NEWS FLASH: BULLFROG ***Stripers in the back of Bullfrog Bay past gravel islands in the willows. Will hit surface lures in morning and evening twilight.***
Fishing last week was difficult. Good catches happened occasionally but more anglers were finding only modest success. This is a normal event that happens as bass spawning winds down, shad start to spawn, and lake levels rise. This end of May lull is always followed by a catching surge. The question is, when does it start? Will fishing improve for Memorial Day or wait until the day after most folks have to return home? Your best odds will be to concentrate on smallmouth and then react to stripers when they are encountered during the normal course of the fishing day.
Clear water smallmouth will be found on main channel rockslides, marked hazards to navigation, primary and secondary points, and most broken rock structure. Last week only one smallmouth was caught on each really good looking bass spot. That is already improving. Yesterday, the same spots produced two to three fish. The best fishing may be from Last Chance to the Rincon, but don't hesitate to fish for bass anywhere. Bullfrog and Hite have been slower while the San Juan is probably the best spot for bass. Soft plastic grubs and tubes are still the best baits.
Stripers are a moving target and difficult to find. The Bullfrog Bay trolling advice did not work last week. The dam and power plant intake are fair. The points in Navajo are steady but really not producing as fast as we would like (0.5 fish per hour). More stripers were caught in new locations than in the standard spots. The shallow water (18 ft) in upper Warm Creek was good for a few days. The rock pile at the mouth of Rock Creek worked for anglers fishing anchovies at 20-30 feet off the marked hazard buoy. The north wall at the mouth of Knowles Canyon was good for trolling and would work with anchovies.
The pattern is to search the shallow backs of canyons for actively feeding stripers, then graph adjacent deep water (30-50 feet) for resting stripers that periodically go shallow looking for shad. If that doesn't work then search the main channel, particularly at the mouths of major canyons or prominent points within the canyon for mid-depth (20-40 feet) plankton-feeding fish that will eat anchovies. Use reaction lures (rattletraps, Zara spooks, fat free shad, frenzy, and shad rap) casting or trolling shallow and then use bait and jigging spoons for deeper fish. It is more likely that you will find your own school than happen on to a group of boats actively engaged in catching stripers. But if that does happen, join in and have fun. When schools are found they are very cooperative. Last year the islands at the mouth of Slick Rock were good. Try fishing a new wall or rock structure. Hit spots that have been good to you in previous years. Move until you find success. Chum a spot and then return to the spot an hour later and chum again to get fish started.
We are still getting an occasional walleye and crappie report but those fish will be scarce from now on. Catfishing is improving. Expect to see bluegill spawning this week. They can be great sport with fly rods and popping bugs when guarding nests. You can get enough big bluegill to provide a real good meal on live worms and small hooks.