Surface water temperature has now dropped to the 60's as a result of some wild and windy weather. The temperature is great for fall fishing but the storm fronts have left bass and stripers sulking lethargically on the bottom. Fishing has been slow since the storms and will remain so until the weather moderates.
New light was shed on the mystery of the missing stripers in the lower lake. A huge striper boil occurred on September 28th at the mouth of Gunsight Canyon. Ten to 15 boats surrounded the boil and all caught at least one fish or more. Active stripers were then spooned up off the bottom for an hour after the surface action stopped. Smallmouth bass were caught feeding with stripers, especially just after the surface boil stopped. Stripers quit hitting at 9AM on Saturday and have not been seen since.
Stripers caught from the boil were fat and stuffed with shad. Their condition indicated they had been eating very well for some time. Fat stripers are hard to catch. Stripers have been few in number in the lower lake and those that are left apparently have their choice of when and what to eat. They feed only on shad schools which are more abundant than usual. Anglers only get their chance when they are close enough to observe a quick striper feeding frenzy. The best time to look is just as the sun is peeking over the horizon each morning.
Active stripers schools should be the target this week. Of course, the surface boil is easy to see and marks the spot where stripers can be caught for the next two hours. But, if no boil is seen use the graph to look for striper and shad schools. Shad show up as a round ball in the upper 40 feet while stripers are blotchy traces usually found 5 feet above bottom in 50-80 feet of water. Spoons are the best way to be sure stripers are down there. The school often hits the spoon 2-3 times and then quits or leaves the area. At that point chum the area and fish anchovies for a steady bite the rest of the day.
It is also possible to find shad on the surface. Return trips to Gunsight produced no stripers but shad were found each day in the backs of very shallow coves. They go shallow hoping stripers will not follow. The ploy has worked all summer but now temperatures are such that all stripers can follow into the very shallowest cove. Look for striper boils lakewide in the very backs of canyons and coves. These former shad strongholds will now turn into box canyons. Birds will find the action immediately and be there to show you where to start looking.
Smallmouth fishing has slowed down with the weather but will heat up again. Bass fishing gets better with distance traveled up lake. Hite and the San Juan is still good fishing with main channel and Escalante being only fair.
Shad are very common in the lower lake with big schools in Warm Creek, Gunsight, Padre, Last Chance. Stripers will eventually find them resulting in some good fall and winter fishing.