April 22, 2014 - Spawning begins
Lake Powell Fishing ReportLast Updated on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 08:46
April 22, 2014
Lake Elevation: 3575
Water Temperature 59-64 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson
Lake Powell water level continues to increase. Water temperature is climbing as well. As this report is written water temperature is at 60 degrees in the morning and climbs during the day unless a strong wind mixes the shallow surface water with the colder deep layers. Bass and crappie are impatiently waiting for consistently warm water in the 62-64 degree range so spawning can begin. A few bass nests have been seen in the past days and crappie are searching for the right bush to build their nests. Shoreline vegetation is absent but nature sent a tidal wave of tumbleweeds that will provide the cover that bass and crappie need to spawn. Tumbleweeds were blown into the lake by prevailing winds where they are now clustered in coves and cracks. Bass and crappie both spawn in 2-3 feet of water so the tumbleweeds will provide some protection as spawning begins. That will improve as the lake rises and covers more weeds. My best guess is that the last week of April and first week of May will be the best time for sight fishing spawning fish.
Remember to catch and release largemouth bass and crappie this year as they are small in number in low water conditions.
Walleye fishing is heating up in the northern lake with the hotspot now near Good Hope Bay. Crayfish are a walleye food favorite. Good catches of walleye were taken this weekend on crayfish colored crankbaits and rattletraps in the murky water near Red Canyon and Blue Notch. Many walleye were caught the week before at the Horn (just upstream from Good Hope) on night crawler harnesses slow trolled behind bottom bouncers. However more recent reports indicate runoff has muddied the water and made fishing downstream better than in brown water of the main channel. For one more week the trip uplake from Bullfrog is still a good choice but select fishing spots based on water color. Murky is great while muddy is not.
Bait fishing for stripers is dependable at the Dam, Buoy 3, Power plant intake, Navajo Canyon, Labyrinth Wall, and Buoy 25 in the southern lake. Those heading out from Bullfrog/Halls will have good luck on the walls near Buoy 99, Lake Canyon, Iceberg (last arm on the right), Escalante and San Juan Canyons.
Trolling and casting for stripers is still productive in 25 feet of water at the backs of most canyons in the southern lake that have a floodplain and murky water. Try trolling in Warm Creek, Gunsight, Padre, Last Chance, and Rock Creek with Shad raps and Rattletraps. When a striper is caught trolling start casting at that spot to catch more fish in a hurry. It may be possible to catch more stripers casting than trolling when the sweet spot is discovered. 1-3 pound stripers are feeding on plankton in the backs of these canyons.
Casting to the shorelines in the big bays, (Padre, Neskahi, Bullfrog, Good Hope and others) produces a mixed bag of fish with bass, crappie, stripers, walleye and catfish being caught in close proximity. All these fish are roaming the shoreline searching for food and shelter. They use rock structure, water color and water temperature as their key ingredients. Systematically searching a shoreline by casting rattletraps, square bill crankbaits, and Shad Rap cranks is an effective method of fishing for a wide variety of fish in the murky warm water available at Lake Powell this week.
April 15, 2014 - Lake begins to rise
Lake Powell Fishing Report
April 15, 2014
Lake Elevation: 3574
Water Temperature 54-62 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson
Lake Powell water level increased a fraction of an inch this week. It wasn’t much but it is a step in the right direction. Combine that with warming temperatures and increasing day length and the ingredients are in place for good fishing. Now the final ingredient is to plan your trip when weather is warm and calm. Try to avoid a cold front with wind if possible. Warming water may even overpower the full moon effect which will be encountered this week. (If I had to choose between this week and next I would go later due to full moon).
All of the sport fish species are starting to move up in the water column seeking to find the warm surface layers. Smallmouth bass finally found a few days when the morning water temperature was above 57 degrees which is their trigger for increased activity. Bass action is not strong yet but more fish were caught this week than last and many more will be caught the last two weeks of April. Plastic grubs and tubes on jigheads worked slowly along the bottom are effective now along with drop shot rigs and shad shaped worms. For those that like to fish faster, try a spinnerbait worked methodically along the shoreline with a fast retrieve so all the likely habitat is tested. Square bill crankbaits are also a good choice for covering a shoreline in a hurry.
Walleye fishing will get better each week from now until the end of May. Fish muddy water in the afternoons with a plastic grub tipped with a live night crawler. Walleye have a distinctive bite that duplicates the feel of a rubber band. Walleye grab the tail of a plastic grub and then pull on it slightly before letting go allowing the grub to shoot forward. When this happens immediately drop the lure to the bottom instead of reeling in. The walleye will come over and take another look. It usually takes two or three pickups before a walleye is hooked. If the walleye tastes the live worm it is much more likely to be caught.
Stripers are the most active fish right now. Schools are running from the main channel walls to the backs of the canyons. Main channel fish are located in very deep water that is closely associated with a shallow shelf. At the dam the best fishing spots are found where a shelf extends out 20-30 feet from the cliff wall. At this lake level there is a nice shelf under the chain link fence that sticks out on the west side of the forebay about 100 yards from the barricade.
In Navajo, Labyrinth, and the Buoy 25 cove striper schools hover at the breaking edge of the 30 foot shelf where they can quickly descend to deep water when danger threatens. Anchovy chum will keep the school around long enough to catch quite a few or possible draw them back up once they have moved to deep water. I find that schools repeatedly return to the same spots. If they quit give them a rest and then come back later for a rerun.
The other option is to head for the back of the canyon and troll and cast in murky water where bottom depth varies between 15-45 feet. Troll lures with a white background marked with a chartreuse stripe. This color combination has been deadly so far this spring. Shad raps, X-raps, and Norman Little Ns are flat-line trolling very well. As the day warms stripers move shallower and can be caught right up against the shallow flats now seen in the back of many canyons. Shad have moved on to flats and stripers wait for them to swim back into deeper water. Look for grebes to mark shad schools. Stripers can’t resist chartreuse and white jerk baits that swim out of shallow water into their feeding zone. Most of the stripers are eating plankton but they all signed a pledge at birth that they would eat any forage fish that invaded their personal space. Put a lure in front of their face and they will definitely bite the fish first and look for more plankton later.
This report is heavy on southern lake experience but midlake and north lake fish will respond in a similar manner. These techniques will work just as well in the San Juan, Escalante and Good Hope Bay.
April 8, 2014 - Best fishing so far in 2014
Lake Powell Fishing Report
Walleye fishing is improving for the same reasons. Plastic bass lures (tubes and grubs) are beginning to draw interest but they work much better when tipped with a piece of live worm. The best depth for finding walleye is 12-20 feet. If trolling is your favorite technique then troll over long rocky points that jut out into the main channel. Allow the lure to touch bottom a couple of times as it bounces across the point. Walleye really like lures to be close to the bottom. Slow trolling bottom bouncers with live worm or plastic worm imitations work on flat bottom structure under a wind-caused mudline in the afternoon breeze.
March 31, 2014 - Stripers at the Dam
Lake Powell Fishing Report
To my surprise stripers have shown up at the dam and are hitting anchovy bait. Place an anchovy chunk on a colorful jig head (chartreuse or pink), cast it out near the barricade on the west wall and allow the bait to settle under the boat at 30-40 feet. Fishing is fast for a few minutes when the school moves through. Fishing slows while waiting for the school to return. Chumming seems to bring the school back in range more quickly. Fish size is the standard 15-18 inches that is seen most often this spring. A few larger stripers are taken as well but that is the exception.
I like to seek the other striper schools which reside in the backs of most of the canyons from Wahweap to Trachyte. Trolling with lures that run approximately 12 feet deep is steady where fish traces are seen on the graph. Usually the best spots are in murky water near the backs of canyons. Recently stripers have reportedly been caught in Wahweap, Warm Creek, Navajo, Gunsight, Padre, Kane Creek, Last Chance, Rock Creek, Escalante, Nasja on the San Juan, Iceberg, and Red Canyon. Fishing is not fast but steady in the cool water.
Occasionally a fish hooked trolling will have followers that can be caught casting or spooning. On our last trip there were a few occasions where all 3 anglers in the boat hooked up with stripers at the same time. Usually only one 18 inch fish is caught at a time. Normal catch for a 4 hour trip is 20 stripers.
Remember that a nonresident Utah fishing license allows you to fish in both UT and AZ.
Fishing will improve dramatically when water temperature nears 60 degrees.
March 26, 2014 - Subtle colors
Bill McBurney with 18-pound striper caught fly fishing this week
Lake Powell Fishing Report
Some striped bass schools have been holding at 60-75 feet but there is now a division between adults and young. Young stripers are eating plankton that is found most readily in the upper 25 feet. Young fish have moved shallow leaving the older fish at 30-60 feet.
Anglers can take advantage of this behavior by searching the backs of canyons where water is murky. I know this is mentioned in every spring fishing report. It is emphasized every time because it makes all the difference between catching and not catching fish. Pay close attention to water color. Main channel water is clear and blue. That water color is not conducive to catching fish in early spring.
Back at the fish cleaning station we found all stripers were mature males. It is common to catch only male or females stripers depending on the circumstances. On this day the small warming event was enough to put a chip on the shoulder of the males, while females could care less as spawning thoughts do not occur for them until water temperature reaches 70. Males were striking at lures that invaded their personal space while females were either absent or without aggression. Springtime fishing is subtle.
Adult stripers are deeper and can be found in the backs of the canyons where depth changes abruptly from deep water to a 30 feet plateau or bench. Best techniques are down rigger trolling, spooning or bait fishing.
Bass react to warming by moving up as well. They seek warm water to recharge their batteries. Smallmouth don’t even wake up until water temperature hits 57 degrees while largemouth get excited when temperature is 53 or better. Current temperatures mark the beginning of spring for both species. Calm afternoons are the best time to fish for bass particularly in shallow coves with a south facing rock wall that collects as much heat from the sun as possible and transmits that warmth into the water. Again look for bass in colored water. Murky water warms more quickly than clear water. Bass will move to warm spots along the shore. Use the thermometer to find “hot spots”. Then look for fast falling broken rock piles to key in on bass habitat. In the absence of brush, rock structure and water color will guide you to bass country.
Use the same strategy to find crappie. They will be found in open water between the muddy and green zones in the backs of canyons. Start fishing in 12-15 feet of water by blind casting or very slow trolling.
Fishing is not yet fast but it is certainly worthwhile to be on the lake during a calm warm afternoon.
March 15, 2014 - Slow to Start
Lake Powell Fishing Report
There have been a couple of early season bass tournaments but bass were slow to respond. There was a report of a 6-pound largemouth bass being caught but the lucky fisherman’s total weight for the tournament was only 9 pounds including the big one.
The only bright spot was a few good catches of walleye in the mid lake area. Walleye are poised for spawning as soon as the temperature warms a bit more. While in that prespawn state walleye responded to trolled lures that crossed the ends of main channel points at 20 feet. Unfortunately, when walleye do spawn they tend to be caught less as they go off food in favor of spawning activity.
While waiting and watching the thermometer we should get our tackle ready for the early spring action that will start just as soon as the water warms. Bass will be lured in with plastic baits like double tail grubs, tubes jigs and drop shot rigged shad shaped worms, fished slowly in the green water zone in the back of the canyon. Slow rolled spinner baits and the always popular jig-and-pig (could be real pork rind or bulky plastic bait) are standard early spring offerings.
Best walleye trolling baits are Cotton Cordell Wally Divers, deep running Lucky Craft pointers, and similar lures that troll consistently at 12-foot depths. Serious walleye fishermen will have a bottom bouncer and live worm harness that can be trolled slowly or drifted along the bottom contour between 12 and 30 feet. Walleye are light sensitive. They are best caught in subdued light of early morning and late evening.
Striped bass can be caught on a variety of baits and lures once you find them. Schools are often large right now making it wonderful fishing when over the school or completely befuddling when the school is just out of sight on your graph. I have missed a school with my old fashioned electronics only to turn around and drive over a huge school that was only 10 yards away from the location of my first pass. Newer graphs with side finders make it easier to find fish schools that are not directly under the boat. It is possible to “see” a school that is 50 yards away from the side of the boat with a side finder unit.
Stripers in the southern lake are mostly young pups that occupy open water and eat plankton. Trolling is the best bet to locate a school. Once found and marked return to the spot and troll, drop spoons or bait with lots of chumming for best success. In the northern lake there are still many of the older adults that had enough food to make it through the winter. These older fish will be found working the shallower water toward the back of the canyon or cove. They will hit slowly retrieved crankbaits or spinner baits in 12-30 feet of water. The small plankton eaters will be caught trolling similar to those in the southern lake.
It is almost time. I hope the fishing improves as soon as this report is sent. My best guess is that the first week of April will bring much improved fishing success.
2014 Fishing Forecast -
Lake Powell Fishing Forecast
Smallmouth bass fishing strategy is subtle. With no obvious woody habitat to target, look for rocky structure with a slope that drops quickly to deep water or broken rock pile along a slick rock shore. Perhaps the most important key is to find murky water created by wind or wave action. Most canyons have muddy water in the back during spring inflow. Look for the color transitions from clear, to green, to colored, then to muddy. Smallmouth bass will be found most often between the green and murky water sections in each canyon. Then look at the rock structure in the green/murky zone and fish on the shady side of the rock. Yes, I said it was going to be subtle.
Walleye occupy the same habitat as smallmouth but they feed on a different schedule. Walleye will be on the shady side of rocks in the muddy/ green zone but they feed best just before first light and after sunset. They must have signed a joint use agreement with bass that prevents both from using the same structure at the same time.
Striped bass were literally jumping in the boat last year looking for the last anchovy in the bait bucket. A huge population of adult stripers was trapped in deep water looking for anything to eat. Shad were on the surface and stripers were in deep water. Those were good memories but put that in the scrapbook and look ahead. Now that huge population of adults has gone on to bluer pastures and been replaced by their young offspring. Young, vibrant stripers in 2014 will be able to feed on the surface and chase shad. Boils may happen in summer but in the spring look in the backs of main canyons in the colored water. Troll shallow, mid range and deep runners to find fish. When a striper is hooked trolling, drop spoons or cast lures as the fish is played in case the following school comes under the boat. If an inactive school is graphed while trolling mark the spot with a floating marker and return with jigging spoons to see if the school will cooperate.
The best trolling lures the past few years were Lucky Craft Pointers, Glass Shad Raps, and Storm Deep Thundersticks. It is good to have an assortment of lures but the real key point when trolling is to locate the fish holding zone. Stripers may hold at a spot on a shoreline where a point extends into the lake, or over a submerged hump at 30 feet in 60 feet of water or in a hundred other places. The important point here is to mark the location of each hookup and immediately return to the exact spot. Many times stripers can be caught at exactly the same spot while all the water in the immediate vicinity of the ‘sweet spot’ seems fishless.
Throughout the season my fish reports will highlight these fishing subtleties and identify hotspots as reported by anglers covering the length of the lake. If you are lucky enough to find a super fishing spot or a subtle key to catching fish please report it to me and I will broadcast it in the next fishing report. Then anglers can use your spot and pay up with their reports as they leave the lake. Lake Powell is so big it takes a fishing village to understand it. We invite you all to join the village and share your insights on Wayneswords.com
January 15, 2014 - Full Moon and Fishing Results
Full Moon and Fishing
On this day DR trolling outfished spoons 3:1. (He caught 3 and we caught 1 for the day).
My next fishing trip will not be until a week after the full moon and we will see if it is better fishing. If I were planning a fishing trip to Lake Powell I would consider the next new moon which occurs on Jan 30th. The first week of February should provide more active fish until the next full moon period which occurs on Valentine’s Day. Might as well stay home and take your valentine to dinner and a movie and save the Lake Powell fishing trip until the next week.
November 21, 2013 - Gill Net Results
Gill Netting Results - November 2013
I thank the anglers for doing their part this year. There is no limit on striped bass, so in years when adult stripers are hungry and declining in health, they can be harvested at will to reduce competition with stripers left in the water. This only happens about once per decade. Thousands upon thousands of stripers were caught by anglers and reported to us. It is likely that well over 1 million stripers were caught and harvested this year. We cannot confirm that since our creel census survey is only conducted every third year and was last performed in 2012. In that year almost 740,000 stripers were harvested.
Smallmouth Bass do better in rocky habitat which is why they were stocked in Lake Powell. Over the length of the lake 74 smallmouth bass were netted. Bass are caught less often than stripers because they move less and tend to stay on one stretch of shoreline instead of cruising the shoreline as stripers do. It is not wise to measure fish abundance by comparing catch rate of different species but rather year to year catch rate of the same species. Most species were caught at a lower rate in 2013 but again the difference in catch of smallmouth is not statistically significant considering the ups and downs of bass caught over the past 10 years.
October 30, 2013 - Final Report for 2013
Lake Powell Fish ReportLast Updated on Wednesday, 30 October 2013 09:06
October 30, 2013
Lake Elevation: 3590
Water Temperature 62-64 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson
During October we fished the same spots in the southern lake each week while checking current results for the fish report. Results ranged from superb early in the month to difficult after full moon. I am pleased to report that this week’s report is right back at the top of the charts. Fishing success has recovered for striped bass that have been holding in the same locations all month long. They have just responded differently on the various trips at the times that we fished there. Fishing success has improved over the length of Lake Powell.
First stop on the most recent trip was a short U-shaped canyon with flash flood debris in the back. Stripers have been holding at 60-70 feet at the mouth of this narrow canyon guarding from the deep water area to prevent forage fish from leaving the shallow area and heading for a new location. When these striper schools were found during the first week of October they could be readily caught spooning on the bottom or speed reeling spoons toward the surface with many 1-2.5 pound fish caught. On the next trip no fish were caught. On the full moon trip a few small stripers were caught near the surface. Then this trip spoons worked on the bottom and speed reeling toward the surface with many fish being caught. Using the same tackle at the same locations is a good indication of how stripers are responding to anglers on a regular basis.
Our next stop in Rock Creek presented slightly different results. During the first week of October spooning worked great resulting in a huge catch of 1-2.5 pound stripers. As the moon brightened stripers moved from the 60-foot contour into shallower water in this larger bay too wide to be watched and guarded by schools of stripers. Here stripers could be caught occasionally flat-line trolling in the 10-20 foot portion of the water column over a 20-45 foot bottom. On successive trips trolling was spotty, then good and finally great on this week’s trip. The best lures ran from 8-12 feet where plankton eating stripers were found. Our best luck came on Glass Shad Raps and deep diving Lucky Craft Pointers.
Bass fishing was steady but not fast all month on surface lures and standard plastic grubs, tubes and dropshot shad shaped worms. Largemouth bass anglers will be pleased to see big mounds of aquatic weeds (grass) growing on sandy bottoms in coves and flats in the backs of canyons. The steady lake level during October has allowed this grass to grow in shallow water without being desiccated as lake level declined.
Uplake, night fishing for stripers with bait has improved in the Bullfrog area. Here the same spooning and trolling techniques mentioned above work as striper schools are found randomly while graphing the backs of canyons.
Further north more shad are found hiding in the backs of protected coves. Shad schools are much larger here and attract all game fish to the coves. These coves can be found by watching for unusual bird and wildlife activity. This time of year ravens perched near shore may be watching feeding fish instead of unsuspecting houseboats where a feeding opportunity may occur. When a shad cove is located expect to find bass, crappie, stripers and walleye in close proximity. Spoons, bucktail jigs, swim baits and crankbaits work well for game fish located in and around these community fishing centers.
Wayne and Crew will be out on Lake Powell during November sampling with gill nets. This will be the last weekly fish report for the year. After gill netting concludes mid month random fish reports will be distributed on the website at Wayneswords.com. Look there for fishing information during the winter. You can ask questions about fishing or general information about Lake Powell on the Bulletin Board and get an answer the same day.
See you next year. Wayne Gustaveson
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