Birdwatching

With over 300 species of birds to be found in both the Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge and the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, these two destinations are highly recommended for anyone who enjoys birds from beginner to those who consider themselves experts. 

Birding Hot Spots in the Bill Williams River NWR include Delta Point, Mosquito Flats, Gate, and Mineral Wash. 


Favorite birding sites in the Havasu NWR include N. Lake Havasu, New South Dike, South Dike, Catfish Paradise, Five-mile Landing, North Dike, and Pintail Slough. In addition, there is a wildlife observation towers at Bermuda Pasture. 


Maps and additional information are available at both refuge headquarters’ offices.  


Here are some helpful Links: ​


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Fishing

Fishing in and around the Bill Williams River and Havasu National Wildlife Refuges offers varied opportunities to try your luck. This location allows you the opportunity to fish the southern end of Lake Havasu.


In the Havasu NWR, you can fish the quiet backwaters of Topock Marsh, or drift the Colorado River from Topock through Topock Gorge to the southern upper end of Lake Havasu. 


Generally, Topock Marsh offers largemouth bass, panfish, catfish, crappie, and carp. The slow-moving waters of the Colorado River from Topock south to the north end of Lake Havasu offer striped bass, catfish, and rainbow trout. 


Species in Lake Havasu include striped bass, large and smallmouth bass, channel and flathead catfish, as well as redear and bluegill.


Some native fish may also be encountered. Please use catch-and-release techniques with any native fish captured and report captures to refuge personnel.


State and federal fishing regulations apply when fishing in Topock Marsh, the Colorado River, and Lake Havasu. Please consult the Arizona Game and Fish Department regulations, as well as the Bill Williams River and Havasu NWR websites for more information; links to their websites are provided below.


Boat launching ramps are available in the Topock Marsh area of the Havasu NWR at North Dike, Five Mile Landing, and Catfish Paradise; you cannot access the Colorado River by boat from the Topock Marsh. Local boat launches that allow access to the Colorado River, Topock Gorge, and north Lake Havasu include the Topock Gorge Marina, Arizona (exit 1, I-40), Park Moabi (located 11 miles south of Needles, CA on I-40), and Havasu State Park at Windsor Beach (on London Bridge Road in Lake Havasu City). There are many other private and public boat launches along the Colorado River.


There are areas closed to all access, no wake zones, and areas restricted to boat traffic within both Refuges; please consult the Refuge websites for more information. Links to their websites are below.


Havasu NWR 


Bill Williams River NWR 


AZ Game & Fish 2019-20 Regulations

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Hunting

Public hunting on Havasu NWR is permitted in specified areas as outlined in the current regulations.


At Bill Williams River NWR, hunting for dove (mourning, white-winged), Gambel’s quail and cottontail rabbit is offered on the refuge and permitted south of the Planet Ranch Road. Only shotguns are permitted for hunting dove, Gambel's quail, and cottontail rabbit on designated areas of the refuge. In the field, hunters using a shotgun shall possess and use only nontoxic shot. Hunting for cottontail rabbit is open from September 1st to the end of the state hunting season, seasons for dove and quail coincide with state regulations. For your safety and enjoyment, please be familiar with the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s regulations at www.azgfd.gov.


Each January, we participate in a partnership with Arizona Game and Fish,  Ducks Unlimited, and Topock Elementary School in a Youth Waterfowl Hunt at Havasu NWR, for youth aged 12-17. 


Youth participants receive hands-on instruction ranging from firearm safety to waterfowl identification, to hunting and cleaning of the birds.


The event activities begin Friday after check-in. A meeting is held and several topics are covered such as gun safety, clay pigeon shoot, bird identification, hunting regulations, and history. A raffle for prizes is held, dinner is served, and the mentors draw for their hunting blinds.


On Saturday morning, the hunters are up about 4:30 am, and are treated to breakfast at 4:45 am. After breakfast the hunters convoy to Pintail Slough, where the young hunters are given their shotguns. Decoys are set up by the mentors by 6:15 am; the temperature can be very cold, they have even experienced  ice needing to be broken to set up the decoys. The young hunters sit quietly in their blinds with one young hunter's parent and one mentor until the hunt begins at approximately 7:15 am. 


The hunt ends at 12 Noon, at which time the blinds are cleaned up, the hunters checked out with federal officers, and the mentors retrieve the ducks. After the hunt, the group returns to the school where lunch is served. After lunch, the young hunters have an opportunity to practice archery on a range set up by Havasu NWR Staff. A raffle, dinner, and a drawing for blinds is held after the hunt.


A similar schedule is followed for the Sunday hunt. By then, the hunters have better accuracy and know what to expect. The second young hunters' parent is allowed in the blind with the two hunters and mentor. 


The hunt ends at noon, the mentors retrieve the waterfowl and the group returns to the school for lunch and other activities.


The event has been very well received by the young hunters, their parents, and the mentors. 


Participants are chosen by lottery  in September prior to the January event.  More information is available on the AZ Game & Fish site.


The following link with take you to the current hunting regulations: AZ Game & Fish 2019-2020 Hunting Regulations.




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Kayaking

Kayaking and canoeing are fast growing activities as people try to escape the hectic pace of modern life.


The Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge is a NO WAKE ZONE for boaters, so this is a perfect place for a quiet, leisurely paddle. 

 

The Havasu National Wildlife Refuge offers multiple opportunities for paddlers, giving one the opportunity to choose between a quiet paddle on Topock marsh, drifting the current on a slow moving Colorado River, or negotiating the great expanse of Lake Havasu.  


Please note that some areas are closed to all access during certain migration and nesting periods. Please check the specific Refuge website for boating regulations, areas restricted to access, and other rules that may apply; links to the Refuge pages are here:


Bill Williams River NWR Website


Havasu NWR Website

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Kayak Fishing

Kayak fishing is one of today's fastest growing outdoor sports, combining the peaceful serenity of a quiet paddle with the excitement  [kayak bass] of the possibility of hooking and landing a trophy game fish.


While you can fish from either a sit-inside or sit-on-top kayak, sit-on-top kayaks are preferred by most for their stability, space for gear storage, and for ease of access to your equipment. 


For a relatively modest expense, you can rig a sit-on-top kayak with a fishing crate and a few fishing rod holders and off you go.


As you get more involved in the sport, you can add an anchor trolley with anchor, a rudder, and even a fish finder with GPS. Many kayak manufacturers are now making kayaks developed specifically for the sport. There is nothing quite like the thrill of getting a free tow in your kayak from a striped bass or other game fish.


Kayak Fishing in the Refuges


The Bill Williams River and Havasu National Wildlife Refuges both offer a variety of opportunities to fish the type of water you prefer. Species of note are Small-mouth Bass, Large-mouth Bass, Striped Bass, Flathead Catfish, Channel Catfish, and various pan fish. Lake Havasu is rapidly becoming known as one of the best Small-mouth bass fisheries in the west. Some details about the Refuges:


Bill Williams River NWR:

The Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge includes the southern reaches of Lake Havasu and the long, narrow channel of the Bill Williams River. You can fish in the wide open spaces of Lake Havasu or among the reeds and flooded tree structures in the Bill Williams River. This area is a NO WAKE ZONE for boaters, so this is a perfect place for kayaking and fishing.  The area is easily accessible using a motorless boat launching ramp located at the Bill Williams River NWR Headquarters. Click here to link to the official Bill Williams River NWR Website


Havasu National Wildlife Refuge:

The Havasu National Wildlife Refuge offers multiple opportunities for kayak fishing. Topock Marsh, in the northern portion of the Havasu NWR, is a shallow marsh featuring reeds and the skeletal remains of a long-ago flooded mesquite forest. Further south, you can drift the current of the Colorado River from Topock Marina south through the Topock Gorge, or fish the northern portion of Lake Havasu from the gently flowing Colorado River at Castle Rock to the expanse of Lake Havasu at Mesquite Bay. Click here to link to the official Havasu NWR Website


Please note that some areas are closed to all access during certain migration and nesting periods. Please check the specific Refuge website for boating regulations, areas restricted to access, and other rules that may apply. In addition, there are several businesses in the area where you can rent boats, canoes, and kayaks; consult your local telephone directory or our sponsor page.

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Boat Launching

There is a non-motorized launch ramp open during daylight hours at the Bill Williams River NWR Headquarters. 


Boat launching ramps are available in the Topock Marsh area of the Havasu NWR at North Dike, Five Mile Landing, and Catfish Paradise. You cannot access the Colorado River by boat from the Topock Marsh. 


Non-motorized boat launching is available at Castle Rock and Mesquite Bay Central at the south end of Havasu NWR.


Local boat launches that allow access to the Colorado River, Topock Gorge, and north Lake Havasu include the Topock Gorge Marina, Arizona (exit 1, I-40), Park Moabi (located 11 miles south of Needles, CA on I-40), and Havasu State Park at Windsor Beach (on London Bridge Road in Lake Havasu City). There are many other private and public boat launches along the Colorado River.


There are several businesses in the area where you can rent boats, canoes, and kayaks.

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