As volunteers lead a resurgence in the Lake Havasu Fisheries Improvement Program, anglers are being surveyed to help determine the success of the 20-year effort.
“We’re trying to find out what people are catching, how many fish they are catching,” said David Bohl, president of the Lake Havasu City chapter of Anglers United, who suspects that smallmouth bass are becoming the dominant species.
“We want to see if they are satisfied. Hopefully, they’re catching a lot of fish.”
Extending into next fall, the project is financed with a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with a goal of 5,000 responses. Surveys are available at a half dozen access locations around the 20,000-acre impoundment on the Colorado River.
The original $27 million program to add a variety of habitat and increase access began in 1993 for the reservoir that was built during the 1930s for water storage, and since has become one of the most popular fisheries in the arid Southwest. Effort lagged a bit at the end of that 10-year program, but volunteers since have revived it.
Between 100 and 200 brush bundles are dropped monthly during summer, with much of the work being done by members of the Lake Havasu Marine Association (LHMA). Along with Anglers United, other partners include the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Reclamation, Arizona Game and Fish, and California Fish and Wildlife.
“It’s one of the best places where every arm of government, volunteers, and nonprofits are working together to get something done,” said BLM’s Jason West, who coordinates the program.
As an example of the cooperative effort, area landscapers provide tree branches and other brush, which are bundled with rope, weighed with sand bags and sunk in coves, where they are believed to provide habitat for about seven years, as they slowly decompose.
At least anecdotally, the fishery has benefitted from the long-term effort, with both size and quantity improving, according to BLM biologist Doug Adams. Program advocates hope the survey will provide more definitive evidence.