Lake level decline has slowed and weather is similar to that imagined for a dream vacation to a tropical island. Itís warm in the day time and delightfully cool at night with only a gentle breeze occasionally breaking up the flat calm reflecting pool of Lake Powell. Yes itís really nice down here right now.
Fishing patterns are essentially the same with some subtle differences discovered during the past week. Early each morning and evening small shad schools (100 fish) venture out to eat plankton. There will be an occasional quick bass or striper boil as the sun hits the water in the morning or goes behind the canyon wall at night. None of this surface action is large or long lived but it provides an indication that fish are in the area and can be caught.
An added bonus is that shad schools randomly show up during the day in shallow water along shore. Shad are trying to find new hiding places after being evicted from their summer homes by falling lake levels. Shad schools have been seen in unusual places like the Stateline ramp, Wahweap fishing dock, and in many small coves over the length of lake. Casting near these active shad schools insures that fish will be caught. The only unknown is whether bass or stripers will be working near the cornered shad school.
Two patterns prevail. Bass can be caught on surface lures, both hard plastic poppers and soft plastic flukes, fished in the few remaining brush thickets. It is easy to cruise the main channel and see a brushy pocket near shore. Virtually all of these remaining thickets will hold many bass and some stripers. Cast into the brush near shore for quick action.
Stripers are roving the canyons and bays in large schools that can be seen on the surface occasionally but on the graph consistently. Graph a school and drop spoons, bait or troll the area to catch a cooler full of fish. Some recent dependable fishing spots have been vacated as stripers pursue shad that have left for safer venues.
New destinations to try now include main Warm Creek Bay half way between the floating restroom and Crosby Canyon. Gunsight Canyon is another spot with a big striper school now in residence. Last Chance, Rock Creek, Dove and Dungeon provide very good opportunities to get a big school going right under the boat. Graph where bottom depth quickly falls from 30 to 60 feet for best results.
In the vicinity of Bullfrog a few boils have been seen at Hobie Cat beach and at the back of Bullfrog Bay. Again the best catching has come on bait and spoons in Moki Canyon, and Halls Creek (near the pass that leads to Bullfrog Bay at higher water).
Good Hope Bay is the center of north lake action. Look for suspended fish in open water holding near the thermocline. We found a large school on the main channel side of Blue Notch near the last large main channel island when leaving Blue Notch to run further uplake.
Our largest striper school of the week was found at the mouth of Piute Canyon on the San Juan. We were able to fill the cooler 3 different times with 3-5 pound stripers. Fish were filleted as the cooler ran out of space and then we returned for another battle. At the end of the day we had spent a total of 4 hours fishing and caught 115 large stripers.
Striper fishing is good right now but schools tend to move often. Troll deep to find a new school. Drop spoons when a hooked fish comes to the boat and the school is seen on the graph to maximize catch.
Another trick is to chum an area with anchovies and return later in the day to find stripers cruising the area to find more bait.
Fishing is excellent and will hold up through October. We hope you can make one more trip to help us save some shad and harvest striped bass. Thanks for your efforts to improve the Lake Powell fishery.
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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