NOVEMBER 7, 2003

By Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Elevation: 3601

Water Temperature: 61-64 F

Annual gill net sampling uplake left a warm glow in my heart. Lake Powell fisheries are in the best shape of my career. Fish numbers are mind-boggling. Physical condition is superb. The puzzle of striped bass presence at Good Hope Bay has been answered. YES. They are still there. The nets caught an average number of stripers - about 75 per day. They weighed between 3-4 pounds and were stuffed with shad. The problem for anglers uplake is trying to catch fat fussy fish, not one of absence. The bigger surprise at Good Hope Bay was the abundance and size of smallmouth bass. Gill nets caught many times more smallmouth than in previous years and many were two pounds and better.

Fishing success uplake was true to previous reports. We did not catch a striper but smallmouth angling made up for it. I think stripers could be caught but we had afternoon winds and not much time to fish after taking care of the gill net catch. Smallmouth were taken on grubs and crank baits. One 3-pound largemouth was caught in a "bass boil" along with some decent smallmouth on the outside structure of the main bay downstream from Castle Butte.

The Rincon was not afflicted with excess shad. There were plenty of shad but not an excess. Stripers were behaving as expected. Morning and evening boils were seen in the west Rincon cove with the floating restroom and in the only cove visible from the restroom directly across the bay. Watch for birds to tip off boil location. Stripers were easy prey in the east Rincon bay. Just troll a shad rap, Yozuri or other shallow running crank morning and evening for quick hookups on fat 5 pounders. Trolling shallow runners is a sure bet to find midlake stripers from Slick Rock to Escalante. Shad are in the COVES so troll shallow bays (not open channel) with shad in the back for sure success. Gill net catch at Rincon was high for stripers and impressive for smallmouth bass. It was our highest Rincon gill net catch ever for numbers and quality of fish.

Smallmouth bass are eating shad with stripers in backs of coves. Find birds and boils and bass will be close. Use a shad imitating bait like a willow leaf spinner bait or shad rap (Yozuri crank-n-shad). Cranking near shad schools is deadly for 1-2 pound bass.

Striper boils are still going in the lower lake. Look for a steady morning bite from 6:30 to 8:30 AM from the dam to Navajo Canyon. Later in the day boils are larger but timing is not predictable. Expect to catch 3-5 stripers per trip weighing over 5 pounds from these boils. The quality is so satisfying that 2 fish can make a trip worth while. Bass fishing is not as good in lower lake probably because stripers, bass and shad are still in the main channel. When shad get trapped in the lower lake coves then bass fishing will heat up just as it has done at Rincon.

There are 3 different patterns - almost different seasons between uplake and downlake. What an interesting time to fish Lake Powell.