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Fishing Report

Water temperature:

79-85 F

July 18, 2019

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

July 13, 2011 - Slurping boils?

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Lake Powell Fish Report - July 13, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3656            
Water Temperature 76-83 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson  

austintravisThe big news is all about stripers feeding on top - or not.  Slurping boils are fragile.  While visible everyday there are many factors that may prevent anglers from actually connecting with ever present surfacing stripers.  This week it may be clouds.  Here is how it works.

Shad are tiny and inhabit the warm surface layers.  Lake Powell has taken on more water color than usual with the huge muddy runoff coming in.  Surface water is mud-colored uplake from Bullfrog and stained all the way down to Dangling Rope. Stripers are visual feeders. They look up to find shad.  In these murky visibility conditions, cloudy weather reduces the number of opportunities for shad and stripers to come together on the surface.

On a normal summer morning slurping boils start as soon as there is sufficient sunlight to allow good vision.  That is usually just after 6 AM (MST).  On an overcast morning the first boil may be delayed until the clouds burn off and sunlight allows good hunting.  

clairtjjtSlurping boils are subtle.  It takes a trained eye and concentration to see boils at a distance. A windy morning really reduces the number of boils that happen and the boils seen by anglers. These are the challenges faced this week.

The good news is that boils will be seen every day and with some luck fish will be caught.  The very best location to catch surfacing stripers is from the Rincon to the mouth of the San Juan (Buoy 57-77). Here boils are large enough to see even in some wind and intense enough to persist with cloud conditions. Schools are large and fish work together to feed making it easier to see the boil location.  

cory6In the southern lake stripers are feeding in smaller groups with only a few fish involved in small slurps.  Still there are some consistent areas where fish can be caught each day.  There are larger groups of stripers working together in the Antelope to Navajo Canyon portion of the main channel.  A good strategy is to make a run around Antelope Island looking for boils at 6-8 AM or from 5-8 PM.

At Bullfrog the best boiling action has been in Halls Creek. These boils are impacted by the same vagaries of wind and clouds. From Bullfrog to Hite water is cloudy but the backs of canyons are clearer.  It will be possible to find boil action upstream in canyons but the better choice is to head down lake to the Rincon and beyond.  

Water is still coming up 6 inches per day. Bass fishing will improve with lake stabilization.  Right now bass are catchable but only 10-15 fish larger than 10 inches are caught per trip.  At most lakes in America that would be acceptable but at Powell bass fishing has a much higher standard.  The best chance for larger bass is to fish the shoreline after a boil subsides or go flipping in the brush to find shallow largemouth in the trees. A bonus walleye will respond in the submerged green forest.  Just be careful as the green brush is less forgiving when it comes to retrieving a lure.  Go weedless for best results.  

catboyCatfishing is excellent and bait fishing for stripers is still very effective along steep canyon walls after boils go dormant for the day.

July 6, 2011 - Summer time

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Lake Powell Fish Report – July 6, 2011

Lake Elevation: 3652

Water Temperature 75-80 F

By: Wayne Gustaveson


cooperw1Lake Powell has risen over 42 feet since the yearly low point was reached in April.  The monthly increase during June was 26 feet in 30 days. The shoreline of the lake has a brand new face.  The Independence Day Holiday was very busy with full parking lots and busy boat travel lanes from Bullfrog to Wahweap.  Muddy water prevails upstream from Bullfrog.  Somewhere amid all this change are displaced fish looking for a place to be.

Bass built nests in the spring that are now over 40 feet deep. Spawning is complete and the nests are abandoned. A new green tree line is under water beckoning largemouth to frequent the shallow brush that they love so well.  Smallmouth bass are deeper preferring the rocky structure where crayfish hide or the tree tops where they may ambush shad that swim by in open water.

boilslong 014My point is that there is twice as much water and shoreline with completely different habitat making bass fishing spotty at best.  At this great lake the opportunity to find that repeatable pattern that works exists every day.  The fishing strategy is to try many locations and techniques at the beginning of the day.  Then utilize the most effective bait and location to maximize catch. The standard summer time approach is to use a drop-shot or Carolina rig plastic bait in watermelon or black color.  Drift this rig in 20-25 feet of water looking for the deep concentrations of bass.  Periodically switch to surface walking baits in morning or evening. When an inviting stand of green trees is found run a buzz bait over the top hoping the noisy sputter will attract a fish from the tree top.  Casting a crank bait in the alleys around the trees may also be effective.   The best strategy is to keep moving and keep casting until a hot spot is located.

Striped bass have just as many options as black bass.  But stripers are focused on shad.  The new shad crop is now appearing all over the lakes warm surface layer.  Slurps are seen each day.  Boat traffic was intense this past week so slurps were very fast. Not many fish were caught.  But with each day shad get bigger, slurps happen more often and last longer.  Top water catch of stripers will increase and peak during dark moon at the end of July.  There will be many fish caught during the full moon period coming next week but expect afternoon/evening fishing to be better than morning.

connerLarger adults are still running deep and making circuits from one feeding spot to the next.  All of the spots that were good in the spring will produce striper catches now.  But a spot will be good one day and not the next.  If using bait it will be necessary to try 3-5 places before a school is found.  Once a school lights up then the normal 30 fish catch can be had.

rosetNight fishing may be the best technique during the bright moon in July.  Use a light to attract plankton and shad. Fish bait on the periphery of the lighted area to entice the large adult stripers hanging at the edge of the light field.   Night fishing will also work for bass and walleye that may be more active after dark than during the bright sunlit daytime period.

Its summer!  Fish in the shade.  Cast on the shady side of rock structure.  Fish at twilight for best results.  The only exception to that is a persistent mid day surface feeding event by slurping stripers.


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