October 24, 1997
By Wayne Gustaveson

Air and water temperatures continued a slow cooling trend with no drastic changes to the fishing pattern expected until the end of the month. Striped bass are found about half way back in the canyons where water depth is 80-100 feet. Stripers laying on the bottom at this depth are hard to catch but once excited into activity the whole school is vulnerable. Typically, catching one fish causes the others to rise off the bottom and cruise the 30-60 foot strata in search of food. One really important point to remember is that striper schools this time of year are extremely structure and depth oriented. That means to catch the second fish in a spot the bait must be placed almost exactly where the first one took it. At the first hookup pay strict attention to surrounding land features and try to triangulate the spot to allow you to return to the exact location again. Then put the bait at the same depth.

For example, last Monday and Tuesday I found striper schools at a couple of locations in Gunsight Canyon and Castle Rock on the Warm Creek side. Strong 4-8 pound fish could be taken every time we drifted over the school which never moved laterally. They moved up and down in the water column but were always within 20 feet of the same bottom structure. Every time we drifted over "the spot" we caught 1-3 fish. We unhooked fish, put them on ice and then turned the boat around for another drift and repeated the process. We caught over 50 adult stripers each day.

Some of you sharper types reading this would probably ask why I didn't just anchor over the fish? The answer is that I didn't have an anchor but it is probably a good idea to have one along when fish are behaving as they are now. But, I like to keep moving and will probably keep drifting instead of anchoring while fishing.

Anchovies are definitely the most productive bait in the majority of the lake. I tried spoons on both schools but caught fish only on anchovies. Chumming helped, but finding fish was more important. Chumming on a spot without fish was useless but chumming over a stationary school increased catch rate. Electronics really helped in the search for stripers. First, locate schools of fish on the graph at 60-80 feet and then put the bait in the water. I used 1/3 anchovy with a quarter ounce weight when fish were suspended in the water column and a one ounce weight when fish were hugging the bottom at 80 feet. Fish at both locations quit feeding mid day. We returned to the same spot later in the afternoon and found fish actively hitting anchovies.

A recent report from Blue Notch/Red Canyon finds fishing success slower probably due to recent fishing pressure generated from this report. There were a lot of boats fishing the area. I recommend giving the patterns mentioned in this report first priority and realizing that locations given have probably been visited by many anglers before you. Try the spots, but move on quickly if no fish are found. Use the techniques at other spots to find your own school of fish.

A suggestion from a successful returning angler was to continue fishing jigging spoons at Good Hope Bay but to lower the spoon to the bottom and then retrieve in rapidly to the surface. Stripers would hit as the lure was about half way back to the boat. Normal jigging on the bottom and in the water column was unproductive. I have other reports of anglers jigging sinking crankbaits, like spots or rattletraps, by sinking the lure to the bottom and ripping it up and then letting it fall again. Jigs were still better than anchovies at Good Hope due to the shad that still remain in the area.

The full moon slowed fishing last week but it is getting better again now with dark nights. Expect good fishing in Gunsight, Last Chance, Rincon, Halls Creek, Escalante, San Juan, and Good Hope Bay.