Lake level is declining rapidly with the increased need for electrical power generation from the dam. The low steady state release pattern is over and we can expect the lake to decline more than it has for the past few years. It will dip below 3670 by the first of the year.
Cold weather has put all fish species into deep winter patterns. The expected winter striper bite was small and slow. It is possible to graph a few scattered striper schools in most lake areas. They remain curious and are willing to bite or bump a bait but full-blown active feeding has not been observed during the past two weeks.
The normal pattern is to graph a school, drop the bait or spoon and catch one or two fish. Then the school disappears. My feeling is that they rest on the bottom and are very hard to detect on the graph. Speed reeling a spoon with pauses toward the surface often causes the school to ascend part way in the water column. Then they drift away once more and blend with the bottom. I am sure that a short feeding period happens occasionally, maybe at a certain time every day. I have not found active fish during the warm part of the day when I have been out.
The best approach would be to troll with down riggers at 50-60 feet. The reaction to speed reeling indicates some fish willing to chase while the main group is not feeding. Fishing anchovies with consistent chumming would be the next preferred method. I will continue to target individual fish or small groups with spoons and white jigs hoping to get a quick catch of 4-5 fish before moving on to find the next bunch. Using the standard trout ice-fishing technique with anchovy bait on a small silver spoon may work.
Depth is critical. Targeting 50-60 foot depth strata is the most productive, but resting fish which may be started will be as deep as 80-90 feet.
Smallmouth can still be caught but action is slow. A few crappie are biting in limited brush/tree habitat in the backs of some canyons.