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Fishing Report

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October 18, 2018



April 13, 2011

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Lake Powell Fish Report - April 13, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3609   
Water Temperature 51 - 57 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson 

bassonbedThe aquatic tension in Lake Powell is reaching critical mass.  Days are getting longer.  Water temperature warms in the afternoon only to crash back to the low 50s at night.  Noticeable frowns mark the faces of impatient bass and crappie. What's the hold up?
Spawning time is overdue and bass are getting anxious.

In reality bass spawning is right on schedule. For the past 3 years spawning occurred when early morning water temperature exceeded 54 degrees. This week base temperature is still 51.8F.  In 2009 and 2010 the spawn began as base water temperature rose 8 degrees from April 14 to April 20. In 2008 spawning occurred a week earlier but then was halted by a cold front during the same critical week near April 20th.  This year warming is forecast to occur this weekend.  Expect nest building to begin now with actual spawning occurring as soon as early morning temperature spikes. The moon watchers luck out this year as spawning will occur during full moon.  That has not been the case for the past 3 years.  Spawning is dictated by water temperature and not by moon beams. 

darleenmccoyThe big bonus this year will be about the large size of spawning smallmouth bass.  With the resurgence of largemouth bass in the brush in recent years, smallmouth have been ignored.  Expect to see some very large smallmouth bass caught during the spawn.  Hopefully the current lake record of 5 pounds 6 ounces will be broken this spring.   Duration of the bass spawn will be from April 18 to May 10 with the warmest, calmest times providing the best fishing.

Striped bass are still biting well in the southern lake but they too are waiting for warming in the mid and northern lake. Hotspots include the forebay at the dam, Buoy 1 and 3 in the main channel, Antelope and Navajo Canyons.  Adult stripers are present in large numbers in the channel and also in the canyons.           Darleen McCoy

New regulations prohibit tying up to the barricades in front of the dam.  Consider a new strategy when fishing the main channel and forebay.  The current hotspot at the barricade line connecting to the west wall in front of the dam is created by consistent chumming over  time.  Fish and fishermen both come to the same place.  It is possible to create other consistent fishing spots.  The key ingredient is a ledge with a depth of 20-40 feet that extends into the main channel. Chum the shallow shelf above deep water and stripers will find food as they travel along the cliff wall searching for crayfsh. Repeat the process and fish will return. One proven method is to chum a likely spot or two in the morning and then return in the afternoon to fish at your own private striper hot spot.

kphillipsYesterday we found stripers holding on the bottom in the back of Navajo at 33 feet in dirty water. They were reluctant to bite until we discovered that dropping a piece of anchovy on a 3/8 ounce short shanked jighead would entice fish to bite.  The secret was to gently raise the bait 3 inches off bottom and then ease it back to bottom.  The bite was subtle but could be detected with a sensitive rod.  When the bait rising off bottom felt different, either lighter or heavier, a hook set was in order. Our catch immediately went from none to 'every cast' when we discovered the right technique. 

Fishing is good right now but expected to get superb as bass and crappie begin to spawn.                      Kevin Phillips Crew

Inflow to Lake Powell now equals outflow.  Lake level will not decline below the  curent level of 3609 unless unforeseen conditions occur. Castle Rock Cut could then reopen in May when runoff increases.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 April 2011 08:59
 

April 6, 2011 - Striper Fishing Hot in South

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Lake Powell Fish Report - April 6, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3609   
Water Temperature 51 - 57 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson 

dalejones2The report this week finds most striper fishing success in the southern end of Lake Powell. Fishing upstream from Dangling Rope Marina has not started as quickly for most with striped bass being hard to catch.  Fish that are responding well right now are largemouth bass and crappie. Brush lined coves from Good Hope Bay to Hite harbor good populations of crappie that are moving ever closer to spawning with each warm afternoon.  Crappie have responded well to 2-inch pearl or white plastic grubs in thick brush. Largemouth bass and walleye are being caught on a regular basis now with smallmouth bass fishing improving every day.

Dale Jones holds up fat striper caught at Dam while partner plays a fish in the background.

The common theme over the entire lake is that murky water in the backs of the canyons warms more quickly than clear water.  Searching for active fish visually by selecting stained water and with thermometer to find the warmest water available is the most effective search pattern. This general pattern works until base water temperature exceeds 60F. Then clear water is just as good.

My weekly fish sampling trip included a circuit of the striper spots near Wahweap. Anglers tied off to the barricade in front of the dam reported striper fishing to be outstanding beginning precisely as the first sun rays hit the water.  That flurry of action lasted about 1.5 hours before slowing down.  Those at the barricade caught over 50 fish in the initial skirmish. The next flurry of catching was at midday and lasted for 2 hours with similar numbers of fish caught.  I suspect an evening bite as well but did not document it. Never trust fish to repeat a previous pattern but download the information that recently fishing at the dam is good in streaks during first light and later at midday.

nobwimmerWe then moved on to other likely striper spots beginning with Buoy 1.  Two boats were fishing there. Later at the fish cleaning station we found that both groups collected 30 some stripers from this location. We graphed at Buoy 3 but did not see fish traces so moved on to Antelope Canyon where we caught 2 stripers in 10 minutes. I did not heed my own advice, fishing only clear water where we could actually see stripers at 25 feet before catching them.  There have been many more fish caught recently in the back of Antelope where water is stained.

Nob Wimmer with 7.5 pound striper caught spooning in the back of Navajo Canyon. (Note murky water color.)

Next stop was the Power Plant Intake. Two more fish were caught here in another 10 minute effort.  But I was anxious to fish dirty water so went quickly to Navajo Canyon. The first point past the double islands was good for 2 more stripers in 5 minutes but we didn't stay. We past the big sand dune and saw water color change from clear to off-color. Around the next corner color changed again this time to murky. We began to troll deep diving Lucky Craft pointers in ghost color at 4.5 miles per hour and immediately began hooking stripers.  As each fish was brought to the boat we would spoon the bottom for to catch trailing fish with good results. We ended up with the same number of fish at the end of the day as those that were fishing bait but I like to troll and use spoons better than bait.  There is a fishing technique to suit your individual desires working now. The bottom line is that striper fishing in the southern lake is red hot. It will get much better for stripers in the mid lake to Hite area in the near future.  Bass and crappie fishing is slightly better uplake but warming water will make fishing success superb from April 15th to May 15th weather permitting.

Advisory:  Castle Rock Cut near Wahweap is now closed due to low water. It is necessary to go through the main channel for uplake travel.  Antelope Point launch ramp is open and provides time savings for those heading uplake.  

Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 April 2011 08:11
 

March 30. 2011

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Lake Powell Fish Report - March 30, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3611   
Water Temperature 50 - 56 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson 

Good fishing in March happens when weather warms but that is often followed by a cold spell with wind which dims fishing success. That was the case this past week as fishing success declined.  Looking forward, weather is forecast to be warm for the next few days and into the weekend. When planning springtime fishing trips it is best to look at the weather as perhaps the best indicator of fishing success. With that in mind expect great fishing this weekend at Lake Powell. 

Base water temperature slipped back near 48F in the mornings and warmed only to 55 in the warmest spots during the day.  This morning the base temperature was 50 at dawn and will increase to possible 58 in the afternoon. A few degrees of warming have a dramatic impact on fish behavior and activity.

The good news with the cold weather set back is that fish have not moved. Striped bass are still split between the back of some canyons where shad are present while stripers in forage poor areas have migrated to the main channel in the lower lake. Main channel stripers can be caught on bait near the Dam and in the forebay.  Stripers run the walls so they can be caught sporadically near Buoy 1 or at the Chains or at any spot along the walls. At all these locations a passing school will provide quick fishing followed by a lull until the school makes a return pass.  Use frozen anchovies or sardine bait cut in one inch chunks on a jig head or size 2-4 bait hook.  Chum steadily with finely cut bait. Since there is no 60 foot bottom for fish or chum to rest on near the dam it may be best to chum 2-3 pieces of bait every 10 minutes to attract attention of a passing school. When the school arrives put out more chum to keep the school under your boat as long as possible. 

Stripers remain in the backs of the canyons where shad have over wintered. Navajo, Last Chance, Rock Creek, Oak, San Juan, and Escalante have shad and will harbor stripers susceptible to trolling and spooning. From Red Canyon to Hite forage is abundant allowing great fishing success at times. Forage rich areas are prone to lulls when fish choose not to feed.  The best conditioned fish are in the backs of the canyons while the easiest fish to catch are in the channels near the dam. There have been no reports yet that stripers have been caught at Moki Wall near Bullfrog. That usually happens in April so we have something to look forward to in the mid lake area.

Largemouth bass remain in the brush where water depth is 10-20 feet.  Declining lake level has exposed much of the  thickest brush making fishing with exposed hook lures somewhat easier.  Brush is brittle so wiggling a snagged lure usually allows it to pull free. It also allowed me to catch a 3-pound largemouth yesterday on a single tail smoke-sparkle grub on a regular jig head. Tubes, grubs, spinnerbaits and bulky jig and pig baits are good largemouth fare.  Smallmouth will respond this week as well with water temperature beginning to climb.  Find 57-60 degree water in the afternoon for best smallmouth results.

 

March 23, 2011 - Stripers Now Hot!

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Lake Powell Fish Report - March 23, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3612   
Water Temperature 48 - 53 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson 

STRIPER SEASON IS OPEN!

watercolorAs the weather warmed last week striped bass moved into the shallow trees (10 feet deep) in the backs of major canyons.  We were able to troll shallow running lures on brush covered rocky points and steadily catch fish.  But then a cold front rolled through dropping water temperature from the mid 50s to 48 F.

Look for stained water for best results

On the first warm day after the front we returned to Dry Rock Creek to check fishing conditions.  We started trolling in the same pattern as last week but found it difficult to approach the previously productive shallows.  We hooked the first striper on a shallow running rattle trap where bottom depth was 45 feet.  As that fish was coming to the boat I dropped a spoon to the bottom and immediately hooked up.   From then on fishing was incredibly amazing. We caught fish on spoons as fast as we could take a striper off and return the spoon to the water. The school trailed below the slowly moving boat.  After 2.5 hours of spooning we had 84 stripers in the big cooler.  Size ranged from 12 inches to 5 pounds.  These stripers that spent the winter with shad were in good to excellent condition. Only 5 fish were thin and not filleted.

wgsize2Obviously the previously shallow stripers had moved out deeper with the colder weather. Shad had the same plan as they went deeper to avoid cooler surface temperatures. With stripers and shad in the same zone school fish were very active. At the fish cleaning station we found shad in many stomachs.  When stripers and shad commingle at depth spooning is the best technique. 

We were not alone at the cleaning station.  Other anglers found stripers eager to eat bait at the barricade line in front of the dam. Catches of 20 to 50 stripers were reported today.  Looks like the striper bite is on at Lake Powell. We are now declaring the long anticipated spring striper run to be in full bloom. It will last through the month of May.

Look at the weather report and plan a spring trip as soon as possible trying to match your trip with the best weather pattern possible.

mouthLargemouth bass fishing is excellent. Smallmouth bass are just beginning to wake up. Crappie are about two weeks away from consistent action in the thick brush in the backs of the canyon. Walleye will begin to bite well around April 15th. Fishing during April this year will be memorable as many different kinds of fish can be caught in large numbers. 

In the heat of battle, a few stripers were not fully hooked but had the mouth wedged open by the spoon allowing us to get them in the boat. 
 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 March 2011 17:12
 

March 16, 2011

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Lake Powell Fish Report - March 16, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3612   
Water Temperature 48 - 53 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson  
 
wgrcAfter last week's philosophical report I was determined to find a successful pattern. I am happy to report that my fish cooler has scales in it again this week. The search was not easy. Included were 4 fishless hours while we tried many different locations and techniques.

We started in the back of Wahweap Bay where stripers had been regularly caught during the last month. We trolled the 25 foot bottom contour and only caught one striper.  None took our spoons or anchovy bait.  Then we tried Warm Creek Wall at Buoy 12 hoping the fish had moved to the channel.  No luck!  Water color in the main channel is crystal clear.

We moved uplake to Padre Canyon but we could not graph any schools. There were no hits on trolled lures, spoons or bait. We fished for bass in the murky water at the back of the canyon without success. So far it was a very long morning salvaged only by the beautiful calm warm weather.

recordgizzard1With time running out we made the commitment to run to Rock Creek.  Again trolling and bait fishing were fruitless.  Finally at the back of the canyon we took off our deep diving lures, replaced then with rattletraps and ventured into shallow water.  Still no action!  But then we found that increasing speed was the key. We normally troll at about 3.5 mph.  By kicking the speed up to almost 5 mph we found stripers willing and ready. 

Once the pattern was discovered we quickly put 30 stripers in the cooler before returning to Wahweap.  Schools of 12-18 inch fish with an occasionally 3-pounder were holding off secondary brushy points where depth fell from 8 to 15 feet. We trolled on the deep water side of each brushy point just far enough out so the lures would not hang up in the brush.

Trolling selects the healthiest stripers. Only the fast, powerful fish are able to catch up with a fast paced trolling lure.  Using bait in deeper water will result in a wide variety of stripers from those that are not as fat to some of the best quality fish available.  There is a wide quality range in striped bass this year depending on lake location.  If shad are available striper condition is good.  I am pleased to report that most stripers are coming out of winter in good shape despite a decline in shad numbers last summer.

Fishing for largemouth bass is excellent in the shallow brush line that rings the reservoir.  Fish in the brush for largemouth bass.  Smallmouth bass were caught for the first time this past week as water temperature climbed into the mid 50's. Bass spawning will occur as water temperature increases to the low 60's.  

flat_rapFishing this week will be great once the daily pattern is discovered. It may take a while to discover where moving fish are and what presentation they want at the moment.  Try a number of different tactics until the right combination is revealed. Then enjoy the day.

I recommend the Rapala Flat Rap (FLR-10) pictured here. Trolled Rattle traps were great to locate willing fish but the stripers soon tired of them after a few passes. But the Flat Raps were hammered each time we passed the point. They are a shallow running lure (2 feet)  which worked great for me last fall when stripers were slapping but not hitting surface lures. These lures were cranked down just enough to keep the shallow bite going when surface fishing ceased.   I never expected to use them trolling until we needed them yesterday.  They made the diffrence between catching a few fish and filling the cooler.

Yes the 3-pound gizzard shad pictured above hit my Flat Rap in only 6 feet of very muddy water at  the back of the canyon. My first big shad fought like a big trout making strong fast runs near the boat. They are quite the sport fish.    

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 March 2011 09:29
 


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