May 30, 2002
By Wayne Gustaveson   Home Page:
Lake Elevation: 3644  Water Temperature: 66-72 F

It feels like summer. Water is warming. Days are getting longer and brighter with lots of sunshine. There is a full moon at night. All of these signs tell fish to change what they have been doing and get ready for summer. The transition period is sometimes tough on fishermen who temporarily lose contact with fish. And sometimes fish just stay where they are and take the day off.

Bass fishing has slowed down. A week ago we were catching 4-5 fish on every decent fishy- looking spot. Now we are only getting 1 or 2 at the same locations. Fishing is still good but catching is slower. When bass act this way some of the countermeasures include: downsizing the bait to a lighter jig head and shorter plastic bait. Or put on a bigger grub and more weight and fish much deeper (30 feet) and slower. Another option is to use the split shot (carolina rig) technique where the plastic bait is impaled on a small circle hook trailing 18 inches behind the split shot or pegged weight. The free floating grub is a slower presentation and matches the fish mood better than the fast falling grub on a jig head.

Locations with shad like the upper San Juan are not effected as much by the changing season and moon phase. But the main lake with clear water calls for slightly different presentations and tactics than the week before. Smallmouth are still found on each rocky ledge although sometimes they are only seen and not hooked.

Striped bass are changing patterns as well. Fish holding in large schools in the main channel for weeks are now scattering into smaller groups and foraging on plankton and crayfish. Traditional spots like the dam, intake and points in Navajo still produce a 10-20 stripers for patient anglers but the action is much slower than that found in early May.

Look for striper schools on small isolated broken rock piles or points near the main channel or main canyon walls. Shaded rocks jutting out from a sheer cliff are prime locations for a group of striper to forage for crayfish. Stripers are still visible and can really be seen in the clear water foraging along shallow flats at the canyon's edge.

A good strategy is to cut up some chum and place it on ice in a sandwich baggie. Fish the rocks and points for bass until stripers are seen. Then throw the chum and replace the plastic grub with a piece of anchovy. This is where the slit shot rig is ideal since it is the perfect rigging technique for both plastic grubs and anchovies.

Use polarized sunglasses to view structure and identify fish passing under the boat. Channel catfish are being seen just about as often as stripers. React to the presence of each species of fish seen by changing lures or presentations. I use a combination of fishing rods with different lures attached to allow me to react instantly to a new fish swimming by. Of course smallmouth seen under the boat can often be caught by dropping a jig right in front of the curious fish. Channel catfish are flighty during the day in clear water. Just mark the spot and return at dusk to catch a large sack of catfish. Bluegills are fun on small hooks and live worms and may save the trip if prepared to catch them.