many anglers think about smallmouth bass, their thoughts often conjure up images of old issues of Field and Stream , Sports Afield , or In-Fisherman magazine and coverage of fishing Bronzebacks on the likes of the Great Lakes, Lake St Clair, or Dale Hollow Lake’s world record fishery. What a growing num- ber of anglers are starting to realize though is that a southwestern lake predominantly known for racing boats and spring break de- bauchery is rapidly becoming one of the hottest smallmouth bass destinations west of the Rockies. Welcome to Lake Havasu. The Colorado Lakes chain is a byproduct of the 1930’s depres- sion era works projects that saw the construction of Hoover Dam, which created Lake Mead, and Parker Dam, which created Lake Havasu. Havasu’s name was coined by a Native American chief- tain and his wife who were amazed at how the dam had turned the brick red river waters blue –calling it “Havasu” which roughly translates into “Lake of blue water.” At the time, the lake filled in 1938, acres of cottonwood trees were flooded and a nutrient rich soup
formed that caused the fishery to thrive. Over the years though, growth rates leveled off and the flooded trees and brush in the water had deteriorated, leaving the lake devoid of structure to pro- tect baitfish from predators. The introduction of voracious striped bass in 1959 exacerbated the fishery decline. As a result, the lake suffered tremendously. Recognizing the declining state of the lake, a conglomeration of local, state, and federal agencies had started work in 1993 on a decade long habitat restoration project to enhance the fishery. Millions of dollars in government and private funding allowed the group to plant thousands of natural and man made structures in the lake and the fishery responded. Today all species in the lake have benefited tremendously from this work. This brings us to the smallmouth bass. Being a non-indige- nous fish to the Colorado River chain, how did smallmouth bass make their way into Lake Havasu in the first place? According to John Galbraith, the owner of Bass Masters Tackle in Lake Havasu and Harvey Naslund, a former WON BASS tournament director, it was a positive that arose from a negative. “Sometime back around the year 2000, a major west coast tournament organization held a Pro-Am event on the lake” Galbraith commented.