Spring Fishing Forecast: Colorado River-region waters
COLORADO RIVER SOUTHWEST
Fishing Rating: Good
Overall, fishing at Alamo Lake, located in Alamo Lake State Park, could be very good this spring. As of the writing of this forecast, the lake had risen 26 feet since the since the middle of January and is nearly as high as back in the spring of 2017. This should prove to be a boom for the fish population that may have been impacted by last year’s drawdown. This large inflow of water into the lake will bring increased nutrients, and terrestrial areas will once again become flooded, which also increase the food base for invertebrates and will provide habitat for young of year fish to hide in that should increase their survival. The major impediment for good fishing on Alamo Lake this spring could be water clarity, if the water clears up quickly following the large inflows then fishing should be very good, if it does not then fishing may be pretty slow just due to the fact that the fish are unable to see your lures or baits.
Largemouth bass fishing should be good this spring on Alamo Lake! The past October’s survey indicated that the bass population of Alamo Lake is very balanced with medium and large fish (including several fish in the 5 and 6 pound range) and small fish that anglers should be able to catch in the coming years. The toughest part of catching bass in Alamo this spring will likely be finding the bass in all of the new cover that is now in the lake. We can likely expect the bass to be located in many of the similar locations they could be found back in 2017, especially in some of the flooded groves of trees that were abundant back then.
Water temperatures should rise from high-50s in early March to low-80s by the end of May causing fishing to be slower at the beginning of March and to pick up as the spring progresses. All the typical patterns will produce bass at Alamo, but the general pattern goes that as the weather warms, you should shift from slowly working plastics in deeper water to crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and top-water lures for bass.
Black crappie fishing could be good this spring! We haven’t been getting a ton of reports this winter because the large inflows into the lake have made the water dirty, but we would expect that some truly large black crappie should be caught this spring. Based on reports from a few folks last fall, we would not be shocked if catching a 16 inch fish could become somewhat unremarkable this spring. Crappie fishing should start off excellent in March and progressively slow down as the water warms up in May. Trolling jigs tipped with minnows or small crankbaits in 10 – 25 feet of water around cover should produce this spring.
Channel catfish will be good to excellent this spring and throughout the summer. For channel catfish, any of the prepared catfish baits as well as chicken livers, shrimp should work.
There are other fish present such as bluegill, redear sunfish, tilapia and common carp that are a lot of fun to catch. Many types of baits should work for these species.
Fishing Report: Good
The largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing should continue to be great. This year’s electrofishing survey conducted by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife showed abundant bass with an adult population that should provide great fishing now and a juvenile fish population that anglers will be able to catch for several years to come.
Lake Havasu State Park has all the amenities an angler needs, and the lake continues to be ranked as one of the top places to fish for bass in the country! Even during January, tournament anglers have needed five-fish bags weighing around 20 pounds to win the tournament and it has not been uncommon to catch bass of more than 5 pounds and some even approaching 10 pounds.
Stay tuned for soon-to-come Havasu Riviera State Park.
Fishing will pick up as the water temperatures warm up during the spring from the upper low 60s in early March to the upper 80s in May. To catch largemouth bass use top-water lures such as frogs or walk-the-dog type of baits, or spinnerbaits in the early morning and then switch to jigs, crankbaits, or swimbaits as the day progresses. Using plastic baits that resemble worms, crawdads, frogs, or lizards often work well. It is generally best to fish around structure such as weedbeds, emergent vegetation, boat docks, or artificial habitat.
For smallmouth bass it is usually best to fish rocky points, ridges, shorelines, or canyons. Most people use top-water lures, lipless crankbaits or jigs in the mornings and evenings. During the day try crankbaits, plastic worms or “creature” baits such as fake crawdads.
Striper fishing has been getting better in recent years. Bigger fish have become more common in the last year, we even received a report of a 38 inch and over 30 pound striper that was caught recently! Using live shad for bait is a good bet any time of the year. During March, stripers will probably be found in deeper water, and fishing on the bottom or trolling with live shad or cut anchovies should be a good bet. When the water warms closer to May, fishing top-water lures that resemble shad near “boils” or where birds are actively feeding is going to be your best bet for some exciting action.
The redear sunfish fishing in Lake Havasu should continue to be world class and the March to May time period is generally the best time to target these large panfish! Lake Havasu continues to host the state and world record for redear sunfish with a monster of 5 pounds and 12.8 ounces caught back in 2014. Redear sunfish in the 2-pound range and larger are regularly caught: During our 2018 fall survey we captured 26 fish of more than 13 inches in length. Bluegill and redear can be caught around structure such as docks, vegetation, or artificial structure using mealworms, night crawlers, or small crappie jigs.
See more info on Lake Havasu redear sunfish population and fishing for them.
Channel catfish are widespread in the lake and can be caught using nightcrawlers, anchovies, chicken liver, stink bait or about anything that “stinks.” Fishing for channel catfish will get better as the spring progresses and the water warms.
For flathead catfish, it is best to use live bait such as bluegill or small common carp. Flathead catfish are relatively uncommon in the upper part of the lake, but much more abundant in the lower half, especially in the vicinity of the Bill Williams River arm of the reservoir. Flatheads can be caught any time of the year but your best bet will be at night during May.
Large carp are abundant in the lake and can provide some exciting fishing. Twenty to 25-pound Carp are not uncommon. Most people use canned corn or dough balls.
Colorado River (Parker Strip area)
Fishing Rating: Good
Largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing in the Parker Strip should continue to be good, as it has been the past several years. Our Region 4 aquatic wildlife program caught abundant bass in the 2 to 4 pound range in November of 2017 survey. As a general rule, smallmouth bass are more common in upstream stretch of river towards Parker Dam and decrease in abundance as you progress down the river, whereas largemouth are the opposite in that they are more common in the lower sections of river near Headgate Rock Dam and decrease in abundance as you progress upstream. The middle stretches should offer a multi-species fishing opportunity that few places in Arizona can match. Fishing for both species should pick up as the water temperatures warm up from March to May.
Largemouth bass fishing should be best in slack-water areas with aquatic vegetation such as Bullrush or around boat docks. There are many different techniques used for largemouth bass. As a general rule, most people will use top-water lures such as frogs, buzzbaits, or walk the dog type of baits or spinnerbaits in the early morning and then switch to jigs, crankbaits, or swimbaits as the day progresses. Using plastic baits that resemble worms, crawdads, frogs, or lizards often work well.
Smallmouth bass fishing should be best near slackwater areas, rocky points or docks. Many of the same baits and techniques used for largemouth bass will be effective for smallmouth bass as well.
Redear sunfish are also widespread but are most likely to be found around aquatic vegetation in slackwater areas. In the November 2017 survey we captured numerous redear to in the 1 to 2 pound range with a few close to 3 pounds. This underutilized fishery could provide lots of fun for anglers willing to try something different. Redear will bite on meal worms, nightcrawlers or small crappie jigs.
Colorado River (Imperial Divisions and Associated Backwaters)
Fishing Rating: Good
Largemouth bass fishing should continue to be very good in the Imperial Division of the Colorado River. During the Fall of 2018, the Arizona Game and Fish Department surveyed the backwaters of the Imperial Division where we found abundant medium sized bass and 4 percent of all fish captured were over 20 inches in length! The general rule for electrofishing catch was the bigger and deeper the backwater, the more fish we would catch. This healthy population has already been producing heavy 5-fish tournament bag limits all the way back to early January.
To target largemouth bass in the Imperial Division of the Colorado River, focus in the backwaters or near the mouth of the backwaters around structure such as weedbeds, emergent vegetation, tree stumps, brush, or boat docks. There are many different techniques used for largemouth bass. As a general rule, most people will use top-water lures such as frogs, buzzbaits or in the early morning and then switch to jigs, crankbaits, or swimbaits as the day progresses. Using plastic baits that resemble worms, crawdads, frogs, or lizards often work well. Fishing should continue to get better as the water temps warm throughout the spring.
The flathead catfish population of the Imperial Division continues to be very healthy and fishing should continue to be some of the best in the entire state. During the 2018 spring electrofishing survey abundant “eater” sized fish under 10 pounds and with a few better sized fish mixed in. Throughout the duration of our survey it was hard to find a stretch of river that didn’t hold a flathead or two, but flathead fishing is generally best in slack water areas, deep holes, or near overhanging vegetation along the main Channel of the river and the fishing is generally the best at night. Flatheads prefer live bait such as sunfish or small common carp. Fishing will likely start off pretty slow in March then will keep getting better as the water temps increase by the end of May. Be sure to bring some heavy tackle with you: an 89.2-pound monster was sampled by electrofishing and released back into the lower Imperial Division of the Colorado River back in 2008.
Channel catfish are wide spread in the main river channel and backwaters and will bite on night crawlers, chicken liver, stink bait, or about any other “smelly” bait. They can be caught year-round but probably bite best at night.
Bluegill and redear sunfish are also widespread but are most likely to be found around structure in the backwaters or slack-water areas. Bluegill and redear will bite on meal worms, night crawlers or small crappie jigs.
Be sure to check out Cattail Cove State Park, upstream of the Parker Strip.
Fishing Report: Good
Mittry Lake can be a bit frustrating at times, especially for bass fishermen. However, the bass are sometimes finicky, and it can be challenging to bring any in on some days. Other days, the bite can be wide open. Windy, or changing weather often brings on the bite. Techniques for bass fishing vary widely.
There are plenty of bass in the lake, with a few in the eight to 10-pound range, occasionally larger. The department’s 2018 fall survey caught good numbers of bass of all sizes indicating there should be plenty of bass for anglers to catch now and small Bass that should provide good fishing for anglers in the future. Several very large bass were sampled, including one fish that measured 23.5 inches and 8 pounds! When fishing for bass in the cooler months, and bass are less active, fish deeper water with jigs, swimbaits, or plastics using a slow retrieve. As the water warms up in the spring and summer, bass become more active and move to shallower water. During that time most people use plastics, swimbaits, spinnerbaits, or crankbaits with a faster retrieve. Plastic baits resembling worms, crawdads, frogs, or lizards can also work well. For best results fish around structure such as weedbeds, emergent vegetation or where shoreline brush edges the water.
There is also a very healthy population of catfish in Mittry Lake. Channel catfish are the most numerous, but there are also a number of flathead catfish, which can reach weights of 30 to 40 pounds here, perhaps even larger. Flatheads prefer live bait such as sunfish or small common carp and fishing is best at night when the water temperature is more than 70 degrees. Channel catfish are widespread throughout the lake, and will bite on nightcrawlers, chicken liver or prepared stinkbaits. They are occasionally caught by Bass fishermen on plastics, spinners and even crankbaits. They can be caught year-round, but nighttime fishing in the warmer months is probably the most effective.
Sunfish species are abundant in Mittry Lake. Bluegill and redear can be caught around structure such as docks, vegetation, or artificial structure using mealworms, nightcrawlers, or small crappie jigs.
* Yuma Ponds (Fortuna, Council Ave., West Wetlands, Redondo)
Fishing Report: Good
The fishing in all Yuma area community fishing waters should be good from March until May. In March, focus on catching the rainbow trout still remaining for the February stockings and some of the channel catfish left from the fall of 2018 stockings. For the leftover trout, fly anglers should try a bead headed prince nymph or woolly buggers. Angler can also throw lures such as spoons or spinners and bait anglers should use garlic PowerBait in a variety of colors fished on the bottom. For catfish try nightcrawlers, chicken liver or prepared stink baits fished on the bottom. Near the end of April, we plan to stock channel catfish and sunfish in all of our community fishing waters, which should provide some excellent fishing for a month or more after stocking.
* Community Fishing Program waters
COLORADO RIVER NORTHWEST
Colorado River (Davis Dam to I-40 Bridge)
Fishing rating: Good
Flows fluctuate quickly in the stretch of the river. Many anglers prefer not to navigate the river when less than one unit is being released from Davis Dam. Check the projected releases before your trip.
Trout are stocked weekly by the USFWS Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery from October through March. Additional trout will be stocked in April and May with funding from Bullhead Pest Abatement. With an abundance of blackfly and caddisfly larvae available for the trout to feed off of, not only can you catch the recently stocked fish, but older holdover trout should be growing quickly here. Trout are stocked at Davis Camp and Community Park during the spring. Many anglers prefer to fish for the holdover trout away from the stocking locations.
Striped bass will also be moving up from Havasu. Anglers will have a great opportunity to catch stripers throwing big baits.
Fishing rating: Fair to good
As of the beginning of March, the lake level was at 1,088 feet. This is around the same elevation that it was last year at this time. Fish will begin moving up shallow in April. Largemouth bass and carp should be shallow and in the heat of spawning during this period. Stripers will be coming up as well. Try the mouths of coves to start and work your way back in. Directly across the basin from South Cove, catfish and stripers will bite regularly from now through the summer. The river inflows can be a hot spot for stripers. Drifting anchovies in this area is usually most productive. All the big arms and tributaries to the lake will have spawning fish first. Way up in the Overton Arm, Las Vegas Bay and Grand Wash are usually good bets in the spring. Stripers will key into inflows. Gusty winds are common during spring, so check the weather forecast before going on the Lake.
Fishing rating: Fair
Mohave elevation will come up for the spring. Look for the smallmouth bass to move up first followed by the largemouth. While the numbers of black bass are not as high as on Lake Mead, the quality is much better here. Try shallow points early in the spring for the smallmouth. As the water continues to warm, look in the backs of coves on the Nevada side, keeping in mind that side warms up faster. Work Power Worms and lizards very slowly. Give your bait a count of 10 after you cast before moving it. Striper fishing will also pick up during the spring. Try working the lake between Owl Point and Cottonwood Cove off Nevada side points.
Fishing rating: Hot
Fishing rating: Fair to good
* Community Fishing Program waters