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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
We don’t do many product reviews here at watermanatwork.com. 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.
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.
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.
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 watermanatwork.com 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The video is just under three minutes long, but is all non-stop big largemouth bass kayak fishing action.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The weather remains unsettled with the storms moving in and out making for some spectacular sunsets.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kayaks can take you to a lot of places where boats would have a great deal of difficulty due to the shallow water, underwater obstacles inches below the surface and sandbars that can stretch across the entire river. Not to mention that the road to get the launch on the river would probably destroy your boat trailer. Driving along the rivers looking for places to launch the kayak reminds me of the days in Baja, headed south and turning west at any dirt road we thought might lead to that perfect surf spot. A bit different here and now, but the desert is still hot and dusty.
In this part of the desert, water is life, so there are a lot of large canals that transport Colorado River water to the smaller irrigation canals of the agricultural fields that supply a good deal of winter vegetables to the rest of the United States. In the middle of it all is the Colorado River, which gets smaller and smaller as it nears the Mexican border. Each stretch of the Colorado is bit different with a lot of potential for bass fishing.
We were up before sunrise looking for hot bass fishing action, but the Colorado River largemouth bass did not read the script. The reeds that grow next to the river are very tall so it looks like you’re in the middle of nowhere, but the river here is surrounded by large farming operations. As the sun came up over the tall bushes, the largemouth bass got a little more lively.
The river looks pretty calm in the photo, but, depending on the depth, there is a steady current. Stop paddling and you go downstream. The water is generally shallow with very shallow sandbars. The river water is super clear. You usually have to cast from out in the river up against the bank with a swift current; keeps you busy.
Off of the main river channel there are backwaters and overgrown irrigation canals. These canals can be less than a foot deep with deeper pools along the banks where the reeds shade the water. There are a bunch of fish in here, but the clear, shallow water and narrow passage make it easy to spook them before you can cast.
Probably due to the fast moving current, where potential food goes past pretty quickly, the largemouth bass here are very aggressive, which is just what you want as a fisherman. Even the smaller fish hit hard and put up a great fight.
We ran into Randy, a local fisherman using a Hobie Pro Angler which looked to be just about perfect to handle the steady current. Holding steady against the current with your hands free is a big plus here.
Minutes after I took this photo of Randy, he peddled a short distance, hooked up and landed a 7 1/2 lb. largemouth bass. It was only fifteen yards from where I was standing on shore so I got to see the whole battle. A great way to end a great day of fishing.
Wish I could say I caught a seven pounder, but I didn’t come close. The biggest fish I caught were about a pound, pound and a half. Not complaining though because I caught a lot of fish, had a lot of strikes and an unbelievable amount of bass able to spit out the 4″ grub.
This was a great place to fish, a unique part of the desert southwest river system. It is also one of the rare places you can paddle up to your campsite. Just like where we live on the Columbia River, you can camp for free, all you have to do is pack out your litter. This seems to be too much to ask. This great fishing/kayaking/swimming/camping spot looks like the city dump. Not just here, where we live as well. It is sad to see America’s great rivers like the Columbia and Colorado littered with trash.
After a day of fishing and paddling against the current, I was pretty well worn out. Thankfully, there were no mosquitoes, so getting the fishing gear ready to go for the following morning was a breeze and I didn’t have far to go to the master bedroom. Beyond my Hobie Quest kayak is Randy’s Chevy Trail Boss pickup truck with a bed extender for his Pro Angler.
It was a great weekend of fishing at a spot I’d never been too, caught a lot of fish, met some nice people. I talked with a local fisherman who was thinking of trying kayak fishing. This area has great kayak fishing, hard to go wrong. Fished with Randy, who caught the fish of the weekend for sure. He’s a cool guy and can lift a Hobie Pro angler in the back of his pickup, no problemo. After a full weekend of desert kayak fishing, he drove across the desert to catch a cross-country air flight. That’s a hardcore kayak fisherman, so he gets one more photo.
There are a few unsettled weather days ahead, but we are always encouraged by the results of our exploration, and we are going to be looking for more kayak fishing action. Check back soon.
The kayak fishing on the Colorado River remains challenging for the past few days. To get skunked in such a good fishing spot is unusual, but it does happen. Usually you can catch a small bass, bluegill, crappie or something to keep you from skunkville, but sometimes, especially if the river water is cold, you can be rewarded for your hard fishing efforts with nothing. Fishing for largemouth bass should be considered big game fishing, sometimes it all or nothing. Tuna, salmon; big game fish, the same deal. When a good fisherman gets skunked, he knows there’s only one way to go from there.
That’s pretty much what’s happening. The fishing is getting a little better and we are starting to see a few bigger fish. The conditions for kayak fishing have been very good with one exception; the mosquitoes. This part of the Colorado River runs through the desert, it’s the only water around. Water is life in the desert and is the only lifeline for mosquitoes. There is a lot of swamp, marsh, wetlands, whatever you call it adjacent to the river; perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Conditions are perfect, beautiful day, you can’t see the thousands of mosquitoes.
We paddled and fished everywhere on the lower Colorado River we have had success before and tried to cover every nook and cranny of the river. When the fishing is not that good, you kind of accept that and spend a bit more time looking around. I haven’t had much luck fishing in this Colorado River backwater, but I did see a wildcat here, so it’s always worth having a look.
Since we are visitors here with a limited amount of time, fishing is what we came here for and that’s what we are going to do. Even if the conditions are marginal or the fishing is not that great. The more time you spend fishing, the more fish you are going to catch. At least that’s what we’re working with. Fish gotta eat. Sooner or later, you’ll get one.
After a long, hot day of desert kayak fishing, it’s always a treat to pack up the boat and all the gear. We are extremely fortunate to have places like this where you can experience the best of this country and not have to pay(much). Launch before sunrise, paddle the calm water through cattail islands among thousands of birds with the stars shining brightly in the dark desert sky. This is some of the very last wild country here in the United States. We recommend you get out there and experience it while it is still here.
We spent a little bit more gas money and motored away from the river a bit to get away from the mosquitoes. Around the water, it’s like an Alfred Hitchcock movie just after sunset with swarms of hungry mosquitoes. Away from the river, there are flies during the day, but no mosquitoes. The weather in the desert at night is usually extremely comfortable. To be able to enjoy it without being eaten alive is great. Have a couple cold beers after a long, hot day of fishing and rest up for another fishing day tomorrow.
The thing about largemouth bass fishing, and other big game fishing, is that you don’t catch anything until you do. The day before, I got skunked. Other local fishermen confirmed the fishing was bad, but still… This day, my luck did a 180 and I caught six or eight bass. Most of them pretty small, but I caught a nice one before the sun came up, a big boost after a day of nada, and after making a perfect cast with the crankbait on the casting rig on the way back to the launch, I got this nice bass, which could be the best of the season for me so far.
That’s about it from the desert southwest. We are on the water every chance we get and we still have video footage from last season we are still working on. There’s always a lot going on here, please check back and see what’s next. We sure don’t know.
The kayak fishing for largemouth bass was really on fire until a few days ago when the fish stopped biting like someone threw a switch. That’s how it goes. Largemouth bass fishing is big game fishing; you probably won’t catch twenty of them in one day, so a half dozen fish, or even a couple big ones can constitute a successful fishing day. We did really well for a few days, then not so good for a couple, so I reckon it averages out.
The kayak fishing conditions have been perfect. Calm wind, not too cold in the early morning and not to hot in the afternoon. A near perfect setup for kayak fishing in the desert.
We’ve been on somewhat of a roll lately, catching a number of nice bass on a lake that can produce great fishing, or just as likely make you spend a day fishing without a nibble. On this morning, we got out fishing for a couple hours before the wind came up to 20 mph shortly after we caught this nice largemouth bass.
When the wind subsided, we were in for nearly a week of perfect kayak fishing conditions, primarily, light winds. Unfortunately, the fishing had turned ice cold and we had a tough time getting any kind of fishing action at all. What would cause the fishing to turn around so quickly? That’s the question every fisherman would like to hear the answer to. Being a river controlled by dams, the lower Colorado River and it’s wetlands get water from the bottom of the nearby upstream reservoir. Dam water comes out through gates, not normally over the top; the water at the bottom of the reservoir is cold, even in the middle of the desert. This sudden introduction of cold water has a chilling effect on cold blooded fish and often slows or stops the fish from feeding. In addition to the water temperature, there appears to be a widespread algae bloom that has filled the water with free floating algae. If the fish have to suck this algae through their gills, that may irritate them and cause the fish to be inactive.
Whatever the problem is, we are giving it a day or two to sort itself out and we will be back on the Colorado River looking for those big largemouth bass. Stay tuned.