By Mark Lassagne
Sheer walls chiseled from the hand of God. Glimmering dark red cliffs three hundred feet straight up; careening down into pellucid waters where a profusion of bass reside. Small coves that wind for miles into nowhere, wind caves you drive a boat into. Thousands of flats, rock slides and points that at times will each yield a nice brown, green or silver bass. Powell is a giant; stretching through two states 180 miles long and 1,900 miles of shoreline. It’s the second largest manmade lake in the US and one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Every person should experience the sheer beauty of this lake at least once in their lifetime.
Along the Apache trail a Crow is perched on a lone Saguaro cactus with a backdrop of sloping hills dotted with sagebrush, salt cedar, cactus and tumbleweeds. Lake Roosevelt sits at 2,250 feet of elevation with 122 miles of shoreline and 22,000 acres of fish-able water. Without the roads and boats you might think your back in the Wild West. Lake Roosevelt is a Bass haven of flooded timber, brush, creeks, ledges and islands.
Pretty girls, fast boats and wild parties attract college students to Havasu but for angler’s it is entirely a different world. Watching a four-pound smallmouth charge through the water to attack your bait makes everything else seems mundane. Lake Havasu is home to the world famous London Bridge. The lake is only 45 miles long but with its diverse terrain and numerous backwaters it seems much larger. The Bill Williams end of the lake below the dam is a large shallow marsh while the other end is a narrow section of the Colorado River with various hidden backwaters. In between there are numerous marinas, shallow flats, coves, m
an-made structures and even a casino.
Arizona hosts some of the most beautiful bodies of water in the country. These three lakes while different in many ways share excellent fishing opportunities especially in the springtime.
Hooked up Outfitters guide Josh Bertrand says that the 60-degree mark is the turning point when these desert fish start to spawn and if there’s a full moon the smallies and largemouth will be flocking to the bank.
Springtime at Lake Havasu
It is March with a light breeze and a little ripple on the water. The water temp just hit 58 degrees you break out a brand new Pointer 78 make a couple casts across the point, twitch, twitch pause your bait stops dead! Did I hit a tree? Suddenly a golden brown fish flies through the air with your lure in its mouth; you instantly realize it’s not a tree!
In February the water climbs from the high 40’s to the mid 50’s where both smallmouth and large mouth make their move shallow. Though there are always fish in the river the most active fish this time of year will be in the main lake from the mouth of the Colorado just above Windsor to the Bill Williams area. Josh who consistently puts his clients on fish says; “If the water is from 56 to 60 degrees look for the fish to be on main lake points in submerged timber and near the man-made structures”. Targeting these fish is not too difficult; if you have some wind, reaction baits they are the way to go. Try a Lucky Craft Pointer 78 in Ghost Minnow, Pepper Spinnerbaits in Shad colors and the famous brown mud craw Speed Trap. Swimbaits work here too, Baitsmith Mad Gil, Mission Fish in white and the Baby E in Bluegill color. When the wind lays down Josh switches to a finesse rig; drop shot is my go to bait using Robo worms hologram shad, morning dawn or Aaron’s magic.
Tip: Josh says when fishing a spinnerbait add a little chartreuse to the skirt for few more bites, especially with smallies.
March can be all “feast” if you hit it just right. When the water hits that magic 60 degree mark the smallies are the first to head to the bank and are easily caught. Main lake, north facing banks with a good bottom composition and some shallow water is the right recipe for spawning smallies. Once you find one of the brown sunbathing beauties, toss in a drop shot rig with a wacky rig six-inch Aaron’s magic or a brown sculpin. Once your bait hits the water the fish swims off…just wait…then watch as the fish circles like a cat stalking its prey, give it a few small twitches, the fish grabs your bait and swims off….set the hook! For more info on Havasu guides see: www.thehookupoutfitters.com or Call (623) 412-3474
Lake Powell has changed for the better over the last few years. With the lake rising 50 feet there’s an array of flooded tamarack brushes and some cotton wood trees. In addition there has been an influx of Gizzard Shad from the San Juan River into the Lake Powell basin replacing the depleting Threadfin population and supplementing the scaled carnivore’s diet.
Ron Colby, BASS and FLW pro angler and operations manager for Yamamoto Baits says; “The Smallmouth Bass here are different than anywhere else.” In the spring, after a just a few days of sunshine and the water warms to 58 degrees the otherwise barren shoreline comes alive. Only a few days ago it the lake seemed like a dry desert not fish in sight, now you can’t keep them off your hook. With most lakes there is a gradual increase but not here when the water warms it’s just on everywhere the entire lake is good says Ron.
Though many types of baits that will work here with a little wind or clouds I go to reaction baits like: Lucky Craft Stacey 90’s in shad patterns and cranks like the Damiki DC 200 in Ghost Smog, Norman DD22 in both shad and craw colors. Ron suggests a Pepper 1/2oz spinner bait in Shad or chartreuse and white for working through the brush and trees. When the sun comes out and the reaction bite dies the Senko is always a go to bait no matter what body of water you’re on. Some other good baits at Lake Powell are; Pepper Football Jigs in greens and browns with a matching Flappin Hog trailer or a football head with a Yamamoto Spider Grub in browns and greens. During the springtime it’s not uncommon to hook a few nice Crappies while bass fishing especially if you’re using a small jig head with a grub in cinnamon green or all chartreuse.
Powell fishes big this time of year so launch wherever is convenient for you, if you’re looking for smallies try the north facing banks on the main lake. If you’re targeting largemouth work into the coves to fish the steep walls and in the creek channels look for the banks with the most sun and some protection. Don’t forget to check the backs of the coves for running water and submerged cottonwood trees, as these places are key for big bass.
Wayne Gustaveson the fisheries biologist for Lake Powell has a comprehensive web site about the lake. www.wayneswords.com
Lake Roosevelt, (aka, Rosey) like the other lakes turns on in late March into April when the water hits the 58 to 60 degree range; however unlike the others “Rosey” is flipping bonanza. When the snow melts, the water runs muddy down the Salt causing these fish to go shallow. Areas like Cottonwood, Cougar, School House and Meddler points can be stacked says professional Roosevelt guide Tom Morton. Even though the Salt runs cooler than the Tonto the water is murky creating a better bite. Expect to catch good numbers of slot fish (Bass between 13-16 inches) but with recent limits running over 20 pounds for five fish be prepared for some big bites. Flip creature baits like Brush hog, Beavers, and Pocket Craws in craw colors in the brush and lay down trees that line almost the entire shoreline. Tom said don’t get too caught up in all the brush and concentrate on the areas near the points. When the weather changes the fish will move in and out of the brush and school up on ledges. Target these bass with deep cranks like Norman DD22 and 14’s or slow rolling a shad spinner bait. Additionally, swimbaits like a Skinny Dipper and six inch hollow bodies in shad color can be deadly along these ledges. Tom is a full time guide on Roosevelt for more info call (602) 828-2582
Arizona Fish and Game has a comprehensive web site with: lake levels, fishing reports, licenses and much more. Go to: www.azgfd.gov
If you could start at Lake Havasu in March, fish there for a week, then “Rosey” and finish up at Lake Powell it would be a fishing trip of a lifetime. Arizona has some excellent and diverse fisheries; these are just three of many.