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Fishing Report

Water temperature:

79-84 F

July 16, 2018

August 31, 2011 - Still Hite!

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Lake Powell Fish Report - August 31, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3655            
Water Temperature 80-88 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson  

anthonycattersonLake Powell is covered by a blanket of warm water that snugly holds game fish in the cooler depths. Declining lake levels also contribute to current conditions by forcing fish down instead of bringing them up. The net result is difficult fishing conditions over most of the lake.  The bright spots are around deep tributary inflows where incoming river water provides a constant temperature corridor for fish to mingle with forage and maintain the normal predator-prey relationship which equates to good fishing.

Shad numbers are somewhat higher than the annual average which means all fish species have adequate forage. At Hite stripers are taking advantage of shad by feeding around the clock.  The result is a grand fishing opportunity to catch striped bass chasing shad on the surface.  These "boils" can be seen from great distance and provide anglers easy targets as they cast to the surface disturbance knowing that each cast will attract the interest of many fish.  Some fish bump the lure while others slash at it and others whack it with their tail. The lure is jostled and tossed until one fish finally puts a mouth around it.  Then it's a race to land that fish in record time so another cast can be made before the feeding party atmosphere ends. Surface fishing for stripers also causes an adrenaline boil in the angler that is not often duplicated in other inland fishing opportunities.

Striper boils are often good on calm mornings and then seen intermittently throughout the day.  The best time to fish is from 5 PM until dark.  In this magic period boils often cover the surface from Hite to North Wash and downstream as far as Trachyte and to the Horn.  Anglers adept at positioning the boat, then efficiently casting and landing fish, are catching up to 60 fish in an evening.   Others just learning the art of chasing boils are catching enough to bring bright smiles and a feeling of success to all.   Hite is the best place to fish this week with good launching access and short runs to highly productive fishing areas.

bbene1If a trip to Hite is not possible then fishing opportunities, normally considered awesome when compared to other fisheries that are not Lake Powell, still exist.  Boils are seen midlake around Bullfrog.  Look near the houseboats fields at Halls Crossing and as a good starting place both morning and evening.  Again the best time to see boils lakewide is in the evening.   Unfortunately, the lower half of Lake Powell from San Juan down to Wahweap is not producing boils now.

kathy coblentzBass fishing is challenging but one lake wide pattern is consistently producing.  Bass are now off the steep vertical cliffs in the main channel and main canyons.  The best spot to fish would be in the shade of a cliff on a 20 foot deep ledge or outcropping protruding from the cliff wall. Here bass can quickly up from the cool depths to feed quickly and drop straight down in to the preferred temperature zone.  The backs of canyons feature a gentle sloping bottom that requires a longer swim from the cool water to the feeding areas.  Shad have a myriad of brush in which to hide in the back of the canyon.  Bass work harder chasing shad in the shallows than they do waiting for a school to swim by in the main channel.   Bass spend time waiting for shad searching the bottom for crayfish that may venture out of their rocky hideout.

Fishing for all species will get better in September.  Temperature will drop by mid September removing the warm blanket and releasing fish lakewide to feed closer to the surface.  But for now there are still fish to catch by traveling to Hite or fishing the main channel vertical habitat.

August 23. 2011 - Hite Boils are Hot!

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Lake Powell Fish Report - August 23, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3657            
Water Temperature 79-83 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson  

rcolbysjIt feels much better to write this report after catching a striper in a boil.  It is amazing how that can change ones attitude for the better.  When stripers pop to the top, adrenaline flows freely as the boat zips toward the feeding frenzy.  Once in range, properly directed casts will immediately score as the bait hits the water. Then the fight is on.  Attention is divided between landing the fish on the line and watching all the fish wallowing on the surface.  What a rush!  It's been a long time!

A few more details are warranted.  The choice for the weekly trip wavered between fishing near Wahweap and trying to make fish with closed mouths bite or running uplake where boils have been recently reported.  I thought about it for 2 long minutes before selling out for the San Juan.  The ride at dawn in a fast bass boat took 40 minutes on flat water.  Lake Powell is absolutely beautiful even when fish are not boiling.

youthdockWe went to Cha Canyon (60 miles) before giving up and heading back without throwing a cast.  A houseboat crew near Bald Rock Canyon reported one quick boil at dawn in the channel and one at the mouth of the San Juan the night before.  We caught a few bass near the houseboat. Bass fishing in the San Juan is fine on reefs and terraces at the edge of the main channel.  Daiquiri colored Yamamoto grubs worked very well at 20-35 feet.

But we were looking for boils so we headed to the mouth of the San Juan. Spoons and stump jumpers were ignored by the myriad of fish layered at the 40 feet depth contour.  We were just rigging up for trolling when the boil erupted.  The next 6 minutes made the long trip and early morning departure worth the effort.  The boil lasted less than a minute. Then singles were seen chasing shad for another 5 minutes. I caught two 8 inch stripers and two smallmouth bass on a Kastmaster while my partner, Ron Colby, got a nice fat 4-pound striper and two smallmouth on a full size surface lure. Then it was over.  That's it.  Boil fever relieved for the moment.

thomcatgWe confirmed that a layer of fish between 30 and 40 feet exists from Wahweap to the San Juan. It is likely that a narrow comfort zone has formed between the thermocline and a low oxygen layer that has set up at 45 feet. Open water fish, including shad and stripers, are in the middle of the channel making them very hard to catch.  My guess for the southern lake is that feeding occurs at depth with no need for stripers to leave the narrow comfort zone.  Further uplake there is wider zone. Stripers still occasionally chase shad to the top so an occasional boil is seen.  Striper chasing shad to shore ignite the bass and fishing is super for a few minutes or until the next boil.

fallwestAll the way uplake at Hite boils are going nonstop. There is no question where to be this week. If fishing is your game then Hite is the place to be.  Reports of 40 -60 stripers caught in boils are common each morning and evening. Full size surface lures are working fine. Bass, catfish and sunfish are also being regularly caught. There is no need to look farther than the bay at the end of the Hite ramp for boil activity.  

Fishing success in the southern lake will improve as the surface temperature drops into the 70s and mixing relieves the low oxygen event.


August 17, 2011 - Go North!

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Lake Powell Fish Report - August 17, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3658            
Water Temperature 78-83 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson  

andrewIt pains me to write this report as one of the "have-nots".  It is much better to be catching fish and telling others how to do it instead of just wishing for good fishing.  The southern end of the lake, where I normally fish, is strangely quiet.  Fish of all species are difficult to catch. There is just no repeatable fish activity to build on. An occasional fish can be caught but a repeatable pattern has not been found.  My best guess is that most fish, shad and stripers, are holding in deep, open water near the thermocline.  The only way to properly present lures to these fish would be to troll with down riggers at a depth of 40 feet.  I am not sure if that would work but it's the only thing we haven't tried.

bryanbecksteadSo the rest of the report will be about reports received from happy anglers readily catching fish in the mid to northern lake. The very best spot on Lake Powell is "Striper City" which is the area from Hite to Trachyte Canyon.  Small quick boils are found downlake as far as the Rincon.
Fishing is more challenging in the mid lake area around Bullfrog but it is much better than at Wahweap.  The pattern is to see a surface disturbance and assess direction of movement.  These fish will likely sound before the boat can be properly positioned to make a cast.  Instead of chasing the school, try to guess where they will resurface based on their movement.  If the fish come up in casting range they can be easily caught.  If the guess was wrong, look at the travel direction and try to get ahead of them for another casting opportunity.   This is run-and-gun fishing but results are worth the effort.   Near Hite, schools are staying up longer and chasing them down is not such a demanding task.

dtribblegirlBoils are found in the main channel of the San Juan near Nasja and Bald Rock Canyons.  Piute Bay is quiet but we suspect the upper end of the lake near the San Juan River inflow is boiling just like Hite.
We have discovered from shad sampling that Bullfrog (average of 588) has the highest shad concentration followed closely by Good Hope Bay (462).  There are 80% fewer shad at Wahweap (82) and in Piute Bay (83) on the San Juan. This difference in shad concentration obviously plays a part in striper surface activity. Now lots of shad equates to active surface feeding while fewer shad downlake means no surface activity.  
Bass fishing follows the striper trend.  Shad schools chased to the shoreline by stripers really get the attention of bass and other fish that eat shad as targets of opportunity.  When stripers fail to chase shad then bass fishing is not as good. Crayfish have come shallow as most bass are in deeper water due to the high surface water temperature.  

All these "dog-day of summer" anomalies will work themselves out in September as lake level and water temperature declines.   But for now the wise anglers will "Go North" for fast fishing.


August 10, 2011 - Still Divided

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Lake Powell Fish Report - August 10, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3660            
Water Temperature 78-83 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson  

larrylewisThe strict division between good fishing uplake and bad fishing downlake remains in place.  The best fishing spots from last week include the main channel from Buoy 92-98 and the backs of the canyons near Hite.  Shad are present in the relatively clear water of the channel where they have abundant plankton to eat. Stripers find shad schools feeding near the surface and drive them to the surface where shad are disadvantaged and can be consumed more efficiently.  Shad size is still small which equates to stripers eating in quick bites followed by a dive into deep water and then a return to the surface some distance away.  This is frustrating to anglers if stripers only come up once.  The key to catching them is to be in casting range when they resurface the second or third time.  If they come up in range catching success is high.  If they only surface once then be prepared for more chasing than catching.

slurpsplashNear Hite, water clarity in the channel is murkier than that in the canyons.  So look in White, Farleys and Trachyte Canyons to find cooperative stripers. The same rules apply.  If they resurface in the same area catching prevails, if not the cooler remains empty.

Shad and stripers exhibit different feeding behavior each day.  Some days they are very aggressive and stay up for long periods.  But normally there is a daily timing pattern. Right now the pattern is better, stronger, higher quality boils in the evening hours.  In the hot spots near Bullfrog anglers are catching up to 25 stripers in the morning and then 50 or more in the evening. There may be a mid day boil but reports are random and non repeatable.  If only fishing one time period, evening is the time to choose.

Fishing for all species out of Wahweap is challenging.  Lockjaw is common although both smallmouth and largemouth bass are caught on main outside points as fish wait for a shad school to swim by.  Fishing will improve in the south soon, as the lake is now slowly declining and bass will be able to find a home range where they can hang out their shingle and spend some time.  The rapid rise in lake elevation has covered so much inviting brush that largemouth are scattered over a very wide area. Anglers are reporting finding largemouth schools and catching a ton of fish only to go back the next day and find none. Fishing will remain hit-or-miss for the next week or two and then improve dramatically. Look for great fishing lakewide in September as shad and sport fish numbers are high.

waenetRemote locations of the San Juan, Escalante and Hite will be the first areas to show improved fishing.  Right now the best bet is to go to Bullfrog or Hite and chase evening boils.  I really wish that was closer for me and I live at Lake Powell.  I will keep watching and impatiently waiting so I can let you know as soon as fishing on the south end improves.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 August 2011 09:48

August 3, 2011 - Lake Divided

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Lake Powell Fish Report - August 3, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3660            
Water Temperature 80-85 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson  

perkes1Powell is a lake divided into two separate fisheries. From Rainbow Bridge Canyon to Hite stripers are boiling at many locations throughout the day.   But from Rainbow Bridge downlake the surface is quiet and fishing is challenging.
Striper boils only happen when shad are plentiful. Our recent trawl sampling showed record numbers of shad from the San Juan to Hite.  High runoff spread nutrients throughout the upper lake resulting in increased plankton production.  When shad were spawned, abundant little plankters allowed shad to find easy meals close at hand and survive in high numbers.  Shad grew quickly to a size attractive to all predators including stripers and bass.  Stripers responded by herding up shad schools and trapping them against the surface where they can feed most effectively.

dtribbleboysRecent boils have been concentrated in the main channel from Cedar Canyon to Warm Springs (Buoy 117), and Halls Creek. Most of the action has been in the main channel but don't be surprised to find boils in the backs of canyons.  Stripers are not hard to catch on surface lures and Kastmaster spoons if the lure lands near the front of the rapidly moving fish and is then worked back through the boil. But a lure that lands on the south side of a north bound boil will be ignored.

In the southern lake boils are nonexistent. The absence of surface feeding is a mystery.  Shad numbers found in trawl samples were high just as seen in the north.  The difference was shad size.  Most shad were still small in the Wahweap sample. We are not sure if the size disparity means there is less plankton for southern shad to eat or if growth will catch up with the northern shad in the near future.  My guess is that there are plenty of shad from Rainbow to Wahweap and the lower lake is only days away from erupting. The most likely explanation is that small shad can be eaten at depth by individual stripers. That means the striper school does not have to drive shad to the top. Stripers just eat shad in place and move on to the next customer.  As shad size increases stripers will have to work together to feed effectively and boils will happen.  

cookieoverOn a recent trip on a calm evening from West Canyon to Wahweap numerous shad schools were seen dimpling the surface. Open water shad were abundant and in a jovial mood without any predators harassing them. That peaceful mood will soon be shattered when stripers find the schools.  But for now trolling and bait fishing is worth a try while waiting for fish to boil.

brianbarsnessBass fishing is good in the early morning and evening particularly around open water reefs where smallmouth like to hang out. Largemouth are in the flooded green bushes in the backs of canyons and coves. Unfortunately the lake is huge at this water level and choices are many.  The right cove may have a school of largemouth making the trip a fantastic event while many other similar coves provide a meager catch.   


The key now is lake stabilization.  Fish will find a spot to their liking and set up a new home range similar to the one they had when the lake was 50 feet lower.  They will remain at the new home and be found predictably from now into the fall.  Fishing success will now improve each day and last well into September and October.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 August 2011 07:38

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