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Mittry Lake

Mittry Lake Wildlife Area is located in the southwestern corner of Arizona on the lower Colorado River about 18 miles northeast of Yuma. A small, secluded place on a busy waterway, the wildlife area contains a unique blend of public recreation opportunities, sensitive habitats, sensitive wildlife species, game and nongame wildlife, and a rare natural beauty. Encircled by a thick marsh and riparian vegetation, including cottonwood and willow trees, Mittry Lake provides an important nesting and foraging area for many bird species as well as a seasonally closed resting and feeding sanctuary for migrating and wintering waterfowl. The area is very susceptible to wildfire and several have burned there within the past 10 years. The marsh vegetation comes back quickly, and may even benefit from being burned, but the cottonwood and willow trees are not so resilient and snags of cottonwood trees killed by fire can still be seen. Please be very careful with fire when visiting Mittry Lake and observe all special restrictions. The seasonal closure area (see map) provides resting and feeding sanctuary for migrating and wintering waterfowl.

Mittry Lake offers many fishing opportunities. There are ten man-made jetties on the eastern shore for shoreline anglers, but the lake is most effectively fished by boat. There is a good concrete boat launch near the southern end of the lake, with a courtesy mooring dock. There is also a more primitive gravel ramp toward the northern end of the lake. There are restrooms and trash facilities at the main boat ramp, which also sports a large ramada for public gatherings.

Mittry Lake can be a bit frustrating at time, especially for bass fishermen. There are plenty of bass in the lake, with a few in the eight to ten pound range, occasionally larger. However, the bass are sometimes finicky, and it can be challenging to bring any in on some days. Other days, the bite can be wide open. Windy, or changing weather often brings on the bite. Techniques for bass fishing vary widely. When fishing for bass in the cooler months, and bass are less active, fish deeper water with jigs, swimbaits, or plastics using a slow retrieve. As the water warms up in the spring and summer, bass become more active and move to shallower water. During that time most people use plastics, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, or crankbaits with a faster retrieve. Plastic baits resembling worms, crawdads, frogs, or lizards can also work well. For best results fish around structure such as weedbeds, emergent vegetation or where shoreline brush edges the water.

There is also a very healthy population of catfish in Mittry Lake. Channel catfish are the most numerous, but there are also a number of flathead catfish, which can reach weights of 30 to 40 pounds here, perhaps even larger. Flatheads prefer live bait such as bluegill or small carp and fishing is best at night during the summer months. Channel catfish are widespread throughout the lake, and will bite on night crawlers, chicken liver or prepared stinkbaits. They are occasionally caught by bass fishermen on plastics, spinners and even crank baits. They can be caught year-round, but nighttime fishing in the warmer months is probably the most effective.

Sunfish and crappie are also abundant in Mittry Lake, but tend toward the small side. You'll find the larger individuals by fishing bedding areas in the spring.