Fish movement to winter patterns is now complete. Striped bass and shad have gone deep, normally near the 60 feet range. Bass are holding at 30-40 feet and can be caught on terminal tackle that is dropped near to them but they will not venture far from protective cover. High levels of forage will keep game fish active during November and December followed by a dormant period in January and February.
Sampling indicates all game fish have gone into winter in excellent condition with all populations except striped bass being found in record high numbers. High lake levels, abundant brush cover, and good forage conditions have combined to produce optimum conditions for fish growth and survival. All fish are expected to come through the winter in fine shape and provide excellent fishing in spring 1997.
Striped bass adult numbers during 1996 were lower than normal which allowed physical condition to improve to the high levels presently found. Striped bass in good condition are prolific spawners and young stripers were produced in record numbers in 1996. These small fish will be ever present next spring and will place extreme predatory pressure on the shad population. It is imperative that young striped bass are harvested before they can decimate the shad population in spring and summer of 1997. Please keep all small stripers caught.
Winter fishing for stripers will be most successful for those using fish finders who find shad and striper schools at mid depth in the backs of major canyons. When a school is located try vertically jigging a spoon, marabou jig, or plastic grub at the same depth the fish are marked on the graph. Feeding fish are most often captured at 40-60 feet even when bottom depth is much deeper.
Largemouth and smallmouth bass can be taken by similar techniques but the terminal bait must contact bottom. Fish a shad or crayfish colored grub, spoon, or jig on breaking vertical structure of points or talus slopes at 20-40 feet allowing the bait to bounce off the bottom during the retrieve. When a fish is caught concentrate on that particular depth to find more fish. Bass will often be at the same depth strata and many times can be caught by dropping the bait vertically below the boat into the preferred depth zone.
Catfish continue to feed during winter but they will be found at much greater depth than in the summer. Bluegill and crappie will be dormant until spring. Walleye can be caught again starting in February. Enjoy the winter and we will issue new reports in the spring.