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Fishing Report

Water temperature:

78-82 F

September 5, 2019

September 4, 2019 - Conditions improving

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Lake Powell Fish Report –

September 4, 2019

Lake Elevation: 3618
Water temperature: 78-83 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com or Wayneswords.net

Fishing at Lake Powell has been different this year.  Striper boils in August were much less than expected.  Smallmouth bass fishing has been spotty. Catfish are bigger and bolder than usual. Largemouth and walleye are taking the hot summer off. What is going on?

There was a long cool spring with massive runoff and a large rise in lake elevation, which covered the brush line for the first time in years.  Then the hottest summer on record arrived. Conditions at Lake Powell were not normal so fish adapted to the prevailing condition and charted a new path.  We are still trying to figure it out, but have some ideas.

Shad are the most important fish in Lake Powell. They provide forage for most of the sportfish.  Threadfin shad are the prefect forage fish but they only produce strong populations every third year.  2019 is the year of the threadfin. They are dominating the food chain. The cool spring and rising lake levels, allowed the shad spawning season to last longer.  Now, there are small shad schools all over the surface of Lake Powell.  Stripers do not have to surround one isolated shad school and trap it against the surface. Now they just swim up to the surface and snack on a small shad pod.

The striper feeding schedule begins at dawn and lasts until about 9:30 AM (MST).  They may come up again midday or evening but morning is the most dependable.  Boils are not common.  Now small groups of stripers attack a small pod of shad.  The surface disturbance looks like 3 to 6 stripers feeding for about 30 seconds.   If close enough to cast precisely to a feeding fish, it will hit the lure. If not, the fish will go down only to come back up a few more times.

Adult stripers cannot stay in 80-degree water for more than a few minutes.  They dive down deeper to cool off.  Now the most effective technique is to troll a 12-15 foot deep-diving, shad-imitating lure (Lucky Craft XD Pointer in chartreuse shad color or similar lure).  Troll near the surface action, then cast topwater lures when the striper school resurfaces.

Using these techniques, we caught 16 stripers.  The excellent physical condition of these fish was reminiscent of the 1980s when small numbers of stripers were feeding on an unlimited shad population.  Fishing success now does not compare to previous August results. The good news is that the best is yet to come. Stripers are growing to a much larger size.  Food is constantly available lake wide.  Boils will increase and prevail through September and October.  Stripers will be anxious to eat spoons all winter long.  Fishing success will get much better in the coming days.

Smallmouth bass are hiding out as well.  It is more likely to catch big smallmouth competing with stripers in open water on surface lures early and late. More bass will be on the rocky bottom at 15-25 feet. Fish in the shade to increase the bass catch rate.  Black Ned rigs worked well this week.

I am thrilled and amazed that, despite having quagga mussels in the lake, there has been a resurgence in shad numbers and now in striped bass condition. Smallmouth bass are increasing in size. Hopefully, largemouth bass and crappie will spawn in brushy habitat next spring and produce a more abundant population. Conditions at Lake Powell are the best they have been for years!


August 28, 2019 - Trifecta

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Lake Powell Fish Report – August 28, 2019
Lake Elevation: 3619
Water temperature: 81-86 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com or Wayneswords.net

As I returned from vacation, we had an assignment to catch 60 striped bass for the annual disease re-certification, to ensure that Lake Powell fish do not have any viruses that might destabilize the fishery. We must collect the fish on the same day they are certified. Hot weather had really slowed down fishing in August, but I checked recent fish reports and found that small stripers (8-12 inches) recently boiled in Warm Creek. We targeted and caught the needed 60 fish in 4 hours. Here is the technique that will work lakewide.

First, start early. We launched while the clear sky was still red, well before the sun rose in the east. Next, look for small splashes. Stripers are actively chasing shad, but it is hard to tell a few stripers apart from gizzard shad that are active on the surface each morning. The clue is to find 3 or more fish working together, rather than one single fish jumping.

When a few fish are surfacing, that might be stripers, start trolling in that area. The best lures are small rattletraps or other shallow runners. It is likely that a few stripers will attack your trolled lure while scanning the surface for a larger boil. We caught about 15 fish trolling while watching for boils.

Boils are not large and happen quickly in the warm surface water. We saw the most boils as the sun came over the ridges and lit up the water. When 15-20 stripers come up, race toward them as quickly as possible and stop just in casting range. Use surface lures, or the same trolling rattletraps, or spoons. Surface lures placed right over the boiling fish work well. The cast has to be within a foot of the splash ring. We caught as many fish on crankbaits and spoons reeled though the boil zone.

Most of the stripers were yearlings that can stay in warm water for a long time. Larger stripers have to live in deeper, cool water. They can boil for a few minutes, then must dive back to their cool comfort zone. We saw two groups of large stripers on the surface. We did catch 2-3 pound stripers on the surface and were amazed at their healthy bodies. These fish were FAT! We caught 15 fish that were boiling.

The other 30 fish were easy to catch. Right after the boil quit, the fish dove to cooler water at 20-60 feet. They were still hungry but they had to cool off. When the graph shows a school of stripers swimming under the boat, drop spoons to the bottom and stripers will be happy to eat these “shad” swimming through the hungry striper school.


The most effective striper technique now is to use the trifecta of trolling, casting to boils and then spooning on the bottom. Have 3 rods rigged with top water, shallow running cranks and spoons to drop to the bottom. There is not time to retie lures while this action is spinning in front of you. I often used all 3 techniques within a 5-minute period while fish moved from the surface to the bottom. 

We also found large smallmouth bass hanging out near shad schools. We caught them trolling, casting, and spooning.

Lake Powell is amazing! I am glad to be back.

July 31,2019

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Lake Powell Fish Report – July 31, 2019
Lake Elevation: 3621
Water temperature: 79-85 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com or Wayneswords.net

Lake Powell is now holding steady at an elevation of 3621. Water entering the lake is equal to or slightly exceeds water going out. Expect the lake level to be steady for the next few weeks. Stability allows lake water clarity to increase as sediment falls out onto the lake bottom. Water visibility in the main channel at the mouth of Moki Canyon is about 7 feet. Just downstream from Good Hope Bay visibility is about 5 feet. Floating driftwood will be a problem in the northern lake and the backs of some canyons until the water level begins to decrease and strands the driftwood on shore.

We are quivering with anticipation while waiting for striper boils to begin. Slurps are diminishing. It is hard to catch a fish on top, because the slurp only lasts for 15-30 seconds. It is hard to make the approach in time to make a perfect cast and catch a striper. It is still possible to catch stripers on bait, with a good striper school reported just north of Tapestry Wall. Unfortunately, most of these stripers were thin. Fatter stripers responded to trolled lures further out into the channel. 

The good news is that striper boil reports are starting to come in. A full-blown striper boil blew up and lasted for 30-minutes just before the first big turn in the San Juan Arm. There were boils reported in Red Canyon, as well. Another report came from Buoy 59 in the main channel. That boil was up and down for almost an hour. Once stripers go down they are still anxious to eat shad and will hit spoons really well when the school is seen on the graph under the boat. The best chance of finding boils occurs in the San Juan Arm and in Good Hope Bay and beyond. Expect the rest of the lake to boil in the coming weeks. August is the most consistent boil month. However, September is the most enjoyable with cooler weather and less boat traffic.

Bass fishing is still steady with main channel rockslides, and brushy areas along the shoreline being the most dependable spots to catch largemouth and smallmouth bass. Fishing for sunfish is steady near shore and brushy cover. Look in the back of brushy coves. It is possible to visually find sunfish in shallow coves and then catch them on tiny ice lies with a piece of worm attached. Bluegill may be one of the best tasting fish found in Lake Powell. Invite some to dinner and let us know your opinion.

The easiest big fish to catch is the channel catfish. They come into sandy beaches at dusk and search around all night for something to eat. Table scraps, night crawlers, or anchovies work well as bait. Just cast the bait behind the boat and wait for the catfish to find it. It should not take long. 

There are always some fun fish to catch at Lake Powell. It is an amazing fishery!

July 10, 2019

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Lake Powell Fish Report – July 10, 2019
Lake Elevation: 3618
Water temperature: 76-85 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com or Wayneswords.net

Slurping stripers are still very active in the Southern lake from Wahweap to the San Juan. Get up early to beat the boat traffic and head uplake always on the lookout for a small surface disturbance. Stripers in a tight school are chasing small shad and the feeding event is visible for 100 yards or more in calm water. Watch for gentle splashes and an occasional fish breaking the surface. Approach the slurp quickly, stop in casting range and turn the boat to the side so all can cast to the slurping fish. The first cast must land in front of, or beyond the rapidly moving fish. Work the lure back through the school quickly. Slurping stripers usually dive before there is time to cast again. Sometimes the school goes under the boat. A quickly deployed spoon may work when the school is directly under the boat. Usually the school pops up again. Move the boat again into casting range and repeat the process. Stripers are more likely to hit lures on the first cast. Sometimes they will hit the second time stripers come up. Usually they are not interested in your lures after the second attempt. It is then time to move on and find the next school. 


On our sampling trip, we saw slurps in the main channel from Gregory Butte to Rock Creek. We caught slurpers from 7 AM to noon before heading back down lake. Six times we caught two fish on the first cast to a new slurping school. Total catch was 27 stripers, caught on full size bone colored, Rebel Jumpin' Minnows. These lures are heavy and cast a long distance. Stripers were very willing to hit big surface lures as long as they were in front and beyond the rapidly moving school. 

We also tried trolling early along the east wall of Padre Bay and found stripers willing to hit Live Target Shad (Silver-Bronze) crankbait. We caught one fish at 5-10 minute intervals.

Top water fishing for bass is great at first light in the morning. Brush lines sticking out of the water are signposts that say fish here. Cast topwater lures towards the brush. Work them slowly through the weeds to catch both large and smallmouth bass. Later in the day, go to the backs of the canyons where water is murky, driftwood is floating, and shoreline brush has recently been flooded. Bass are very willing to hit a wide variety of lures in 5 to 25 feet of water. I even caught bass trolling the Live Target shad lure in the backs of canyons at a bottom depth of 12-25 feet.

Bluegill and Green Sunfish are now easy to see in brushy coves now filling with water. Use a very small jig head with a small piece of worm attached. Kids love catching sunfish and it is a good way to teach them how to fish. 

Catfish are very active on sandy beaches from early evening until late at night while sitting in a lawn chair at the waters edge.

Fishing success is strong and doing well in the heat of the summer on the shores of beautiful Lake Powell.


July 17, 2019

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Lake Powell Fish Report – July 17, 2019
Lake Elevation: 3620
Water temperature: 78-85 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com or Wayneswords.net


The inflow to Lake Powell is slowing down but not before bringing the lake up over 50 feet. The annual high lake level for this year will be between 3620 and 3625 MSL. Rising water has covered the brush line, which now gives shad, bass, and crappie the opportunity to avoid predation and increase their numbers in the lake. Largemouth bass, crappie and shad numbers decreased in 2018 when the lake only came up 3 feet and brushy cover was absent. Another year of high water in 2020 would boost the sport fish populations and continue to make Lake Powell a reliable fishing destination for anglers from all over the country.


In the last report, smallmouth bass were lost and wandering with the rising water. Now they are back in good size and numbers. The easiest way to find bass is to watch for narrow, (less than 50 yards wide) isolated rock slides in the main channel and in major canyons. In canyons where the channel is mostly steep cliffs, rocky habitat attracts bass to congregate in a small area where they are easy to find using standard bass baits, such as senkos, Ned rigs, single and double tailed green grubs. The best advice is to fish on the bottom in deeper water than normal, at 20-25 feet. On our weekly trip, we caught 6 smallmouth in about 15 minutes using these techniques. Our best fish was a 3-pounder. (Caught by Nob Wimmer) 
Note the rock slide in the background. 

Stripers are still visibly slurping small shad in open water over the length of the lake. We saw slurps in Warm Creek, main channel, Padre Bay, Dominguez Rock, Face Canyon, Last Chance and Rock Creek. The fish were fun to watch and try to approach, but the numbers caught dropped off significantly since last week. Our catch dropped from 27 stripers caught last week, down to 6 on this trip. Last week slurpers were willing to hit full size white surface lures. This week the most successful lure was a 2-inch rattletrap in black and silver color. Stripers caught were in great shape after snacking on shad for the last month.

We found that the size of shad consumed was essentially the same as that found in striper stomachs for the past month. This means that stripers are focusing on recently hatched shad that swim in open water near the surface. Larger larval shad that hatched out more than a month ago are now hiding in the backs of canyons in turbid water and brush. When stripers deplete the small shad supply in open water they will begin searching for more forage and eventually find larger shad in the backs of canyons. When that happens 'boils' will begin. Stripers boil because large shad can swim fast which means stripers have to surround the shad school and trap it against the lake surface and/or the shore. There have already been a few “boil sightings” in the backs of canyons.

Boils began early last year due to low, clear water. Review the old fish reports (Wayneswords.com) to see when the action started in other years. My best guess is that boils will begin in the northern lake during the last week of July. Water clarity is the key. If runoff continues to muddy the water, it could be a week later. Boils in the southern lake are likely to start in August.

Fishing a striper boil may be the most exciting form of fishing found in fresh water.
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