Lake Powell Fish Report – March 2, 2015
Lake Elevation: 3592
Water Temperature 49-53 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson
Welcome to a Happy New FISHING Year at Lake Powell. Headline news indicated that threadfin shad, the main forage fish in the lake, had a banner year in 2014. The Utah Division of Wildlife trawl shad samples in 2014 were 10 times greater than seen in the past decade. I would like to insert a picture of a big striped bass here with a huge smile on its face but I don’t have any fish that will smile for the camera. Instead we will have to be satisfied with bass and stripers with a large stomach compared to the whole body profile. Lake Powell fish are coming out of winter in the best rotund condition seen in this century.
That is fantastic news for fish but has to be interpreted when it comes to angling projections. Let’s take striped bass for an example. Fat healthy stripers have lived in the back of the canyon eating shad all winter. When water warms in the springtime most anglers expect stripers to be in the main channel by Glen Canyon Dam or Moki Wall near Bullfrog.
A recent poll of stripers, conducted by me, found that most fish interviewed said they would choose to stay in the back of the canyon rather than heading to the dam in the spring because there was more food in the canyon than the main channel. When asked about spawning they indicated they could spawn in the canyon near food and did not have to run to the channel. Sample size was small but consistent. My prediction is that fishing will be much better in the canyons with reaction type shad imitating lures than in the main channel with anchovy bait.
Further questioning teased out another fact. Most stripers were in spawning condition this spring because of the great food resources. Therefore, when spawning time comes in May, the majority of adult fish indicated they would not feed during the spawning season but spend time finding a mate and spawning habitat. Younger fish and precocious teens said they would keep chasing shad no matter what. Luckily it was found that adult striper fishing would improve dramatically after the spawn in June as older fish said they would feed on the surface often if shad numbers were strong again in 2015.
Smallmouth and largemouth bass were not interviewed so the same old traditions should be expected. When water warms in March and April male bass will head to the shallows to build nests. If the runoff is small or significantly delayed by cool weather, bass nests can be seen and fish readily caught from shallow nests. If fast rising water covers the nests and makes them harder to find, male bass will still be quick to bite when a plastic bait threatens to enter a bass nest.
All bass have benefitted from the abundant shad food resource. They are in prime condition. Both large and smallmouth bass may produce personal best size fish for lucky anglers this spring. Habitat is limited by low water levels so largemouth bass will be found near submerged brush piles. Look for old tumbleweed piles or cattail clumps that were displaced by flood waters. These areas are not common but could be a bass bonanza when found. Some crappie will be found in the same locations.
Walleye are present in large numbers in the northern lake. They will be a worthy target fish in May and June. If stripers are being stubborn during this time make sure to have some walleye baits and worms along to save the trip.
Catfish are fat and sassy as well. They will be easy to catch on a sandy beach near camp.
It looks like a great fishing year. My prediction is that calm, good weather periods extending for 3-5 days in March and April will be the best spring fishing periods for a variety of fish with largemouth the main target and smallmouth a close second. Walleye will be the best target fish in May. Striped bass will be consistent throughout the spring season but location will be the key to finding them. Look in the backs of canyons near shad schools for best results. Bait will work better for night fishing while shad lures will be the best method in daylight hours.
Plan your trip now. It’s going to be a great year for fishing success.
Walleye Trolling lures (Banana lures) Wally Divers