Lake level is now declining at the rate of one foot per week. The brush forest begins at a depth of 26 feet. There will be some brush available to hold fish all summer but stripers and shad will be found in open water more often as summer progresses.
Surface action is quiet except for a few quick striper boils at first light and again right at dark. Full moon is complicit but the real problem is the absence of larval shad. Yearling stripers have consumed most of the new shad crop that inhabited open water in June. Some shad got smart enough to seek the shelter of brush along the shore. They will grow up in the brush and provide more forage later in the year.
For now many game fish are seeking crayfish and sunfish. There are some adult shad schools still separated from adult stripers. When they find each other there will be another boil season in late July or August. It is more likely youíll find real boils near Hite (White Canyon) and in the upper reaches of the San Juan.
In the main lake, striper fishing is actually perking up.
The huge yearling crop has reverted to eating plankton which makes them easier to find. Plankton tends to pile up where prevailing wind pushes waves toward shore.
Places like Castle Rock, Padre Butte, Gregory Butte get lots of waves and tend to have brush around the shoreline. The most productive habitat seems to be a brushy ridgeline that is 15-25 feet under the surface with deep water on either side. The ridge between Padre Butte and Dominguez Rock (Padre Bay) was good this week.
These areas have lots of plankton, and stripers are there in abundance.
Locate schools by trolling a small rattletrap on light line along the brush line where bottom depth is 15-25 feet. When the hooked fish is boated, the following school is likely close enough to catch by casting rattletraps, shallow running crankbaits or by jigging small spoons. Mark the location of the catch and then return to the exact spot to boat more fish.
Most of the stripers are 12-14 inches, but each day more big fish are found in the same location. Spooning on the bottom under the yearling school is a good way to catch the larger fish.
Forage conditions are such that bait fishing should work. But that has still not been proven to work. Try bait occasionally when a striper school is located on the graph. One of these days bait fishing will break loose and a ton of fish will be caught. But right now it seems that trolling is the better choice.
Walleye are still being caught as a bonus to those trolling for stripers. Windy conditions seem to turn walleye on to trolled baits. Walleye seem to be only caught early and late in calm conditions. The best walleye lures are those that run at 8-12 feet and tick the tree tops in the process. Wally divers, Bomber Flat A, Shad Raps and X-raps are good right now.
Smallmouth bass fishing is still great on drop shot or Carolina rigged plastic baits. My personal favorite is the single tail plastic grub. It is working as well.
Top water fishing is at a peak right now. Fly fishermen are catching smallmouth regularly along the shoreline. Bass are caught more often than all the other species combined.
Make sure to have one meal of yearling stripers to help the lake. Right now there are too many small stripers and not enough shad. Anglers are the only top-level predators that can make a positive correction to this imbalance.
Make sure to clean, drain and dry your boat before launching and upon leaving any water. Letís stop the spread of invasive mussels.
Wayne Gustaveson is the Lake Powell project leader with the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources. Check out his website at http://www.wayneswords.com.
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