November 13, 2002
By Wayne Gustaveson   Home Page:
Lake Elevation: 3624  Water Temperature: 58 F

We learned last week that November storm fronts really slow down the catching. Since we just had another front and weather remains unsettled we will speculate about what happens to fish when they are not biting in a year when shad forage is plentiful.

Stripers tend to follow shad which move much more than we expect them to. Indications are that shad inhabit a certain cove for a short period, 2-5 days. When fishing is good, stripers find shad in the cove and then feed at regular intervals. A change in weather or some other event causes shad to either move as a school or to lose school integrity so that school is no longer detectable on the graph. Bad fishing is associated with lack of shad where they had once been plentiful.

After the front passes, weather moderates and fishing improves within 3-5 days. Shad begin to reappear. It is not determined whether they move from one canyon to another or the school reforms allowing them to be "seen" on the graph. Shad schools are followed by striper schools and fishing is good until the next environmental change, which usually occurs in 3-5 days.

As winter deepens shad and stripers move less often. Feeding is lessened by cold temperatures. Digestion is slowed. All cold-blooded fish slow down. Cold fish in winter are enticed by bait placed right in front of the resting fish. Fall fish are willing to chase down a meal and react quickly to changing conditions. At mid-November fish are caught between these two modes.

Expect a few flurries of great activity and fast fishing. More likely, fish will be slow and deep. After a front, single fish may be caught by covering a wide area. Trolling is perhaps the best approach to cover maximum distance looking for a few good fish. After the front and when weather stabilizes, graph for schools of shad/stripers and aggressively spoon each school found. Mark schools and fish with bait as a last resort. Keep the bait within 6 inches of the bottom for best results.

The last point is that fat fish are very willing to just sit out a bad weather period without eating. Thin fish keep prowling always looking for food. Lake Powell fish are fat going into winter which will make catching a little more challenging. Expect a few really good days sandwiched in between many that are not so good.