It is the third week of April and true to form bass are returning to the shallows to spawn. There was some early nest building during the first week of April which happens only occasionally, but the actual spawn will occur during the coming week.
Male bass build the nest, guard the eggs, and protect the young during the first two weeks after hatching. They are amazingly aggressive and will attack anything that moves for the first day or two after spawning. Every fish that gets too close is chased away. Every lure that is dropped on the highly visible nest is immediately picked up and moved away from the eggs. With each successive day aggression declines as the male bass becomes accustomed to the mundane life of housekeeping and removing offending lures.
He is saved as the eggs hatch (3-5 days) and black fry swim up to feed (another 3 days). He stays with the young until the temperature changes again stirring spawning hormones. He then returns to the nest, sweeps it with his tail, invites a girl over for dinner and a movie and spawns once more.
Each mature male bass occupies his nest 3-5 times during the spring spawning season. Some nests are abandoned prior to spawning following a temperature drop. Other nests are spawned on two or three times with different ages of eggs and fry on the same nest resulting from the vagaries of weather. In the end a male bass usually ends up producing two successful broods each spring.
Lake Level has not increased appreciably in the last week. Water in the main lake is crystal clear. Sight fishing for bass and crappie will be somewhere between awesome and amazing in the main lake during the next two weeks. Bass also spawn in murky water but they are not easy to see near the muddy inflow areas.
Striped bass have shown some movement and increased schooling behavior. They still seem to be associated with trees in the 25 foot depth range. Recently there have been good reports of stripers being caught trolling over treetops in clear water. When a school is found they are very cooperative and many fish can be caught from the same spot. Unfortunately, these clear water schools are on the move and not often caught in the same location two days in a row.
The best strategy when looking for stripers is to troll quickly over a likely looking shallow tree forest as you change locations from one bass or crappie spot to the next. Donít spend a lot of time on stripers until a school is located. Then make quick work of catching 20 or 30 by trolling back and forth over the stationary school.
Walleye fishing has improved dramatically in the past week. Warming water and limited forage results in hungry walleye that are eager to find a meal. Fish points and drop-offs near the main channel at the magic depth of 12-15 feet for walleye action. Morning and evening twilight are the best times while live worms are the best bait.
Looks like a good time to be fishing at Lake Powell.
Wayne Gustaveson is the Lake Powell project leader with the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources.
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