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March 2, 2015 - What to expect in 2015

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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.

Lake Powell Fish Report – March 2, 2015

Lake Elevation: 3592     

Water Temperature 49-53 F

By: Wayne Gustaveson  

http://www.wayneswords.com

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.

wgstb5That 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. 

wgstb2big_edited-1Further 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. 

waemouthWalleye 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

wallydiversrrm

 

February 19, 2015 - Rock Creek and Padre Canyon

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Lake Powell Fishing Report

February 19, 2015

Lake Elevation: 3592

Water Temperature: 50-53 F

 

It has been my experience that fishing success is much better in low light conditions.  Therefore we launched as soon the first dim light appeared in the eastern horizon. It took an hour to travel from Wahweap to Rock Creek but we made it before the sun hit the water.
We began trolling our standard Shad Raps (SR8) and ghost colored Lucky Craft XD 100 with immediate success.  Well the Lucky Craft worked well and the Shad Frap did too when we switched from black and silver to Helsinki Shad color.  Fish are fussy for unknown reasons which I can’t explain.  I just change colors and let them decide on the color of the day.
Fishing was steady at the 18-25 foot range in the back of the canyon. We caught a striper every 8 minutes or so for the first two hours.  We were only able to catch one striper on a spoon as these fish were randomly scattered.  Trolling worked best in the low light of early morning but when the sun came out enough to warm us up fishing success declined.
At that point we retreated to shallow turbid water and tried for other fish species.  Our plastic grubs fished in 10-15 feet of water near submerged brush piles produced one smallmouth one striper and my personal best 20 inch largemouth bass that was between 5 and 6 pounds.
But fishing was slow so we checked out a few more spots.  No fish were caught nor schools graphed in Dry Rock Creek probably because we there in full sun light.
We ran up lake as far as Grotto Canyon to check on quagga mussel advance.  Mussels were easy to find. Lake Powell is infested from Wahweap to Dangling Rope.  We did not have means to go further so will save that for another day.
On the way back to Wahweap we stopped in Padre Canyon and trolled toward the back.  We passed over a big school at bottom depth of 35 feet.  Three fish were caught trolling but only one on spoons as the fish hightailed away from our tempting lures. The only spoon caught fish came on a small spoon.  We will have to try smaller spoons on these reluctant fish next trip.
All fish are fat, in great condition and willing to eat even at the currently low temperature of 50-53 degrees. It looks like spring fishing will be awesome.

It has been my experience that winter fishing success is much better in low light conditions.  Therefore we launched as soon as the first dim light appeared in the eastern horizon. It took an hour to travel from Wahweap to Rock Creek but we made it before the sun hit the water.

We began trolling our standard Shad Raps (SR8) and ghost colored Lucky Craft XD 100 with immediate success.  Well, the Lucky Craft worked well and the Shad Rap did too when we switched from black and silver to Helsinki Shad color.  Fish are fussy for unknown reasons which I can’t explain.  I just change colors and let them decide on the color of the day. 

waynegbigbasssmallCatching was steady at the 18-25 foot bottom depth range in the back of the canyon. We caught stripers from 2.5 to 4 pounds  every 8 minutes or so for the first two hours.  We were only able to catch one striper on a spoon as these fish were randomly scattered with no large schools detected.  Trolling worked best in the low light of early morning but when the sun came out enough to warm us up fishing success declined. 

At that point we retreated to shallow, turbid water and tried for other fish species.  Our plastic grubs fished in 10-15 feet of water near submerged brush piles produced two smallmouth, one striper, and my personal best 20-inch largemouth bass that was between 5 and 6 pounds. We put him back to protect the cove until we return again. 

But fishing was slow later in the day  so we checked out a few more spots.  No fish were caught nor schools graphed in Dry Rock Creek probably because we there in full sun light. 

We ran up lake as far as Grotto Canyon to check on quagga mussel advance.  Mussels were easy to find. Lake Powell is infested with mussels from the main channel to the backs of all canyons from Wahweap to Dangling Rope and beyond.  We did not have means to go further so will save that for another day.   

On the way back to Wahweap we stopped in Padre Canyon and trolled toward the back.  We passed over a big striper school at bottom depth of 35 feet.  Three fish were caught trolling but only one on spoons as the fish hightailed away from our tempting lures. The only spoon caught fish came on a small spoon (2 inches).  We will have to try smaller spoons on these reluctant fish next trip. 

At the cleaning station we found all fish to be fat, in great condition but their stomachs were empty which makes them challenging to catch.  

But, It looks like spring fishing will be awesome as soon as the water warms to the upper 50s. 

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 February 2015 10:18
 

February 11. 2015 - Last Chance Stripers

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We took advantage of the calm warm weather to take a trip uplake.  It has been my experience this year that early morning fishing success is much better than results achieved after the day warms up at 10 AM or later. We launched at 7 AM because I am a pansy and don’t really like running in cold, no light conditions when air temperature is in the 40s.  In June or July we would have been on the lake an hour before the sun came up.
It takes me an hour to get to the back of Last Chance or Rock Creek. Both of these canyons have a dependable bunch of stripers so it is worth the trip. Upon arrival we deployed trolling lures and started fishing. I used the ghost Lucky Craft XD while my partner used the same lure he has used all year, the Shad Rap (SR8) in black and silver.  He just has no imagination or spirit of adventure.  (And he has been out fishing me 5:1 every trip in 2015 with his Shad Rap). I like to use 2 different lures with slightly different color and running depth so we cover all the bases in case stripers have changed their game plan.
We started trolling at a bottom depth of 55 feet but headed toward shore where a shallow point extended into the water. We had good success near this point last spring and have consistently found that stripers usually hold on the breaking edge of a reef or point where it falls into deeper water. We trolled for about 300 yards before graphing the first group of fish holding at 25 feet right where the rock structure ended and depth quickly increased to 45 feet. Our lures went right over the fish and a fat 3 pound striper selected the Shad Rap and ignored the Lucky Craft… again.
While my partner reeled that fish in I deployed the spoon but saw no followers on the graph.  Then the spoon was cast further back toward the point and another fat 3-pound striper was hooked right on the bottom.  The next spoon drop was inhaled by another fish.  Imagine my surprise when the fish turned out to be a channel cat with a yellow body!  That must be the winter catfish color.
We caught 8 stripers in the first hour of fishing using these troll and spoon techniques. In the second hour the catch dropped off to only 4 fish.  Only in Lake Powell could an angler be disappointed in catching 12 stripers with a combined weight exceeding 30 pounds.  But we missed some short hits and lost a few fish that were hooked but came off before they could be landed. These stripers were not aggressive and in a negative feeding mood.  Later at the fish cleaning station we found all stomachs empty with the exception of one small crayfish.  The fish were not feeding and we were “skilled” (lucky) to catch a few fish despite the somber mood.
This trolling, spooning and graphing technique will continually catch stripers until the water warms into the 60s. At that point stripers will think about spawning and switch to nocturnal feeding behavior.  All of the fish caught were mature which will make fishing tough when spawning behavior limits feeding activity in May and June.  All will be well in late June and July when boil season starts (if the shad have a good spawn).
When planning a spring trip expect stripers to be in the backs of canyons holding on the needs of points and over shallow humps surrounded by deeper water.  When planning a spring trip you might want to purchase a Shad Rap SR8 which is the same size and color as a yearling gizzard shad. Those that troll in the backs of canyons will catch many more stripers than those that head toward the dam and Moki Wall with anchovies. This will be one of those years when bait fishermen will be disappointed and trolling, casting and fly fishing will bring in the most stripers.
I have to go buy a Shad Rap.  See you on the lake.

We took advantage of the calm warm weather to take a trip uplake.  It has been my experience this year that early morning fishing success is much better than results achieved after the day warms up at 10 AM or later. We launched at 7 AM because I am a pansy and don’t really like running in cold, no light conditions when air temperature is in the 40s.  In June or July we would have been on the lake an hour before the sun came up. It takes me an hour to get to the back of Last Chance or Rock Creek. Both of these canyons have a dependable bunch of stripers so it is worth the trip.

spponcat2Upon arrival we deployed trolling lures and started fishing. I used the ghost Lucky Craft XD while my partner used the same lure he has used all year, the Shad Rap (SR8) in black and silver.  He just has no imagination or spirit of adventure.  (And he has been out fishing me 5:1 every trip in 2015 with his Shad Rap). I like to use 2 different lures with slightly different color and running depth so we cover more bases in case stripers have changed their game plan. 

We started trolling at a bottom depth of 55 feet but headed toward shore where a shallow point extended into the water. We had good success near this point last spring and have consistently found that stripers usually hold on the breaking edge of a reef or point where it falls into deeper water. We trolled for about 300 yards before graphing the first group of fish holding at 25 feet right where the rock structure ended and depth quickly increased to 45 feet. Our lures went right over the fish and a fat 3 pound striper selected the Shad Rap and ignored the Lucky Craft… again. 

While my partner reeled that fish in I deployed the spoon but saw no followers on the graph.  Then the spoon was cast further back toward the point and another fat 3-pound striper was hooked right on the bottom.  The next spoon drop was inhaled by another fish.  Imagine my surprise when the fish turned out to be a channel cat with a yellow body!  That must be the winter catfish color.

We caught 8 stripers in the first hour of fishing using these troll and spoon techniques. In the second hour the catch dropped off to only 4 fish.  Only in Lake Powell could anglers be disappointed in catching 12 stripers with a combined weight exceeding 30 pounds.  But we missed some short hits and lost a few fish that were hooked but came off before they could be landed. These stripers were not aggressive and in a negative feeding mood.  Later at the fish cleaning station we found all stomachs empty with the exception of one small crayfish.  The fish were not feeding and we were “skilled” (lucky) to catch a few fish despite the somber mood.   

This trolling, spooning and graphing technique will continually catch stripers until the water warms into the 60s. At that point stripers will think about spawning and switch to nocturnal feeding behavior.  All of the fish caught were mature which will make fishing tough when spawning behavior limits feeding activity in May and June.  All will be well in late June and July when boil season starts (if the shad have a good spawn).

When planning a spring trip expect stripers to be in the backs of canyons holding on the ends of long underwater points and over shallow humps surrounded by deeper water.  When planning a spring trip you might want to purchase a Shad Rap SR8 which is the same size and color as a yearling gizzard shad.

Those that troll in the backs of canyons will catch many more stripers than those that head toward the dam and Moki Wall with anchovies. This will be one of those years when bait fishermen will be disappointed and trolling, casting and fly fishing will bring in the most stripers.

I have to go buy a large Shad Rap.  See you on the lake.

shad_rap-500x500

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 February 2015 08:23
 

December 8, 2014 - Rock Creek Striper Pattern

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We set out for Rock Creek with temperatures above freezing and very little wind.  When it gets cold this winter the Rock Creek trip may not be possible for me unless I am wrapped in an insulated bubble with a 70 degree thermal layer inside.
This trip uplake was magical as it seemed the gentle breeze was always at out back.  Fog clouds were wrapped around cliff tops with occasional sunlight spotlighting cliff walls.   It was absolutely beautiful and unique for the always dramatic scenery from Padre to Rock Creek.
As we headed toward the back of  main Rock Creek the gentle breeze lessened and flat calm conditions prevailed. The trip was already a success so we turned around and went back,  NO!  That was not going to happen since there was another plan to be completed.
In the back of the canyon there is a deep trench that runs from 50-70 feet but on the right hand side there is a bench that averages 35 feet. For the last month or longer, the magic holding depth for striper schools has been 35 feet. So we started there.
My basic technique is to troll a deep diving Thunderstick and a mid depth Shad Rap. The graph is studied while trolling and a floating marker is in hand ready to mark the location of any large striper schools that are passed over. We could just graph and then stop on a school and drop spoons, but it is also necessary to get the school activated. The best way to do that is to hook a fish which excites other schooling fish almost as much as it energizes me. As the hooked striper is reeled in, the curious school often follows to see if there is more free food close at hand.  As the troll-caught fish is lifted into the boat the striper school pauses under the boat wondering where the hooked fish went and more specifically where they might find free food.
This time the first fish hit the shad rap which allowed me to reel in my Thunderstick and quickly deploy the spoon rod. Sure enough! As soon as the first fish was hoisted in, the school appeared and my spoon was eaten on the way down to the bottom.  I played my fish until another spoon was in the water. Then I flopped my 3-pound striper on the deck by holding the spoon and the jerking it while letting the weight of the fish disengage the hooks from the lip. Luckily it worked that time and I could immediately put the spoon back in the water as my partner played his spoon caught fish.
We deployed a marker at the spot where the first fish was caught.  We worked this school over for about 10-15 minutes before they left us.  Then we picked up the fish off the deck, and put them in the cooler on ice. We had drifted about 200 yards away from the marker as the school followed us. The next step is put out the trolling lures again and search for the next school.
The trolling/spooning technique located about 5 or 6 separate schools.  The floating markers showed the most common school location to be at the breaking edge of the 35 foot terrace before it dropped into deep water.   Later in the day and further back in the canyon where depth was commonly 18 feet, we found a 50 yard long basin that was 30 feet deep.  Sure enough schools that had been holding on the shallow bench now dropped into the deep little basin.  They could still be activated with spoons and catching continued.
At midday fishing success slowed. We had a cooler full of fish from 2.5 to 4 pounds.  There were no yearling fish and only two that might have been 5 pounds.  Back at the Wahweap fish cleaning station we counted 33 stripers. What a great day for fishing in December!

We set out for Rock Creek with temperatures above freezing and very little wind.  When it gets cold this winter the Rock Creek trip may not be possible for me unless I am wrapped in an insulated bubble with a 70 degree thermal layer inside.  
This trip uplake was magical as it seemed the gentle breeze was always at out back.  Fog clouds were wrapped around cliff tops with occasional sunlight spotlighting cliff walls.   It was absolutely beautiful and unique for the always dramatic scenery from Padre to Rock Creek. 


As we headed toward the back of  main Rock Creek the gentle breeze lessened and flat calm conditions prevailed. The trip was already a success so we turned around and went back,  NO!  That was not going to happen since there was another plan to be completed. 


In the back of the canyon there is a deep trench that runs from 50-70 feet but on the right hand side there is a bench that averages 35 feet. For the last month or longer, the magic holding depth for striper schools has been 35 feet. So we started there.

 

My basic technique is to troll a deep diving Thunderstick and a mid depth Shad Rap. The graph is studied while trolling and a floating marker is in hand ready to mark the location of any large striper schools that are passed over. We could just graph and then stop on a school and drop spoons, but it is also necessary to get the school activated. The best way to do that is to hook a fish which excites other schooling fish almost as much as it energizes me. As the hooked striper is reeled in, the curious school often follows to see if there is more free food close at hand.  As the troll-caught fish is lifted into the boat the striper school pauses under the boat wondering where the hooked fish went and more specifically where they might find free food. 


This time the first fish hit the shad rap which allowed me to reel in my Thunderstick and quickly deploy the spoon rod. Sure enough! As soon as the first fish was hoisted in, the school appeared and my spoon was eaten on the way down to the bottom.  I played my fish until another spoon was in the water. Then I flopped my 3-pound striper on the deck by holding the spoon and the jerking it while letting the weight of the fish disengage the hooks from the lip. Luckily it worked that time and I could immediately put the spoon back in the water as my partner played his spoon caught fish.
We deployed a marker at the spot where the first fish was caught.  We worked this school over for about 10-15 minutes before they left us.  Then we picked up the fish off the deck, and put them in the cooler on ice. We had drifted about 200 yards away from the marker as the school followed us. The next step is put out the trolling lures again and search for the next school. 


The trolling/spooning technique located about 5 or 6 separate schools.  The floating markers showed the most common school location to be at the breaking edge of the 35 foot terrace before it dropped into deep water.   Later in the day and further back in the canyon where depth was commonly 18 feet, we found a 50 yard long basin that was 30 feet deep.  Sure enough schools that had been holding on the shallow bench now dropped into the deep little basin.  They could still be activated with spoons and catching continued. 


At midday fishing success slowed. We had a cooler full of fish from 2.5 to 4 pounds.  There were no yearling fish and only two that might have been 5 pounds.  Back at the Wahweap fish cleaning station we counted 33 stripers. What a great day for fishing in December!

 

wg10814

 

November 26, 2014 - Rock Creek Report - Stripers

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November 26, 2014
Rock Creek –
Striper fishing is becoming more predictable as stripers and shad have arrived at the places where they will spend the winter.  The general pattern is the back of major canyons where bottom depth starts to shallow from 70 feet to 30 feet.  Shad will spend the winter suspended in schools at about 50-70 feet. Stripers will lay on the bottom at about the same depth and periodically attack the shad school.  As the water gets colder there will be less interaction between the two but stripers cannot allow a shad (lure) to pass through the resting school without some sort of reaction so fishing will continue to be productive all winter long.
At Rock Creek the current fishing pattern was demonstrated as we went to the back of the canyon looking for stripers. Shad were still in shallow water as the warm calm weather has allowed the water temperature to stay near 60F.   Shad won’t move until the temperature drops to the low 50s.  Casting Yamamoto shad shaped worms rigged on a quarter ounce jig head steadily produced stripers from 2 to 5 pounds at depths shallower than 20 feet.  Shad were hiding in the back of the canyon and stripers were guarding and periodically attacking the shallow shad schools. Fishing was best early and then decreased as the sun got higher in the morning sky.
We know that stripers were holding out deeper than 20 feet so we trolled thundersticks out into the 35-50 foot depths.  The first fish hooked was a dandy that weighed almost 5 pounds.  We took about 2 seconds to admire that fish and quickly deployed spoons into the school of stripers that followed the first one to the boat.  These fish really liked our spoons (home made walleye lure slab spoons).
The wind was calm and we drifted slowly across the bay into deeper water.  The drift took over an hour as we constantly caught school stripers from 2-4 pounds.  We put 25 fish in the cooler on the first drift but had perhaps 15 more that came unbuttoned near the boat. They must of hit just a bit short and came off easily.  We spooned up another 10 by going back to the marker where the school was first found.
Fishing success dropped off as the sun got higher in the sky.  Best success was found from dawn to 11 AM. Cool early morning fishing is better than “warm” fishing mid day.
Back at the Wahweap fish cleaning station we marveled at the incredible fillets from these fat healthy fish.
Fishing is still good at Lake Powell.  It is necessary to use the right approach and techniques but the results are very satisfying.

natem

 

November 26, 2014 - Rock Creek 

Striper fishing is becoming more predictable as stripers and shad have arrived at the places where they will spend the winter.  The general pattern is the back of major canyons where bottom depth starts to shallow from 70 feet to 30 feet.  Shad will spend the winter suspended in schools at about 50-70 feet. Stripers will lay on the bottom at about the same depth and periodically attack the shad school.  As the water gets colder there will be less interaction between the two but stripers cannot allow a shad (lure) to pass through the resting school without some sort of reaction so fishing will continue to be productive all winter long.     

At Rock Creek the current fishing pattern was demonstrated as we went to the back of the canyon looking for stripers. Shad were still in shallow water as the warm calm weather has allowed the water temperature to stay near 60F.   Shad won’t move until the water temperature drops to the low 50s.  Casting Yamamoto shad shaped worms rigged on a quarter ounce jig head steadily produced stripers from 2 to 5 pounds at depths shallower than 20 feet.  Shad were hiding in the back of the canyon and stripers were guarding and periodically attacking the shallow shad schools.

Fishing was best early and then decreased as the sun got higher in the morning sky. We know that stripers were holding out deeper than 20 feet so we trolled thundersticks out into the 35-50 foot depths.  The first fish hooked was a dandy that weighed almost 5 pounds.  We took about 2 seconds to admire that fish and quickly deployed spoons into the school of stripers that followed the first one to the boat.  

These trailing fish really liked our spoons (home made wallylure slab spoons).  The wind was calm and we drifted slowly across the bay into deeper water.  The drift took over an hour as we constantly caught school stripers from 2-4 pounds. We tried to keep one active spoon or hooked fish in the water at all times so the school would follow the boat.  It worked out that we usually had one fish on while the other fish was being unhooked and then we changed roles from the unhooker to the catcher.  Great fun!

  We put 25 fish in the cooler on the first drift but had perhaps 15 more that came unbuttoned near the boat. They must of hit just a bit short and came unhooked prematurely.  We spooned up another 10 by going back to the marker where the school was first found.  Fishing success dropped off as the sun got higher in the sky.  Best success was found from dawn to 11 AM. Cool early morning fishing results are better than “warm” fishing mid day. 

Back at the Wahweap fish cleaning station we marveled at the incredible fillets from these fat, healthy fish. Fishing is still good at Lake Powell.  It is necessary to use the right approach and techniques but the results are very satisfying.

noblmb14

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 November 2014 07:58
 

November 9, 2014 - GHB and Rincon

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Here is a quick summary of our best results in Good Hope Bay on November 4 and 5.  We trolled up a couple of stripers on deep diving thundersticks (white) in the mouth of Blue Notch. Best fishing was uplake in Trachyte where a boil occured Monday afternoon between 3-4 PM at the mouth of the canyon.  The boil repeated at the same time on Tuesday afternoon but this time in the back of the canyon. 

While at the Rincon we found good bass fishing along the northwest shoreline with grubs and tubes.  There was school of stripers in the back of Iceberg at the junction of Natural Dam cove and Iceberg canyon.  Water was 50 feet deep at the junction but the striper school was on  a 30-foot mound.   I caught a few before they ran off.

We will be on the San Juan this week. More later.

 

October 29, 2014 - Striper migration complete

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Lake Powell Fishing Report
October 29, 2014
Lake Elevation: 3605
Water Temperature 65-69 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson
Striped bass annual migration is now almost complete. Fish movement begins in the spring as stripers react to warming water by leaving the backs of the canyons and heading toward the main channel to spawn.  Then in summer they pursue forage in open water wherever they can find it whether on the surface or at great depths.  As temperature declines in fall stripers move toward the backs of canyons where they will spend the winter with shad schools that descend to 60-90 feet where water temperature is cold but stable. Threadfin shad must be in deep water to survive cold winter temperatures that are near their thermal tolerance level.  Rapid warming or cooling can be lethal to these warm water forage fish once acclimated to cold water ranging from 45-50 F.
Stripers make one stop before going deep in the winter.  At the beginning of October shad were in open water but have recently moved into shallow coves to escape relentless striper predation.  Shad hope that they can find shallow water where a three-inch fish can swim but a 3-pound striper cannot without hitting bottom.
This is what we found yesterday as we searched open water for striper schools and then moved to the backs of canyons to find where stripers have gone.   We looked in Padre Bay canyons and found a few stripers left in front of Gunsight Butte.  Large schools were found at the beginning of the month but now only one small school was seen.  We did catch fish from that school by spooning quickly when the fish were graphed.  We stayed over the school long enough to catch a dozen 2-3 pound stripers before the fish departed.
Next we looked for other schools seen previously in deep water from Gregory Butte to Gunsight without finding any fish.  Then we went to the backs of canyons to see if shad were trapped in shallow coves. Most canyons were fishless while others harbored shad.  Shallow shad schools were guarded by stripers, largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Once a shallow school was found it was easy to catch husky fish of all species by casting shallow and mid depth crankbaits in 12-15 feet of water.    When we pulled out further to 30 or 40 feet we found striper schools holding waiting for shad to try to escape from the their coves. These schools were more than willing to hit spoons.
The successful lake wide pattern is to find shad schools trapped in the back of short U-shaped canyons near the man channel.  Long winding canyons are not usually as productive.  Try to stay within casting distance of the shad school but do not scare shad out into open water where the shad will then flee to another sanctuary cove.  Work the cove with shad imitating crankbaits for best results.  Our best lure was a Lucky Craft Bevy Shad in shad color.  Look further out for striper schools that really like spoons right now.
Coves with no trapped shad also had no predators.  It is possible to run quickly to the back of many coves before finding the shad school.  The school we saw contained thousands of shad and covered perhaps a length of 20 yards of shallow water from the front of the school to the back with a width of 20 feet.  Find shad now in the southern lake and fishing success will follow.  There are more shad schools in the northern lake so it may be more challenging there.  In either case the best catching action is now in the very back of the canyon from a bottom depth of 40 feet to the shallow end of the cove.
This is the last regular fish report of the year.  We head out on the lake for the next three weeks to sample with gill nets to document population size and fish health. Updates will be found on Wayneswords.com throughout the winter.

Lake Powell Fishing Report

October 29, 2014

Lake Elevation: 3605

Water Temperature 65-69 F

By: Wayne Gustaveson  

http://www.wayneswords.com

noblmb14Striped bass annual migration is now almost complete. Fish movement begins in the spring as stripers react to warming water by leaving the backs of the canyons and heading toward the main channel to spawn.  Then in summer they pursue forage in open water wherever they can find it whether on the surface or at great depths.  As temperature declines in fall stripers move toward the backs of canyons where they will spend the winter with shad schools that descend to 60-90 feet where water temperature is cold but stable. Threadfin shad must be in deep water to survive cold winter temperatures that are near their thermal tolerance level.  Rapid warming or cooling can be lethal to these warm water forage fish once acclimated to cold water ranging from 45-50 F.

 
Stripers make one stop before going deep in the winter.  At the beginning of October shad were in open water but have recently moved into shallow coves to escape relentless striper predation.  Shad hope that they can find shallow water where a three-inch fish can swim but a 3-pound striper cannot without hitting bottom.

 
nobsmb14This is what we found yesterday as we searched open water for striper schools and then moved to the backs of canyons to find where stripers have gone.   We looked in Padre Bay canyons and found a few stripers left in front of Gunsight Butte.  Large schools were found at the beginning of the month but now only one small school was seen.  We did catch fish from that school by spooning quickly when the fish were graphed.  We stayed over the school long enough to catch a dozen 2-3 pound stripers before the fish departed. 


Next we looked for other schools seen previously in deep water from Gregory Butte to Gunsight without finding any fish.  Then we went to the backs of canyons to see if shad were trapped in shallow coves. Most canyons were fishless while others harbored shad.  Shallow shad schools were guarded by stripers, largemouth and smallmouth bass. 


Once a shallow school was found it was easy to catch husky fish of all species by casting shallow and mid depth crankbaits in 12-15 feet of water.    When we pulled out further to 30 or 40 feet we found striper schools holding waiting for shad to try to escape from the their coves. These schools were more than willing to hit spoons.  


The successful lake wide pattern is to find shad schools trapped in the back of short U-shaped canyons near the man channel.  Long winding canyons are not usually as productive.  Try to stay within casting distance of the shad school but do not scare shad out into open water where the shad will then flee to another sanctuary cove.  Work the cove with shad imitating crankbaits for best results.  Our best lure was a Lucky Craft Bevy Shad in shad color.  Look further out for striper schools that really like spoons right now. 


noblmb2Coves with no trapped shad also had no predators.  It is possible to run quickly to the back of many coves before finding the shad school.  

The school we saw contained thousands of shad and covered perhaps a length of 20 yards of shallow water from the front of the school to the back with a width of 20 feet.  Find shad now in the southern lake and fishing success will follow.  There are more shad schools in the northern lake so it may be more challenging there.  In either case the best catching action is now in the very back of the canyon from a bottom depth of 40 feet to the shallow end of the cove. 


This is the last regular fish report of the year.  We head out on the lake for the next three weeks to sample with gill nets to document population size and fish health. Updates will be found on Wayneswords.com throughout the winter.

 

 

October 22, 2014 - Boils and Spooning

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Lake Powell Fishing Report
October 22, 2014
Lake Elevation: 3606
Water Temperature 68-72 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson
Fishing Schedule - Lake Powell
Dawn to 9 AM (MST):
Bass and stripers wake up and go out for breakfast.  Shad are the only option on the menu for stripers but bass add crayfish to the list. Shad schools are no longer free to live in open water due to striper gluttony.  Now shad are moving toward the backs of canyons and coves to hide.  Somewhere along the way stripers and/or bass find the school and breakfast is served.  Surface activity is still visible most mornings but the splashes are becoming less abundant.
10 AM to 3 PM:
A daily truce is declared as stripers and shad back off and quietly coexist. Stripers hold near the bottom at 40-60 feet while threadfin shad form a suspended open water school from 20-50 feet.  Not much feeding or other activities occur unless a random shad happens to drop in on the striper school.  Stripers cannot resist a shad swimming through their peaceful surroundings and must react by eating said shad.  That makes spooning and deep water trolling the only effective mid day fishing techniques.
4 PM to Dark:
Skirmish lines are redrawn and sportfish go back into feeding mode while shad run and hide. A few stripers and bass blow up on top marking the spot where a submerged school is working. The same techniques (top water and spooning) that worked in the morning are effective once more.
Techniques:
Surface boils are the most exciting form of fishing in fresh water. There are just enough boils happening now to make them worthwhile to pursue. Always keep looking for any splash during morning and evening.  Stripers blow water up over a foot in the air.  Gizzard shad jump in open water too, but they make a smooth entry back into the lake. Make sure the splash is made by the target species.  If close enough to cast while the fish are working the surface - top water lures, rattle traps and Kastmaster spoons work very well.
The boil is great fun but the real work is done with jigging spoons. There are few fish on the surface compared to the huge school waiting below. See the splash - then look at the GRAPH.  When the school is visible at depth spoons should be dropped right on the hungry fish.  This is how big numbers of fish are caught.  The school eagerly awaits the next shad imitating spoon as most shad are now eaten at 20-60 feet.  The very best technique now is spooning where bottom depth is between 20 and 60 feet.
Trolling is not very effective but does have its purpose. If surface action is not seen then trolling while watching the graph is a good way to find fish. Troll about half way back in most canyons at  a bottom depth of 40-100 feet with a marker in hand. When the striper school is seen toss the marker and return to that spot if these fish do not respond to trolled lures.  Most stripers are found in water too deep to troll without down riggers or leaded line.
Best recent locations:
Southern Lake :  Dominguez Rock (Face Canyon), Gregory Butte, Last Chance Coves, Rock Creek mouth, Dungeon Canyon.
Northern Lake: Crystal Spring, Moki Canyon, Warm Springs.
Hint:  Do not be surprised to see largemouth and smallmouth bass boiling on shad.  Stripers and bass are often working the same shad schools.  Find any surface action and look deep to find vulnerable fish that can be caught most efficiently on spoons.
Good Luck!  Fishing is challenging but very rewarding due to the quality of fish that can be caught.

Lake Powell Fishing Report

October 22, 2014

Lake Elevation: 3606

Water Temperature 68-72 F

By: Wayne Gustaveson  

http://www.wayneswords.com


Fishing Schedule - Lake Powell 


Dawn to 9 AM (MST): Bass and stripers wake up and go out for breakfast.  Shad are the only option on the menu for stripers but bass add crayfish to the list. Shad schools are no longer free to live in open water due to striper gluttony.  Now shad are moving toward the backs of canyons and coves to hide.  Somewhere along the way stripers and/or bass find the school and breakfast is served.  Surface activity is still visible most mornings but the splashes are becoming less abundant.


bretthepfam_edited-110 AM to 3 PM
: A daily truce is declared as stripers and shad back off and quietly coexist. Stripers hold near the bottom at 40-60 feet while threadfin shad form a suspended open water school from 20-50 feet.  Not much feeding or other activities occur unless a random shad happens to drop in on the striper school.  Stripers cannot resist a shad swimming through their peaceful surroundings and must react by eating said shad.  That makes spooning and deep water trolling the only effective mid day fishing techniques.


4 PM to Dark: Skirmish lines are redrawn and sportfish go back into feeding mode while shad run and hide. A few stripers and bass blow up on top marking the spot where a submerged school is working. The same techniques (top water and spooning) that worked in the morning are effective once more. 


Techniques: Surface boils are the most exciting form of fishing in fresh water. There are just enough boils happening now to make them worthwhile to pursue. Always keep looking for any splash during morning and evening.  Stripers blow water up over a foot in the air.  Gizzard shad jump in open water too, but they make a smooth entry back into the lake. Make sure the splash is made by the target species.  If close enough to cast while the fish are working the surface - top water lures, rattle traps and Kastmaster spoons work very well.  


The boil is great fun but the real work is done with jigging spoons. There are few fish on the surface compared to the huge school waiting below. See the splash - then look at the GRAPH.  When the school is visible at depth spoons should be dropped right on the hungry fish.  This is how big numbers of fish are caught.  The school eagerly awaits the next shad imitating spoon as most shad are now eaten at 20-60 feet.  The very best technique now is spooning where bottom depth is between 20 and 60 feet. 

Trolling is not very effective but does have its purpose. If surface action is not seen then trolling while watching the graph is a good way to find fish. Troll about half way back in most canyons at  a bottom depth of 40-100 feet with a marker in hand. When the striper school is seen toss the marker and return to that spot if these fish do not respond to trolled lures.  Most stripers are found in water too deep to troll without down riggers or leaded line. 

Best recent locations:

Southern Lake:  Dominguez Rock (Face Canyon), Gregory Butte, Last Chance Coves, Rock Creek mouth, Dungeon Canyon.

Northern Lake: Iceberg, Crystal Spring, Moki Canyon, Warm Springs.

Hint:  Do not be surprised to see largemouth and smallmouth bass boiling on shad.  Stripers and bass are often working the same shad schools.  Find any surface action and look deep to find vulnerable fish that can be caught most efficiently on spoons. 

Good Luck!  Fishing is challenging but very rewarding due to the quality of fish that can be caught.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 October 2014 18:11
 

October 17, 2014 - Select Spots Producing

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Lake Powell Fishing Report

October 17, 2014

Lake Elevation: 3606

Water Temperature 70-74 F

By: Wayne Gustaveson
My week was spent from the mouth of San Juan to Rincon with a side trip up the Escalante Arm.  Striper fishing was tough with no boils seen and only 3 fish caught all week.  Bass fishing saved the day.  The main channel bass pattern was consistent.  At the corners and edges of the channel there are a few shallow slick rock islands protruding from the water.  These beautiful rock formations harbored good numbers of smallmouth bass that could be consistently caught casting and trolling with shad colored lipless vibrating lures.  It is likely that bass were running shad schools into the shallow bays and trapping them against the rocks where feeding was intense. The rocks guarding the mouth of the San Juan were a good example of the rocky habitat that provides especially good fishing.
Fishing in the backs of canyons was slow for stripers but again smallmouth bass were active in 12-25 feet of water in most canyons.
Upon returning there were many fish reports waiting.  Fishing has been challenging since full moon but is now slowly improving. The key is to find locations where fish are active and avoid the quiet spots.  The best spots this week were the San Juan Arm from Cha to Neskahi, and the mouth of Rock Creek to Gregory Butte.  There were no fresh reports from the northern lake except to say that fishing is improving after full moon. Fishing at Bullfrog was slow with the best spot in Halls Bay. There is more action in the southern lake.
The best plan of attack is to head out early and look for striper splashes as they feed individually and in small groups from Wahweap to Rock Creek.  If the surface action continues then stripers can be caught in quick small boils. The real action comes when the school dives and can be found on the graph.  Spooning over holding schools at 40-60 feet is the very best fishing technique now to catch big numbers of stripers.
Stripers were recently spooned up at the mouth of Rock Creek where small surface disturbances were seen. The school was found where bottom depth was 60 feet. It is really tough to find suspended schools where bottom depth exceeds 100 feet. Look for boils but the best work is done in deep water with spoons.  Bucktail jigs, hyper stripers and similar lures that can fished at various depths in the water column and then retrieved from the bottom to the location favored by suspended fish may be the best technique for catching fish in these challenging high-forage conditions.
Tips for Graph Use:  Those new to using a graph to locate fish commonly turn on the fish ID which shows computer generated fish pictures on the graph. Fishing is not a video game.  Actual fish are best seen by using raw data.  This can best be tested on cliff walls and at the mouth of canyons.  Here the sonar sound bounces of the cliff wall then the bottom before returning to the graph.  The fish ID shows these “bounces” as fish when they are not.
Learn to use the graph in open water where bottom depth is between 40 and 60 feet.  Look for individual fish and schools where the bottom is distinct for best results. Graphing in the main channel only works when the graph is zoomed in to show a selected area. Choose the depth where most fish traces are seen for best results.
Fishing is slower than usual but warm days and cool nights are very comfortable.  The Lake Powell scenery is even better than ever in these late summer days.

By: Wayne Gustaveson  

http://www.wayneswords.com

brmygirlbassMy week was spent from the mouth of San Juan to Rincon with a side trip up the Escalante Arm.  Striper fishing was tough with no boils seen and only 3 fish caught all week.  Bass fishing saved the day.  The main channel bass pattern was consistent.  At the corners and edges of the channel there are a few shallow slick rock islands protruding from the water.  These beautiful rock formations harbored good numbers of smallmouth bass that could be consistently caught casting and trolling with shad colored lipless vibrating lures.  It is likely that bass were running shad schools into the shallow bays and trapping them against the rocks where feeding was intense. The rocks guarding the mouth of the San Juan were a good example of the rocky habitat that provides especially good fishing.

 
Fishing in the backs of canyons was slow for stripers but again smallmouth bass were active in 12-25 feet of water in most canyons.

Upon returning there were many fish reports waiting.  Fishing has been challenging since full moon but is now slowly improving. The key is to find locations where fish are active and avoid the quiet spots.  The best spots this week were the San Juan Arm from Cha to Neskahi, and the mouth of Rock Creek to Gregory Butte.  There were no fresh reports from the northern lake except to say that fishing is improving after full moon. Fishing at Bullfrog was slow with the best spot in Halls Bay. There is more action in the southern lake. 

The best plan of attack is to head out early and look for striper splashes as they feed individually and in small groups from Wahweap to Rock Creek.  If the surface action continues then stripers can be caught in quick small boils. The real action comes when the school dives and can be found on the graph.  Spooning over holding schools at 40-60 feet is the very best fishing technique now to catch big numbers of stripers. 

Stripers were recently spooned up at the mouth of Rock Creek where small surface disturbances were seen. The school was found where bottom depth was 60 feet. It is really tough to find suspended schools where bottom depth exceeds 100 feet. Look for boils but the best work is done in deep water with spoons.  Bucktail jigs, hyper stripers and similar lures that can be fished at various depths in the water column and then retrieved from the bottom to the location favored by suspended fish may be the best technique for catching fish in these challenging high-forage conditions. 

graphgw3Tips for Graph Use:  Those new to using a graph to locate fish commonly turn on the fish ID which shows computer generated fish pictures on the graph. Fishing is not a video game.  Actual fish are best seen by using raw data.  This can best be tested on cliff walls and at the mouth of canyons.  Here the sonar sound bounces of the cliff wall then the bottom before returning to the graph.  The fish ID shows these “bounces” as fish when they are not. 

Learn to use the graph in open water where bottom depth is between 40 and 60 feet.  Look for individual fish and schools where the bottom is distinct for best results. Graphing in the main channel only works when the graph is zoomed in to show a selected area. Choose the depth where most fish traces are seen for best results.

Fishing is slower than usual but warm days and cool nights are very comfortable.  The Lake Powell scenery is even better than ever in these late summer days.

 

Last Updated on Friday, 17 October 2014 07:36
 

October 8, 2014 - Hunting for Stripers

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Lake Powell Fishing Report
October 8, 2014
Lake Elevation: 3606
Water Temperature 72-74 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson
October is hunting season.  It’s time to put on the blaze orange sweatshirt, load some weapons and get in the boat.  The weapons should be transported fully loaded because the game appears quickly and then runs off even faster.  If fully ready and very observant there is time to get one shot off before the game slips out of range.  This is not a road hunt but rather a very exciting fishing trip.  The critters being pursued are surface feeding striped bass and smallmouth bass. The weapons are fishing reels fine tuned to cast very far with great accuracy and they are loaded with heavy, long-casting lures that resemble shad.   Yes – Fishing striper boils in the fall is more like hunting than fishing.
Our quarry this morning was found in the same range as reported last week but there were some subtle differences.  Early morning fishing during the full moon is not as productive as it is under dark night skies. We headed out at first light but did not see any surface action until we reached Rock Creek.  Even then the action included only a few stripers jumping here and a couple over there. We eased over to the spots where the last splash was seen. If another fish or two came up they were easy to catch when the boat was in casting range. Stripers in pursuit of shad are single minded and will bite just about anything that wiggles.  But once they dive and start looking for another school they are hard to catch.
For two hours we chased single splashes and rolling turbulent waters which were big stripers feeding just under the surface.  These fish were working individually since shad numbers are high enough to allow stripers this luxury.  Usually the striper school has to surround shad and hold them in place before feeding.  Not now!  Shad are numerous making stripers a bit more challenging to capture.
After 8 AM surface boils began holding more fish and the action persisted a little longer.  We caught stripers at the mouth of Rock Creek by running a circle around the big bay looking for splashes.  Big splashes usually mean stripers are feeding but we also caught smallmouth as they boiled in two locations.
Next we headed down lake to look at Last Chance again. It had been calm and quiet early in the morning but this time through there were more aggressive small boils with an exciting climax of one big boil that stayed up for 5 minutes.  The big boil came up at 10 AM.
That’s a good summary of how to catch stripers now.  They are easy to snare when hitting the surface and hard to find when not on top.  The very best way to catch fish now is to find a school on the graph and drop spoons to catch a lot of fish in a short time.  But the schools holding on the bottom are just as hard to find as the fish boiling on the surface.  Trolling is the last resort as both chasing boils and spooning are more productive.
The best time to fish now is the last few hours in the evening.  The best location is in the main channel from Padre Bay to Trachyte. The best recent report came from the main channel just upstream from the mouth of the San Juan.
All of the stripers caught had threadfin shad in their stomachs.  These shad are open water fish while small gizzard shad are found close to shore. I suspect that stripers are selectively pursuing threadfin shad in open water and will save the gizzard shad in coves and backs of canyons for later in the year.
Fishing in these high forage conditions is more challenging than when stripers are really hungry.  But catching fish now is more rewarding as these fish are in abnormally prime physical condition seldom seen on Lake Powell. Catching 10 stripers now makes a successful trip. Catching 20 or more is like fishing in Shangri-La.

Lake Powell Fishing Report

October 8, 2014

Lake Elevation: 3606  (One foot higher than last 3 weeks)

Water Temperature 72-74 F

By: Wayne Gustaveson  

http://www.wayneswords.com

October is hunting season.  It’s time to put on the blaze orange sweatshirt, load some weapons and get in the boat.  The weapons should be transported fully loaded because the game appears quickly and then runs off even faster.  If fully ready and very observant there is time to get one shot off before the game slips out of range.  This is not a road hunt but rather a very exciting fishing trip.  The critters being pursued are surface feeding striped bass and smallmouth bass. The weapons are fishing reels fine tuned to cast very far with great accuracy and they are loaded with heavy, long-casting lures that resemble shad.   Yes – Fishing striper boils in the fall is more like hunting than fishing. 

johnsuzieOur quarry this morning was found in the same range as reported last week but there were some subtle differences.  Early morning fishing during the full moon is not as productive as it is under dark night skies. We headed out at first light but did not see any surface action until we reached Rock Creek.  Even then the action included only a few stripers jumping here and a couple over there. We eased over to the spots where the last splash was seen. If another fish or two came up they were easy to catch when the boat was in casting range. Stripers in pursuit of shad are single minded and will bite just about anything that wiggles.  But once they dive and start looking for another school they are hard to catch. 

                                                                                                                 John and Suzie

 


For two hours we chased single splashes and rolling turbulent waters which were big stripers feeding just under the surface.  These fish were working individually since shad numbers are high enough to allow stripers this luxury.  Usually the striper school has to surround shad and hold them in place before feeding.  Not now!  Shad are numerous making stripers a bit more challenging to capture. 

After 8 AM surface boils began holding more fish and the action persisted a little longer.  We caught stripers at the mouth of Rock Creek by running a circle around the big bay looking for splashes.  Big splashes usually mean stripers are feeding but we also caught smallmouth as they boiled in two locations. 

Next we headed down lake to look at Last Chance again. It had been calm and quiet early in the morning but this time through we saw another boat near Gregory Butte and went over to get a fish report. Lou and Tony told us they just saw their first boil.... and then the fish came up again and we all went back to fishing.  These were the best, most aggressive boils of the morning followed by an exciting climax of one big open-channel boil that stayed up for 8 minutes.  The big boil came up at 10 AM.  

wg10814That’s a good summary of how to catch stripers now.  They are easy to snare when hitting the surface and hard to find when not on top.  The very best way to catch fish now is to find a school on the graph and drop spoons to catch a lot of fish in a short time.  But the schools holding on the bottom are just as hard to find as the fish boiling on the surface. Trolling is the last resort as both chasing boils and spooning are more productive. 

The best time to fish now is the last few hours in the evening.  The best location is in the main channel from Padre Bay to Trachyte. The best recent report came from the main channel just upstream from the mouth of the San Juan.  All of the stripers caught had threadfin shad in their stomachs.  These shad are open water fish while small gizzard shad are found close to shore. I suspect that stripers are selectively pursuing threadfin shad in open water and will save the gizzard shad in coves and backs of canyons for later in the year.  

Fishing in these high forage conditions is more challenging than when stripers are really hungry.  But catching fish now is more rewarding as these fish are in abnormally prime physical condition seldom seen on Lake Powell. Catching 10 stripers now makes a successful trip. Catching 20 or more is like fishing in Shangri-La.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 October 2014 19:33
 
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