Water temperatures have slipped into the 50's marking the end of good smallmouth fishing for the year. Bass can still be caught but fishing is tougher. Striped bass will now go deep and travel less actually making them easier to find and therefore, catch. These conditions will prevail for the remainder of November and December. This will be the last regular fish report for the year. Updates will be given as new information is obtained and disseminated on the Wayneswords.com website. Look there for winter fishing updates, specifically the Anglers Corner and Bulletin board pages.
Striped bass continue to move but are easy to discern on electronics. They are seen as an elliptical dense mass usually just off the bottom. Winter feeding grounds will have numerous schools in the same proximity detectable for 100 yards or more. Stripers found less than 60 feet deep are easiest to catch but as winter settles in stripers may be seen at 100 feet or more. Fish with spoons, jigs or anchovy bait while maintaining position directly over the school. Mark the location with a floating marker and chum to draw fish off the bottom and to excite the school. A hooked fish often draws the rest of the school off the bottom and causes a quick flurry of activity. Let the first hooked fish swim deep making sure there is another bait in the water before the first fish is landed.
All canyons from Good Hope Bay to Hite and Zahn Bay to Copper Canyon offer good potential for catching wintering striped bass. In the remainder of the lake, graph the backs of canyons where bottom depth is 50-70 feet for resting schools. Warm Creek, Gunsight and Padre are consistent winter striped bass producers.
Once detected a striper school has to be "started". Usually hooking the first fish will ignite the others. To get that first bite, fish exactly at the depth where stripers are seen on the graph. If using bait make sure the bait touches bottom. A long carolina-rig may allow the bait to drift 2 feet above the bottom while the weight maintains bottom contact. If this approach is ineffective try shortening the leader to 6 inches ensuring the bait will be "on the bottom". Impale the anchovy head or tail on a jighead to achieve the same results. It may be necessary to slow down the presentation to get a strike. Move the bait very slowly with subtle movements designed to feel the resistance of the slightest pickup and not necessarily to attract attention to the bait. I prefer to hold the rod rather than rest it in a rod holder. Winter fish are lethargic. Sometimes no movement works better than too much movement.
I hope the fish reports in 2001 have helped you find a starting point for a successful fishing trip I know I have enjoyed writing them and interacting with anglers who have unselfishly provided reports from areas that I have not fished. Looking forward to another great year of catching fish in 2002. I will see you on Lake Powell.