The fish was 6.28 lb, 21 inches long and 17.25 inches wide – Or, as Havasu resident Sue Nowak will inevitably tell the story, with a sweeping gesture for emphasis: “it was this big.”
Nowak on Thursday caught a record smallmouth bass on Lake Havasu, breaking the previous Arizona record held by Justin Kerr – also of Havasu.
Smallmouth bass aren’t the only record fish to be caught in Havasu’s waters. The lake produced a redear sunfish, caught in 2014, which maintains a world record, as well as state records for black crappie, razorback suckerfish and one 42-pound carp. Havasu anglers have plenty of “big fish” stories, and Arizona Game and Fish biologist Russ Engel expects more to follow.
“Havasu fishing is getting better,” Engel said. “It’s become very good in the past few years as a fishery. The fisheries improvement program has made a big difference. The number of shad are making a comeback as well – when those small baitfish numbers go up, every fish in the lake does well.”
Since 2002, AZGF has collaborated with the BLM, Anglers United, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Lake Havasu Marine Association to install more than 875 acres of artificial habitat in Lake Havasu, providing nesting grounds for Havasu’s smaller fish populations.
“Havasu is one of the top bass fisheries in the country,” said Marine Association President Jim Salscheider. “It’s a testament to the fisheries program – it’s been a huge success.”
According to Salscheider, Havasu is one of few lakes to maintain an almost equal population of smallmouth and largemouth bass, and Havasu’s fishing community has seen some big ones.
“They really fight, but they’re out there,” Salscheider said. “You just have to be good enough to catch them.”
Nowak’s catch was recorded at Havasu’s Bass Tackle Master Shop, at 260 London Bridge Road. Store owner and long-time angler John Galbraith sent proof of the catch to AZGFD Friday morning.