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Angler's Corner


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September 20, 2017, SMB in Wahweap Bay

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Smallmouth bass fishing on Lake Powell last week was a tantalizing yet frustrating experience. It was tantalizing in the fact that it was just good enough to make us think it was ready to explode, but it was frustrating in that on the second day just as we thought we were figuring things out bad weather arrived and drove us off the lake.

My partner for this trip was Dale Marenda who has accompanied me on many trips to the lake over the years. Dale enjoys fishing Powell and is just happy to be out there whether we catch a lot or not. Of course, we both like to catch as many fish as possible which is something we just weren’t able to do this time around. We enjoyed short periods of excellent action and longer periods, mostly Wednesday, of very little success.

The forecast was for unsettled weather on Wednesday so we decided to stay on the lower end. Our first stop was the double islands just through the Castle Rock Cut. Over the years we’ve enjoyed some phenomenal success here as well as some  major failures. On Wednesday it was more like the latter. We did catch some fish, but they were mostly small and the numbers were not what we would expect for this time of year. We then motored over to the east side of Warm Creek just above the main channel junction. We fished the ledges down toward the junction, again with little success, until we reached a large offshore reef marked by two buoys. It was here we started catching fish with greater frequency taking around 15 in a little over an hour. We caught some smaller fish on the top of the reef, but the bigger ones were off the side at 20-plus feet.

 After fishing that area thoroughly we moved down to the shoreline below Navajo Canyon. As before we had little success in the beginning, but we eventually found a couple clusters of fish off the sides of the ledges and reefs. Our best pattern was fishing directly below the boat at 22 feet. We were able to take a number of fish in the 1 1/4 to 1 3/4-pound class. We did not get into any really big smallmouths. By 1 p.m. the fishing really slowed so we decided to call it a day. Although we took 45 smallmouths and a couple nice channel cats, we felt we had not really solved the pattern. The action was very spotty. We would fish large areas with few strikes and then find  an area where we would take several decent fish in a short time. The bite was light, usually just a bit of extra weight on the end of the line, and I only saw a couple of chasers following hooked fish. When the action is really fast it’s not unusual to see five or six chasers following a hooked bass. That just didn’t happen much Wednesday.

 We knew Thursday was going to be a short day as windy and rainy conditions were predicted starting mid to late morning. To maximize our fishing time we elected to stay in Wahweap Bay starting just below Wahweap Marina. For some reason that first 150 yards of shoreline was absolutely loaded with smallmouths. We caught several nice fish as we went through there the first time. After fishing a cove and a very good looking point with no success, we decided to go back up to where we started. That proved to be a smart move as we took 17 more smallmouths there in about an hour. We caught some fish up at 12 to 15 feet, but a majority - including most of the bigger ones - were caught between 22 and 31 feet fishing mostly vertically below the boat. When I saw a large, tightly bunched school on the graph we rarely got a strike. I suspect these schools were small stripers. However, when we dropped into a few, loosely associated marks we almost always took a smallmouth. Most of the fish were right on the bottom, however I caught a few suspended at 25 to 30 feet over a 40-foot bottom.

Unlike Wednesday when the strikes were very light, these fish hit much harder. We also saw a number of chasers following hooked fish. I believe the approaching storm front triggered the fish to being more aggressive. I also noted the water temperature Thursday was 78 degrees, two degrees cooler than Wednesday. We stayed in this area until the bite stopped, then we fished further down that shoreline but never got into any significant bass concentrations. I knew time was running short, so I decided we should run down to a ledge on the south side just above the mouth of Wahweap. Unfortunately I could see a storm moving in so we couldn’t stay long, but in the 30 minutes or so we were able to fish there we caught several nice fish including a couple of the nicest of the trip. Unlike our first stop, all these fish were up on top of the ledge at 12 to 15 feet. At these shallower depths casting horizontally well out from the boat proved to be the best presentation. Every hooked fish was followed by five to 10 chasers. These fish hit much harder and fought very well as smallmouths always do. Finally the thunder and lightning was getting closer and the wind was starting to pick up, so we decided at 9:30 to call it a trip and head back for the ramp. In just 3 1/2 hours we caught 32 smallmouths including the nicest fish of the trip. It proved to be a wise decision as just about 40 minutes after we returned to my Greenehaven mobile we were hit with undoubtedly the worst storm I’ve ever seen in some 22 years of fishing Lake Powell.

 There is no doubt the fishing Thursday just ahead of the storm front was much better than Wednesday. We caught everything on drop shot Shad Shaped Worms. I believe drop shotting was likely the best presentation for this trip, however as the weather cools and the bass become more aggressive, more active presentations might be very effective. I believe the fall smallmouth fishing on Lake Powell is getting ready to explode. Although we did not catch any really big smallmouths, we took a higher percentage of nicer ones than I have in my earlier trips. I plan on making at least three more trips between now and the end of October, and I predict we’ll see the best smallmouth fishing of the year.


September 20, 2017 - Neskahi to Zahn Bay

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My partner Bill and I set off for our annual week long expedition to the San Juan on Sept 6th. We fished daily from the mouth of Neskahi Bay to the Northern reaches of Zahn Bay. We never encountered a group of surface feeding Stripers. The surface feeding we did see were small bands of Stripers and SMB trapping shad against the walls in the backs of canyons. SMB fishing was spectacular. All the fish you could reel in were there for the taking. Our best lures were Ghost Shad Sammys until the sun hit the water, then Yamy Shad Shaped Worms (color 208) on a drop shot scored almost every time down. We caught a few nice LMB each day, but SMB were the show. Fishing was best on shorelines and reefs where the water dropped off into about 30 feet. Large shallow areas didn’t seem to hold the fish. Islands in Neskahi held bigger fish as did the sunken reefs in Zahn.

 The down side of the trip was heading home on 9/15. My partner Bill and I headed toward Hall’s in our 40 ft houseboat about 10 am. Just past the Rincon, we were caught by the big storm. At Dangling Rope the day before it was forecast as PM thundershowers, however, it turned into much more. We were hit by one microburst after another for the next five hours. We had waves easily clearing the top rail on the houseboat, crashing into the front doors. We were pulling my 19ft Crestliner and I was sure we would loose it from running the nose too deep or the rope snapping. I could see the auto bilge pumping away to keep up with the wash over the front and sides. Trouble was, there was nowhere to get out of the storm with 6-8 ft. waves breaking in the mouth of the canyons. At 5 pm, we got to our slip at Hall’s just as the storm subsided. We both had a cocktail.

 I have fished Powell seriously for about 45 years (yea, I’m old). We have continuously had our houseboat in the water at Powell for 35 years. I have never experienced anything like the storm of 9/15. Thankfully, the old tub got us through, thanks to good maintenance, dependable motors, and chugging along into or along with the waves. We always rig for wind, this time it paid off. Everything was secured on deck and we didn’t loose a thing.    Thankfully, i had just replaced my tow rope with a 50 ft tube rope (which is much heavier than a ski rope). It did the trick and held.

 Don’t think you’ll ever need your lifejacket on a houseboat? Wrong. Make sure you know where they are. They were on us the whole time.


September 20, 2017 - Gregory Butte

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Steve, Steve, Tom & Dallas Doepke from PHOENIX

Fished Thurs. 9/14 to Sunday 9/17

Fished from Gregory Butte to MM40.

 Caught 185 fish with the majority being stripers caught on anchovies. Best spot was MM40 on North side of the lake. These were healthy fish at 40-50' deep using Carolina rig and anchovies.

We encountered one boil in the Dove Canyon area early one morning.

We had the pleasure to fish with Mark W. From Phoenix and Todd and Steve from Utah. It's always nice to share fishing info with other wordlings on the water. See you in mid Oct.!!


September 15, 2017- Cottonwood to Cha

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Good morning Wayne:  We just got home yesterday from a wonderful week on Lake Powell.  I think September is a fine time to be at the Lake!  Warm days and perfect temps at night.

As usual we took off for the mouth of the San Juan and made camp just South of Llewellyn Gulch and fortunately the cove we were in was full of shad!  We fished behind our boat morning and night and caught numerous SMB and Stripers without even moving the boat.  I even caught a Walleye behind the boat.  We stayed there for 3 nights and fished from Cottonwood Canyon to Cha Canyon in the San Juan but the best fishing was where we were camped.  We decided to head towards Dangling Rope on Tuesday and made camp directly across the lakefrom DR.  We fished all our hot spots in that area and the inlet just East of DR we again found tons of shad and tons of SMB and Stripers willing to entertain us.  As usual we caught too many SMB to count, 30 stripers, 5 LMB and 1 Walleye.  Unfortunately many of the stripers were still thin especially the ones around 24" it seemed the smaller ones were the healthy ones.

Also the SMB are healthy and strong, they put up an amazing fight, many we caught were 1 to 2 pds and we had a few that broke our 8lb. test line, or maybe we just should have retied?  One gets a little lazy when almost every other cast you catch a fish.  Thank you Lake Powell, no place like it!  We used our usual single tail plastic grubs 5" in white or chartreuse, 4" shad colored tubes with 1/4 to 1/2 oz jig heads  and I actually tried the 1/4 oz Kastmaster and caught most of the stripers with it. We fished most backs of coves or inlets anywhere we found structure or weed from on shore to 30 ft. deep.  Like you said Wayne the boils have turned into small groups of stripers that you catch on surface briefly or on shore in the weeds at dusk or dawn. Sorry we can't make it back again in September and will probably have to wait until next spring to be back.  Lake Powell is a Blast!  Thanks again Wayne for the Great website!





September 13, 2017 - Warm Creek boils

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I have been a fan and weekly reader of your fishing report for years and would like to thank you for your unrivaled knowledge and quality of reporting.  I was fishing north of the Warm Creek floating restroom the mornings of September 10 – 12, and only saw one other boat that fished that group of fish the entire trip, so I assume it was you we saw the morning of the 12th.  The fishing was on fire from the time the sun crested the rocks until 9:30, then slowed substantially.  My son and I caught over 100 fish on small 1 oz and ½ oz salmon jigs (Dungeness Stingers - http://www.dungenessstinger.com/ ) and topwater lures on Monday, and another 50+ on Tuesday morning.  I was in the red/white Chaparral deck boat and another friend was in the tan/white bass boat.  There are thousands of stripers hanging out in that area, hanging out deep (50 – 70’) in the early morning (before sunrise) and pushing the shad shallow as the sun gets higher.  We caught fish non-stop on the jigs for another hour after the boil(s) stopped after the other boat (maybe you) left.  The evening bite was okay, but nothing compared to the morning.  I love Lake Powell!  Let me know if it was you we saw on Tuesday.  jacksonhorton.jpg   Good luck fishing!


Waynes Comments:   Yes that was our boat that you saw on Tuesday. Thanks for sharing

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 September 2017 11:45

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