Location & Overview
Located within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the stretch of the Colorado River between Lake Mead and Laughlin includes Lake Mohave and the Willow Beach area (check out the map). That means a lot of area for both shore fishermen and boaters to check out. Since this is border water between Nevada and Arizona, make sure you check out the Licensing and Regulations section below for special requirements for fishermen.
Fishermen rate the Colorado River:
Fishin’ the Colorado River
Prime targets for Colorado River anglers are striped bass and largemouth bass, which can be found pretty consistently in several places all year round. Lake Mohave offers plenty of opportunities for both striper and largemouth anglers, as does the area around Willow Beach. Any bass fishing is best done from a boat, so that you can cover a lot of ground quickly if a given area doesn’t pan out for you.
The best season for stripers is from late summer or early fall into winter, when the fish congregate near the surface to feed on schooling shad. Casting into the resulting “boils” can result in some very exciting topwater action. A good tactic for striper fishermen is to use one pole to fish with bait close to the boat or shore, while keeping a second pole with a topwater lure such as a Zara Spook or Rapala handy. When a boil starts within casting range, throw the lure into it and hang on! Most bait fishermen prefer to use anchovies, although some will net live shad for bait. Fishermen also take largemouth bass on a variety of artificial baits at any time of the year. Rubber lizards tend to work well on nesting bass during spawning season, and all year long fishermen get good results with plastic worms, jigs, and assorted topwater baits. Catfish can be caught throughout the Lake Mohave area as well.
Fish and game officials in both Nevada and Arizona also stock trout in the river. The two most popular areas for trout are Lake Mohave and the area just downstream from Willow Beach.
The Nevada Division of Wildlife has the latest fish stocking reports for the Colorado River, and all of southern Nevada, on their website. For Arizona stocking information, check out the AZ Department of Game and Fish website.
Climate & Conditions
Water temperatures in the Colorado River typically remain in the lower to middle 50’s all the time, since the water in the river comes out of Hoover Dam at about that temperature and typically flows fast enough that it has no opportunity to sit and heat up. How fast the current will be flowing on any given day is a function of how much water is being released through the dam, which in turn depends on what the demand for power is in the areas served by the dam. In Lake Mohave, water temps are usually in the 50’s to 60’s depending on the time of the year. Air temperatures all along the river run the gamut from an average daytime high in the 50’s or so in wintertime to 110 and hotter during July and August. Since the river sits in the middle of a desert, there is very little shade or shelter available to keep the sun off of you during the hot season. Sunscreen, a hat, and lots of water are a must!
If you plan on boating on the river, always check the weather forecast before going out.
Click here to see current weather conditions and forecasts for Laughlin, NV.
Lodging & Camping
Lodging is available in the nearby towns of Laughlin, NV and Bullhead City,AZ, as well as in the Las Vegas area if you don’t mind driving a little farther. Cottonwood Cove and Katherine’s Landing also feature small motels, and Laughlin boasts a couple of RV parks with full hookups.
Primitive camping is permitted anywhere along the river within the Lake Mead/Lake Mohave Recreation Area. Developed campgrounds are located at Cottonwood Cove and Katherine’s Landing; check out the National Park Service site for more information.
The marina stores at Cottonwood Cove and Willow Beach carry a limited supply of food and fishing tackle. Our advice if you’re looking for fishing gear would be to stop at Bass Pro Shops in Las Vegas before hitting the river – they carry everything you would need, and a bunch of stuff you probably don’t need but would really like to have.
Licensing & Regulations
Since the Colorado River is border water, fishing from a boat or float tube requires both a fishing license from either Arizona or Nevada and a special use stamp from the other state. For shore fishing, you just need a license from whichever state’s bank you’re on. Both Nevada and Arizona offer a “Second Pole” stamp which allows an angler to fish with up to two poles, and both require a trout stamp if you plan to catch and keep trout. Fishing licenses and all the necessary stamps are available at any of the marinas listed above, as well as at tackle shops and sporting goods stores throughout the Las Vegas and Laughlin area.
While most of the Colorado River is open for fishing at all times, there are certain waters closed to fishing. These include:
– Within the posted boundaries of any state or federal fish hatchery.
– Within the areas immediately above and below Hoover Dam and Davis Dam.
– Inside the flat wake buoys wiithin any area designated as a harbor.
Be aware that the Colorado River is home to two federally protected species of endangered fish: the razorback sucker and the humpback chub. It is illegal to possess either of these two species under any circumstances.
Other than those areas listed above and any areas otherwise posted, fishing is allowed year round, any hour of the day or night. Bag limits in Lake Mohave and the river between Hoover Dam and Davis Dam are as follows:
Trout – 10 fish, no minimum length.
Black Bass – 6 fish, no minimum length.
Striped Bass – 20 fish measuring 20 inches total length or longer; no limit on fish less than 20 inches total length.
Catfish – 25 fish, no minimum length.
Crappie – 15 fish, no minimum length.
No size or possession limits on other game fish.
Below Davis Dam, note the following changes to size and possession limits:
Black Bass – 6 fish, with a 13-inch minimum total length.
Striped Bass – 10 fish, no size limit.
For Lake Mead fishing regulations, take a look at our Lake Mead info page.
For more information on all aspects of this stretch of the Colorado River, take a look at the National Park Service’s site on the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.