It has been a long time since a kayak fishing photo or video has posted on the watermanatwork.com kayak fishing blog. The reason for that is there is no kayak fishing to be done here on the lower Colorado River. In the same place, a few years ago, it was easily one of the best kayak fishing spots for this time of year in the continental US.
This year, we have not been able to get out on the Colorado River in months. Mostly due to the, now seemingly always present, desert wind, but also the record low water levels of the Colorado River itself. By the time the Colorado River reaches the border with Mexico, there’s nothing left. If it wasn’t for water sharing agreements with Mexico, there wouldn’t be any for sure. If it wasn’t for extreme winter weather that brought record snow and rain, this area would probably have some kind of water rationing for agriculture that produces a lot of winter vegetables. Since most of the water in the Colorado River is diverted to concrete canals, the river itself is reduced to a trickle. Water that is only a foot deep in the middle of the desert is not going to able to support much of a fish population.
Even if the lower Colorado River environment was healthy, which is more of a fantasy than future prediction, the real destroyer of the kayak fishing season on this part of the river has been the wind. The desert here is windy, make no mistake about that, but it was windy some of the time. Now, it’s windy all the time. A calm few hours in the morning or evening, let alone an entire calm day, have been virtually nonexistent. Normal 5mph – 10mph afternoon wind is now 15 mph – 20 mph. Days of wind speeds more than 25 mph – 35 mph have become regular events. In the five seasons we’ve been fishing here, it has gotten noticeably more windy. More of the winter weather systems hitting the west coast are strong enough to make it across the high desert. Most of the time, only clouds remain and the humidity will rise. The average daytime temperature has been -5°F. In a relatively short time, the change in the trends in the weather are easily observed.
We’ve probably seen the end, or at least, the beginning of the end of salmon fishing on the Columbia River. The 2023 California salmon fishing is cancelled. The 2023 Columbia River salmon forecast is about the same as last season. The “higher than the ten year average” is not great news because the “ten year average” includes at least five years of steep decline. There are more fishermen than ever, way more.
Is this the end for fishing on the lower Colorado River? Since all the Colorado River water could be diverted to canals upriver, the Colorado River itself would dry up and be absorbed into the Sonoran Desert. The wildlife that depends on the river for existence in the desert would disappear, but that hasn’t stopped human development in the past. The way America seems to be heading, environmental and recreational considerations are not going to be much of a factor.
As we sit out yet another windy day in the desert, I am hoping there is a break in the wind so we can do some fishing. We appear to running out of time in more ways than one, the decreasing days of kayak fishing on the Colorado River are becoming more valuable. If the wind gives us a break, we will go to 100% kayak fishing attack and try to hit as many spots as we can. Stay tuned, we’ll come up with something.