September 12, 2002
By Wayne Gustaveson   Home Page:
Lake Elevation: 3627  Water Temperature: 70-74 F

We started the work week sampling midlake at the Rincon. We camped in one of the rocky coves on the east shoreline halfway between Rincon and Long Canyon. After tying up the boat my first move is to climb to high ground and scan the lake surface for stripers. It is easy to see them come up to feed even from a long distance when looking down on the water. Most times I don't see anything and climb down the mountain to go fish for bass. But, sometimes I see some splashes and then the chase is on.

Five successive splashes in the next cove sent us scurrying for rods and top water baits. The stripers had sounded by the time we got the fishing gear in the boat and made it around the corner. But blind casting surface lures where they had been brought them right back up. The stripers were feeding in small, widely scattered groups along the shore and even way out in the middle of the bay. The overcast sky probably helped and let them feed for a longer than normal time. We found boils starting at 3 pm and continuing until dark. It was possible to get close enough to catch one or two from each small boil. After chasing splashes for two hours we had a dozen stripers. These 3-pound fish were the fattest stripers seen in years.

Smallmouth fishing at the Rincon was just as good as always. Long miles of rocky shoreline harbor thousands of bass. Single tail grubs worked like magic morning and evening and were steady during the day. Small bass were ever present but bigger bass were caught on top with the boiling stripers and on the bottom with shad type spoons in coves where stripers were seen boiling.

Next we traveled to the Piute/Neskahi area on the San Juan. We choose one of many pleasant coves, parked the boat and climbed the hill. This time no stripers were seen. Bass fishing was the same with the expected awesome results during the day and then it got better in the evening. Two anglers caught 15 bass in 45 minutes. The standard single tail grubs in various colors worked just fine. After dinner we caught 8 catfish off the back of the boat in less than an hour.

We then worked most of the night electro-shocking fish to see how well this year's young fish had survived to this point. We measured and counted them to see how well they have grown and to estimate population strength for the next year. We found lots of smallmouth and sunfish at both Rincon and San Juan. There were many more threadfin shad encountered in the San Juan than at Rincon or Wahweap. Shad were numerous in the backs of shallow murky coves where they like to spend the night. These were some of the largest (6 inch) threadfin shad encountered on the trip. My guess is the smaller shad have already been converted to bass and striper fish flesh but the bigger adults are safe from bass predation from all but the largest adults.

We did see a small boil right at camp while eating breakfast the next morning but it was just out of casting range and didn't last long enough to catch any fish. They looked like the fat 3 pounders again as they threw water high in the air with the splashes backlit by the sun. What a sight! We could have spooned the bottom in mid cove to find the hungry fish but we had to move on to the next location. We will sample more areas and report our findings in the next few weeks.

Striper boils are randomly occurring from Hite to Reflection Canyon. Seeing a boil is not guaranteed but when one is encountered the event is special and unforgettable. Stripers are fat and strong!