JUNE 12, 2003

By Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Elevation: 3615

Water Temperature: 73-82 F

Fishing is challenging right now with most fish lost in the transition between spring and summer patterns. Rapid runoff has been good for the lake. The quick 10 foot rise in lake elevation during the past two weeks has opened up all the ramps. Boating access is great. But the giant flood muddied the water from Hite to Bullfrog and in most of the San Juan. Fishing was great in clear water one day only to be replaced by seemingly fishless muddy water the next. The runoff is about spent. The lake will stabilize and begin to clear. Fish will take up residence on the front porch of their summer homes and become quite dependable in the coming weeks.

Catching in the main lake is steady. The great numbers of bass and stripers that usually bite are not being found so fishing is slower by Lake Powell standards. Expect to catch 2 or 3 smallmouth bass per hour and stripers only on the low light ends of the day. These results are caused by good shad forage conditions. Fat, sassy fish will go off feed occasionally and show no urgency to bite especially when a major transition occurs like the big flood that hit this past week. They feed only when prey is most vulnerable and some of that happens only at night.

Be patient. The slow fishing period will end with a bang as the moon darkens. By the 4th of July there will be stripers boiling over the entire lake. The first boils on this years' crop of shad will be quick as young stripers feed on very small shad. But as shad grow the boils will intensify and increase in duration. By the end of July striper fishing will be just as hot as the summer sun.

As the lake stabilizes within the next week smallmouth will find new feeding spots near the freshly flooded shore. Expect bass fishing to get better soon. Soft plastic grubs will produce more bass in the coming weeks. It may be necessary to use finesse techniques like a split-shot or drop-shot rig to present the plastic bait in the most enticing manner. But plain old grubs on lead heads will catch fish as well. One main difference from previous summers is that shad colored grubs will be favored by bass. Use clear or white grubs with silver sparkles. Smoked or black is another shad color when silver flash is added. Make more retrieves with a steady swimming motion instead of the more popular bottom bouncing technique that mimics crayfish.

After summer lake stabilization an angler can probably make a living just throwing top water lures. Fish on a shad diet like to feed shallow and will be up in the water column while actively feeding. Morning and evening will be prime time for surface lures. The shallow running cranks will continue to work. This is the unusual year where many and varied baits will work. Look in the very back of the tackle box for that lure you got for Fathers Day 15 years ago. This may be the occasion needed to get it wet for the first time.