April 16, 1999

Lake Elevation: 3677 msl

Water Temperature: 55-60 F

By Wayne Gustaveson

The storm fronts have passed with water and air temperatures warming rapidly. Thatís great news and spells the beginning of spring bass fishing. Bass have been sulking in deep water waiting patiently for the water to warm. The days are now long enough to get bass thinking about spawning. The only thing lacking was the warming trend needed to send fish shallow in search of nesting and spawning habitat. Barring another winter storm it looks like next week will start six weeks of great fishing. Right now fishing is only fair with good things only a few WARM days away.

Large and smallmouth bass will move to small rock structure (gravel) in 3-5 feet of water. Largemouth make nests at the base of a bush while smallmouth will nest on the edge of a ledge or flat. Nests appear as one-foot circular light areas on the dark bottom. Males fan the silt away with their tails as they uncover rocks where eggs are deposited. Males actively guard the nest to chase away intruders. Females are on the nest only during spawning. Males are easy to catch on the day of spawning and for 2-3 days after. Then they get wary of lures and tend to run when a boat approaches and revisit the nest when the boat leaves. A lure placed right on the nest and patiently attended catches the male most of the time. Practice catch and release if you want the eggs to hatch. Without the male that nest is doomed either to predation from other fish or due to lack of oxygen as silt settles on the nest.

Spawning will occur lake wide when the water temperature exceeds 60 degrees. Look for bass in the backs of coves and canyons and on shallow flats in open bays. Crappie and bluegill will be found at the same locations. Crappie nests will be in dense brush, weeds or even tumbleweed windrows where the wind has piled them. Small jigs, lures and live worms are the key for catching panfish.

Striped bass get revved up with warm water. They run to current even if they are not old enough to spawn. The tributaries and locations where water escapes from the lake are consistent spring time producers. Warming increases feeding activity so all fish move a little faster, search longer and are more willing to bite.

Spring time striper spots in the Wahweap area include the dam, power plant intake, gravel pile and the back of most canyons including Warm Creek, Navajo, Last Chance, Rock Creek and West Canyon. At Bullfrog/Halls Moki wall is most notable, but look upstream from the mouth of Moki Canyon right at the point where Moki wall gets small and peters out for a large school of stripers. Also check the first point of the steep wall downstream from Halls Marina, and the mouth of Lake Canyon. At Hite, main channel islands are good as is the Dirty Devil and Trachyte Canyons.