Desert Kayak Fishing Season Under Way – Part 1

Leaving the absolutely massive salmon fishing crowds behind on the Columbia River, we headed south for the annual desert kayak fishing adventure. The trip got off to a bit of a rocky start, decline of American society and all as well as the Colorado River water level about as low as it can go, I was hoping to get a few more days of fishing in before the world crumbles into chaos. You have to go pretty far off to get away from the troubles of the world and that’s exactly where we are headed.

Out on the Colorado River at dawn, everything looks beautiful, but what you can’t see is the water level of the Colorado River. Everyone has heard about the low water levels in the reservoirs behind the giant dams on the upper Colorado River, by the time the river gets to the last few dams near the Mexican border, there’s hardly any river left.

Dawn on the Colorado River

We’re here to go fishing on the river that is still here, as long as there are fish in it. It’s always a little better to be back on the water when you haven’t been fishing for awhile, and it’s extra great when you catch a nice largemouth bass for the first fish of the season to get the ball rolling.

Colorado River largemouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

As the sun came up, it was quickly apparent that fishing for big largemouth bass, which is already quite challenging, was going to be much tougher due to the massive quantities of milfoil. The milfoil “mats”, made up of live milfoil under water and dead plants on the surface.

Milfoil covers a Colorado River backwater

Dealing with the milfoil is tough during the day and especially tough at night. If you use a headlamp or light, expect to be attacked by mosquitoes and other insects. Because of the desert wind that comes up quickly and the hotter than usual temperature for this time of year, kayak fishing at night can be the only option.

Kayak fishing on the Colorado River with

Waking up long before the crack of dawn and paddling around in the dark is not for everyone. If the fish are biting at night, the wind is calm and you want to catch fish, looks like night fishing is on. One more thing. At the time these early morning photos were taken, it was about 85°F, the coolest time of the day.

Colorado River largemouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

As the sun rises, so did the temperature. By 10:00AM, it was near 100°F on the way past 105°F by early afternoon. Usually the wind would pick up quickly about the same time and the kayak fishing day would be just about over. Until then, the conditions were usually calm and very warm.

Glassy conditions on the Colorado River

Because the river water comes from the bottom of reservoirs behind dams, it is nearly crystal clear. With the low water levels and the water being clear, the hiding spots for largemouth bass are reduced and they can see you coming a long way off.

Kayak fishing on the Colorado River with

The scorching hot desert temperatures continued as did the calm morning wind. The fishing was average, at best, but there is more to the experience than catching fish.

Colorado River sunrise

With the low water, hot weather and the prevalent milfoil, the largemouth bass fishing was about as challenging as it gets. There were still fish to be caught.

Colorado River largemouth bass caught by kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Once the wind starts picking up, usually it’s time to head back to the launch. It seems like the fishing slows down as the sun comes up but if you’re lucky, you might pick up a fish or two on the way home.

Kayak fishing on the Colorado River with

It’s not over yet! The kayak fishing action continues with Desert Kayak Fishing Season Under Way – Part 2

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