NOVEMBER 13, 2003

By Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Elevation: 3601

Water Temperature: 60-62 F

Our gill net sampling at the San Juan provided more fat stripers and smallmouth bass to match those found at Good Hope and Rincon in the previous week. All game fish are enjoying the luxurious forage base and getting bigger and fatter each day. Warm water temperatures have extended the growing season and sport fish will enter winter in prime condition. Gizzard shad were abundant in the San Juan and were the fish caught most often in gill nets. Some adults were 17 inches long and weighed 2 pounds. Young gizzard shad were 8 inches long and too large for smaller bass and stripers to eat. Threadfin shad are providing the forage that game fish are now enjoying.

Striper boils were not seen in the San Juan probably due to unsettled weather. Stripers were catchable morning and evening in the backs of many canyons including Neskahi and Desha. Trolling shallow-running shad imitating plugs (Lucky Craft Bevy Shad) was a steady means of putting stripers in the boat. Motor to the back of the canyon and troll out. Stripers susceptible to trolling are found in 40 feet of water or less. Do not troll the whole canyon. Work the back of one canyon and then move to the next for best results. Stripers will continue to boil as long as shad are in shallow water. That should be for another 2 weeks barring a major front with high winds.

Expect striper boils morning and evening from the Dam to Navajo Canyon, Rock Creek to Dangling Rope, mouth of San Juan to Wilson Creek, and at Rincon. Stripers are feeding deeper in the upper reaches of the lake. It will take a reaction bite from a trolled lure or jigging spoon to catch uplake stripers. Anchovy bait is beginning to work at Bullfrog particularly at night under a light.

Bass were much easier to catch than stripers in the San Juan. In Desha and Wilson Creek the pattern was to find a shallow pocket right on the edge of deep water. These canyons are deep narrow slots with a few spots where water spills onto flats and coves. Bass were in the shallow pockets waiting to ambush prey. They were very willing to take soft plastic grubs of any color. Bait was less important than location. In the large bays bass were holding at 15-25 feet and readily caught on soft plastic baits worked down the rocky structure. Fish the grub slowly at the right depth and smallmouth will find it.

Fishing is slowed by each weather front passage but then rebounds the next day as weather moderates. Fishing success is good just prior to the arrival of the next front. Game fish are eating well and will continue to feed until water temperature drops below 55 F.