June 28, 2016 - Water rising - Conditions Changing
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 June 2016 08:41
Lake Powell Fish Report - June 28, 2016
Lake Elevation: 3619
Water Temperature: 79-83F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com
Lake Powell came up another 3 feet since the last report. All fish seem to like the rising water but changing conditions are making fishing better at some locations and not as good at others.
Here is the most recent fishing schedule for midlake Bullfrog/Halls and upstream:
From first light until the sun hits the water there are lots of small slurping stripers all over the mid section of the lake. After 8 AM with full sun on the water larger stripers join in the surface feeding action with the small slurpers. I think the larger stripers need the sunlight to be able to identify and target the small shad (less than one inch) they are pursuing. Large boils and slurps are found until about mid day when the surface action subsides. Iceberg Canyon had some majestic boils recently.
Smallmouth bass are willing participants all day long near sloping shorelines and rock piles while larger bass are hiding under the floating debris and near submerged brush.
From noon to 5 PM, particularly in breezy areas, walleye are the most likely fish to catch. Look for mud lines or murky water trailing off points in the Stanton Creek area. Troll medium diver lures where bottom depth is 7-20 feet. When a walleye is hooked trolling, return to the hooking spot and try for more walleye by casting jigs and night crawlers to the capture sight or slow troll bottom bouncers and worms in the area. From Bullfrog to Hite walleye are caught in the afternoons in murky water.
This is exciting news since the tagged walleye contest will start this week on July 1st. Many walleye with red numbered tags in their back are now swimming in Bullfrog Bay and nearby canyons. Catch one of these tagged fish and win prizes awarded by Sportsman’s Warehouse, Stix Market, Fish Tech and Berkeley. You must register on line before catching the walleye to be eligible for a prize. Enter here: http://wildlife.utah.gov/lake-powell-tagged-fish-contest.html
Fishing success around Bullfrog was slow after 5 PM earlier this week. Expect that to change soon but for now the best fishing times are early mornings for stripers and afternoons for walleye.
Wahweap to Rock Creek fishing schedule:
In the southern lake trolling for stripers works well in the morning shade of tall canyon walls on the east side of Padre Bay, Last Chance and Rock Creek. Bait fishing for stripers is still excellent all day long in Navajo Canyon from the mouth to the far end. Surface slurping activity is slowing down but still visible and fish catchable during the morning hours from Wahweap to Rock Creek.
Further upstream from Rock Creek to Escalante surface activity continues all morning long for small slurpers and the larger stripers up to 24 inches that have joined in on the feeding spree. Impatient stripers are consuming way too many tiny shad now. It would be much wiser for stripers to wait until shad were larger than 2 inches. We can help stripers manage their resources better by chasing the slurps, making the stripers go deep and allowing some shad to escape the constant striper pursuit.
Smallmouth bass are found in the backs of canyons and coves. A slender rock slide located on a barren slick rock wall marks a location where bass, walleye and sunfish can be caught on live worms, small plastic grubs and swim baits. In full sun look for a tall cliff wall to provide shade and then target a rockslide or a few submerged boulders to target smallmouth bass.
There are not as many walleye to be caught in the southern lake but tagged walleye are available to be caught from Warm Creek to Rock Creek.
Fishing success is surprisingly good for long, hot summer days marked with lots of boat traffic, water sports, and houseboats. The key is to select the right location, technique and time of day to seek after your favorite species of fish.
June 21, 2016 - Slurps are consistent
Lake Powell Fish Report - June 21, 2016
Lake Elevation: 3616
Water Temperature: 76-82F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com
Lake level continues to rise. The result of rapidly changing shoreline is not so good for bass fishing but excellent for stripers.
Young bass that were so eager to hit lures along the shoreline 2 weeks ago and almost made fishing too easy, are now a bit harder to find. Really good bass fishing for the larger size fish is found by dropshotting, or using plastic grubs on a lead head jig. The secret is to get the bait down to the old shoreline where bass were holding before the lake began its rapid ascent. The correct depth is 15-25 feet deep for smallmouth bass while largemouth are loving the brush just covered by rising water. Look for largemouth in the middle of a bush in 5 feet of water. Bass fishing is still good but best early and late in the day.
Slurping stripers have been extremely dependable all week. Tight little slurping pods are seen every morning starting in Warm Creek when heading out of Wahweap or Buoy 9 when leaving Antelope Point. Slurps continue through the narrows into all of Padre Bay, Last Chance and continuing up the main channel. Most slurp activity is seen from 6:30 to 9:30 AM (MST).
Approach the slurp quickly but stop one long cast away from the action. Cast ahead or to the far side of the school and bring the lure back through the feeding fish. Best lures this week include small surface lures, small jerk baits, swim baits, rattletraps, and jigs. The size of slurping fish is increasing as some older fish have joined the young ones. Aggression level is increasing as school numbers climb and encourage more interscholastic competition.
I prefer surface fishing but certainly more and bigger stripers can be caught while hovering over a huge school of adults in deeper water. Bait hotspots this week included: Warm Creek Wall (Buoy 12), Labyrinth Wall (Buoy 18), Navajo Canyon points and the final deep pocket in the muddy water at the back of the canyon. Bait fishing is good at the end of most long canyons like Last Chance and Rock Creek. Expect the same patterns to occur in the mid and northern lake.
Those stripers not quick enough to keep up with the school fish are still found along the shore and will hit topwater lures. When one fish is hooked, play him slowly and cast lures out toward the hooked fish to catch the followers.
Walleye are becoming more consistent now and can be found in 12-20 feet of stained water in the back of most canyons. There are areas where driftwood and debris are thick, which makes trolling almost impossible. Find small open areas without debris and troll right against the cliff wall to target walleye. Cast grubs tipped with night crawlers to select walleye over bass. Worm harnesses pulled behind a bottom bouncer or just cast and retrieved along the bottom in 15 feet of water work well now in the colored rising water.
Bluegill, green sunfish and catfish round out the fish species that are very active and willing to bite lures and baits for all ages of anglers.
The days are hot, but so is fishing in the right place at the right time. The right place is Lake Powell and the right time is when you can get here.
June 14, 2106 - Early is Best
Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 June 2016 11:42
Lake Powell Fish Report - June 14, 2016
Lake Elevation: 3611
Water Temperature: 73-79 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com
The inflow to Lake Powell over the past 5 days has exceeded 100,000 acre feet each day. The lake is still rising and will end up at the highest level recorded since 2012. Fish are excited because the lake is now flooding into green brush and trees. Bass and crappie really like brush habitat. Shad love brush because it helps them avoid the constant barrage of predators that have their eye on them. 2016 has been a wonderfully successful fishing year, so far, and it will continue through the summer into fall.
I have one fishing tip this week that will be the most helpful suggestion to all that use it. Are you ready? The best time to go fishing is at dawn! OK, that is usually the case but it is really important now. Our fish are early risers and most active during the first hour of daylight. They stay energized each morning until about 9 AM (MST) after which they tend to dose off until dusk when another surge in fishing excitement occurs. Go early for best results.
Stripers can be caught all day long on bait. The standard locations in the main channel are still providing some action but the time between active schools coming under each boat is increasing. Fish are caught more quickly by actively searching for a school in the backs of canyons and coves. Newly reported hot spots include the back of Rock Creek and the cove just north of the floating restroom at the mouth of Rock Creek.
My standard method of locating striper schools is working well right now. Troll a medium diving crankbait and graph the bottom contour from 25 – 50 feet. When a fish is hooked or a school seen on bottom, throw a floating marker (or hit a waypoint on the graph) so the school can be relocated quickly. Return to hover over the school, chum with anchovies and get ready to catch a bunch of fish.
Small stripers are slurping on the surface in the midlake areas from Last Chance Canyon to the murky water downstream from Good Hope Bay. Slurpers are catchable when casting to the leading fish that change direction and leave the main group. Fish size is usually small but the eating quality of small stripers is superb. Bigger stripers will be working near the smaller fish as the summer progresses.
The other group of stripers which have been ostracized and left the schools are found in shallow water while bass fishing. These fish are long, but thin. These fish should be harvested and disposed of in deep water to reduce competition among the massive striper population that exists right now.
Smallmouth bass are still biting like crazy with small fish making up the majority of the bites. You can find bigger bass in 20-25 feet of water about the same distance out from the shoreline. Both singletail and doubletail plastic grubs are working well. Green watermelon, pumpkin, smoked and chartreuse colored grubs are working equally well.
Walleye are becoming more consistent now and can be found in 12-20 feet of MURKY water. Look for the mud lines along shore in otherwise clear water to select walleye habitat. Then use your favorite technique to catch them. Walleye numbers are large in the mid to northern lake. Techniques include worm harness that are cast or towed behind slow trolled bottom bouncer rigs; single or double tail grubs with or without a piece of live night crawler attached, that are inched along the bottom; or mid range crankbaits trolled in murky water along the 12-20 feet bench.
A tagged walleye contest will begin on July 1, 2016. You must sign up to be eliglible to win a prize when a tagged fish is caught. Sign up here: http://wildlife.utah.gov/lake-powell-tagged-fish-contest.html
There are so many choices while visiting this incredible lake. It is so beautiful to cruise Lake Powell while skiing, wakeboarding, camping, hiking or sight-seeing. Do not forget to go fishing during the early and late periods of the day to make your trip complete.
June 7, 2016 - Slurps Begin!
Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 June 2016 07:34
Lake Powell Fish Report – June 7, 2016
Lake Elevation: 3606
Water Temperature: 72-76 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com
Lake Powell rose 3 more feet in the past week with more runoff yet to come. Surface water is muddy in Good Hope Bay all the way to the inflowing river. Downstream from Good Hope the water is stained but fishable. There is floating debris lake wide that has been set adrift by rising water so be alert for floating wood.
The big news this week is the beginning of striper surface action. “Slurps” have begun as small stripers have found the very small, newly hatched baby shad. Stripers have been subsisting by eating plankton, which is the only readily available food source. Now that plankton also contains small fish that are growing larger each day, much to the delight of hungry stripers.
The slurpers are mostly yearling striped bass 9-12 inches long. They are catchable each morning and evening and then randomly seen throughout the day. The key to catching them is to cast small flies into the line of slurpers or to find the leaders that change direction and look for a new food source after the shad school runs out. These fish that are looking for more food can be caught on spoons (Kastmasters) and small bass jigs while the main school eating small shad are totally focused on the job at hand and spook when a large lure splashes nearby.
Do not be surprised when larger fish suddenly join the small feeding stripers. The warm surface layer is thin and larger fish living in deeper cool water will investigate the feeding action and rise to the occasion. Visible slurps can be a target for anglers that want to fish for bigger fish by dropping spoons under the surface action.
Bait fishing for stripers is not over. Many new schooling areas have been reported this week. The standard spots in the main channel at Moki Canyon, Lake Canyon, Navajo and many more are still producing. The new spots are at the mouth of the San Juan and Nasja, and in the in the back of Rock Creek, Last Chance, Deep Canyon and Gunsight. The best fishing time is morning and evening. Look for striper schools on the shade line near rock outcroppings suspended at 30-40 foot depths in 60 feet of water.
Juvenile smallmouth bass are still on fire along shallow rocky terrain over the length of the lake. Larger bass are found in 20-30 feet of water at the same distance away form the shore. Sometimes casting parallel to the bank works better to catch the larger bass. Lake Powell has an abundant supply of all species of fish this spring. Please keep a 20 fish limit of 9-12 inch smallmouth bass for a great meal while camping on the lake shore.
Walleye are being caught early and late in low light conditions while trolling and casting medium to deep diving lures in 12 to 25 feet of water. Dragging bottom bouncers along a smooth slick rock bench works well, particularly where the worm trailer rig falls over a breaking edge into deeper water. Lake Powell predators really like to be on the edge of deep water waiting to ambush unsuspecting prey.
Fishing conditions are changing with rising water and warmer temperatures, but the catch of fish continues to be off the charts for a wide variety of sport fish.
June 1, 2016 - Lake conditions changing
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 June 2016 06:47
Lake Powell Fish Report – June 1, 2016
Lake Elevation: 3603
Water Temperature: 67-72 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com
Lake Powell conditions are changing each day with rising water and temperature. The lake came up another 4 feet since the last report. Many weed beds that were high and dry are now getting wet once more. Individual weeds, driftwood and debris are now floating which makes trolling more challenging. It is great to see barren flats being covered by water and the brush line getting closer to going under each day.
Fishing success is changing as well. Catching is still really good particularly for stripers and smallmouth bass. Bass are easy to find on isolated rockslides in the main canyons and bays. Look for a small but dense rock mass along the sheer canyon walls for quick results. Rockslides that stretch for hundreds of yards take a lot more searching to find the bass honey hole. Small rockslides make for easy fishing success. Main channel alcoves with a shallow rock pile surrounded by deep water also have an abundant bass crop,
These areas have mostly small but eager bass that can delight youngsters that have not caught a lot of fish. Use a simple single tail plastic grub on a 3/16th ounce jig head. Grub color is not that important as all colors from chartreuse to pumpkin to smoke seemed to work fine. It is more about finding the shallow rock formation than having the right color lure. Fishing is FAST for feisty bass.
Larger bass are down deeper in the 20-foot zone. Use drop shot rigs or heavier lead head jigs to get down to fishing depth quickly. Bass are hitting top water lures early and late. Pounding the shoreline with squarebill cranks, shaky head rigs and spinner baits are also effective.
Stripers are still hanging out along the canyon walls but they are on the move. It is just as likely to find a willing school in the back of the canyon as it is in the main channel. Bait fishing is still the easiest way to find and catch. Recent reports have come from the back of Rock Creek, West Canyon and Gunsight in the southern lake.
Midlake hotspots were found in the Escalante, Iceberg , Lake Canyon and Bullfrog areas. The north lake is still muddy with catchable fish in the backs of canyons where water is stained but not straight mud. In summary, it is possible to find a willing school of stripers just about anywhere. Chum a spot and see if they will come. If not, move to the next likely spot and try again. Try 4 or 5 different spots to find the one holding fish that day.
Walleye are the bonus fish all over the lake. They can be caught while fishing for bass on rockslides or stripers along canyon walls. Target them along any shoreline where stained water appears along the 20-30 foot deep shoreline. Troll a bottom bouncer with night crawler or a 15-foot running lure that hits bottom occasionally. When one walleye is found spend more time fishing in that area to find others from the same congregation.
Catfish, bluegill, green sunfish, largemouth and crappie are all active now but found in isolated locations. Catch one of these fish and then repeat using the same lure in the same spot to catch more. Bass and crappie are searching for weed beds. Many stranded tumbleweed coves are now going under water. Look for bass and crappie in the weeds and under floating debris pushed into a cove by a breeze.
In short fishing remains quite good but conditions change daily and fishing spots change with lake level.
Jeff Knorr family found stripers willing to hit bait in the back of Rock Creek this week.
May 24, 2016 - Lake rising and full moon
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 May 2016 11:18
Lake Powell Fish Report – May 24, 2016
Lake Elevation: 3599
Water Temperature: 63-67 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com
This big striper was "rescued" by an angler who saw it thrashing on the surface. When he pulled the trophy out of the water he found another striper stuck in the trophy fishes throat. He pulled the smaller striper out, took a picture and then released the big striper and watched it swim off apparently unharmed.
Early Monday morning it was not possible to walk to the Stateline Ramp courtesy dock without getting wet up to the knees because the lake had risen that much overnight. Lake Powell is coming up fast as the spring runoff builds. Lake level is four feet higher this week than last. The lake will rise even more this week. If camping, it will be necessary to readjust mooring lines daily. Rising water also impacts fishing success.
Lake water temperature is holding in the mid 60s which makes all fish happy and contented. The full moon this week did delay good fishing success until mid morning and then afternoon fishing was just great – particularly for stripers on bait. Early morning bait fishing at the dam and other steep canyon wall locations was slower than usual. Fish were caught randomly but big schools were not active. At 10:30 AM that changed and schools became hyper active. Still the good bait fishing spots further uplake (Navajo Canyon, Warm Creek Wall, Labyrinth Wall etc.) seem to be better than the dam and buoy 3 now. Run uplake and try some of the spots that have not been fished as much to find a secluded location with a ton of fish ready to bite.
The striper spawn is now imminent. Each year I dream of finding a spawning school where it is possible to catch a mature fish or even a trophy every cast for hours at a time. I say ‘dream’ because it all happens at night when I am home in bed. If you are camping on the lake it would be wise to check the nearby coves and points by trolling and casting shallow running crankbaits, just as the sun sets. You may be near the spawning school that has been inactive all day long and becoming super active at night. My search for spawners happens early in the morning before the sun rises. I look along the east walls of the tall canyons where the sun’s rays are delayed by morning shade. Ripe males and females can be caught trolling and casting in the pre dawn light. These fish are bigger and healthier than the stripers caught on bait during the day.
Trees and brush along the shoreline are getting much closer to becoming fish habitat as the lake rapidly rises. Largemouth bass, bluegill and crappie will gladly leave their current barren locations to find a tumbleweed or tamarisk tree in 3 feet of water. They love to be near, live in and never depart from brush structure once found. Fish near brush for these fish as the lake comes up.
Smallmouth bass are still living on the rocks. They have built nests to spawn and some are still actively guarding the nests. As the lake rises smallmouth bass tend to stay at the same nesting location. This week adult smallmouth will be four feet deeper than last week since the lake came up that much. Fishing success is still really good for those using jig heads and plastic baits worked along the bottom from 10 to 25 feet deep. Do not hesitate to use top water baits for bass at first light in the morning and as the sun sets at night.
Channel catfish are awake and actively eating. They will spawn in early June as the water temperature climbs to 72 degrees. They are being caught all day long now on bait fished on the bottom. Some cats are being caught by striper fishermen each day as the anchovy temporarily resides on the bottom near a striper fishing spot.
Walleye fishing is now at its peak. The best locations are in the upper lake in the backs of the canyons where water color is stained but not muddy from the huge runoff event now occurring. Reports of walleye caught in huge numbers are coming in from Red Canyon in the far north and many canyons between Bullfrog and Good Hope. My choice to catch walleye would be from Bullfrog down to San Juan including the Escalante. In a new fishing area my first exploratory efforts would be to troll bottom bouncers or flat line lures in 15-30 feet of water near shore or over open water reefs. When walleye are found, target that area specifically with bass grubs or worm harnesses tipped with a tasty night crawler. Work the worm slowly along the bottom in the area where a walleye was randomly caught to find many more in the walleye gathering spot.
UDWR is actively tagging walleye now to have target fish in the water for anglers to catch from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. If you register for the contest and catch a tagged walleye you will be awarded a gift certificate donated by Sportsman’s Warehouse. More information will be provided prior to July 1st on contest rules and how to sign up. For now, practice catching walleye to get you walleye skills honed to sharp edge.
May 17, 2016 - Totally Awesome
Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 May 2016 11:16
Lake Powell Fish Report – May 17, 2016
Lake Elevation: 3595
Water Temperature: 64-70 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com
Lake Powell is rising in lake level and water temperature. The lake came up two feet since the last report and the water temperature is now pegged in the mid 60s. Every fish I saw this week had a big smile on its face because of the warming water temperature. Lake Powell fishing is now at the Spring Peak. Here is the rundown.
Stripers are extremely catchable over the length of the lake. Many are being caught on bait from the shore, or on the fish docks near Wahweap and Antelope Point. Reports of great bait fishing are coming from Bullfrog, Halls, and Lake Canyon mouth.
Those that like to chase stripers can visually see shallow schools sunning themselves along the edges of shallow reefs in Padre Bay, Buoy 25, and Wetherill. These stripers readily respond to blind casting with shallow running crankbaits (I use the ghost colored Lucky Craft Pointer SP 78) and some have found quick boils with surface lures. Striper schools are also grouped in the murky water in the backs of canyons where they can be caught on shallow running cranks and trolled deep diving lures.
Bass are mixed up with the crazy spring weather. Some have spawned, others have not. Bass nests are still seen while some are abandoned. The summary is that bass are hitting lures like crazy along the shoreline where rock or brush cover is present. My favorite go-to lure is a 5-inch single tail Yamamoto Grub in watermelon or pumpkin color on a 3/8th ounce jig head. Cast to shore, let it hit bottom and work it gently deeper. Cast it to deep water and work it shallow. Swim it back to the boat. Just put the grub in the water and bass will tell you where they like it best.
The main problem with targeting bass with a single tail grub is that other fish like it too. It’s hard to keep bluegill and green sunfish from pecking at it. Walleye will intercept the grub particularly when it is s-l-o-w-l-y worked along the bottom from 10 - 30 feet deep.
Catfish have become very active in the last week and are being caught on a variety of lures. Crappie are being caught at random locations while they are waiting for the lake level to rise and cover up brush along the shoreline.
Walleye can also be targeted by trolling bottom bouncers with worm harnesses at the magic 12-30 foot depth. Flat line trolling works too with less expensive “banana lures” lures (Wally divers, etc) that hit bottom often when trolled at 12-15 feet. The peak in walleye catching is now through June 15th. These fish taste really good so you ought to give it a try. Walleye fishing is best at midlake right now.
The mudline from the Colorado River runoff is near Buoy 118 at the entrance to Good Hope Bay. More cloudy water works its way down lake with each passing day. Walleye are caught well in turbid water but really muddy water is not as much fun to navigate. The San Juan mudline begins in the narrows leading to the Great Bend at the end of the Neskahi Bay.
In summary, fishing is totally awesome at Lake Powell right now. The only downside is that 20 mph winds have blown every weekend recently while week days have been calm. I will talk to the weather man and see if he can fix that. I highly recommend a trip to Lake Powell during May 2016.
May 10, 2016 - Spring Fling
Lake Powell Fish Report – May 10, 2016
Lake Elevation: 3593
Water Temperature: 60-66 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com
Fishing success has been great despite lingering cold and winds. The good news now is that morning water temperatures now exceed 60 degrees which opens up opportunities for the second round of bass spawning, continuing gizzard shad spawning which will soon be followed by threadfin shad spawning. More forage is on the way for the many predators in Lake Powell.
For this week, all fish are hungry and warming temperatures only increase the desire for food and protective instincts for those in spawning mode. In short, the spring fishing peak for 2016 is now. A brief look back in time reminds us that the past two years have been strong shad years which led to high fish production and survival. Smallmouth bass and stripers are at a peak in numbers, largemouth bass and crappie are maintaining and walleye are reaching a new population peak. There are a lot of fish and many more opportunities for anglers. Here is the rundown on fishing opportunities.
Smallmouth bass are in spawning and protection mode. Nests are very close to shore. Look for bass in the shallow coves beginning at the first primary point, and then on smaller secondary points and finally all the way in the back of each cove. Males are shallow and larger females will be in the same vicinity but in deeper water. Search for bays and coves rather than steep cliff walls. There are a surprising number of bass on gentle sloping sandstone points extending well into the lake or sandstone reefs in open water. It is likely that the sun warms these spots and attracts all fish looking for warmer water. The clear water in most of the lake allows you to see fish in shallow water that is 10-15 feet deep. The highest concentrations of smallmouth beds will be on the north shore, with southern exposure. These are the warmest spots and are presently very attractive to warmwater fish.
The most popular fishing techniques include casting Yamamoto grubs in watermelon color on ¼ ounce lead head jigs; using shad shaped worms on dropshot rigs. KVD minnows and Zoom worms are working well. Pounding the shoreline with shallow running jerk baits works just as well.
Largemouth bass are found right alongside the smallmouth. Some coves will be smallmouth sanctuaries while largemouth will be found more often in others. Both will be found guarding beds this week.
Striped bass are found from the shallows to the depths. Bait fishing is the most popular and productive catching method in deep water. The same spots are still producing in the southern lake: the dam, Buoy 3, Power Plant Intake, Navajo Canyon points. In the north, bait fishing is getting more consistent at Moki Canyon, Halls Creek wall, and Lake Canyon mouth. Look for other anglers catching fish along the main channel walls and join them. More bait in the water usually means that more fish will be caught by all that are fishing.
Another faction of stripers can be visually seen swimming over the slick rock points and islands in the large bays. These are generally juvenile stripers that are following plankton concentrations. They feed slowly and continually on the tiny food items eating over 500 individual plankters each day. In past weeks these fish have ignored trolling or casting lures as they focused on plankton. As the water has warmed they are more likely to hit a small jerk bait or spoon. We had good luck last week with Ghost colored Lucky Craft 78SP Pointers and blue and silver small War Eagle Spoons. At the right time and place, the sight-fishing striper catch was “amazing”. Look for warming spots (north shore, with southern exposure) where plankton is thick and shallow running small stripers are seen just by looking in the water.
Stripers can also be caught trolling in stained water in the backs of canyons where runoff is flowing. Storm Thundersticks worked well on the San Juan in the murky Great bend. The San Juan and Escalante are the best spots to try right now with a wide variety of fish being caught in big numbers.
Walleye fishing is peaking from Padre Bay to the Colorado River. They can be caught on a wide variety of methods. Slow trolled bottom bouncers dragging a worm harness is very popular and effective. Trolling Wally Divers and other “banana lures” along the lake shore in 12-15 of water is equally effective. Casting plastic grubs for bass often results in a surprise walleye. Tipping the bass grub with a one inch piece of night crawler eliminates the surprise factor and tips the scale from bass fishing to walleye fishing. Whatever the technique walleye are the go-to fish for the next three weeks particularly from Bullfrog north.
Walleye were caught very effectively at Warm Springs, Cedar, Knowles, Forgotten and Crystal canyons near Bullfrog. Trolling around the island outside Hall's Creek also produced along with the fingers and drop offs that are across the main channel from Hall's Marina along the western edge of Bullfrog Bay.
In summary, if you like to catch fish, it's time to head to Lake Powell for the ‘Spring Fling’!
May 4, 2016 - Late warming
Lake Powell Fish Report – May 4, 2016
Lake Elevation: 3592
Water Temperature: 59-66 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson
Warming has been late in coming but that is changing now as May has arrived. Early morning surface water temperature has been consistently found at 58 F for the past few weeks and that is what the thermometer showed as we headed out for our weekly trip. Those fish waiting to spawn in the southern lake were slow to start feeding in cold water. We caught a few smallmouth and an occasional striper or walleye in the early morning hours as we ran uplake as far as Dungeon and Rock Creek.
As the day warmed and water temperature climbed to 65F fishing success improved. Here is a rundown on the various techniques used to catch each species:
Striped bass were best caught using bait in the main channel. Choose a spot, throw out a handful of chum, followed by a baited circle hook (Carolina rig) or light weight jig head with a chunk of anchovy attached. The best fishing spots were the same as previously reported including the dam, first main channel corner before arriving at Antelope Canyon (also known as Buoy 3), the power plant intake (under the chain link fence upstream from Antelope Point marina) and some points in Navajo Canyon upstream from the double islands. I know there are other places where stripers can be caught on bait but these locations close to launch areas are still producing so there are no reports of anglers going further uplake to fish bait.
In the northern lake the best bait spots have been close to marinas including the mouth of Moki Canyon, Buoy 99 and the coves near by. Remember that stripers along the walls tend to start and stop feeding on their own schedule. If they are not hitting in one spot move a short distance and try again. When a school turns on under the boat your fishing trip will be a great success.
Stripers are still being caught trolling and spooning over the length of the lake and many are still being visually spotted in the shallows making them susceptible to crankbaits and crayfish imitating plastic baits. Spooning was more productive for us in the afternoon after the water had warmed.
Over the length of the lake, smallmouth bass are caught in bigger numbers than stripers. Morning hours are not as productive as later in the afternoon when water warms to the mid 60s. Productive habitat includes the protected coves with southern exposures where the sun heats up the water a few degrees warmer than the surrounding open water.
Smallmouth bass really like plastic baits including single tail grubs, double tail grubs, senkos, square bill crank baits and spinner baits. It seems that more bass were caught in the backs of canyons in cloudy water than in the main channel and main canyon clear water. As you travel further uplake from Wahweap the number of smallmouth caught increases. The very best areas right now are the San Juan Arm, the Escalante, and the Rincon including surrounding canyons.
Be aware that the runoff is flowing and muddying the water from Good Hope Bay upstream. The mud line is near the middle of the big bay. Cloudy and murky water provide excellent fishing for bass and stripers while dark, muddy water makes it more difficult to interact with fish that remain in the runoff areas. These fish include stripers that are running upstream to spawn, walleye that feed well in muddy water and some bass and crappie that are using the colored water for protection while waiting for the lake level to come up and cover brush.
Walleye are being caught more often each day as water warms. These low light feeders are best caught during May while waiting for shad to spawn. The best technique is to maintain bottom contact with a slow moving lure in the 12-30 foot range. Live night crawlers can be used to target walleye. Worm harnesses can be cast to sandy bottoms in cloudy coves or attached to bottom bouncers that are slow-trolled behind a boat in the same depth range. Walleye are being caught more often each day on plastic baits used to target smallmouth bass in rocky cover.
Best walleye trolling lure may be the wally diver pictured here:
May is the month of variety of catch. As we used dark green, double tail plastic grubs, we caught smallmouth, stripers, bluegill, green sunfish, largemouth bass and walleye in the same stretch of shoreline. All sport fish are hungry while waiting for shad to spawn which normally happens mid-May. The warming water triggers the feeding response. All of these fish are looking for food and a plastic grub or crankbait draws serious attention from a variety of species. May is the best Spring month to fish at Lake Powell.
April 27, 2016 - Waiting for Warming
Lake Powell Fish Report – April 27, 2016
Lake Elevation: 3591
Water Temperature: 57-62 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson
It has been a roller coaster ride this week while trying to catch fish at Lake Powell. Cold winds blow and reduce the water temperature sending bass scurrying for deeper water. Pouting and lockjaw are symptoms of fish hoping to spawn but finding cooling temperatures. Then the wind quits, the sun comes out and fish swim into shallow warm water, and frolic while basking in the sun. The best pattern for anglers this past week was to hunker down while the wind was blowing and then rush out when the sun came out and water warmed. The short warm periods produced very good fishing results. This week expect more of the same. Wind and rain are forecast but some calm warm periods will happen as well. Look at the thermometer on your graph often and fish in the warmest shallow water available to find the best success.
Bass and crappie have started spawning. Bass nests or beds are easy to see in shallow water. The lake has come up less than a foot and water is still clear over the majority of the lake. Water is muddy near the Colorado inflow from Trachyte to 4-mile Canyon and in the upper San Juan and Escalante river arms.
Male bass guard their nests while fresh eggs are there but cold water takes the fun out of it and males sometimes abandon the nests. When the sun comes out again, the same male returns to the nest, tidies up the rocks and then finds another ripe female to add more eggs to the old ones on the rocks. Both male and female bass are able to spawn as many as six different times during the spawning season which lasts from mid April to mid May.
This knowledge should alert anglers about where to find bass depending on weather conditions. If cold and windy, look for bass in deeper water near a shallow rocky shoal or point where nests have been seen. If warm and calm, just look for bass in close proximity to nests visible in shallow water. Crappie follow the same triggers and patterns but really like to have their nose in a bush while waiting for the weather to warm and spawning to resume. Tumbleweed piles are the most common habitat.
The big news this week is the beginning of “Walleye Month”. Warming water increases their activity but lack of food makes them very hungry. The end result is that walleye are easy to catch from now through May. Good Hope Bay is the Walleye Capital of Lake Powell. Last week walleye were caught in stained water in the morning hours. The best technique was to drag a crayfish imitating lure slowly along the bottom. Twin tail grubs in dark pumpkin, watermelon and other crayfish variations worked well as did white shad imitating colors. Some caught walleye while vertically jigging white Yamamoto grubs in less than 30 feet of water while others used a slow drifting technique with double tail grubs while maintaining bottom contact in 20 feet of water.
Trollers were successful as well, as they covered more water looking for the walleye congregation. Wally Diver lures in blue and brown colors were successful when they were trolled at a depth where the lure would periodically bounce off the bottom. Walleye catching will only get better as water gets much warmer in May. There is no limit on walleye as there is an over population of these superb eating fish in the northern lake. We wish you great success in catching and keeping as many walleye as you can use.
Stripers were still red hot for those using bait in the southern lake near the main channel. Hot spots included Buoy 3A on the corner that turns toward Antelope Canyon; the power plant intake; and Navajo Canyon. There were no reports from bait fishermen further uplake as the fish close to Antelope and Wahweap launch areas were too fun to catch.
Warm weather returns early next week and fishing will only improve. The first two weeks of May should provide epic fishing adventures and stories for those that can make the magical trip to Lake Powell during prime time.