Sampled fish populations with gill nets this week in the San Juan. We found striped bass in surprisingly great condition but in small numbers. Physical condition of striped bass exceeded that found at any other location on the lake. Gill nets do not discriminate between strong and weak fish - they catch all that swim by. The ration of fat to thin fish in Piute Canyon and bay was 8 fat to 2 thin.
There was a report of boiling stripers last weekend and a large school of stripers in Piute Canyon delighting anchovy fisherman parked on shore. But when we were there the school of fish had moved out. That may account for the high ratio of healthy fish. Stripers continue to move in and out of canyons over the entire lake. They are extremely easy to catch when the large school is found but impossible to catch if the school is not in your canyon. Plan on making lots of quick short stops when searching, graphing and spooning for the striper school in the mid and upper lake areas (Rainbow Bridge to Hite).
At Warm Creek, Gunsight and Padre and Dry Rock stripers remain in the backs of the canyons where bottom depth is 50-70 feet. They were suspended about 20 feet off the bottom last week but are now found right on the bottom. Use anchovy chum to lift and separate the school from the bottom and then use bait, spoons or white jigs to catch the recently activated schooling stripers. If the school returns to the bottom then use more chum to bring them up once more. There are occasional days when lower lake fish are dormant but on most days good catches are still the norm. The most predictable striper catching will be done at Wahweap this week.
Smallmouth bass were active on rocky points in the San Juan arm. Hopping from point to point using soft plastic jigs was a good way to pinpoint areas where bass were congregated. It was common to fish four points and catch only one or no fish only to find the fifth point harbored many aggressive bass and sunfish. Most fish were 15-20 feet deep. Pay attention to directional exposure of the point when trying to duplicate a good catch. Bass are aligning themselves to take advantage of the moving sun and remain in the warmest position possible. That prime location can be predicted by paying attention to detail and used to the angler's advantage as he chooses which points to fish.
A slower retrieve usually worked better than a quick one. Dropping the lure to the bottom under the boat and then gently lifting and jiggling it in place worked better than a steady retrieve. Slow way down for bass in cold water and always keep the lure near bottom structure. On really tough days try letting the lure lie dormant on the bottom for 5 minutes before twitching it.