April 3, 2003

By Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Elevation: 3607

Water Temperature: 52-57 F

Typical spring weather blows in cold, gets warm and calm, then blows cold again. Fish get active as it warms, then sulk as it cools. Fishing on a warm afternoon is productive, but the morning following a windy night is tough. Expect this unsettled weather pattern to continue. It is possible to react to the changing fish moods by using techniques appropriate for exiting conditions. The most important key to fishing success is to fish the warmest water available.

On a cold windy morning all fish will have moved deeper over night. Fish for bass in deep water with slow moving baits. Let the plastic grub rest on the bottom between hops. Slow roll a spinner bait right through brush making sure it smacks against limbs to find bass right in the center of cover. Buzz rocky points with crankbaits occasionally. When a bass reacts it is time to fish shallower. Cast a plastic grub to the bass following the crankbait. It reacts to the crank but eats the grub off the bottom.

On a calm afternoon bass will move shallow to select a suitable nest site. Spawning is only a few degrees away and bass will have a nest selected when water warms enough. Bass can be seen cruising the shallows in clear water. They hide in a shallow tumbleweed of other cover and are very spooky. Try throwing long casts past structure instead of plunking down right next to a bush. You may want to cast right on the sand beach and pull the lure back into the water for a silent entry. Largemouth are active right now and smallmouth are just starting to move.

Striped bass, and most other fish, are in the back of the canyon. They hold in water 60 feet or deeper and then run shallow to feed. On calm days, shad are found at depths of 15 feet and shallower as they seek the warmest available water. Brown or green water is more comforting to shad as sight-feeding predators have a harder time finding them. Use a bright and loud crankbait like a rattletrap, bomber model A, shad rap in the muddy water at the back of the canyon for stripers. Trolling is effective for one pass but stripers are boat shy in shallow water so casting from a drifting boat may produce more fish. Leave spooked fish for a while and then return later for a repeat performance. Hopping from one canyon to the next is a good way to stay on fresh fish.

We have seen no striped bass movement to current yet. Stripers are still in the backs of canyons and not in the main channel. Anchovies are not effective while shad-imitating reaction type crankbaits are working.

Do not expect to catch as many striped bass now compared with previous years. Striped bass numbers are down. Quality is way up. Expect to get a few really nice fish instead of a boat load of hungry, thin stripers. I think you are going to like it!