October 9, 1997
By Wayne Gustaveson
Lake Elevation: 3690
Temperature: 70-73 F

The first cold night of the season accompanied the recent cold front and has the fish thinking about winter. Temperatures will now quickly decline through the 60's which is the preferred temperature range for striped bass and the last warm water for largemouth and smallmouth bass. Expect to see good fishing during October with slower fishing with cold November weather.

This week finds bass still fairly deep during the day with a good morning top water bite. Throw spooks or poppers around brushy points for best success. The more inaccessible areas with higher bass populations are best. The upper San Juan, Escalante, Good Hope, and Rincon are the best bets but bass top water action happens anywhere there are a few remaining shad.

Shad strongholds occur where tributaries dump into Lake Powell. Piute Farms on the San Juan, main river channel above Hite, and backs of major canyon with perennial flow like Navajo, Last Chance, Bullfrog and Halls, Red Canyon. Search the back of these canyons with electronics to find shad schools suspended at 40 to 80 feet. Once shad are located sport fish will be in close proximity.

Striped bass adults are following these shad schools and will be found in the middle of the channel at 30 to 100 feet. Striped bass rest at 60 feet and deeper and will generally come up to 45 feet in search of food. Jigging at 45 is a good starting point for stripers. When shad are present silver jigging spoons in half to 3/4 ounce are really effective. Without shad, anchovies, white jigs or any trolled lure on a down rigger is great. Electronic gear is really important for striper fishing now because school tend to stay very stationary. A lure placed in the school is usually eaten while baits missing the school by even a short distance are often ignored.

There is a large component of the striped bass population not on shad but feeding on plankton at the present time. Most of the yearlings and fish up to 3 pounds have not migrated to the backs of the canyons with the adults. The juvenile fish are still hanging on the canyon walls and points in areas where plankton densities are high. Prevailing wind often concentrates plankton against a wall or in a cove. When really dense, plankton looks like clouds of sand suspended near the surface in otherwise clear water. Closer examination finds the specks moving under their own power. Sport fish will key on this abundant but tiny food source when shad are scarce. Pay close attention to subtle signs and changing conditions to maximize your catch. Plankton concentrations and shad schools are the key.

Look for plankton and plankton feeding stripers on the north side of Castle Rock in the channel that connects Wahweap and Warm Creek.