Colorado River Northwest
Colorado River (Davis Dam to I-40 Bridge) – Rating:
Summertime on the Colorado River can be summed up in one word: “HOT.” With daytime temperatures regularly reaching 115 degrees, it can be rough on even diehard anglers. Extreme daytime temperatures often mean high fish activity after the sun goes down. With higher water temperatures, a fish’s metabolism is in high gear and they’re forced to eat all the time. Some fish species like largemouth bass and channel catfish don’t mind water temperatures into the low 80s. But striped bass actively seek cooler water temperatures during the summer months. This means largemouth and catfish can often be found fairly shallow during the summer, especially at night. Stripers, on the other hand, will stay just under that warm layer of water that forms in lakes during summer. Sunfish like bluegill will spawn in June and both channel catfish and flathead catfish spawn into July. Catfishing can be less fruitful during the first several weeks of the catfish spawn. So if your favorite catfish hole is seemingly stingy during late June and into July, this may be why. The cats will come back strong during late July and on through the fall. Sunfish are usually grouped up again by late June, and usually will hit anything like a worm or corn with authority.
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.
Lake Mead – Rating:
As of mid-May, the lake level was at 1,075 feet. Summer fishing at Mead can be phenomenal. Almost anyone can spend a summer night anchored off a point on the main lake and catch a few striped bass and channel catfish. However, if you do your homework, you can catch an ice-chest full of stripers and cats in a night. What do you look for? Like I mentioned, stripers like to stay in the cooler water during summer. They are constantly on the move and love to ambush threadfin shad from below almost like a shark hunts seals. So you want to find a spot that has deep water real close to a shallow reef or point. The shad will feel safer on the shallow point and the stripers can still ambush them from the deep water. Fishing under a few crappie lights during dark nights will concentrate the shad and stripers around you. Cut anchovies and squid is typically the bait of choice, though mackerel and shrimp can work well too. Channel catfish are often found just off those same areas mentioned and they also like to eat anchovy and squid. Mead has a large population of 5-7 pound channel cats, as well as an occasional 10-13 pounder. Water levels are very low at Lake Mead, so night fishing can be hazardous. Be sure to find your spot and figure out where all the hazards are during the daylight. The average striper coming out of Lake Mead is right at a pound, though 2-3 pounders are not uncommon.
Lake Mohave – Rating:
Mohave elevation is stable around 642. The summer forecast for Mohave is a good one for stripers. Early summer anglers have had good success in most areas fished, from off the back of houseboats to anchored along steep cliffs. Many of the same strategies mentioned for Mead work at Lake Mohave. Striped bass at Lake Mohave are a little larger on average than their upriver cousins in Mead. Largemouth and smallmouth bass in Mohave are fewer and farther between than in Mead; however, these fish can be quite a bit larger (3 to 5 pounds). Mohave smallmouth move up to spawn earlier that the largemouth. But many largemouth tend to stay shallow during summer. Because Lake Mohave is so clear, being quiet and sneaky in your approach to potential largemouth haunts is critical. Very long casts help as well. Lake Mohave has a very good population of channel catfish as well. The backs of coves at night can yield nice stringers of catfish using anchovies. Willow Beach is known for record stripers during summer. These big fish are drawn to the area because of stocked rainbow trout. Any trout imitation lures trolled or cast has a chance at hooking a 30-60-plus pound striper. Often the biggest fish are caught during the hottest part of the day. Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery stocks 12-13-inch rainbow trout at Willow Beach every week. Trout fishing should remain good at Willow Beach several days after a stocking.
Lake Powell- Rating:
Lees Ferry – Rating:
Colorado River Southwest
Alamo Lake is a 3,500-acre lake created by Alamo Dam. It is located on the Bill Williams River below the confluence of the Big Sandy, Santa Maria, and Date Creek tributaries. It is popular for its good to excellent largemouth bass, crappie, and channel catfish fishing. However, sunfish, tilapia, and carp fishing can also be good.
Bass fishing at Alamo Lake can be some of the best in Arizona. Techniques for bass fishing vary widely. However 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, buzzbaits, 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, brush, or tree stumps.
Crappie fishing at Alamo Lake can also be excellent. Trolling, jigging, or fishing with minnows are good techniques for crappie. Crappie are generally found in deeper water in the cool months and in shallower water in the warm months. Fishing around shad “boils” can result in some fast and furious action.
Channel catfish, sunfish, tilapia and carp fishing can also be good at Alamo Lake. For channel catfish use night crawlers, chicken liver, stinkbait or some other form of “smelly” bait. Catfishing is usually best at night. Sunfish can be caught on meal worms, night crawlers, or small crappie jigs. Tilapia and carp fishing is often overlooked but Alamo Lake can produce some real trophies.
Alamo Lake has received no significant runoff this winter, but the lake elevation remains at a pretty respectable level. This means that both launch ramps at Alamo Lake State Park should remain usable for the foreseeable future. As we exit the spring and move into the Summer months, the likelihood of significant inflow events are diminished.
Largemouth bass surveys conducted by AZGFD in October of 2019 indicate that bass are still very abundant. The upper end of Alamo Lake has a lot of dead standing vegetation and debris, often just below the water surface. This is great cover for fish, but presents a hazard to boating. Be aware that there are no navigational hazard markers at the upper portion of the lake, once you pass the second buoy line. For bass, as the weather warms, shift from slowly working plastics in deeper water to crank baits, spinner baits, and top-water lures
There is a very healthy population of channel catfish in Alamo Lake. There are lots of very small catfish, but plenty in the 2-4 pound range that provide fun fishing. You may also run into the occasional 8-10 pound catfish. The best concentrations of channel catfish seem to be found along the upper two thirds of the shoreline, on the western side of the lake. For channel catfish any of the prepared catfish baits will work, as well as chicken livers, or your own secret concoctions. Channel catfish will occasionally take artificial lures and plastics, but if you are targeting catfish, bait is probably the way to go. Crappie fishing has been pretty decent through the winter, and may pick up a bit as the weather warms.
The State Park, and all of its facilities, is open, and we expect all amenities to remain available.
Lake Havasu is a 19,300-acre lake on the Colorado River formed by Parker Dam. Lake Havasu is best known for its striped bass, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishing. It also has good fishing for channel catfish, flathead catfish, and sunfish, including some monster redear sunfish. There are also abundant carp and limited numbers of crappie that can be had.
***Special note – the new world record for redear sunfish was caught on Lake Havasu (6lb 4oz).
Striper fishing has been good. During the warmer months fishing topwater lures that resemble shad near “boils” or where birds are actively feeding is your best bet for some exciting action.
The largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing has been steadily improving over the last several years. Tournament anglers are regularly weighing in bags of 5 fish that weigh over 20 pounds and it is not uncommon to catch bass over 5 pounds and some even approaching 10 pounds. There are many different techniques used for largemouth bass. As a general rule, most people will use topwater lures such as buzzbaits 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. Fishing picks up as the water temperatures warm up in the spring and summer but bucketmouths can be had any time of the year.
Smallmouth bass fishing has really improved in Lake Havasu the last few years, with a new Arizona state record for the Colorado River caught in late 2011 (5.63 pounds). For smallmouths it is usually best to fish rocky points, ridges, shorelines, or canyons. Most people use topwater lures, lipless crankbaits or jigs in the mornings and evenings. During the day try crankbaits, plastic worms or “creature” baits such as fake crawdads.
Redear sunfish have grown to trophy size in Lake Havasu, with a new state and world record being caught in 2011 (5.55 pounds). Redear sunfish in the 2-pound range are regularly caught. Bluegill and redear can be caught around structure such as docks, vegetation, or artificial structure using mealworms, night crawlers, or small crappie jigs.
Channel catfish are widespread in the lake and can be caught using night crawlers, anchovies, chicken liver, stinkbait or about anything that “stinks”. For flathead catfish it is best to use live bait such as bluegill or small 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. Catfish can be caught any time of the year but your best bet is at night during the summer.
Large carp are abundant in the lake and can provide some exciting fishing. Twenty to twenty-five pound carp are not uncommon. Most people use canned corn or dough balls to catch carp.
Colorado River (Parker Strip)
Colorado River (Imperial Divisions and Associated Backwaters)
Colorado River (between Palo Verde Diversion Dam and Walter’s Camp)
Colorado River (between Walter’s Camp and Picacho State Park)
Colorado River (between Picacho State Park and Imperial Dam)
Colorado River (between Laguna and Morelos dams)
This area will be good for largemouth bass and flathead catfish. Bass in excess of 5 pounds are common and flathead catfish over 20 pounds are a good bet. In this area, accessibility to the river is dependent on the amount of water being released. Usually shallow draft boats are a must. The lower end has had some dredging work done and a larger boat may be able to get on the river in that area. Be aware that some sections of the river are within Quechan tribal boundaries, and a tribal permit is required to fish there. Boundaries are not well marked, so doing some research prior to fishing this section may prevent hassles while you are out there.
The invasive vegetative species, giant salvinia, as well as quagga mussels, are found in this stretch of the river. If using a boat, make sure that boats, live wells, engines, and trailers are clean before leaving the area.
**With the increase of border issues and illegal activity on the lower end of this stretch, we recommend avoiding the Pilot Knob to Moreles Dam area, especially at night.
Mittry Lake is located just above Laguna Dam, and supports a good population of largemouth bass and channel catfish, and even some good-sized flathead catfish. There are shoreline fishing opportunities at this lake in the form of about a dozen rock jetties, but you’ll probably have the best success in a small boat. Mittry Lake can be frustrating, as the bite seems to be real variable, but the fish are there. It is just a question of getting them to respond to your presentation. The water tends to be very murky most of the year, except for the upper end of Teal Alley where the lake inflow comes in, so play to the fish’s sense of hearing and smell, rather than sight. There are also crappie and sunfish to be caught, although they tend to average relatively small in size. Mittry Lake is well-known locally for the quality largemouth bass it produces, and fishing during the spring spawn will increase your chances of success.
Yuma Ponds* (Fortuna, Council Ave., West Wetlands, Redondo, PAAC Pond)
Due to high Summer temperatures stockings to the Community Fishing waters are postponed until October. There were catfish stocked in our regional Community Fishing waters are recent as late May.
Regional Hot Spots
Alamo Lake will continue to be a hot spot for plentiful largemouth bass and channel catfish, although trophy-sized fish will be uncommon. Lake Havasu is probably currently the premier lake in our Region (and perhaps the State) for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and redear sunfish. Numbers caught will likely be lower, but the quality of the fish much higher. The Parker Strip should remain excellent for smallmouth bass and redear sunfish, and the Colorado River below Walter’s Camp down to Imperial Dam the best bet for large and plentiful flathead catfish. Backwaters in the Imperial Division above Imperial Dam will continue to yield impressive largemouth bass, up to and exceeding 10 pounds.
If you need any additional information or additional don’t hesitate to contact the Yuma Regional office at 928-342-0091, and we will be happy to answer your questions, if we are able.
*Community fishing lakes