Lake Havasu: Spectacular Fishing in Arizona's Playground
Lake Havasu, a 19,300 acre impoundment on the Colorado River, easily ranks among the best fishing in Arizona and is possibly one of the best fishing lakes in the Southwest. Anglers of all ages and abilities can expect to haul in largemouth and smallmouth bass, striped bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, channel catfish, crappies, and flathead catfish with no need to make up fish tales. They’re plenty large and abundant without any exaggeration!
Lake Havasu forms the border between Arizona and California and is approximately 25 miles long with a shoreline that boasts sixty-plus miles. Fishing in Lake Havasu is popular all year long. Cast your line from one of several free public-access fishing docks and piers or launch your boat from one of the many launch ramps and marinas. Cruise the coves for the ideal spot and explore miles and miles of lake shoreline for the ultimate catch.
For some first-hand experience and updates from local anglers, the Angler Guide Arizona provides fishing conditions as well as other valuable information.
Licenses and limits for fishing in Arizona lakes
Appropriate state regulations apply to angler locations on the reservoir. All Arizona fishing lakes, Lake Havasu included, require an Arizona fishing license for any resident or non-resident angler 10 years of age or older (available at bait and tackle shops and online at the Arizona Game & Fish Department website). Licenses are valid for one year and are not transferable or refundable. Licenses must be in the possession of the angler while fishing. Also, a license is required to take frogs, waterdogs, crayfish or softshell turtles. For a full listing of fishing regulations, see the AZGFD's Fishing Regulations here.
Types of fish
There are many fish species in Lake Havasu. When you're at one of the best places to fish around, those limits can be reached on a good day more quickly than you may think.
Due to restoration efforts, there are three protected (endangered) fish species in Lake Havasu - razorback sucker, flannelmouth sucker, roundtail chub and bonytail chub. It is unlawful to possess any of these species. If you happen to catch any of these fish, please release them alive and, if possible, report the catch to a natural resource manager in the area.
Redear sunfish have grown to trophy size in Lake Havasu. A world record-setting redear sunfish was caught on Lake Havasu on February 16, 2014 by Hector Brito, surpassing a previous record-setting redear catch on the lake by Robert Lawler in 2011. In November, 2013, a whopping 37-lb striper was also hauled out of the lake. Also abundant in Lake Havasu are large carp; 20-25 pound carp are not uncommon. The state record of a 42 pound carp was caught in Lake Havasu in 1979.
Smallmouth bass fishing has greatly improved in Lake Havasu in the last few years and a new Arizona state record for the Colorado River being caught in late 2011 (5.63 pounds). It's not uncommon to catch bass over 5 pounds and some even approaching 10 pounds.
Biggest Fish in Arizona Caught in Lake Havasu
|Type of Fish||Weight||Length||Date||Record Holder|
|AZ State Records|
|Smallmouth Bass||6.28 lb||21 in||Feb 2017||Sue Nowak|
|Carp||42.0 lb||43 in||Mar 1979||Gary Ramsfield|
|Black Crappie||2.75 lb||16 in||Mar 1996||Julia Grammer|
|Green Sunfish||1.33 lb||11.5 in||July 1997||Jose Orozco|
|Razorback Sucker||9.81 lb||29 in||Jan 1978||Freeman Summers|
|Redear Sunfish||5.80 lb||17 in||Feb 2014||Hector Brito|
For more fishing in Arizona records, check the AZ Game & Fish website.
In 2014, daily bag limits for trout, bass, catfish and crappie were revised and consolidated for the Colorado river from Interstate 40 bridge downstream to the southern international boundary with Mexico, including Lake Havasu. The daily bag limit is 10 trout, 6 bass (13-inch minimum), 10 catfish (any combination), 25 sunfish or crappie. Snagging for carp, tilapia, and shad is allowed from Jan. 1 through March 31, and from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 (see the AZFGD Fishing Regulations for more details). Be aware of posted signs on the water, however, as some coves are closed to fishing.
Fish habitat improvement
In 1992, the Lake Havasu Fisheries Improvement Program began construction and placement of fish habitat structures in 42 coves throughout the lake, with the objective of enhancing and sustaining the game fish population. Since completion in 2002, the program has continued to maintain these structures. Residents feel strongly about protecting Lake Havasu fishing habitats for generations to come. Countless volunteers have contributed more than 210,000 hours to the program thus far.
The Bureau of Land Management leads a seven-member partnership for the program that includes the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Bureau of Reclamation, California Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and Anglers United, a private nonprofit group.
As one of the largest and most successful fish habitat improvement projects ever undertaken in the U.S., it stands as a shining example of what can be accomplished when government natural resource agencies, anglers and interested members of the public and private sector companies work together on behalf of the future of fishing. (For more information, contact BLM at 928-505-1200.)
The combination of natural resources and careful management make Lake Havasu fishing some of the best in Arizona. The video below will explain more about the Lake Havasu fishing habitat program.
To stay updated on license information for fishing in Arizona, fishing hot spots, record catches, and lake levels, visit the Arizona Game & Fish Department website.