December 3, 1999

Lake Elevation: 3685 msl

Water Temperature: 55-57 F

By Wayne Gustaveson

Largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing has slowed with the decline in water temperature. A few shad linger in the shallow brushy coves but most have moved to deep water followed by striped bass. It appears that shad are below 80 feet in open bays and below 60 feet in canyons. Good numbers of shad are available in the upper lake, lower lake, and tributaries while mid lake has only a few shad in pockets at the backs of canyons. Find shad and stripers will be in close proximity.

I fished twice this week in Warm Creek. There are two patterns that work on good weather days. (In the winter when the weather is frightful I stay inside.) But on sunny afternoons graphing in main Warm Creek near the mouth of Crosby Canyon shows two different types of striper schools. The type I search for are tight bunches of stripers that are close to or on the bottom. They appear as a small hump in haystack shape with a few individual fish lines extending out from the haystack. Fish in this mode are generally active and will readily hit spoons. (I do not use the graph mode which depicts traces as fish preferring to see the raw data the graph senses. That way I can interpret bubbles and dropoffs which are shown as fish targets when fish picture mode is selected.) I consistently search the 60 foot contour as I have found that fish deeper than 60 are resting while fish at 60 and shallower are more likely to hit lures. As a school is graphed a marker buoy is thrown to show their location. Then a spoon is immediately dropped to the school. I let it hit bottom and work it in 2-3 foot hops regaining bottom contact after each sharp lift. If I am able to stop the boat and get the lure in the water quickly enough stripers can usually be caught from the stationary school. If I drift past then there is no fish response and I get upwind from the marker and drift the spot one more time. When fish hit I stay until they quit. If I miss then the search for another school begins.

The second pattern shows suspended individual fish not schooled but grouped in the same location. These stripers are feeding on plankton and will readily hit anchovies. When this fish pattern is seen it is best to anchor, chum and then fish anchovies. Once a feeding location is found it is no longer necessary to move but the fish will return to the anchored boat as long as chum is systematically used on a regular basis. All fish are between 1-3 pounds. Bigger fish are caught on spoons but more fish are caught on anchovies.

This is a lakewide pattern that and will work anywhere on the lake. I consistently see traces on the graph at depths greater than 80 feet. So far, I have not been able to catch fish deeper than 75 feet. I am not convinced that the deep traces seen on the graph are fish. Look for stripers between 40 and 60 feet to be sure.