September 11, 1998
Lake Elevation: 3689 msl
Water Temperature: 76-78 F
By Wayne Gustaveson
A gradual cooling trend marks the beginning of great fall fishing. This is really the most exciting period for me because most fish can now be caught on top water. Fishing is actually more consistent with soft plastic jigs but my preference is to catch one fish on top rather than two on the bottom. Cooling water causes fish to feed frantically to put on weight before cold winter temperatures arrive. There is an abundance of forage as most fish hatched this year have grow to an edible size and are available in large numbers.
The upper lake reaches are already producing great fishing. The upper San Juan, Escalante, Good Hope Bay areas are great for bass and stripers on top water and jigs. Stripers are boiling during the first 3 hours of daylight. With shorter days and more forage it isnít necessary to beat the sun out of bed. The only key is that boils will occur ONLY where shad are present. Boils have been reported at Hite, White Canyon, Trachyte, Castle Butte, Red Canyon, Slick Rock Canyon, Rincon, and the upper San Juan at Copper and Nokai Canyons. Fish top water during the first 3 daylight hours and then for the last hour of light in the evening.
There are boils on the lower lake but shad schools here are very small (30 fish) and boils last for only a few seconds. Stripers bust the shad school once and have no more fish to chase after the first explosion.
I have included bass and stripers together because they are feeding at the same time and in the same place. Bass are boiling right with stripers and really tend to take over the feeding as the stripers stop. Constantly moving stripers round up shad and drive them into a cove or canyon. Stripers attack and cause shad to run erratically away from the attack. As the shad school disperses stripers loose interest. The aberrant shad behavior then excites opportunistic bass into feeding as shad probe brush and rocks looking for a hiding place. Bass then feed on the disoriented shad. This is a great time and place for an angler to be but really a lousy spot for a shad. They just canít win.
During the day both bass and stripers rest in cover or near bottom. Bass can be taken on bottom bouncing grubs and stripers on anchovies and spoons jigged on the bottom. In areas without shad fish deep for stripers along the shade of steep cliff walls. Try 50 to 80 feet deep. I had a good report of large stringers of adult stripers coming from Iceberg Canyon at 80 feet on anchovies. They still catch stripers deep on Moki Wall and in many other Bullfrog/Halls locations.
Best fishing is uplake near inflowing water but it is gradually getting better for bass in every canyon. Catfish are still very active and will fill your stringer if you fish soft odorous bait on sandy beaches at dusk any night.