Irregular and ranging from mountainous bedrock to gravel and sand
aggregates in the backs of coves, which are continuations of desert washes.
Development is confined to state and city parks, marina and resort
concessionaires and the Chemehuevi Indian
reservation on the California
side. The entire Arizona
side from Parker Dam to Lake Havasu City
is a Bureau of Land Management area with over 100 campsites that are
accessible by boat only.
WATER SOURCE- An
impoundment of the Colorado River, most water enters
the lake from Davis Dam at Laughlin, Nevada.
The only tributary, Bill
enters the lake near Parker Dam. Flow of the Bill
Williams is dictated by runoff from the Prescott,
Arizona area and release from Alamo
Dam. Water exits Lake Havasu
through the hydroelectric dam or through either the Metropolitan
Canal in California
or the Central Arizona
WATER QUALITY- Moderately
fertile with color ranging from greenish clear in the main lake to brownish
in the backs of coves and river backwaters. Secchi
depth, a measure of transparency, ranges from 4ft. (some coves and Mouth of
Bill Williams River) to 24 ft in the main
lake. The water is alkaline with pH ranging from 7.6 to 8.6. Both calcium
and manganese carbonates account for elevated hardness. A thermocline develops during the latter half of summer
at depths from 20 to 35 ft. but the hypolimnion
does not become depleted of dissolved oxygen. 2007
update: A recent and undesired
introduction of Quagga mussels is expected to increase the Secchi depth and reduce overall fertility.
Predominately silt (inorganic) over rock. Within the littoral zone, mixes
of muck (organic) and silt occur. Erosion has left areas of round cobble
and broken bedrock along the shoreline.
Much of the original river channel has become homogeneous with the
surrounding bottom within the upper portion of the lake, commonly referred
to as Windsor Basin. Large areas of standing trees are
present. Most were trimmed to 15 ft.
below the 450 NGVD surface. Since 1993, an ongoing, multi-governmental
habitat improvement project continues to place artificial structure at
various lake locations. 2007
update: The placement of man-made
fish habitat composed of plastic has ended.
Forty-two coves within the system have some amount of that
structure. Present placement
consists of tied bundles composed of vegetative waste such as palm
fronds. Life expectancy of the bundles is roughly 2 years.
VEGETATION- Common emergent
species are cattail (Typha latifolia)
and bulrush (Scirpus americanus).
They are evident in the backs of nearly all coves. Within the lake, the
submergent species spiny naiad (Najas marina) and
sago or small leaf pondweed (Potamogeton pectinatus) form dense beds during late summer with
a deep weedline extending to 15 ft. or more. There is an introduction of
white water lily (Nymphaea odorata)
located within Bluebird Cove but spreading is slow. 2007 update: The
Bureau of Reclamation has chemically removed the water lily from Bluebird
Cove because it has been deemed a noxious weed. In the river, upstream from
the sandbar, there are limited exhibits of Eurasian water milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), curly
leaf pondweed (Potamogeton crispus),
and water celery (Vallisneria). Milfoil
has also recently become invasive at the mouth of the Bill
It is interesting to note that the sandbar is constantly encroaching into
the lake. As new shallow areas are produced, they are rapidly colonized by
the bulrush and new habitat is produced.
ABUNDANT- Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis), Channel
Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus),
Carp (Cyprinus carpio).
COMMON- Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides), Bluegill
Redear Sunfish (Zepomis microlophus), Flathead Catfish (Pylodictis olivaris).
LIMITED- Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieui), Black
Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus),
Warmouth (Chaenobryttus gulosus),
Rainbow Trout (Salmo gairdneri).
2007 update: Fishery populations
are always dynamic. Presently, the
Striper, although still abundant, is not as numerous and the overall
average size is smaller. An
unofficial introduction of Smallmouth Bass at the first of this decade has
moved that species from limited to common.
That rapid increase in Smallmouth Bass has placed a burden upon the
Largemouth Bass which are now less common.
Rainbow Trout were listed are
limited based upon a few hatchery fish released at Casino Row in Laughlin,
Nev. that were able to survive and move into the lower river. None have been reported below the I-40
bridge in recent years.
FORAGE- The predominant
forage fish is the Threadfin Shad (Dorosoma petenense), named for Lake
in the Yucatan and widely
introduced in the U.S.
Other important species include Red Shiner (Notropis
(Gambusia affinis), and
fathead minnow (pimephales promelas).
As with D. petenense, all species are nonindigenous. Crayfish, insect larvae, and
young-of-the-year of various fish species are also important forage. 2007 update: This past winter was the coldest in 13
years. Water temperatures were in
the high 30’s for over 15 consecutive days and stressed the Shad
population. Numbers of available
spawning adults were reduced this spring but disregarding water quality changes
and pollutants, the prolific species can quickly recover.
Lou Bell with his 32 lb. Striper
COMMENT- The Striped Bass
is the dominant predator within the lake and is also the most sought after
sport fish. Commonly known as Striper, they can be caught throughout the
year, but best fishing locations change with the seasons and with water
temperature. The overall average size is from 2.5 to 5 lbs. but a few
individuals in the 20 to 30 lb. range are harvested every year. Fish from 8
to 10 lbs. or a 10-fish daily limit weighing more than 50 lbs. are worthy
of photos and "braggin’ rights".
Steve fast with a 13 lb. Striper
Ron Paliwoda with a 21½ pounder
Cliff Fincher with a 13 pounder
Jeff Hughes, Bryon & Tanner Barnes with a 15 lb. Flathead
The Largemouth Bass is sufficient to support tournaments nearly every
weekend from September through May. The overall average size of the Bass is
about 2 lbs. but fish from 4.5 to 5.5 lbs. are not uncommon. The population
seems to be increasing, probably due to a compilation of causes including
heavily practiced catch-and-release angling, an increase in aquatic
vegetation, introduction of massive amounts of man-made habitat, abundant
(although not ideally diverse) forage, and care of tournament caught fish.
The summer months also offer good to excellent
Bass fishing, but air temperatures that can exceed 115 degrees during the
afternoon are difficult for tournament fishing. Summer fishing is confined
to the morning hours or to late evening. The Havasu Bass Club owns
and operates a live release boat to transport tournament fish away from the
weigh-in site, thereby virtually eliminating unrestrained harvesting after
tournaments. The Smallmouth Bass population has experienced a boom
during the past couple of years adding a needed resource for tournament
anglers. 2007 update: Largemouth and Smallmouth bass together
support tournaments. Smallmouth
numbers are greatly increasing while Largemouth numbers are falling off. Recently, catches have included a half
dozen Largemouth Bass over 7 lbs. with a couple over 9 lbs. There have been a couple of Smallmouth
Bass recorded which weighed over 6 lbs.
The Havasu Bass Club no longer operates a live release boat.
Channel Catfish are abundant and average 2 to 4 lbs. Areas of
shallow clear water can afford observation of schools of fish containing 20
to 50 individuals in a variety of sizes cruising
the weed beds. I have landed clients fish up to 23 lbs.
Flathead Catfish grow to monstrous sizes in this system. My personal
largest fish to date is 44 lbs. Only a limited number of anglers fish
specifically for catfish. Most are caught incidentally to other
angling. Black Crappie numbers are limited and the individuals taken
are often from 1.5 to 3 lbs. During the 70’s, Lake Havasu was
noted as an excellent crappie lake but severe over-harvesting and lack of
concealing habitat have all but ruined the fishery. Presently, fair
Crappie fishing can only be found at 3 or 4 small, isolated
locations. All anglers are hoping that new and restrictive creel
limits and the introduction of vital habitat are about to turn the Crappie
population around. The lake contains Bluegill and some very large
Redear Sunfish, many are well over a pound.
The population as a whole seems healthy. The current Arizona
state record Redear Sunfish weighing 3 lbs. 8 oz., was caught here. 2007 update: The Crappie population has not
changed. It is still very
Copyright 1997 and 2004, Jim Ocker, All rights reserved. Use data for
personal and not-for-profit reasons without further authority, provided
full credit for authorship observed. All commercial usage requires prior
permission from the author.
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