Mar 172020

It’s been a long time since we made a kayak fishing blog post. We are camping some distance from the nearest city so it’s difficult to get there to use WiFi to make blog posts. We don’t carry our laptop into the desert, only the stuff we need to camp and fish. Today, we are in town downloading photos and video to the laptop, tomorrow we will upload the blog post and head back out into the desert because the fishing is getting good as the weather warms up. Here in the city, there is panic and hoarding as coronavirus fear, unfounded or not, has gripped the town and we are more than willing to get out.

Now that the water temperature of the Colorado River and adjacent waters has warmed enough to get the fish biting after a long winter break, the biggest problem is the wind. The nights and early mornings are still cool, causing the warming water to steam until the sun comes up.

The misty Colorado River on a cool spring morning

Even if it is cool and overcast, the fishing in the early mornings before the wind comes up has been pretty good. We’ve caught some nice largemouth bass that makes the paddle out in the dark early morning well worth it.

Nice largemouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Paddling around in the dark is a bit spooky. There isn’t much boat traffic, but there are floating and submerged logs and trees. Morning is a popular time of day for bugs. You can’t see them, so it’s best to stay covered up. Not too many dangerous animals, but you still have to be alert because there are things you need to look out for, like this water snake.

Colorado River water snake

When fishing on the lakes connected to the Colorado River, the largemouth bass tend to hang out in and under the vegetation that line the banks. Casting into these shoreline plants is normally where you find a lot of bass.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass in the shoreline reeds

It doesn’t seem that big fish would be hanging out in dense reeds and shallow water, but they are. Extracting big bass from these reeds is quite a challenge.

Largemouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

We’ve tried a number of fishing spots as the water warms up and the fishing gets better. The lakes warm up quicker than the Colorado River, especially the shallow sections. Because water is always being released from dams, the river nearly always has some current and the water, from the bottom of the upstream reservoir, is colder.

Kayak launch on the Colorado River

The weather is not the only concern here in the American southwest. Wildfires are a fact of life in the American west and the Colorado River basin is no exception. A familiar sight anywhere in the western United States.

Wildfire on the banks of the lower Colorado River

Along with the persistent wind, there have been a number of severe rain events that have caused flash flooding. In between storms, there has been some good fishing, but you don’t want to be out on a kayak during a desert thunderstorm.

Kayak fishing between severe desert rain and wind storms

When the wind is calm, it’s tough to beat a beautiful desert morning as the sun comes up over the low lying hills.

Calm morning glass as the sun rises over the low desert hills
Early morning largemouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

As winter fades and spring takes over, the fishing is getting better every day.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass with

The largemouth bass are currently in pre-spawn mode. They are making spawning nests and hanging around the shallow water reeds. The clear water makes the fish easy to spook, sneaking up on a kayak does a good job at this. Pretty soon, mating will take place and the bass will be guarding these spawning nests and attacking anything that comes close.

Largemouth bass spawning nest

Even in pre-spawn mode, there are plenty of big largemouth bass moving around. Usually the big bass are the first to become active as the water warms up and that certainly seems to be the case.

Nice largemouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

We are looking forward to more great fishing as long as the wind does not shut down kayak fishing operations. This is a great time of the year in the desert and we want to take advantage of every day we can.

Sunrise over Squaw Lake near the lower Colorado River

Of course we don’t know what’s going to happen with the whole coronavirus deal. Common sense seems to be in short supply and the “every man for himself” syndrome seems to have gripped the population. We’re headed back out into the desert wondering what civilization is going to look like the next time we come to town. We continue to make photos and video and will publish them as long as we are able, so check back soon.

Mar 172020

The early spring desert wind has been putting quite the damper on the kayak fishing for largemouth bass here in the desert southwest. Non-stop wind day and night. Seldom less than 10 mph and often 20-30 mph has kept the kayaks off the water. It got to the point where we were only fishing a couple times a month, that’s barely fishing at all. We decided that we would try fishing when the wind was most calm, which happened to be between midnight and sunrise.

I’d been fishing for largemouth bass at night before while visiting my uncle in Tennessee. I went fishing with a couple guys using the most basic black plastic worms. I figured “middle of the night and black worms” would result in zero fish and a lot of beer drinking, but the fishing was actually really good and we caught a lot of bass. We decided to give it a try here in the desert and see how it would work.

Even though it was dark, once your eyes got adjusted, it was easy to see by the light of the full moon. Light, reflections and shadows are tricky, you must be extra careful at night. Everything looks different than during the day.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass by the light of the full moon

Using Texas rigged plastic worms and fishing in the reeds, the fishing was good. Largemouth bass fishing is exciting during the day, it’s even more exciting at night.

Night fishing for largemouth bass with kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

This large bass jumped a few times and headed back into the lakeside reeds but was too big to squeeze between the reed clumps otherwise I probably would have lost it.

Big largemouth bass caught at night by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

As the eastern sky begins to get light, the largemouth bass fishing remains good.

Night fishing for largemouth bass with kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Even before the sun comes up, a number of nice largemouth bass had been caught(and lost). Makes it easy to get up to go fishing in the middle of the night.

Night fishing for largemouth bass with kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Even if the wind comes up early at nine or ten in the morning, we already have a full day of fishing in the books. Night fishing will be in the program from here on.

Mar 102020

We are out in the boonies without a computer or internet. The kayak fishing has been a bit slow, but it has really turned around and we have a lot of photos, video and story to upload as soon as we get back to civilization. Keep checking in because the kayak fishing action gets better every day.

Feb 262020

It’s hard to come up with material for a kayak fishing blog when you can’t do much kayak fishing. Unfortunately, that’s the position we’ve been in for the past couple months. The winter months are not prime fishing time, even if it’s nice and sunny, but the big factor the past few months has been the nonstop wind. Nearly every day for the past few months has been 5-10 mph with many days in the 10-20 mph range with a few 30-35 mph days in there. When one of the few calm days comes along, we are out there at the crack of dawn before the wind comes up in the early afternoon.

Sunrise launch at Squaw Lake near the Colorado River

Most winter desert mornings, the wind is calm or light and variable. When the conditions are right, this area is great for kayak fishing as well as exploring the lower Colorado River basin.

Kayak fishing at Squaw Lake near the lower Colorado River

The Colorado River in this area is much as it is for miles upstream. There is usually a steady current that can be strong at at times. The fish tend to hang out near the shore vegetation, but the current can make fishing difficult. There are numerous backwaters and river channels that have fishing potential.

One of the numerous backwaters off the main channel of the Colorado River

Even with a calm day, the temperature of the river water this time of year can be too cold for good fishing. Water released from the bottom of reservoirs behind dams can be pretty cold, putting a chill on the fishing.

With everything else putting a damper on the kayak fishing, the wind came packaged with rain. Heavy downpours can cause flash flooding in the desert. When you see a halo around the sun in the desert, that means rain is probably on the way.

Halo around the desert sun means rain is on the way

After a couple months without anything near a successful kayak fishing trip, a ten hour light wind day between days of 15-30mph wind was the only opportunity. We headed out around Squaw Lake because with the uncertainty of the wind, we did not want to venture miles from the launch only to face a double digit afternoon wind.

Kayak fishing at Squaw Lake near the lower Colorado River

To add to the list of fishing challenges, the water level was low and the water itself was crystal clear. You could see big largemouth bass in the shallows and even bigger carp and tilapia as well. We were fishing by sight, casting where we actually saw fish. Of course the fish could see us too and were easily spooked. In spite of all this, I finally landed my first largemouth bass of 2020, having to yank it out of the riverside reeds.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass on Squaw Lake with

It was great to have a fish on the line again. After a good fight, this nice bass was released with only a sore jaw and internet fame.

Squaw Lake largemouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

I caught a couple more bass but they were smaller and had a couple half hits, so I’m hoping we’ve rounded the dead fishing zone of winter and off to what is usually a good time for bass fishing here. Keep checking in because the fishing has to be getting better!

Feb 262020

We don’t do many product reviews here at We don’t have affiliate advertising linking you to buy anything and the products we review, we pay for, so you get an honest opinion based on our experiences in the real world of fishing. People ask us to do more product reviews and informative videos so we are going to try and do that.

In this article, we are going to compare something we use every time we go fishing; the monofilament fishing line on our spinning gear. Personally, I much prefer casting reels over spinning reels, but to cast lightweight lures, you’re pretty much going to have to go with a spinning rig. I have two spinning rods/reels that are nearly identical. Shimano medium light 7′ spinning rods and nearly identical model Dawia spinning reels. For all practical purposes, they are the same.

Fishing rods and reels used by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

We are going to compare two kinds of monofilament fishing line from the same company, Berkley Trilene XL and Trilene XT. Why these two when there are so many fishing lines to choose from? These fishing lines are among the most reasonably priced brand name fishing line. I’ve used Berkley line for fresh and saltwater fishing, it’s pretty good basic fishing line for the price. It is also widely available.

Comparison of Berkley Trilene XL and XT monofilament fishing line

Trilene XL is supposed to be “smooth casting” while Trilene XT is touted as being “extra tough”. One spinning setup was spooled with Trilene XL and the other with Trilene XT for head to head, real world testing.

It doesn’t take long to see the difference between the two lines. While all spinning reels do a great job of twisting and tangling monofilament line, the Trilene XL did indeed cast much smoother with less twisting and tangles. The Trilene XT seemed stiff with a great deal of line “memory” that made the line fall off the reel. The XT was also prone to excess twisting and wrapping around the rod tip. It’s kind of a pain to use.

Perhaps the “extra toughness” of the Trilene XT is worth all the twists and tangles, but both the XL and XT were strong enough for bass fishing where there are plenty of rocks and snags. In all fairness, Trilene XT would probably work great on a conventional casting reel where it wouldn’t be so prone to twisting, but for spinning reels, I’ll be using Trilene XL whenever possible.

Jan 292020

More and more places to fish and camp in the lower Colorado River basin are being closed or restricted. It’s a pity, but more permits, passes and licenses mean more money and that’s pretty much what it’s all about. As places are closed or restricted, we move to try and find other places to launch and fish.

It is much more difficult to access our favorite largemouth bass sections of the lower Colorado River so we are on the move looking for other fishing spots.

We moved upstream a bit to find other places to fish. It’s a longer drive to town for provisions and supplies and a longer drive to WiFi to upload material to the website and blog, so the blog posts may be more infrequent, but we may post more than one entry at a time.

This day, we were fishing at Squaw Lake. Part of the extensive lower Colorado River watershed, it has largemouth and smallmouth bass among the reeds and lakeside bushes and a short paddle from the launch to the main channel of the Colorado River. Unfortunately, there is a ten dollar fee for day use. You can camp there for a bit more but you can use all the facilities. There is a fourteen day limit to camping. The “campsite” is basically a parking lot, so if an RV camps next to you and puts a generator five feet from your camper, it won’t be too pleasant of a stay.

The launch is great. Park next to the water and easy launch into Squaw Lake. On this day, it was very foggy, unusual for this desert environment, but calm wind, which seems to becoming a rare thing. This was our first time kayak fishing here and it’s easy to get turned around in the maze of reeds and cattails so we were taking it easy as we paddled into the dense fog.

Foggy morning for kayak fishing on Squaw Lake in southwest Arizona

We tried fishing in the cattails and lakeside vegetation with our favorite largemouth bass lures that have been doing the job on other stretches of the Colorado River, but we didn’t have any luck. We fished our way along the lake shore until we reached the Colorado River. This section of river has a steady, but not overwhelmingly strong current. We tried fishing plastics and were not having much luck. Largemouth bass hang out here in places you might not normally expect to find them, but with the clear, steadily moving river water, it looked more like smallmouth bass territory.

Having no luck with the dependable plastic grubs and worms, I started trolling a RattleTrap crank bait along the shoreline of the river as close to the bushes as I could. It didn’t take long before I had a strong hit and the fight was on!

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Colorado River with

I could tell right away that it was not a largemouth bass by the way it was fighting. No big jumps and what seemed to be a much larger fish was a nice smallmouth bass.

Foggy morning Colorado River smallmouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

The smallmouth bass in the Colorado River look a lot different than the smallmouth bass in our Columbia River home waters. The bass there are much darker, the smallmouth bass in the Colorado River are more a yellowish green while the PacNW smallies are almost all dark brown, sometimes almost black. No doubt this has to do with their diet. Although smallmouth bass will eat anything that goes by, their number one favorite food is crayfish. The rocky Columbia River has tons of crayfish, so that’s what the bass eat most of the time. Here on the sandy Colorado, there are crayfish, but since sand and mud is not ideal crayfish habitat, the southern smallmouth bass probably eat more fish.

As we paddled upstream, the morning fog lifted and we got a good look at this section of the lower Colorado River.

Clearing morning fog on the lower Colorado River

We explored a few cool backwaters that probably were holding fish, but we need to figure out where the fish are and what they are biting. Paddling upstream, trolling the RattleTrap, I got another strong hit and landed another nice smallmouth bass.

Colorado River smallmouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

It was early afternoon when we turned around and started heading back downstream towards Squaw Lake. I only caught two smallmouth bass, but this was our first time here and this time of year is not prime bass fishing season, so you must adjust your expectations. We’ll be back on it again soon and looking for a few more fish.

Jan 292020

It’s been a long time since the last kayak fishing blog post because there have not been a whole lot of kayak fishing opportunities. You can catch fish, but the dead of winter would not be considered prime largemouth bass fishing time, even here in the desert southwest. On top of that, it has been very windy. Rarely a day with wind less than 10 mph.
The poor fishing conditions have given us the time to get caught up on the backlog of video and website work delayed because of my accident with a semi truck. It’s been windy, but also mostly sunny, so plenty of solar power for the editing work.

Editing the latest kayak fishing video

We have uploaded the Colorado River Kayak Fishing 2019 video to YouTube. It’s the action highlights from the late 2018 and early 2019 kayak fishing for largemouth bass on the lower Colorado River.

Colorado River Kayak Fishing 2019 video on YouTube

There’s a lot of kayak fishing action and some big largemouth bass, so CLICK HERE or on the photo above to check out the Colorado River Kayak Fishing 2019 video on YouTube.

Dec 172019

After a bit of a slow spell due to recovering from a serious accident, we are back producing kayak fishing videos again. The latest video, about losing and catching big largemouth bass on the Colorado River.

Screen grabs from the latest kayak fishing video; Huge Bass Redemption

Earlier this year, within a span of forty eight hours, I lost, then caught two of the biggest fish of the year. The video is that story.

Screen grabs from the latest kayak fishing video; Huge Bass Redemption

The video is just under three minutes long, but is all non-stop big largemouth bass kayak fishing action.

Screen grab from the latest kayak fishing video; Huge Bass Redemption

Click HERE or on any of the photos to check out the Huge Bass Redemption video on YouTube.

More videos coming soon!

Dec 102019

There’s been some wild weather here in the desert southwest. A significant amount of rain and winds in excess of 30 mph have been passing through the area. The storms are highly localized. There can be heavy rain and high winds in a relatively small storm area, while a few miles away, there is hardly a cloud in the sky. The cloudy weather, without the 20-30 mph wind, evens out the daily temperatures. It’s a bit cooler during the day and slightly warmer at night.

A cloudy desert morning on the lower Colorado River

The overcast mornings do not help our efforts to get good bass fishing videos, but to be honest, the fish were not exactly jumping in the boat. With runoff from the recent local rain and water being let out of the upstream reservoir, the water temperature may be too cold for good largemouth bass fishing. When the water is colder, you probably won’t catch as many fish, but usually the fish are bigger. After a long cloudy morning of nearly no fishing action, I caught this nice bass after the sun came out and I was in “just one more cast” territory before heading in.

Nice Colorado River largemouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

The days between storms, there were few calm winds, but as long as the wind wasn’t too bad, we had to try and go fishing or we’d never get out there. We started out before sunrise, when the wind is most calm(and also the coldest) so we could paddle upstream before the daily downstream wind kicked in and drift fish our way back. Most mornings, there was at least, a light to moderate wind. The beautiful desert sunrises were replaced by ominous looking clouds and light rain.

Sunrise on a cloudy day on the lower Colorado River

This day started out cloudy, but the clouds moved out shortly after sunrise and it was a nice, but windy and cool, day on the Colorado River. The fishing has been challenging, but if you don’t have a line in the water you don’t catch anything, so you have to get out there. By about 11:00AM, I had caught three decent largemouth bass. The way the fishing has been, that would constitute a good day of fishing. The bass were all about the same size, this one might have been a few ounces bigger.

Colorado River largemouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

After catching and releasing the last largemouth bass, I noticed birds diving on the water. I paddled over, tossed out a shad crankbait on a light bait casting rig and trolled under the diving birds. It wasn’t long before I had a hit and after a nice fight, had a striped bass in the kayak. I released the striper, turned around and trolled back under the birds. Once again, a strike and another Colorado River striped bass. Three nice largemouth bass and two striped bass for the day is a great day of Colorado River fishing, especially with the slow bite.

Colorado River striped bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Following another series of storms, encouraged by the previous fishing trip’s success, we headed back to the river, stopping to clear the road of blown down trees. It was like being back in the PacNW, except that here there are a lot fewer trees.

Blown down trees from desert storm wind

As we paddled up the river, the clouds started rolling in, the wind started picking up and worst of all, in three or four hours of fishing, I hadn’t had as much as a nibble. The wind quickly increased and blew us off the water by noon. A change of scenery was needed so we packed up and headed to another stretch of the Colorado River that faced a different direction and might be sheltered from the wind. For sure the fishing couldn’t be any worse.

By the time we reached the launch beach that afternoon, it had gotten very cloudy and dark, very atypical of this area. The wind had died down so we quickly paddled out to see if the fish were biting.

A cool, cloudy afternoon kayak fishing on the Colorado River

The conditions were much better, save for one. This part of the river has a fairly swift and steady current. Probably due again to the recent rain, the river level was high and the current as fast as it gets. If you stop paddling, you’ll be steady for a few seconds, then you are headed downstream.
A peddle kayak would be good here, but must be very careful of very shallow sandbars. Making pinpoint casts, trying to make the drifting lure and drifting kayak go where they are supposed to go. It gets real interesting when you hook up with a nice fish.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass on the Colorado River with

We weren’t hauling them in, but we’d only been fishing a couple hours and caught a few fish, including a couple nice fish. That’s more than we caught in five hours of fishing this morning. We were hopeful the following day would have continued success.

We were up and ready to go at the crack of dawn. Not many places you can camp feet from the river, the kayak a few steps away, a great kayak fishing spot.

A cool and cloudy morning kayak fishing on the Colorado River

We caught a couple small bass, but we were hoping to do a little better, so we decided to fish downstream to a backwater spot where the fishing might be better. Heading downstream when the river current is as strong as it is means you have to paddle back upstream against the current. It’s a steady grind and you can’t stop so you have to be 100% sure you can make it back upstream. We hoped the fishing is worth it because it is going to be a workout getting back.

When we pulled off the main channel into the backwater, you couldn’t help but notice the entire open water area choked with weeds from the bottom to the surface. It’s hard to see how fish can live with all this vegetation in relatively shallow water.

Vegetation choking the backwaters of the lower Colorado River

Still, I managed to catch a couple small bass between cleaning seaweed off the lure. The wind started to pick up and mindful of the upstream paddle back, we headed to the main channel. One last cast into about a foot of water covered with seaweed,a big hit and a nice battle wrestling a nice largemouth bass out of the seaweed and into the kayak.

Colorado River largemouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

The nice bass on another “just one more cast” hail mary made the paddle upstream back to the launch a little easier, but not much. The wind had picked up, unfortunately, it was a headwind, but we cut across an irrigation ditch that was only a couple feet deep and six feet wide that had less current and nearly no wind. By the time we reached the launch, the wind had died and I had enough energy left to paddle a short way upstream and drifting quickly back to the launch, I managed to hook one last bass.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass on the Colorado River with

The weather remains unsettled with the storms moving in and out making for some spectacular sunsets.

Clearing desert storm at sunset

The weather will probably be clearing up in the next few days and we will have to see about the wind. We may do a bit of exploring and see about some other fishing spots nearby. In the meantime, we are putting the finishing touches on a couple videos that will be released soon so check back soon.

Nov 292019

Most people think the desert is a place that’s always hot and the sun shines all the time. That’s true much of the time, but when the desert weather deviates from the hot and sunny norm, it can be quite spectacular and somewhat dangerous. After a couple days of great kayak fishing, we’ve run into some of this non-hot and sunny weather. There have been a series of storm cells moving across the desert. Near the storm cells is heavy rain and strong wind, otherwise, there may be a stray shower or two. This thunderstorm was rolling across the desert about twenty miles from here. Moving from NE to SW, right to left in the photo, the rain at the edge of the storm cell was gobbling up the rainbow in front of the storm as it moved across the flat desert.

Early winter thunderstorm moves across the Colorado River basin in the Arizona desert

Even though the storms may be in the distance, enough rain can fall to cause flash flooding that rages through normally dry desert arroyos twenty or fifty miles away where no rain is falling. These flash floods move quickly through the arroyos and can be dangerous should you or your vehicle be in one. If you can see the storms, nearby arroyos can flood.

Desert thunderstorms and dry arroyos prone to flash flooding

After a few days of storms and flooding, we weren’t sure what to expect on a somewhat calm day following the storms. By the moonlight shining through the early morning scattered clouds, we could see the water level in the river was very high and the water level at the launch ramp was the highest I’d ever seen it. We paddled out into a river that looked completely different because of the high water level. As the sun came up, we started to see the effects of days of desert storms.

Colorado River sunrise after days of desert thunderstorms and flash flooding

The river was as high as I’d ever seen it. Local fishermen also commented that this was as high as they’d seen as well. The thick and tall reeds and bushes that line the river banks that are normally five or six feet overhead, were now at eye level on the kayak. Drain pipes, usually five or six feet overhead, were underwater. The usually placid section of river had a fair current running. The water was brown, foamy and filled with floating debris washed into the river by desert flash flooding.

The fishing wasn’t bad and it wasn’t great. Given the water conditions, I felt fortunate to catch a few bass.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass on a near flood stage Colorado River with

The bass weren’t all that big, but it was worth getting out on the river to see how much different things are at extreme high river water levels.

Colorado River largemouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Landing the kayaks was a breeze considering the launch ramp was almost under water and the parking lot a part of the Colorado River. It will be a different story in the days ahead with the receding water leaving a swath of gooey mud on both sides of the river.

Kayak launch on a high water Colorado River

The weather is unsettled and there is more rain in the forecast. We are hoping the weather will straighten up and the river will calm down and clear up. We’ll see what happens so check back soon.