March 28, 2002
By Wayne Gustaveson   Home Page:
Lake Elevation: 3647  Water Temperature: 50-57 F

Lake surface temperature clicked up another notch to 50 first thing in the morning. Later in the day in the back of the canyon where water is cloudy the warmest water may be as high as 57. Surface temperature tests a thin, transient water layer and the best indicator of how fish may respond is the cold 50 degree mark. More warming is needed to move cold-blooded fish from the slow category into a moderate activity category. But that warming is coming and here is what to expect this week.

Largemouth bass need 55 degree water and smallmouth 60 degrees before turning on. Both species will move to the warmest water possible. Follow the thermometer to find bass. Once that 55-plus degree water is found look for cover. Largemouth bass will bask in shallow water near or in a bush while smallmouth will be anywhere they can find broken rock near a deep water escape route. Seeing bass does not insure catching. Bass move shallow to warm their body and then eat after the metabolism increases. Basking fish need security and will often be in a confined space. If a boulder-sized rock is seen near a steep cliff face it may be more productive to cast between the rock and the cliff face instead of in front of a rock. For early season bass probe cracks with plastic jigs, cast behind a bush hugging a wall, roll a spinner bait through cover to find a willing bass.

Walleye are nearing the end of their spawning period and will soon resume normal feeding activity. Mid April will provide better walleye catching opportunities.

Striped bass feel the temperature increase and respond by moving to current. There has been a steady improvement in striper catch rate at the dam and power plant intake. Most anglers can catch a few fish (less than 10) while dunking bait near the dam or drifting the wall near the intake upstream from Antelope Point ramp. Catching is very spotty. A moving striper school will provide a flurry of quick catches, then action dies as the school moves to another location. Patient waiting is demanded for success. No certain time of day has proven to better than another. School movement is random and catching is just as sporadic.

Overall fishing is still slow but more warming happens each day bringing good fishing that much closer.