Catching Bonanza - Really Hot Fishing
I had the pleasure of hosting my fishing mentor Jim Hamman and his son Aaron at Lake Powell in my boat this week along with Darrin Gray and Dave Keith in Darrin's boat as our delayed north Lake Powell adventure finally took place where we drove up to Bullfrog and stayed in the Defiance House Hotel Wed-Friday night. The drive from Mesa to the hotel took us close to 9 hours with a few stops on the way, going to the edge of Blanding, Utah before turning onto Rd 95 to go to Bullfrog. We took the cutoff Rd #261 on the way home which saved us 45 minutes but it does have a 4 mile switchback off the side of a mountain, not for the faint of heart. The Halls Crossing to Bullfrog ferry was out of commission indefinitely so we didn't try that route to save some more time. We did go down to Ticaboo restaurant one night and found that we liked the food, price, and service better and the hotel rooms were $50 less per night. Ouch!! It is 12 miles from the lake however.
The fishing: We arrived mid afternoon on Wed Aug 12, got unloaded into our rooms and then launched and headed up lake to where the boils had been rocking for me in a solo trip almost 2 weeks ago. (At this point there was still no posting of Wayne's Words latest fishing report) I headed directly to the Red Canyon area near Buoy 124 hoping for the kind of boils that had kept me busy for many hours midday previous but it just wasn't going like it had been. We could find a few smaller groups here and there but quite boat shy. We ended up killing several hours spooning smallies on humps and running up to the Horn looking for more boils but the few we saw were small and down quickly. We ended up over in Ticaboo cove where there was definite activity going on and shared the cove with a couple of other boats. We did catch a few stripers but more smallmouth here before buzzing back over to Red Canyon for a last look and then headed in somewhat disappointed. At this point I decided to make the run to the San Juan River come Thursday morning, toxic spill or not, since you can always count on the other fish species cooperating.
After getting in and while having dinner at the Defiance Lodge restaurant, we called up Wayne's latest report and we're excited to read the SJ reports of boiling stripers.
We headed out early Thursday morning but ran mid 40's to Escalante keeping an eye out for boils and then slowed it down more based on Wayne's report, passing over several boils that looked too small to bother with until we got to Buoy 68 where a good group came up and we spent some time there catching a few.
Continuing on to and up the SJ the fish activity continued to increase but based on WW report we didn't stop but headed toward Cha Bay and sure enough as we got closer to the point with the large rocks on the SW side we could see big fish boils 300 yards away. WOWSA! We kept busy here for over 3 hours chasing boils all over a 500 yard circle. Numerous double and triple hook ups. I soon found myself hooking a fish and then sitting on that rod once it was reeled in 70% of the way so I could make another cast and then have to figure out how to handle 2 fish along with the other fish my buddies had on. A great problem to have and most of these fish were the 3-5 lb variety with an occasional smaller size. It also was great not having any other boats than the two of us working these fish although more boats that KNOW what they're doing can be a help! (More on that later)
When these fish finally went down and seemed to stay down we headed up to Piute Bay to see if we had any willing TW stripers in that area but never found any sizable groups even after going part way up the Great Bend but we started running into runoff debris from the recent rains so we came back and bass fished till lunch time, working the points in the bay with drop shot and 1/8 oz 4" grubs with much success. Surprisingly the 20-25' deep bite was not nearly as good as the 5-10' range was. Some pretty good smallies caught in here with very steady action.
We had to hunt shade for a lunch break as it was as HOT weather wise as was the fishing but the catching was on again soon as we started back in the Cha Canyon area of the morning striper boil-a-thon but with no boils I decided to troll the SW side of the area, hoping to stay in the shade wherever we could. We caught fish regularly doing this although most were smallies as we kept the lures in 30' or less as much as possible. We always caught fish in broken rock/shallow areas but not so much in other areas. After doing this for several hours the thunder and lightening coming our way off Navajo mountain finally sent us heading in earlier than we wanted but we missed the rain and most of the wind. We did stop briefly for a decent boil just before the mouth of the SJ and caught some even in the blowing wind and waves.
With Darrin needing a boat part and some oil Friday he stayed in until the store was open and with us knowing where we wanted to be again, as early as possible, we launched before first light and I pushed the new Phoenix 920 pretty hard knowing we weren't stopping until we reached Cha again. The 250 Verado effortlessly pushed us along at mid 60's, with more to go, until we arrived at the battleground 45 mins later although this time the foray was starting a mile closer to the SJ River mouth, up in the channel and not nearly as much in the bay. Once again the fun was on!! More doubles and triples although these fish were more spread out and would not stay up quite as long and the battle ended an hour earlier than the day before.
Now my rant; When we arrived on these fish the second day there was an old classic/glass windshield boat sitting next to the boils looking at them. We ran 200 yards past them on the far side before turning around and coming up on the down side. After us catching stripers pretty good for 30 min this other boat of 4 folks decided it was time to troll through the boils but apparently with little success. From our vantage point they then decided they'd make life tough for the stripers or us and just drive around the striper activity area for 30 min about 20 mph to throw off a nice sized wake. What the heck??? If you don't know how to catch these fish, please come ask or just watch or maybe leave. No reason to try and make life tough for others!! Ok rant over...
We chased these fish around until 8:30 when the action slowed and then headed off to Piute Wash area looking for more boils but after driving a big slow circle with no boils of much size noted we stopped a few times here and there and caught a few TW smallies before deciding to go back to the Cha area and do some more trolling. This was a good decision! We again worked the shallow SW side catching stripers, smallmouth, along with a largemouth, bluegill, and walleye in the chunk rock areas, never more than 50 yards between 'fish on'.
About the time we said what a problem it would be if boils started again with 3 lures being trolled 50 yards behind us...yeah the boils started again so we reeled in like crazy men and the chase and wait game was on again albeit not all that successful but it gave us the idea to just troll the middle of the channel and it was a consistent/regular bite of 4 lb plus stripers until lunch at noon. These fish were very, very strong and were determined not to be boated but all were.
Due to my Fed/Ex phone situation (another story/another day) being misplaced somewhere in Bullfrog (and the oppressive heat wasn't helping at over 100 degrees this day) we just went back in to the hotel after lunch and called it a day so we could find my phone and get rested up for an early departure back home Sat morning.
I might have to go back soon, when the weather cools down. I sure love that lake when the fishing is on and this new Phx and the Verado continue to WOW me. That Verado troll feature was helpful to use and ez to set at a 4 mph troll speed. Gotta go acquire some more of those Vixen TW baits too!