Just returned from a sampling trip to the San Juan so this report will feature uplake fishing but will still be applicable to the lake in general. We found good numbers of green sunfish (forage for other fish) but very few shad. As a general statement, most game fish are in the backs of canyons and coves and not inhabiting the main channel. The exception to that is Hite and upper San Juan where shad are abundant and stripers are found in the main channel. The lack of shad is important, in that, when shad are located fishing will be excellent in that particular spot. Find shad - stay close to them and catch fish.
We worked and fished Piute/Neskahi Bay. Striper fishing is AWESOME! We found shad in Piute Canyon and in the small coves and cuts just upstream from and on the same side as Neskahi Canyon. On the morning of 9-19-01 stripers were occasionally surfacing (slurping) in open water and along the shoreline. Casting surface lures near points and across coves near slurps produced stripers on almost every cast for most of the morning. When topwater slowed a spoon dropped to the bottom at about 45 feet got them going again. We caught 50 stripers in two hours. We only fished the coves upstream from Neskahi (didn't have to move) but stripers were also caught in big numbers on bait at the mouth of Piute Canyon and on major points on the opposite side of the lake.
There are a tremendous number of hungry stripers in the San Juan from Cha Canyon upstream. Many are stressed from lack of food and becoming thin. Of the fish we caught, healthy ones outnumbered thin ones by a 5:1 ratio. If using bait the ratio will be five thin to one healthy striper. Healthy stripers are stronger and faster and get to the shad first. Active surface lures and spoons select stronger fish. Thin fish are slower and will respond better to passive chum and suspended bait. Catch and keep all stripers as forage is not abundant. Stripers will suffer winter kill and must be harvested as soon as possible.
Stripers are congregated and very cooperative in these locations: Glen Canyon Dam, Warm Creek (Cottonwood Wash or haystacks), Gunsight, Padre, Last Chance, Friendship Cove, DRY ROCK CREEK, Deep Canyon, PIUTE CANYON, Halls Creek Bay and Hite to Fourmile Canyon.
Boils have slowed and fishing in general at Hite is much slower than it has been previously reported. Bullfrog is only fair.
We caught smallmouth steadily but fishing was not fast. There were just a few isolated open water reefs where bass fishing was tremendous but shoreline fishing was only fair. Our best luck for smallmouth was had while casting topwater to roving stripers. Smallmouth were feeding on shad right with the stripers and many quality bass were taken on spoons and topwater lures cast to cruising stripers.