redear). Other species available in the main river are smallmouth bass, channel catfish, and striped bass.

This section of the Colorado River, all the way down to Yuma, is where the invasive vegetative species known as Giant Salvinia is located.  Quagga mussels are also found here.  If using a boat, make sure that boats, live wells, engines, and trailers are clean before leaving the area.  The last thing that we want to have happen is the movement of invasive species to other waters.

Colorado River (between Picacho State Park and Imperial Dam):
This area is expected to be good to excellent for largemouth bass, channel catfish, and flathead catfish. Bass and channel catfish in excess of 5 pounds are relatively numerous, along with flathead catfish as large as 40 pounds. Our survey this spring turned up an 89-pound monster that should still be lurking in the waters where it was found. Bluegill are also present in the various backwaters. Occasional striped bass will be caught in the main river channel, especially near Imperial Dam. Fishermen did quite well on small stripers this spring between Martinez Lake and Imperial Dam.

Colorado River (between Laguna and Morelos dams):
This area will be good for largemouth bass and flathead catfish. Accessing the water can be a problem, as river flows are much lower than historically, and launching a boat can be a challenge. Accessibility to the river is dependent on the amount of water being released upstream. A small shallow-draft boat or float tube should get you into some good fishing. Bass in excess of 5 pounds are common, and larger ones definitely exist. Flathead catfish over 20 pounds are also a good bet in the deeper pools. The lower end has had some dredging work done, and larger boats may be able to get on the river in that area.
Because of the increase in border issues and illegal activity on the lower end of this stretch of the river, we recommend using extreme caution while fishing the area from Pilot Knob to Morelos Dam.
Regional Hot Spots:

Alamo Lake will continue to be the hot spot for largemouth bass and channel catfish.  Since there appears to be an overabundance of small bass and channel catfish in the lake at present, we recommend keeping as many of the smaller bass and catfish as you can legally possess in order to try and reduce the population a little.  Remember, though, an advisory on mercury contamination is in effect for Alamo Lake, so refer to your fishing regulations for recommended consumption rates.  Next choice would be Lake Havasu for large and smallmouth bass and redears, Parker Strip for smallmouth bass and redear sunfish, and the Colorado River below Walter’s Camp for flathead catfish.  Our surveys in May revealed that there is a very impressive population of flathead catfish in the lower Imperial Division between Picacho State Park and Imperial Dam.  Expect many in the 5-10 pounds size class, but we know of at least one state record lurking in those waters.
If you need any additional information don’t hesitate to contact the Yuma Regional office at (928) 342-0091, and we will be happy to accommodate you.

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