Borrow a Life Jacket and Save a Life (Maybe Your Own)

As anglers, we all know we should be wearing life jackets when we go out. We also know that life jackets can be hot, uncomfortable and bulky. But quit complaining. Even the best swimmers among us could get conked on the head. Or suddenly pass out. Now the good folks at AZ Game and Fish make it easier to protect ourselves out on the water.

Last year, the Arizona Game and Fish Department life jacket exchange program was a resounding success, having traded out more than 300 old and tattered life jackets for new ones at area lakes.

Tattered is right. The hot and dry climate in Arizona is harsh on life jackets, making it very important to check them for wear and tear every season,” Josh Hoffman, Game and Fish boating safety education coordinator tells Today’s Havasu News. “And don’t forget, just because a life jacket fit last year there’s no guarantee it will fit next year.”

According to U.S. Coast Guard statistics, drowning was the reported cause of death in approximately 76 of recreational boating fatalities in 2015, and that nearly 85 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets, reports Today’s Havasu News.

To augment its boater safety efforts, Game and Fish has a life jacket loaner program. Currently there are 14 stations where a life jacket can be borrowed for the day including Windsor Beach and Cattail Cove State Park. The jackets are provided through U.S. Coast Guard grants and non-profit NGO funding.

All boats in Arizona must have a life jacket aboard for every passenger and those 12 years old and younger must wear a lift jacket at all times, as well as water enthusiasts being towed behind a boat or on personal watercraft. The AZGF loaner stations mean you have no excuse. Often the only thing that’s going to keep you or a guest from drowning is a life jacket.

Better safe than sorry. We want you coming back for years to come.

Learn more about Boating Rules & Safety on Lake Havasu at GoLakeHavasu.com

Just Saying: Lake Havasu is Top Five Winter Fishing Hole in Arizona

Excuse us if we brag a bit, but our favorite lake has appeared on the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s (AZGF) list of top five fishing holes for this winter. It actually came in at No. 2! In Arizona, winter doesn’t have to mean sending boats and rods and reels into hibernation. While outdoor recreation opportunities across many U.S. states shut down during the season of freeze, Arizona rolls on with trout stockings and water temperatures just warm enough to convince fish to bite after the holidays.

Ask our friends in state government and they’ll tell you, “Lake Havasu has some of the best bass fishing in the nation and water temperatures stay relatively warm during the winter.”

AZGF spokesman Nick Walter tells Today’s News Herald, “Havasu and the Lower Salt River are both incredible winter fisheries … It could almost come down to a coin flip to pick a number-one spot.”

In compiling its rankings, AZGF accounted for catch rates, opinions from regional fishing report editors, water quality, effects from drought conditions, proximity of fisheries to major population areas, how winter conditions affect fish feeding patterns and overall fishing experience.

“Though the wind can blow during the winter and spring months, the average daily temperature is pretty mild (in Havasu),” Walter said, “Bass and other game species are more affected by changes in barometric pressure than they are by water temperatures. This translates into more fish activity along the lower Colorado River versus inland Arizona. More activity could translate into a better chance for anglers to find active fish.”

According to Walter, lower boat traffic could also account for easier fishing on Lake Havasu during the winter months. “Anglers have the lake all to themselves in the winter, without wave runners and power boats,” Walter said.

In 2014, the lake ranked among Bassmaster Magazine’s top 20 fishing destinations in the U.S.

See the rankings at:

https://fishazblog.com/2016/12/05/top-5-az-fishing-holes-for-this-winter/

Learn more about fishing in Lake Havasu at GoLakeHavasu.com

Go Where the Fish Are: Enlist in the “Tupperware Navy”

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Want to increase your catch rate? Well, don’t just think like a fish, move like a fish. It’s hard to do that in a powerboat. Much easier in a fishing kayak.

Southwest Kayak, the oldest and largest Hobie kayak dealer in Arizona, located at 423 English Village, recommends plastic, sit-on-top Hobie fishing kayaks for their combination of engineering, power, tracking, stability. They call it the “Tupperware Navy.” Twenty years ago, canoes outsold sea kayaks at a rate of 5-1, but today, those numbers are reversed. The kayak is a natural craft for the shallow-water angler. If you are wade fishing and come to a deep channel you have to stop. But in a kayak, you just paddle across and keep fishing.

Kayaks also allow anglers to venture into no-motor zones and shallow areas where motor boaters dare not go. You can fish far from the closest boat ramp. Kayaks are also the quietest watercraft on earth. An angler can sneak to within a few yards of a school of fish and start casting.

“The action is more personal, more fun. It’s just you and the fish. Sometimes big fish will actually pull you around,” says Dallas Shewmaker, owner of Southwest Kayaks. “When you paddle a kayak, you’re close to the water. You can launch from anywhere, fuel-free.”

Keeping a low profile allows an angler to get much closer to the fish; a kayak angler’s profile is about one fourth of what it would be if you were standing on the deck of a flats boat. Today’s fishing kayaks feature high rails, dry holds, and special attachments to hold rods and nets.

Hobie is the only brand with the tricked out pedaling system – called the Mirage Drive – where you use your strong legs for propulsion rather than weaker shoulder muscles. The patented Mirage Drive allows anglers to sneak up on fish, reaching coves and marshy areas where powerboats wouldn’t dare travel. You pedal by stepping alternately left and right, not unlike an exercise stepper, to drive two underwater flippers. They work much like a penguin’s fins to propel a Hobie kayak with surprising speed and ease.

Try it, rent one for the day, and you may find it hard to go back to using a combustion engine. Fish on!

Learn more about fishing in Lake Havasu at GoLakeHavasu.com

What’s Working?

lakehavasufishingpros_web

Glad you asked. Before we go out we check with Pastor Chris Blythe, one of the most successful guides in the Lake Havasu area. His boat holds 13 IGFA world fly-fishing records for redear sunfish caught on fly rods with light line. Capt. Blythe has the patience of Job out on the water and has some advice that will increase your catch rate.

In winter, Blythe and his clients are drifting live bait off the bottom. “We are using three-foot leaders and just slowly drifting with the wind, using spoons, slow trolling crank baits, and Pointer 101s – all are working well with very slow trolling below 1 mph.

“Slow rolling plastics along the bottom will yield big stringers as the stripers are munching down getting ready to spawn. Slow jigging white jigs with plastic skirts along the bottom also pay off as the water is cold … a slow presentation works best.” Capt. Blythe adds, “Cut bait and a lot of chum bring good stringers, but this technique is best used in current.”

He cautions anglers going up river to watch for shallow bars. “It’s best to stay on the California side using buoy markers as a guide.”

For anglers without a boat, he says Site Six is still open so long as you have a license.

Spend a day with Capt. Blythe by contacting him at 928-486-8371, Chris.blythe@live.com, or www.fishinginlakehavasu.com. Make a note: he has a weakness for cookies.

Throw Like the Pros

Dean-Rojas-Bassmaster-Tournament
Dean Rojas

It was a very big deal when the Rayovac FLW Series Western Division event came to Lake Havasu in February 2015. Imitating shad was the primary method used to elicit strikes from prespawn, smallmouth and largemouth. When as many as 300 pros and co-anglers arrived for the first stop of the competition, they brought with them a veritable arsenal of lures.

The pros were fishing for a top award of $40,000, plus a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard. With those kind of stakes, you can be sure they took their choice of lure very, very seriously.

Here are the top baits from that event:

• Basstronix umbrella rig paired with Reaction Innovations Skinny Dippers

• White Z-Man ChatterBait tipped with a matching Skinny Dipper with tail-dyed chartreuse.

• Berkley Havoc Beat Shad rigged on a ¼-ounce ball-head jig

• A homemade umbrella rig featuring four blades and five wires

• Bailey Rig (a five wire, five bladed umbrella rig) matched with Predator and Keitech swimbaits

• Evergreen C-4 Jig or Buzzer Beater

• Gibbs Jig in brown and green pumpkin matched with a Zoom Speed Craw

• Yum Yumbrella Flash Mob Jr. rigged with Keitech swimbaits

• Drop-shot rig with a Roboworm (ox blood color)

• Phenix vibrating jig (3/8 oz.) teamed with a Zoom Fluke and a Lucky Craft LV 500

• Mann’s Alabama Rig rigged with Berkley Hollow Belly swimbaits

• Punch skirt with 1-¼ tungsten weight (sprayed grass color) and a Yamamoto Flappin’ Hog.

• Senko with a ¼-ounce weight and Spro Phat Fly

These have all worked before and will work again. Excuse us while we go restock our tackle box.

For more ideas on what to throw, see the FLW website:
https://www.flwfishing.com/tips/2015-02-09-gallery-top-10-baits-from-havasu

Take a look at Lake Havasu fish species at golakehavasu.com

What’s Working? Try Some Chug Bugs Why Don’t You?

One of six free fishing docks on Lake Havasu

Want to know what’s working out on the lake? Chug Bugs, white spoons, and if you can stand ‘em, anchovies.

Whenever we begin to wonder what to throw out on the lake, we turn to Chris Blythe, a 26-year resident of Lake Havasu City who has operated a guide service for the past four years. Going out with this master guide has been likened to learning from a grandpa in a young man’s body. Chris, a USCG Six-Pack (six passengers or fewer) Certified Captain and an Arizona licensed fishing guide, jokes he suffers from OCFD – “obsessive compulsive fishing disorder.”

Capt. Blythe says, “We’ve been catching a lot of fish lately – smallmouth, largemouth and stripers – by watching the birds and looking for fish boiling on the surface. The seagulls are returning and they have a bird’s eye view of the action below.

“We use Chug Bugs, and if that doesn’t work we switch to white spoons.”

Cutbait like anchovies are also working, he advises, ‘if you can stand the smell’.

“I can’t help myself sometimes – when I fish with anchovies I reach up and wipe my nose and then wind up smelling anchovies for the next two weeks. The good thing is if the fishing is slow, you can always have a little morning snack,” said Capt. Blythe,

“By mid-October through the end of February, try using a casting net to catch your own live bait. Take a look at YouTube to learn how to throw one without snagging your partner’s head,” he advises.

One other piece of advice: think about catch and release to help preserve the fishing for generations to come.

“When you land that trophy bass, give them a kiss, take a picture, and throw them overboard. Remember, fish always look bigger the closer you get to the camera. Just extend out your arms and say cheese.”

Learn more about Capt. Blythe at: www.fishinginlakehavasu.com

Learn more about fishing Lake Havasu at golakehavasu.com

Don’t Fight It: We’re All Hooked on Bass

New Horizons Pro-Am fishing tournament on Lake Havasu
You know you love to fish for bass. That’s good because this May, Lake Havasu will be the epicenter of the southwest’s bass fishing world for many of us. Consider what we already know: largemouth are known for their greater overall size and resistance when hooked, favoring short, powerful runs. They are great fighting fish and some may say the king of the sport fish. They escape to hide around submerged logs or weedbeds. Smallies tend to jump more and fight aggressively on the surface when hooked, in order to throw the hook. Arguably they fight harder than any other fish on a weight scale basis and is one reason why we love them so.

There are three tournaments to consider entering this May:

National Bass West Open, May 7

This is the last National Bass West Open tournament of the season and is open to anyone, no membership required. Similar to other bass tournaments, they’re looking for the best of five fish at least 13 inches long. The competition is 100 percent catch and release with penalties for any dead fish.
This event is a qualifier for the 14th annual Havasu Classic scheduled for Oct. 14 to 15, which brings together competitors from all four western regions.
Organizer National Bass West, based in Valley Center, Calif., says the event is open to anyone with a boat, anyone who knows someone with a boat, or anyone ready to rent one for the day. Of course, NBW co-owner Lynne Peterson will gladly sell you a 21-ft. Phoenix bass boat with a 250 hp Mercury or Yamaha, although that might set you back a bit more than the basic $195 entry fee.
The tournament starts at Lake Havasu State Park, Lot 4 and is run by local retailer John Galbraith, 928-486-2502 (voice or text), Bass Tackle Master, 362 London Bridge Rd. On the day of the tournament, sign-up at Windsor Beach starting 1-1/2 hours before safe light.

Wild West Bass Trail, May 14

Husband and wives, boyfriends/girlfriends, women’s teams – all are invited to compete in the Wild West Bass Trail. Best of all, there is 100 percent payback – the $310/team registration goes directly into the prize pool thanks to major sponsors Evinrude Outdoor Motors, Lucas Oil and Ranger Boats. With over 70 teams expected, that’s a lot of prize dough.

It’s a seven fish limit, minimum 13 inches, artificial lures only. Fish must be live to avoid a .25 dead fish penalty.

Jim Kirkwood has been a tournament director for bass events on the Colorado river for 18 years and says of Lake Havasu, “The production of the fish is superb. You can go to Lake Havasu almost any time of the year and catch bass which is a great game fish.”

To register, teams first need to join Wild West Bass Trail for $60/year per angler. Online registration closes May 9. Teams can also register at Windsor Beach – just look for the 40-foot trailer with “Wild West Bass” on the side.

For more information, Mike Brillhart, director, 623-261-2159, mikebrillhart@aol.com or Jim Kirkwood, jim@wildwestbasstrail.com, 928-692 -5086.

JML Outdoors Weekend Warrior Bass Series, May 21

The Weekend Warrior Bass Series, based at Lake Havasu State Park, is designed for the beginner or average fisherman, rather than the professional. In other words, it’s for the rest of us. It’s a two-person team competition for large and small bass only, with a five fish limit. No live bait is allowed; artificial lures only. Boats must have a live well and ignition cut-off device. Phoenix resident Justin Locatis, who was born and raised in Lake Havasu City, is the tournament owner and promoter.

“What is it about the appeal of bass fishing?” we asked.

“They’re more challenging to catch, they move around a lot, and another reason we organize bass tournaments is that they are hardy and can remain alive until we weigh and release them.”
Entry fee is $200 per team. First place prize is $1,500 to $2,000 per the team. The WWBS will take place north of the London Bridge Channel under the group ramadas located at the south ramp of Lake Havasu State Park.

Justin continues, “We love Lake Havasu. Everything in town is within close proximity. It’s easy and affordable to get there, without a lot of driving around.
“It’s a phenomenal fishery, one of the best in the country,” he adds. “A lot of that credit goes to the local fish habitat program.”
In order to participate in any of these fishing tournaments, certain requirements must be met. Please review the rules, eligibility, and requirements at www.jmloutdoors.com
Contact: Justin Locatis, 602 791 0023, jmloutdoors@gmail.com

Learn more about all of May’s bass fishing events in Lake Havasu City on the GoLakeHavasu.com calendar of events.

Save Lives; Receive Fewer Citations

Arizona Fish and Game Department life jacket loaner station.
Want to save lives and save on citations? The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZFGD) is working to help prevent drownings at Lake Havasu with the installation of new Life Jacket Loaner Stations.

It’s now possible to borrow a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) before heading out, thanks to the two newest stations at Windsor Beach State Park. Each station holds jackets for infants, child/youth, adult and oversized passengers. However, users are reminded to return the jackets once they are done with them.

“We are excited to bring this lifesaving program to Lake Havasu,” said AZGFD Boating Safety Education Coordinator Josh Hoffman. “Now, those needing a life jacket for whatever reason may borrow one from the station, head out onto the lake and return it before they leave. The safety of our water users is our utmost concern and we want to make sure people have as safe and fun an experience as possible.”

Having life jackets not only provides immediate protection for the boater, but may save a boater from receiving a citation for not having their children in a life jacket. State law requires all passengers 12 years old and younger to wear a life jacket while on board and each passenger must have a properly fitting, Coast Guard-approved life jacket available. Anyone being towed by a boat or on a personal watercraft such as a Sea Doo or Jet Ski also must wear a life jacket.

For more information on boating in Arizona or to sign up for a safety course, visit: www.azgfd.gov/boating

For boating rules and safety tips specific to Lake Havasu, go to the Lake Havasu City Convention and Visitors Bureau website, GoLakeHavasu.com.

Their Mission is Fishin’

Captain Doyle fishing charters on Lake Havasu, AZ.

When we want to know what’s working on the river we like to check in with Capt. Doyle’s FunFishing based at I-40 and Topock66 Spa & Resort. Lucky for us, we “caught” them this month between coming in from a productive day on the river and going out on a river clean-up the very next day.

Capt. Jamie Gustafson, along with his father-in-law Capt. Doyle, are both licensed U.S. Coast Guard captains and Arizona licensed fishing guides who together have over 50 years experience fishing the Colorado River near Lake Havasu.

“I consider the Topock Gorge with its rich wildlife to be an absolute paradise. I feel privileged to be able to raise a family, work, and play in such an extraordinary place,” Capt. Jamie says.

With just two rods in the water that morning, they pulled in 32 fish. No record-breakers, but a fun day nonetheless for two visitors from the midwest who landed the largest sunfish they ever saw – a 14-incher under about 1-1/2 pounds. (They should visit more often; that’s tiny compared to the five pounders they’ve caught here).

The action was mostly in the morning using nightcrawlers. In addition to sunfish, the group pulled in smallmouth bass and stripers. That’s a lot of action for a six-hour guide service on flat-bottom aluminum boats that costs just $145 per person (two-person minimum).

Both captains consider themselves stewards of the river and, in fact, were about to go out the next day on their annual Rockin’ River Clean-Up – an effort that involves over 15 boats and 75 people. They award prizes for the largest trash, the most trash, and the most flipflops, and usually collect over 1,600 pounds of trash from the water and beaches along Topock Gorge.

Last year they retrieved 399 flip flops which makes us think they should match ‘em up and open a store. But fishing is their main line of work.

As Capt. Jamie likes to say, “Keep your sinker in the water and the plug in your boat.”

Lake Havasu Named a Top Spot for Family Fishing

Fishing is fun for all ages on Lake Havasu

The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing organization has named Lake Havasu one of the top locations for family fishing in America. Looking for family fun in the southwest?

Take Me Fishing collected a list of over 250 fishing spots in America, and gathered votes from over 23,000 outdoor and fishing enthusiasts to narrow the list down to the one hundred best. Nine of the best spots in the U.S. were located in the southwest, and Lake Havasu State Park was one of them.

Lake Havasu checked all the boxes in Take Me Fishing’s criteria: easily accessible; plenty of the common fish species; lots of amenities such as playgrounds, campgrounds, picnic areas, restrooms and parking spaces; plenty of places to cast a line on land and by boat; and the recommendations of other anglers. You go, Lake Havasu.

The RBFF has a wide variety of programs and products that make it easy for people to get involved in recreational boating and fishing. They hope this outreach will increase public appreciation for the need to protect, conserve and restore our national aquatic natural resources.