There have been some subtle changes in fishing patterns this week that are important for anglers. Remaining shad schools have moved to the backs of canyons where shallow water and tamarisk pockets offer protection from hungry game fish. Undaunted, bass and stripers have moved into the same canyons and are really bunched up. They hold in 20-40 feet of water and make morning and evening forays into the tamarisk flats for an easy shad meal. There is a flurry of surface feeding action early and late with bass and stripers feeding together. Mid morning the action subsides and striper schools suspend in about 30-60 feet of water. Bass hold up in shoreline structure and digest shad. These isolated canyons with shad provide great fishing while bass and striper fishing in nearby canyons and bays is pretty tough. It is worth the effort to search out a number of different spots until shad are found. Find shad and the game fish will be there - guaranteed. Migrating shad and movement of game fish in response to forage is a typical fall pattern that can lead to some really great fishing, if you are in the right spot. If you are not on fish - keep moving until shad or game fish are located.
Some canyons where we found shad this week were Navajo, Warm Creek, San Juan upstream from Piute, Bullfrog (South campground), Rincon, Good Hope Bay, and Dirty Devil. Use small surface poppers for bass and stick baits for stripers. There are a lot of small fish feeding in the canyons around shad pockets but bigger fish are in the same vicinity and can be caught.
The lower lake has a really consistent striper bite at 40 feet on anchovies. The dam and the power plant intake near Wahweap is still a consistent producer but better catches are coming from the narrows between Padre and Warm Creek. Use electronic fish finders to chart fish along steep canyon walls and then drop anchovies, white jigs or silver spoons right into the school for an instant hookup. Try the dam and intake first but if they are slow move to another spot on the wall and give it a try.
It is gratifying to see so many anglers catching and keeping striped bass. As I check the fish cleaning station to get current reports of fish activity I find way too many stripers that have been improperly cared for resulting in degradation of eating quality. Please take a large cooler and one block of ice with you when striper fishing. You WILL catch fish and when that happens just put the fish in the cooler instead of on a stringer in the warm water. The fish in the cooler will keep for hours and can be filleted and enjoyed. Fish kept in warm water for more than two hours seriously decline in eating quality. Striped bass are excellent eating fish and sometimes get a bad reputation for taste because they are not cared for properly. I take a fillet knife along and periodically fillet fish to allow enough cooler space for all the fish. Just leave a small patch of skin on each fillet to allow identification of species. The carcass can be disposed of in deep water in the lake. Recycling striped bass allows crayfish and catfish an easy meal and enhances the food chain. Please do not leave striped bass in shallow water or on shore at camp.
Catfish are abundant and willing to eat bait on sandy beaches near camp any time of day.