August 20, 1999
Lake Elevation: 3693 msl
Water Temperature: 74-80 F
I had the distinct pleasure of spending Aug 16-17 on the upper San Juan in search of boiling stripers. Surface feeding activity was found in the main channel between Copper Canyon and Mikes Canyon. All fish caught were between 2 and 3 pounds. The intensity of surface feeding has declined since reports began coming in at the first of the month. Afternoons were most productive with action beginning about 3 PM and lasting til dark.
The first afternoon we caught 25 stripers on top after chasing two major schools of fish in two different locations for about 2 hours. Many splashes covering about 5 acres in the open water of the main channel marked the afternoon boils which were easy to find. Stripers stayed up for about 5 minutes and then would resurface in a new location every 5 minutes. Winds and thunderstorms put the fish down prematurely or many more would have been caught.
The next morning we found 15 fish in two separate short boils along the channels edge. These covered only 50 yards of shoreline and would have been easy to miss. Morning boils were of short duration and confined to short coves along the edge of the channel. Splashes were subtle. Cruising the shoreline looking for splashes was the best method of finding fish. Action was over by 8 am.
A small boil was seen near Pinnacle Rock near the mouth of Cha Canyon on both trips to and from the upper San Juan. The biggest surprise was the best boil of the trip happened at the mouth of Bald Rock Canyon in the lower San Juan. At 2 PM stripers boiled across the entire San Juan River channel and stayed up for over an hour. Fish in the upper San Juan acted like they had plenty of food and were a little boat shy. The fish in the lower San Juan were aggressive and ate everything thrown at them. They often boiled right around the boat without regard for human activity. It was a marvelous visual display and provided 35 more fish (70 fillets) for some great eating.
It is no longer necessary to go all the way up the San Juan for boils. More reports are received each day from different locations. Boils were reported at Hite, Good Hope, lower San Juan, Antelope Point near Wahweap, haystacks in Warm Creek, Navajo Canyon and many other spots. As always, boils are a random act and may not happen every day. While early and late are most productive boils can happen at noon or 2 PM - so stay ready with a surface lure tied on.
Stick baits like zara spooks and jumpin' minnows are my favorite but rattle traps will catch fish in every boil on just about every cast and hammered silver spoons ripped along the top are deadly. In a good boil I use a jumpin minnow with the front hook removed. That way I can grasp the lure body to remove the back hook from the fish. I never use a net with a double treble hook lure. There is too much chance of fouling the free hook in the net causing too much downtime between casts.
We took an hour out at mid San Juan and tried for smallmouth. They were right on the bottom at 15-25 feet and willing to take grubs in green or smoked colors. I caught 15 smallmouth between 0.5 and 2 pounds in one hour. Smallmouth fishing is still good in the upper lake and slower in the lower lake. Surface fishing is good morning and evening .
Catfish are still being caught every night on sandy beaches at good camp sites over the entire lake.