November 12, 1999
Lake Elevation: 3687 msl
Water Temperature: 61-65 F
By Wayne Gustaveson
Yes, the temperature is still in the 60ís in the main lake not effected by inflow. The upper most reaches of the San Juan and Colorado river inflows are cooler but everywhere else it is well above 60. This is the only year that it has been this warm this long during my tenure. That means bass fishing remains good and will continue until the storm finally comes to cool the lake into the 50's.
Stripers need that cooling to spark better fishing in most of the lake. As we sampled Good Hope Bay we found similar condition to the San Juan. Stripers were fat, healthy and well fed. We observed birds, stripers and shad predictably doing exactly the same things each day in the unchanging weather. Red Canyon had an abundant population of shad in the very back bay. Shad would feed, splash and frolic unmolested each morning and evening in the shallow stick-ups in the back of the canyon. Western grebes sat placidly on the surface most of the time but would feed vigorously on shad in the evenings. Sometime during the night stripers would enter the shallow bay and feed voraciously and then be gone by morning. They digested during the day and regrouped for another feeding attack the next evening. I am sure they feed during the day at some time but we could not find them in the act. All lures we tried were ignored in favor of real shad. The only stripers caught came on Rattletraps ripped quickly back to the boat. A sudden reaction was the only way to illicit a striper strike in the forage rich bay.
Stripers have found a food source that is dependable and easy. That makes fish very hard to catch since they only eat real shad.. A drop in temperature will force shad to move out of the shelter of shallow bay into the depths. When this happens stripers will be temporarily partitioned from the easy food source and will have to search to find them again. That is when fishing will pick up and the shad rich areas will once again produce good striper catches.
For now, lower lake (Wahweap) and midlake (Bullfrog/Halls) are the best bets. Shad are not plentiful there and stripers are searching for food. They will come to anchovies. Try Moki Canyon and the back of Bullfrog and Hallís Creek. Look at 40-60 feet for striper schools. The last report from Moki was that stripers were found where bottom depth was 70 feet. At Warm Creek, stripers were last found at 35-40 feet with anchovies fished almost on the bottom. Most boats in Warm Creek are fishing a bottom depth of 60-70 feet fishing for uncooperative suspended fish while the vulnerable fish are laying right on the bottom almost indistinguishable on the graph. Stripers are also hitting in Navajo in the last 1/3 of the canyon on anchovies and spoons. I expect good catches are possible now in Last Chance, Rock Creek and West Canyon. Try these spots until the weather deteriorates.
Smallmouth bass were very cooperative uplake and down. They consistently hit soft plastic grubs in the main channel with the most productive depth being 30 feet. Dark colors are working but when they slow down try chartreuse to add more fish to the live well. At Good Hope we found no action on main channel points so we moved to the shade of steep cliffs where a small rock slide or outcropping broke up the slick cliff face. We caught smallmouth all day long.