August 20, 1998
Lake Elevation: 3692 msl
Water Temperature: 78-82 F
By Wayne Gustaveson
Night time temperatures are cooling as summer winds down. After the lag time needed to cool the large surface body of water, fishing will eventually blast off. We are looking for good things to happens in September. Right now fishing remains on the tough side. There are some ways to increase your catch but they entail some effort on your part. The keys are to get up very early and/or make the long run to areas away from the marina.
Lets start with large and smallmouth bass. Every morning at first light bass will come up to top water lures. Brushy points, coves, and backs of canyons provide action from surface feeding bass that hit a surface lure like a Zara Spook, Sugoi Splash or Pop-R. Bass like a slow retrieve. Throw the lure out and let it sit until the ripples subside. Then twitch it once without really moving it. After the ripples die again move it 6 inches - then one foot. Finally start a steady popping retrieve back to the boat. This retrieve drives them absolutely crazy.
After the sun hits the water put a plastic grub on a heavy lead head or a split shot (Carolina) rig. For lots of small fish throw into the shallows along a rocky shoreline. Drop baits vertically and maintain bottom contact at 25-40 while the boat drifts for bigger fish. These patterns work over the entire lake but fishing is definitely better in the upper San Juan than anywhere else. There will be isolated spots near your camp where fishing is great which you can find with some effort. The deep pattern is best and works everywhere. Expect to catch 3-6 bass per hour. Keep searching until that catch rate is achieved.
Striped bass adults are consistently found at depths of 55-60 feet. That is deep enough to provide cool temperatures but shallow enough to still find food. This fishing depth is critical. Donít cast and guess. Either measure line out to 55 feet each cast or mark the line with some point of reference so that the exact depth can be reestablished once a fish hits and the bait is returned to the water.
Stripers are moving along the canyon walls and resting periodically. One angler reported fishing at the dam all day on Aug. 19th. He had no bites from 4 am until noon. From 1 to 3 pm he boated 25 adult stripers fishing at 55-60 feet with anchovies. This is a typical day. At some point a school of adult or juvenile stripers will move or start to feed. If really lucky you may find them active when you start to fish. At other times it may be slow for some period of time before they start to bite. You can wait in one spot of known striper activity or try a variety of spots until an active school is encountered.
Striper boils are still there but really quick. I see them almost every morning by the buoy line near the dam as I drive to work. They have boiled in Wahweap Marina and the backs of many canyons but shad schools are small and the action is over in a hurry. I recommend a silver spoon, white jig, or rattletrap. These lures can be fished on top or deeper if the fish have sounded before the boat gets in position. If you see a boil but canít approach it in time, try trolling the rattle trap near the site of the last boil until the fish come up again. If they donít resurface troll deep with leaded line or down riggers.
Catfish are really hitting in the warm water. Try them every evening on the sandy beach near your camp with shrimp or chicken liver.