OCTOBER 30, 2003

By Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Elevation: 3602

Water Temperature: 66-69 F

Daily feeding habits of the pampered, well fed striped bass in lower Lake Powell goes something like this. At first light in the morning a striper school wanders along the main channel, usually near the mouth of a canyon, seeking a shad snack. Shad have been swimming individually at night and rejoin into schools at morning's first light when they can see each other once more. Stripers can't ignore the schools forming and attack about 15 minutes after it is light enough to see. The boil is quick as shad flee at the first attack. Stripers don't pursue them far as there are lots of shad and picking is easy. Stripers regroup, look for another school and then attack once more. Boil duration depends on how many shad are grouped. Small shad schools equal small boils. Once full sunlight hits the channel shad schools get larger and boils last longer but are less frequent. Boil location is entirely dependent on roving stripers coming in contact with a shad school. That makes it hard to predict. Boiling action starts at first light and lasts until 9:30 AM. Stripers are dormant for a while and then start up again sometime between 11-2 PM. Evening boils are not common.

Well fed stripers eat nothing but shad. Your lure must resemble a shad to be appealing (Anchovies DO NOT WORK on boiling stripers). Stick baits walking on top, spoons fluttering in the upper 10 feet and crank baits running the shoreline all fit the prey image. Schooling stripers are averaging 3-5 pounds. On October 29 I caught four that weighed a total of 22 pounds. The largest was 7.6 pounds. I was well satisfied with the catch.

Stripers are on top in the lower lake from the dam to San Juan. During a morning cruise from 7-9 AM between Antelope and Gunsight Canyon you may pass 3-5 decent boils. Cast quickly while fish are splashing. Once they sound no more fish are caught and a new boil must be found.

Stripers are moving into some of the canyons. Warm Creek has boiling stripers in the back during the early morning time period. Mid lake and San Juan have shad crowded into the backs of some coves. Stripers and bass are guarding the cove entrance waiting for prey to venture out. Find a shad ball in a shallow cove and fish the mouth with shad imitating lures. Some full canyon boils have happened recently on the San Juan with stripers driving shad from the mouth to the shallows. Weather permitting, boils on the lower half of the lake including San Juan will be strong until water temp drops into the 50's. Uplake stripers have gone deep and show no sign of coming back to the top YET. That may change.

Bass are taking advantage of the shad/striper war. They are on the edge of the channel waiting for stripers to push shad within range where they take advantage of a quick shad meal. Trolling a shad lure near main channel rocks is a quick way to catch some nice smallmouth. Those fishing conventional soft plastic baits, cranks and spinner baits are having some of the best bass fishing in recent memory, especially in the upper lake - Bullfrog to Good Hope.

This is exciting!