April 24, 2003

By Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Elevation: 3605

Water Temperature: 54-62 F

Unsettled spring weather has a dramatic effect on bass fishing. Smallmouth bass are poised to begin spawning. Day length is ideal but water temperature is lagging. That means the very next warm spell will put the biggest bass on the nests. Then if the warm period continues the mid sized and small bass will spawn. Stable warming for an extended time could result in all bass spawning within days of each other. When this happens fishing is incredible. Bass are caught by every bush and rock.

It is more likely that a warm day will be followed by a cool one. Then some bass will spawn while others wait. This is the normal spring pattern. Bedding fish are evenly spread through time for the next six weeks. We know that bass will begin to spawn within the next week but we don't know how many. Weather will determine how good the bass fishing turns out.

Crappie fishing will peak this coming week. There are not many crappie. They will be found in small brushy pockets usually near the backs of canyons. There are more crappie near the inflows than in open water. Remember the creel limit is only 10 crappie. We need to preserve this population in the short term until brush growing around the shore is flooded and crappie numbers can increase. That will not happen until 2004 or 2005. For the present crappie are a bonus fish needing special care.

Striped bass still have not made the move to the main channel in the lower lake. They linger in the backs of canyons around shad schools. Shad imitating crank baits are still the most effective lures. Casting and trolling is the most effective technique. Best canyons are Warm Creek, Last Chance, Rock Creek and Bullfrog bay. Troll near the haystack rocks west of Stanton Creek and in the back of Bullfrog Bay for steady striper action.

Stripers are located in a place within a canyon rather than in any one specific canyon. Shad are lingering in off-colored where water at depth is 15-30 feet. In main channel inflow areas shad may be in any canyon, cove, or channel. Shad and stripers both key on water color and warm temperature. In mid and lower lake shad will be toward the back of canyons because that is the only place where murky water color and warmest temperatures exist. Striper fishing is good in murky water from Hite downstream to the point where water clears somewhere around Good Hope Bay. In the San Juan the good zone is from Spencers Camp down to the mouth of Piute Canyon. The mouth of Piute Canyon was particularly hot last week for smallmouth, stripers and walleye.

Walleye catch is picking up especially in the murky water near the inflows of the Colorado and San Juan Rivers. Use soft plastic grubs tipped with a half night crawler for walleye and smallmouth bass. Fish slowly with frequent pauses for walleye. Walleye often bite short, missing the hook. When that happens immediately drop the bait to the bottom where the interested fish will often strike a second or third time.