December, 1997
By Wayne Gustaveson
Lake Elevation: November - 3685 - expected to decline to 3670-75 by spring
Water Temperature: November 52-55 F expected to hold at 50 all winter.

Bass fishing will be fair all winter long while striped bass fishing will remain good. Most other fish species will be dormant throughout the winter. Largemouth and smallmouth bass went into the winter dormant period in great shape with plenty of fat reserves. Striped bass adults were, for the most part, malnourished while juvenile fish were fat. Not all adult striped bass will make it through the winter with a cyclical population adjustment expected.

Striped bass will be found at their present side canyon locations during the winter. They rest in 60-90 feet of water usually in the deepest part of the old creek channel midway back in the canyon. Feeding periods are less frequent as temperatures decline, but stripers will be shallower when feeding. There is often an excursion to the extreme shallow end of the canyon sometime during the day. Even during the dead of winter tossing a surface lure to the back of the canyon is a good way to detect active stripers. After feeding, striped bass return to the 60 foot resting area. They are best located by searching the resting and holding areas with electronic fish finders. Striped bass often appear on the screen as a "ragged haystack" with many fish traces protruding from the dome shaped school which would typically be resting on the bottom.

Winter schools will be large and stationary. Dormant schools can often be excited into activity by broadcasting anchovy chum directly over the school. Winter striper schools do not feed as long or as actively as fish in warmer water but the large number of fish holding in one location often make the fishing effort very rewarding. Once a school is located mark the spot with a floating marker buoy so that point of reference is established. Stripers will often follow a drifting boat while bait or chum is in the water, but once the bait trail is lost fish will return to their holding spot. Contact with the school can be reestablished by returning to the buoy and starting the process over again.

Schools of stripers can be revisited on a recurring basis. Once found a school will likely be in the same location for an extended period of time. There will be short periods of activity and longer periods of dormancy. If fish located on the graph will not respond immediately try them an hour or two later and the results could be very different. It would be well to have more than one school located so that there was a "fall-back" school to try if the primary targets were uncooperative.

This is the last regular report for the year. We will update our hotline phone line and internet page with bulletins as needed throughout the winter. Look for us at 1-800-275-3474 by phone or on the net at If you have information or suggestions about our information services contact us at 1-520-645-2392 or at UDWR@Page.Az.Net.