April 10, 2003

By Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Elevation: 3606

Water Temperature: 52-60 F

Lake Powell weather is warming fast. The lake surface is heating up but the main body is cold. There will be a wide diversity in temperature depending on lake location, and water color. Begin looking in the back of the canyon for active fish.

Bass will be searching for warm water pockets. Find protected areas where the lake surface heats up faster than surrounding water. Largemouth will be in brush while smallmouth will be on rocky points in warmer pockets. Old cottonwood and cedar trees that have been inundated for 30 years are reappearing in the back of the canyons and remain in surprisingly good shape. They offer some decent structure for fish and targets for anglers to use to find fish. Bass males will cruise into shallows of warm water pockets looking for rocky nest sites. Warm water is typically murky while cold water is clear. Clear water will warm soon but this week look for murky water to find bass.

Striped bass are using a very narrow zone for feeding. Large shad schools are found in the backs of canyons where water depth is 10-30 feet. Stripers key on the middle zone where temperature is warmest and slightly better visibility gives them some advantage in finding prey. Look for stripers where bottom depth is 15-25 feet and water color is a mid range between the muddiest water in the shallows near the back of the canyon and the clearest water deeper than 40 feet. The most productive water for me was chalky-green. The temperature in the zone was warmer than the main body but maybe not as warm as the muddy shallows. It was interesting to find that wind blowing down the main canyon in Last Chance kept the water cool but shad were still holding in the 15-30 foot zone.

Despite large numbers of shad, stripers were only found in scattered numbers. After moving into a nearby side channel out of the wind, less shad were found but more stripers. Stripers will give up the big school of bait in cold water to seek prey where water is warmer.

Search the backs of canyons for stripers by trolling or casting deep diving crankbaits in the magic 15-25 foot zone. Bomber model A's, frenzy, deep-diving husky jerk and similar big-lipped cranks outperformed shallow running rattletraps and shad raps. This will vary each day with fishing location and striper mood at the moment. Crankbaits catch fish while other methods are ignored in these shad-rich feeding zones. Anchovies have not been effective at all this spring.

The first ripe male stripers were found mixed in with maturing females in the back of the canyon. Prespawn stripers will probably stay in the feeding zones as long as possible before running to current to spawn. Expect to find adult stripers in the backs of the canyons all during April. Main channel action (dam and intake) will not pick up until May, unless the juvenile plankton feeding fish are found. Look in Warm Creek, Navajo, Last Chance, West, Rock Creek, Halls, Bullfrog, Moki, and all canyons from Good Hope to Hite for striper/shad feeding zones.