How’s the fishing in Lake Havasu this spring?

March 19, 2019

Lake Havasu

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 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.

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.

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.

Alamo Lake

Fishing Rating: Good

Overall, fishing at Alamo Lake could be very good this spring. As of the writing of this forecast, the lake has 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.