May 24, 2002
By Wayne Gustaveson   Home Page:
Lake Elevation: 3644  Water Temperature: 60-70 F

The fish and lake are recovering nicely from the big wind and ugly cold front that blew by. Water temps that dropped into the 50's are now back to the low 60's and fish appreciate that. They are swimming back to shallow water where they are easier to catch. Smallmouth bass fishing has been downgraded from fantastic to just real good. Areas more distant from access areas are often better than structure close to marinas where fishing pressure is more intense. That fishing pressure has reduced numbers and perhaps allowed fish to grow bigger (but also smarter) near marinas.

Bass remain on the breaking edge of reefs and around steep rocky shore lines. Bass have moved onto flats and some are still nesting in really shallow water. When casting on a flat, target rocks with shade pockets instead of mundane open water without any structure. Precisely targeting each cast to drop as close as possible to specific structure will increase your catch. Bass are more likely to bite as the lure falls on the initial entry into the water. They often chase the lure back to the boat on a fast retrieve but the ones that are caught will hit on the first drop. If a bite is missed just open the bale and drop the lure to the bottom to get another crack at the same fish.

Soft plastics baits (tubes, grubs, senkos, worms) are working best but crankbaits and surface lures are almost as good. Keep moving and targeting habitat similar to the spot where the last fish was caught. That's called pattern fishing and it really pays huge dividends. I suspect that early morning fishing will be better than mid day with shad now spawning at first light and with cloudless, long days driving the fish deeper when the sun is high.

Stripers are still hitting in previously reported downlake locations especially from the dam to upper Navajo. Don't forget to look in shallow coves along the channel to find visible schools of stripers sunning themselves and eating plankton. The Bullfrog area has shown definite improvement with stripers hitting very well at the mouth of Halls Creek, midway back in Bullfrog Bay and on the walls near Bouy 102. Stripers in the San Juan are stacked in huge schools in the extreme upper end of the canyon near Donkey Island just downstream from Copper canyon. Just troll a shad imitating crankbait where main channel depth is 25 feet to catch as many fat stripers as you can reel in.

Fishing for all species is excellent at Hite. The mudline is near 2-Mile Canyon but less than normal runoff has reduced driftwood and allowed more visibility so fishing is good in both clear and muddy water. Access is excellent and launching possible from the dirt ramp. Look for fast action for stripers, walleye and smallmouth in the area from Hite to Good Hope. Fishing pressure has been heaviest in White Canyon and North Wash so you may want to fish other canyons.

Catfish are getting really active in shallow muddy water near inflowing water in the backs of canyons. One typical hotspot is located in the back of Navajo Canyon. Travel to the upper end until water gets muddy and a green algae bloom is seen floating on the surface. Find the only 50 yard long sand spit suitable for camping. Fish chicken liver or other soft, smelly bait at dusk for fast action.