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Fishing Report

Water temperature:

79-84 F

July 16, 2018

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

July 27, 2011 - Bullfrog Boils!

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Lake Powell Fish Report – July 27, 2011

Lake Elevation: 3660

Water Temperature 79-83 F

By: Wayne Gustaveson

                                                                                          Austin Kimber

austinkLake Powell has leveled off at 3660 marking an increase of 50 vertical feet in the 160 mile long lake. Fish will enjoy the extra water for a long time to come.  The lake surface has warmed to 80 degrees. Lake level stabilization will help fishing next month but this week fish are deep trying to avoid the warm water.

The best fishing location on the lake this week is in the mid section near Bullfrog.  Stripers are boiling morning and evening and staying up long enough for anglers to catch 30 to 50 fish.  Fish range in size from 14 to 24 inches.  The larger fish are adults that are recovering from a tough winter when few shad were available.  These fish are regaining their strength and health.  All of these boil caught fish now provide good fillets.  The younger fish are fast growing yearlings in excellent condition.  They have the advantage of enjoying the warm water where shad are found.  Larger fish have to dive down to cooler water causing a temporary separation between predator and prey.  Young stripers can stay right with their prey and relentlessly pursue shad.  If given the opportunity it is wise to harvest as many stripers as possible to save some shad for later in the year.

Boil fishing at Hite is just starting. It is still hit-or-miss but possible to see some great boils when they do come to the top. Colorado River current is now much smaller making Hite a worthwhile fishing destination again.

pharro2Fishing on the southern end of the lake is challenging.  The run from Wahweap to West Canyon usually provides the opportunity to fish many different boils, but this morning there were none to be seen.  That was disappointing so we moved in towards shore hoping to catch a bass. Later in the day we talked with other anglers near West Canyon that saw many different striper schools coming to the surface between 8 and 9 AM.  We were fishing for bass at the time so cannot corroborate the report.  My report says we saw no boils but we could have easily missed them on the new bigger bays and channels in the filling lake.

The day was not a total loss as we did find a pattern that worked for smallmouth bass.  Let me preference this with a disclaimer that bass fishing along the shoreline is TOUGH!  The pattern that works involves finding a steep, narrow “cut” (small canyon).  Do not go into the cut but search in front of the cut for a submerged creek channel. Usually a narrow meandering depression can be seen on the graph.  Find the edge in the 10 foot range and then follow the drop off down to a depth of 25-30 feet.  Smallmouth are holding on the bottom of the old channel and will respond to single and double tail grubs. We were using smoke-sparkle color which works very well when bass are finicky. We found a number of different cut channel and caught a few bass in each one.

catboyCatfishing is good both day and night.  If only able to use one bait right now my choice would be the lowly night crawler. Get the wiggly worm down 25 feet in a submerged creek channel, crawl it along the bottom and let the fish decide who will eat the worm.  It could be any bass, striper, walleye, catfish or sunfish.  Even in tough conditions there are fish to be caught. 


July 20, 2011 - Improving!

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Lake Powell Fish Report - July 20, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3660            
Water Temperature 78-83 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson  

dalejones2Fishing is improving - slowly and steadily. We survived the full moon period where catching was slow to nonexistent. Now we are heading into much better conditions with lake level stabilizing, water temperature leveling off and shad growing larger.  The variables combine to make it easy to predict good fishing times ahead.  Here is what to expect.

Slurping boil video:  



mgusmallThe headline news in summer is surface feeding by striped bass.  If not the only game in town it is certainly the biggest draw. In the southern lake the first surface dimples appear at approximately 6 AM (MST) as about 5 stripers chase slow swimming shad. The little slurping boil is noticeable but not often repeated.  The boat can be positioned near the fading surface rings but no fish pop up to take the lures.  But with time, striper group size increases to more than 10, slurps get a bit bigger, and the school resurfaces allowing a good cast over the feeding fish.  The key is to cast just as stripers resurface for the second time.  Then a lure placed in front of the first fish will be eaten perhaps a third of the time. If this sounds a bit picky - it is.  Our best lure in these conditions was a Kastmaster spoon with a chartreuse stripe.


The best time to fish boils this week is between 7-8 AM.  Fish are more likely to hit the lure during this magic hour.  Later in the day slurps are seen more often but fish are entirely focused on small shad and not as likely to hit a variety of lures.  These are "ghost boils" meaning you can see the boil but not often catch fish.  While this sounds like very tough fishing it is very encouraging to me, in that, fishing is improving every day. Perhaps as early as next week slurping fish will be very catchable.
Better news is that the first boils have been seen at White Canyon in the Hite area.  Water is clearing some allowing shad and stripers to see each other.  When the boils at Hite start up the rest of the lake will pale in comparison.  That may be the end of July but more likely sometime in August.   


Stripers are eating very well even though the surface slurps are small. Their guts are stuffed with small shad . 





This week the hot spot remains the channel from the mouth of San Juan to Escalante.  There are still lots of boils seen in this remote section of canyon. These are not "ghosts" but aggressive stripers chasing larger shad in reasonably clear water.
Bass fishing is decent with smallmouth hovering around main channel structure including rock piles and terraces.  Small fish are in shallow water now but larger bass are still down 15-30 feet. There is a decent bite going for largemouth in the deeper cuts leading to the tree lined end of the cove. Surface lures and white Zoom flukes are productive as bass are in the tree tops waiting for shad or sunfish to swim by.  






Fillets are prime again now that stripers and shad are back on the same wavelength.

Catfish are being caught in big numbers now as they are in their most active period following spawning.  Sunfish are very active in the brush near shore. They are best caught on live worms and small hooks.  The best bait for shallow water right now is a live worm. Many different species of fish can be caught on worms. 

Anchovies work at times but most stripers are now looking up to see shad and ignoring bait.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 July 2011 20:01

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