OCTOBER 19, 2000
By Wayne Gustaveson
Home Page:
Lake Elevation: 3676
Water Temperature: 67-70 F

Return of stable weather has pushed back the fishing calendar. Conditions are now similar to events before recent storm fronts. Days are warm, nights are cool and fish are packing in the groceries while they still can. The good news and bad is that fish are bunched up. Find the bunch and you're happy. Miss the spot and fishing is not good at all.

Here is the subtle key to finding roving bass, stripers and other fun fish. Mobile shad schools are the target. Shad rest and suspend over deep water during the day but at dawn and again in the evening they move shallow to feed and/or regroup. Stripers and roving packs of bass move under shad and drive them to nearby cuts (short canyons and coves with a deep submerged creek channel leading to shallow flats). Predator strategy is to get shad trapped against the surface and the shoreline where 2 avenues of shad escape are eliminated. Most times shad avoid the box canyon, stay deep and have an advantage when attacked. Occasionally, stripers win and a short shoreline boil results. Birds (herons, seagulls, ravens) move quickly to feed on shad that stripers miss. Even in the absence of shad, predators are in favored coves and looking for food where they found it previously. These fish can be caught.

To find one of the favored feeding canyons or coves, look for birds hanging around during the day, follow flying seagulls at dawn, check any great blue heron - follow them when they fly, graph the mouths of cuts looking for fish traces. When a few possibly locations are found, check them during low light periods by throwing surface lures for 2 or 3 casts near the back of the cut. Bass and stripers will respond immediately if present even when they are not boiling. If no surface action, move out deeper (30 feet) and drop a spoon to the bottom and jig for two minutes. Then move 10 feet deeper and try again. Keep doing this until depth exceeds 60 feet. If no luck, move to the next cut and repeat. Only spend 10 minutes per cut during prime time.

While boils are uncommon that is still the pattern all predators are focusing on. Stripers move along the bottom, bass along the edge of cover, searching for shad. Keep fishing these travel lanes with shad imitating top water, mid depth cranks and injured shad imitating spoons to provide the exact prey image all fish are seeking. This moving fish-and-run tactic will pay dividends once active fish are found. They will come to the boat in bunches.

Shad killing zones are found in cuts near Lone Rock, Windows of Wahweap, Crosby canyon, Gunsight, Padre, Last Chance, Rock Creek, Oak, San Juan (upper half), upper Escalante, Rincon, Slick Rock, Annies Canyon (big boil reported 10-17), Bullfrog Bay, Red/Blue Notch, Trachyte, White, and lake above Hite.

You may not see a boil but finding trapped shad will result in good catches of bass and stripers on surface, medium running crank baits, and spoons. Spoons are my lure of choice with the conditions prevailing this week. Drop the spoon to the bottom and lift it 5 feet off the bottom and let it fall back on semi-slack line. Watch for a line twitch on the fall to signal a strike.