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Fishing Report

Water temperature:

78-82 F

September 5, 2019

June 5, 2019 - Lake rapidly rising

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Lake Powell Fish Report – June 5, 2019
Lake Elevation: 3586.42
Water temperature:  68-75 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com or Wayneswords.net

The lake is coming up fast.  Castle Rock Cut now has over 6 feet of depth allowing all vessels to pass through. The Antelope Point launch ramp will open in a week or less. For those camping on the shoreline, be aware that the lake is coming up 6-inches or more per day.  Make sure your boat is retied every morning.  The rising water is also confusing some of the fish.

Stripers and shad are always in close proximity. Shad have been absent most of the winter and spring but are now reproducing in big numbers.  Our shad sampling shows good reproduction results over the length of the lake. There are tons of shad in the backs of the canyons. That means stripers are beginning to move from the main channel walls to the backs of canyons. This will take a few weeks for stripers to find shad and make the right moves.

Slurping stripers are now common in the northern lake.  The southern lake is slightly behind, but slurps are starting in the backs of most major canyons. This has caused some movement, as active stripers will now be searching for shad.  Stripers are scattered in the backs of canyons but can be seen surfacing very early in the morning. Catching topwater stripers is a good start for any fishing trip.

Rising lake levels have displaced largemouth and smallmouth bass. Largemouth want dense cover so newly submerged tumbleweeds are very welcome shelters.  Look for largemouth in new brushy cover in the backs of canyons. Smallmouth bass like rock structure so they are holding in familiar rock structure as the lake continues to rise.  Crayfish are not moving shallow as fast as the lake is rising so smallmouth bass are now deeper than expected.  Smallmouth are susceptible to the normal plastic baits, as their activity level has increased with the warming water temperature.  They will hit in shallow water near rocky habitat.  We also found them in open water while trolling along rocky shorelines.

Walleye are scattered but more aggressive as the water temperature has increased. We did not target walleye but were able to catch them while trolling and casting.  My biggest surprise came after catching a striper while trolling.  While playing that fish, I saw other fish on the graph following the striper.  When that happens, the troll-caught first fish is tossed in the cooler and a spoon deployed to catch more stripers. My spoon was inhaled by a walleye on the first bounce, on the bottom in 25 feet of water.  The best walleye baits are bottom bouncers, Ned rigs and bass jigs with a piece of night crawler attached.  Walleye will be vulnerable to daytime anglers for a few more weeks.  After that, they will revert to a nighttime shad and crayfish diet.

Our main target this week was Bluegill and Green Sunfish.  A piece of worm hooked to a tiny ice jig was a successful technique once the proper habitat was located.  With rapidly rising water, shallow rocky habitat can be covered and lose its appeal.  We looked for very tall rockslides that offered constant rocky habitat as the water level quickly rises. These tall, but narrow, rockslides worked well for sunfish and we found smallmouth bass happy to bite a worm.

The fishing trip produced a mixed bag of species caught while trolling, casting, spooning and dropping worms in shallow water. There are many options for your fishing enjoyment.


May 29, 2019 - Fish are Energized!

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Lake Powell Fish Report – May 29, 2019
Lake Elevation: 3583.42
Water temperature:  61-65 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com or Wayneswords.net


Lake Powell is three feet higher than reported in the last fish report. That is great news for all those fishing at the lake this spring, but those on the southern end are giddy because the Castle Rock Cut is now open.  Yesterday on my fish report trip, we found a few low spots in the Cut where the depth was only 1.5 feet.  We had our outboard motor elevated so it was almost at a 45-degree angle. We did not hit bottom in the shallow spots.  Since then the lake has risen another 4 inches. In another week, the shallowest spot in the Cut will be over 2.5 feet making the Cut passable for almost all vessels.

Our trip goal was to find out how fishing conditions have changed since the big cold front passed through.  We started by trolling for stripers on the Wahweap side of Castle Rock.  We caught 2 stripers in 3 short runs confirming that as a valid technique. We then tried the mouth of Labyrinth with no success in one short trolling run.  We caught another 3 stripers in 3 short runs on the east wall of Padre Canyon. Our next stop was Buoy 25 where we got a real time fish report that stripers were still hitting bait on the canyon wall. We then hit the back of Last Chance and Rock Creek and found stripers willing to hit trolled Flicker Shad (Chartruese), Lucky Craft XD 78 Pointers (Chartruese shad), and small, dark colored rattletraps. Using trolling, casting and spooning techniques, we caught 25 healthy stripers, of which only 4 were malnourished.

Uplake stripers were caught trolling in the back of Bullfrog and Halls and other canyons. Bait fishing works as well at Moki Wall and Moki Canyon, Lake Canyon, mouth of Halls Creek, and many other spots.  Bait will continue to work on the main channel walls and mouths of canyons for a few more weeks.

The most exciting report of the week is that stripers are beginning to “slurp” on larval shad in Moki Canyon and many other canyons in the northern lake. Newly hatched shad are just learning how to swim near the surface.  Stripers form a line, swim through the floating shad school and slurp shad off the surface. Their surface disturbance is visible from about 100 yards away. Cast small surface lures to the side of the slurper line or to individual fish that are breaking ranks with the main body of their cohorts.  These individuals are looking for a new target while the school feeding in formation is only interested in eating small shad. Stripers will now regain their health since shad are now available for a daily meal.

Smallmouth bass fishing slowed down with the cold, rainy weather but will now peak as the water temperature climbs from 60 to 70F in the next week. Ned rigs, single and double tail grubs, square bill crankbaits and a variety of other plastic lures based on your personal preference will work great this week as bass are re-energized with warming conditions.  Largemouth bass will follow suit but they will be parked in the tumbleweed piles that have recently gone underwater.

Walleye are energized, as well, by the warming water as they search for food at 15-20 feet.  Crayfish colored Ned Rigs fished very slowly along 15-foot flat shelves have been the most dependable presentation so far this spring.  Add a piece of worm to increase your confidence in catching these toothy predators.  Keep all the walleye you want as there is no limit on walleye and they are harder to catch in the summer months. This is prime time.

Bluegill and green sunfish will be easy to catch on tiny ice jigs with a piece of worm around shallow brush and rocks in the warming water.  Bluegill will also use your houseboat for shade and can be caught by children off the back of the boat.

So take your pick of which species to chase. Fishing at Lake Powell will be supercharged this week with the warming weather.


May 22, 2019 - Cold and rainy

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Lake Powell Fish Report – May 22, 2019
Lake Elevation: 3580
Water temperature:  60-65F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com or Wayneswords.net

The last report was all about spawning potential of Lake Powell fish in warming water. Then the temperature dropped, the rain fell and the wind blew.  Spawning will eventually happen but it was delayed for at least a week or more by the weather change.

As the water cools there will be fewer bass guarding nests but more bass and other fish in deeper water. The lake is now rising at a rate of 3-6 inches per day. Lures that have been effective this spring will continue to work. Just slow down the presentation and work the lure into deeper water to find fish.  Ned rigs, single and double tailed grubs, and shad shaped worms will still be the most effective lures, but crankbaits cast and trolled in deeper water will be a good way to find bass that are on the move in these changing lake level conditions.  Watch for weeds and rocks that were recently submerged that may provide a new brush or rock shelter for bass and other fish.

Striped bass schools have not moved, and remain along the steep canyon walls.  Those anglers that are chumming and using bait along the walls will still find many fish willing to hit bait.  The hot spots include:  Dam (West wall),  Buoy 3,  Navajo Canyon (points after the double islands and further back in the main canyon), Labyrinth Wall, Buoy 25 (coves and wall), and Grotto Canyon.

Fly fishing for stripers along the east canyon walls in the early morning continues as the spawning congregations gather waiting for the temperature surge that will cause nightly spawning.

Bait fishing for stripers is picking up dramatically in the Bullfrog area. Most of the canyons above and below Bullfrog Bay will have a school of stripers holding right at the intersection of the canyon and the main channel. Chum with anchovies to get the school started and then enjoy the action for the next hour or more.

Walleye are hungry and willing to eat slow trolled lures, plastic ned rigs fished very slowly on the bottom, and bait following a bottom bouncer.  The muddy runoff has made the northern lake very brown but reports coming in say that when fishing for walleye in areas with 1-2 feet of visibility the catch rate can be quite good.

Fishing success will heat up with the warming water temperatures forecast for next week.  Stripers will go into spawning mode after Memorial Day.  Largemouth and smallmouth bass will spawn one more time with warming water.  Bluegill and green sunfish will start nest building the first week of June.

There are some really good fishing events forecast for the coming weeks.

May 15, 2019 - It is Spawning Time

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Lake Powell Fish Report – May 15, 2019
Lake Elevation: 3577
Water temperature:  65-72 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com or Wayneswords.net

 The water temperature this morning was 65 degrees, which has spawning implications for Lake Powell fish.  Some species have already spawned: walleye, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass.  Walleye completed their spawn by April 1st and are now easier to catch with warming water temperatures.  Bass are not done spawning since they can continue to build nests and raise broods for another two weeks.  Bass may make as many as 5 separate nests and successfully hatch that many broods of fry during April and May.  Spawning beds are visible in clear water and provide anglers with good targets for catching male bass that guard the nests. Please return nest-guarding fish to the lake so they can complete their spawning duties.

Lake Powell fish now entering the spawning season are blue gill and green sunfish. They are close cousins to bass and abide by the same rules. Male sunfish guard the nests, protect the young brood, and make more nests after the first hatchlings are released on their own recognizance. Bluegill are amazing in that they build giant nests compared to their small size. Find a nest and drop a small “ice fly” with a small piece of worm attached to catch a bright colored bluegill. Take a picture of the fish quickly as the color fades from super bright orange to more subtle colors in less than a minute.

Striped bass are next to spawn.  Male stripers are very patient and have been waiting for this opportunity since April. They wait each day for the females to join the spawning party, which has not happened yet.   Females control the spawning event based on water temperature.  Stripers do not build nests but spawn on the surface at night when water temperature increases about 8-10 degrees from early morning to late evening. Yesterday the temperature rose from 65 in the morning to 75 at dusk.  Some spawning may have occurred but it is more likely that the spawn will be triggered by surface temperature rising from 70-80F.  A cold front scheduled for tomorrow will delay any further spawning until the next great warming trend.

Finding a school of actively spawning stripers is an amazing fishing experience.  The fish roll and boil on the surface but are still ready to eat whatever swims by.  Large females join the group of 3-pound males making it possible to catch a large fish on any cast. On one occasion, we found a spawning school near Castle Rock and caught 150 fish that ranged in size from 3 pounds to 22 pounds while fishing from 9 PM until midnight.

The best way to find an actively spawning school is to head out at dusk and troll and cast to points at the mouths of coves that are only 30 feet deep.  Lively males will hit your lures and mark the spot where they are waiting for the larger females to arrive. If you are lucky enough to find an actively spawning school you will remember it forever.

You can also look for spawning coves by searching along the shade line of tall east walls first thing in the morning.  Striper males are hungry after a long night and will sip plankton off the surface. Their heads will poke out of the water and be visible and reminiscent of carp feeding on the surface. Try casting a fly to the slurping fish and do not be surprised to catch some very nice, healthy stripers in the process.

Carp used the same warming spawning trigger (65-75F ) as stripers and were seen actively spawning during the day over the length of the lake.  It is possible to hear them splash in the backs of canyons as groups of 10-15 spawning carp race in pods along the surface while spawning.

The last fish to spawn are channel catfish as they wait for 80-degree water.  They are the most secretive spawners as they hide their nests in small caves or crevices in the rocks along the shore.  Noodling for catfish may be possible at Lake Powell during their spawning season.



May 1, 2019 - Cool temperatures- Trophy Smallmouth

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Lake Powell Fish Report – May 1, 2019
Lake Elevation: 3571
Water temperature: 58-60 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com or Wayneswords.net

Lake Powell water level is on the rise.   The inflowing water (64,000 AF) has doubled and lake level came up 2 feet this week.  Expect that inflowing water rate to increase even more during May.  This requires caution while shoreline camping. Expect to move or retie the boat each day.

Rising water is helpful for fishing success because tumbleweeds that have collected along the shoreline will now be covered by water and provide more fish habitat. The weather was cooler this week, which slowed down angling success for bass.  Water temperature dropped from the mid 60s down to 58.   This happens all the time in the spring. If planning a fishing trip to Lake Powell just watch the weather report and come as the air and water temperature rises again.  That temperature boost immediately enhances bass fishing success.

Big news this week is the capture of the largest smallmouth bass ever caught in Lake Powell.  On April 26, Richard Dickinson from Strawberry AZ was fishing for bass along the primary points in Wahweap Bay.  He was using a Texas Rig Baby Craw.  The big fish was hooked at 29 feet and played for a long time before finally surrendering. The huge bass weighed 6.1 pounds and measured 21 inches long.  Richard decided to release the big female that was still full of eggs. Since the fish was not weighed on certified scales, it does not qualify for the Lake Powell record smallmouth bass.  However, it was measured before release. The length of the fish was 21 inches which is 2 inches longer than the current Lake Powell record smallmouth bass caught in 2001, by Eric Inman which weighed 5 pounds 6 ounces and measured 19 inches long.  Richard Dickinson now holds the “Catch and Release” record for smallmouth bass in Lake Powell.

Bait fishing for stripers was still great over the length of the lake despite the recent cold weather.  The main channel from the dam to Navajo Canyon was steady. On our weekly uplake sampling trip we found willing stripers in Buoy 25 Cove but did not find the school in Grotto Canyon. I suspect they were there but we did not spend enough time to locate the school.

We left Grotto and went to Rock Creek where we found stripers willing to hit trolled lures.  Shallow stripers in the backs of canyons will hit rattletraps, Lucky Craft Pointers, and other baits that run 8-12 feet deep.  Stripers willing to chase the shallow running baits are usually the fat, young male fish.  While fishing with bait, a wide variety of stripers were caught that ranged from skinny to healthy.  Stripers caught trolling were healthier but less in number.

May is walleye month at Lake Powell.  Take some night crawlers along and drag plastic baits, tipped with a piece of worm, very slowly along the bottom in 10-25 feet of water.  When a walleye is caught, continue to work that specific spot to catch more of the tasty, toothy fish. Walleye congregate in the same location. Find one walleye and there should be others close by.

May is the best month to catch all species of fish in Lake Powell.


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