October 29, 1999
Lake Elevation: 3688 msl
Water Temperature: 62-65 F
By Wayne Gustaveson
The first winter storm of the season is currently venting its fury across the lake with high winds but not really that cold of temperatures. This always brings uncertainty as to how fish will respond to impending cold winter-like temperatures. It is certain that bass will respond to the front by going off feed for at least 2-3 days following the front and stabilization of the weather pattern. If the weather moderates and we continue with unseasonably mild temperatures then bass will continue to bite aggressively while water temperatures remain in the 60's. If there is a sudden drop to 55 degree water from extended cold then bass fishing will be over for the year for the average angler like me.
Stripers are not as sensitive to changes in barometric pressure as are large and smallmouth bass. They are harder to catch after a front but I think that is in response to shad behavior. Shad tend to go deeper in windy and falling temperature conditions. Stripers follow shad to the depths. Since there is still thermal stratification in the reservoir that places shad at about 40-60 feet, which is the deepest warm water available. When the lake “turns over” in December there is no thermal refuge for shad and they can go much deeper.
For the short term cooling temperatures place shad in a specific location in every canyon and puts stripers in close proximity. That is why stripers get more predictable. Search the main channel of each major canyon at depths of 40-80 feet for best results. Sure, they will be a lot of other places as they make daily forage runs, but stripers return to resting points to lay on the bottom beneath suspended schools of resting shad. It is a good starting point.
Graphing is the best way to find fish now. There will be an occasional boil but by far most fish will be caught at 20-60 feet with anchovies, white jigs, silver spoons, and trolled lures. I prefer spoons but shad numbers are making anchovies more attractive to the gathering, larger schools of stripers that are moving to the backs of the canyons. There aren’t enough shad to fill all the stripers. Water temperatures is still in the preferred range for stripers so they remain extremely active and catch rates should actually increase as soon as the weather from this passing front moderates.
My best guess for striper holding spots for current conditions are Warm Creek, Navajo Canyon, Last Chance, West Canyon, Oak Canyon, upper San Juan, upper Escalante, Rincon, Slick Rock, Red Canyon, Blue Notch, Trachyte, White Canyon, and Dirty Devil. A half day of good fishing effort in any of these locations should result in a cooler full of stripers.