Colorado River Northwest
Colorado River (Davis Dam to I-40 Bridge) – Rating:
Flows fluctuate quickly in this stretch of the river. Many anglers prefer not to navigate the river when two units or less are 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 September, April, and May with funding from Bullhead Pest Abatement. With an abundance of blackfly, caddisfly, and mayfly larvae available for the trout to feed on, not only can you catch the recently stocked fish, but older holdover trout should be growing quickly here. Trout are stocked at Davis Camp, Community Park, and Rotary Park during the fall. Some anglers prefer to fish for the holdover trout away from the stocking locations.
Striped bass are also available. Anglers will have a great opportunity to catch stripers throwing big baits or anchovies.
Lake Mead – Rating:
As of August 19th, the lake level was at 1,067 feet. This is about 17 feet lower than it was last year at this time. Fall often comes all at once on the Colorado River. One day it’s summer and 105 degrees and the next it’s 85 and windy. Look for the largemouth Bass to stay in a summer type pattern until around Halloween. Between Halloween and Thanksgiving look for Largemouth to be very shallow hitting anything moving. Often, they are keying in on late hatching insects and will hit buzz baits, spinners, and poppers with reckless abandon! If that’s not working, try jigging with split-tail jigs, jig and pig, or Yamamoto jigs and grubs off lake contours at 20 to 30 feet. The lake is at historic low levels, so key in on inflow areas like Sandy Point and up the Overton Arm. Threadfin shad hold to areas that have muddy or stained water. The Striped Bass will be with them feeding heavy throughout the fall. Try trolling anchovies over reefs and around main lake points until you locate a school. Then very often you can catch as many as you want to filet, within the limit of course (20 stripers over 20” and unlimited under 20” per person). This pattern can work all winter long, you just may have to go deeper. Channel Catfish will go through a high activity period also during the fall. Fresh cut baits (bluegill and carp) typically work well, along with shrimp, nightcrawlers, and minnows.
Lake Mohave – Rating:
The 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 largemouth will also be very shallow during a period during the fall, feeding on late hatching insects and spawning crayfish. Often bass will be clear in the back of coves in places boats have a hard time going. Brush up on your pitching and jigging techniques for some big Largemouth Bass action. Clear water means be aware of boat noise and slow down your presentations. The hatchery at Willow Beach is still growing trout and stocking them year round at Willow Beach. Power-baits, nightcrawlers and spinners will catch these fish. Look for very large striped bass to be around the stocking area. These fish can be caught with large trout imitation lures as well as with anchovies and other fresh cut baits. Smaller stripers can be had in the main lake basin using similar techniques to Lake Mead. Remember, there is no limit on striped bass under 20 inches and anglers are encouraged to keep all they catch, this will help ensure the stripers that are left have enough to eat.
Lake Powell- Rating:
Lees Ferry – Rating:
Colorado River Southwest
Bass fishing should pick up when the weather cools a bit, and is expected to be good to excellent throughout the fall. All types of bait, plastics, spinner baits and top- water lures should work. As the weather cools off, try slowly working plastics in deeper water. Crappie fishing has been a little spotty throughout the summer, but expect it to be fair to good this fall. There is a very robust population of channel catfish in Alamo Lake that are probably under-fished. 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. There are other fish present such as bluegill, red-ear sunfish, tilapia and carp that are a lot of fun to catch. More decent-sized bluegills and red-ear sunfish, up to about a pound, have been showing up in recent surveys, a trend we hope continues. When Alamo Lake was first impounded, it was widely known as the place to go for sunfish. Sunfish can be caught on a variety of baits and lures. They are particularly susceptible to fly-fishing, and are very enjoyable when caught on light fly-fishing tackle.
*Side Note: Water level conditions at Alamo Lake have consistently been low this past year. This poses a potential long term problem for bass fishing on Alamo Lake if current drought conditions do not improve. Historically inflows have led to boom and bust years as a result of threadfin shad density. But also because water level fluctuations have created ideal shoreline habitat for bass during their spawns. If water levels remain low this means less shoreline vegetation during the spawn and less habitat for juvenile bass to evade predation. But it could also mean lower densities of threadfin shad.
Fishing for largemouth bass, as well as smallmouth bass, is expected to be good to excellent. Sizes will range from 13 inches and up, with an occasional fish in the 4-6 pound range. Every year, smallmouth bass are becoming more and more numerous in Lake Havasu and upriver. Bass tournaments now often experience nearly a 50/50 ratio of smallmouth to largemouth bass. Striped bass fishing has been pretty slow over the past year, but this summer we’ve gotten reports of a rebounding shad population, and striper “boils” on schools of shad are becoming much more common. Hopefully this signals a turnaround in the striped bass fishery, and it may be good to excellent by the fall. Most of the striped bass in Lake Havasu tend toward the small side (12-18 inches) but occasional fish over 8 pounds are not uncommon. Channel catfish as well as bluegill fishing should be fair to good. Flathead catfish fishing should be fair at the lower end of the lake throughout the fall. Flathead catfish can reach 40 pounds or better in the lower portion of the lake. To find them, select the interior points in the coves and the areas where artificial structure has been placed. Red-ear sunfish fishing is slowly becoming a focal point of the Lake Havasu fishery. Record breaking red-ear have been caught by anglers in this lake and present a unique angling opportunity to Southwest Arizona and its visiting anglers.
The cooler weather causes the bite to slow down, so it is important to work your lures more slowly, and in deeper water. Put away your top water lures and switch to plastics, crank baits, spinner baits, jigs, etc.
Colorado River (Parker Strip)
Smallmouth bass, with fish over two pounds in size are expected to be good this fall. In addition, red-ear sunfish should also be fair in the pound-plus sizes. The Parker Strip is well known for its smallmouth bass fishing, especially in the area from the dam to several miles downstream. The Parker Strip is also home to some really impressive, dinner-plate sized red-ear sunfish of two pounds or better. Channel and flathead catfish fishing is always fair in this section of the Colorado River. Below the dam, striper fishing may pick up this fall, using live shad.
Colorado River (Imperial Divisions and Associated Backwaters)
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. As the weather cools, so will the cat-fishing action.
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, or larger. Bluegill 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 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 work the best. The lower end has had some dredging work done and larger boats may be able to get on the river in that area.
*Note: With the increase in border issues and illegal activity on the lower end of this stretch, we recommend exercising extreme caution, avoiding nighttime use, or even staying away from the area between Pilot Knob to Moreles Dam, altogether.
Mittry is a great spot for warmwater sunfish. 2019 Bass surveys showed that Largemouth Bass were doing very well in this system. While bass are doing very well in Mittry, they aren’t the only fishing opportunity in the system. Catfish, crappie, and a variety of other sunfish/panfish are also readily available to anglers who know how to target them. As the weather cools down, anglers should begin working their baits slower in deeper water.
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 be the hot spot for largemouth bass, channel catfish, and crappie. There are many fish in the lake at the present time (especially channel catfish), and keeping some to eat will not impact the population in the slightest, and will perhaps even enhance it. Next choice would be Lake Havasu for largemouth bass, striped bass, smallmouth bass, and red-ear sunfish, Parker Strip for smallmouth bass and sunfish, and Martinez Lake, Mittry Lake, and Imperial Division backwaters for largemouth bass and catfish. For the die-hard flathead catfish angler, large catfish can still be caught from Walter’s Camp down to Imperial Dam.
*Note: Backwater 33 located along the Lower Colorado River (lat: 32.727397, lon: -114.575099) is a fantastic largemouth bass/sunfish spot, as well as a great place to fish for tilapia. This location was surveyed during the 2021 largemouth bass regional surveys and contained some very nice specimens (4-6 lb range), and given the layout of this particular backwater it’s safe to assume there are larger fish in there just waiting for somebody to present them with the right bait.
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