We are still out here in the desert kayak fishing in southwest Arizona. We’ve been spending more and more time out in the desert and less time near town and good internet service, that’s why it’s been so long between blog posts. We always take photos, but we’ve been trying to get enough video footage for a good kayak fishing video. It takes a lot of raw footage to make a decent video, we’re working on it and hope to have a video ready soon.
Even though we’ve had a couple rainstorms, water is still the key to life here in the desert. Before we head out into the desert, we load up with fuel, food and water.
On the way to the kayak fishing spot, we had to camp overnight in the desert. There are no campgrounds, toilets or water. “Dry camping” in the desert means you have to take everything you need with you. Odds are pretty good you will not be totally alone, there are a lot of people spending the winter in the Arizona desert.
There are a lot of “sunbirds”, squatters and homeless people, surprisingly few travelers who come here for a specific reason, like fishing or cycling. Most of the people are older and just want to sit in a giant RV and watch TV. Squatters are people who come here set up to live for the winter without paying on government land. They usually have a trailer so they can park it and drive into town to get supplies. Nothing wrong with that except it takes the spot away from people who just want to camp less than the limit of two weeks. We’ve seen squatters and homeless people living in the same campsite for two months or longer, that means a lot of people have to go somewhere else, not quite fair. By far, most people play by the rules and it works pretty well. As usual, it’s always a few assholes who ruin it for everybody. You can usually find a place to camp, it might just be further away from the place you would like. Sometimes you get lucky and can be walking distance to the water or boat launch.
We’ve been spending some time at Mittry Lake, just outside of Yuma, AZ. It’s a perfect lake for kayak fishing. The lake is fairly large, but there is not much open water, it’s mostly a series of narrow channels lined with reeds that are home to largemouth bass. The wind is usually fairly light, but the lake is shallow so it doesn’t take much wind to kick it up. Being blown around by the wind makes it tough to get in the spots you need to have any success fishing for largemouth bass. Because of the tall reeds, there is always some shelter from the wind on one side of the channel or the other. The tall reeds also mean there aren’t many places to land your kayak, so plan on spending the entire fishing day in your boat.
Like most fishing spots, Mittry Lake has it’s good and bad days. We’ve had some days when we wouldn’t even get a nibble, the next day you might catch a half dozen or more nice bass. Most of the local fishermen I’ve met are catch and release guys, so there are some big largemouth bass in Mittry Lake.
Not all the fish in Mittry Lake are largemouth bass. There are a few sunfish and striped bass, some carp and a few kinds of catfish. The catfish are caught mostly at night, but I managed to get this flathead catfish just before dawn. It’s a pretty big fish, but actually relatively small for a flathead catfish. These flathead catfish can get very large, but due to the size and depth of Mittry Lake, I’m not sure how big they actually get here.
We here at watermanatwork.com are firm believers in being on the water early, usually before sunrise. We’ve had a lot of success here in Arizona early in the morning. One morning, as we were paddling to the spot on Mittry Lake we wanted to fish at, I saw a fish surface in the pitch black water just under the kayak as I was paddling by. Even though it was still dark, I cast out a black leadhead grub I had rigged up, got a hit immediately and landed this largemouth bass on the first cast. Catching a fish or two early in the day makes you feel a lot better because at least you won’t get skunked.
The Colorado River watershed here in the southwest Arizona is full of wildlife. Water is life in the desert and all animals, including humans, need it to survive. Mittry Lake is home to many kinds of birds that spend the winter here. Part of the lake is closed part if the winter to protect nesting migratory birds. This part of the desert is much more than sand, rocks and tumbleweed.
There are a few places to camp around Mittry Lake that give you access to fishing. Although this is not the most private campsite in the area, you can launch kayaks as well as fish from shore right at your campsite. We camped next a nice couple from British Columbia who were enjoying the kayaking on the lake.
There are largemouth bass everywhere in the lake and a kayak is the perfect vehicle for finding them. Plenty of great kayak fishing for largemouth bass here on Mittry Lake and in this region of the southwest United States.
A fishing kayak can get you into places that even a bass boat can’t get to. Largemouth bass can be found just about anywhere, all you have to do is find them and get them to eat a piece of plastic with a hook in it. We’ve been using a few basic lures the entire time we’ve been here and had pretty good success. You can spend a lot on a tackle box full of gear, but I’m not sure that means you’ll catch more fish. Time on the water and getting everywhere you think a bass might be lurking probably mean more than spending tons of cash on lures. Everybody has their way of catching the bigger bass, you have to spend a little time and develop a plan that works for you. Kayak fishing is a little different than fishing from a boat. You have to work around a human powered craft limitations and play to it’s strengths of access, stealth and maneuverability.
We are going to start exploring the Colorado River as the water warms up and see if we can have more success catching largemouth bass and hoping to land a larger striped bass, which the Colorado River is known for. We’ll wrap up this blog post with yet another beautiful Mittry Lake sunrise and get ready to head back out into the desert.
Check back for more kayak fishing adventures with watermanatwork.com here in southwest Arizona!